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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Wednesday, June 19

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« Our Hottest Spots? Our Hottest Spots? »

Thu May 03 2007

Out Hottest Spots?

Condé Nast Traveler published its annual "Hot List Tables" feature, a list of the best restaurants around the world. Out of 95 listings (39 in the US and Canada), two are in Chicago. I bet you think you can guess them, right? Well, you're probably wrong.

Chicago's entries are David Burke's Primehouse and DeLaCosta. I don't think there's a foodie in the city for whom those two leapt to mind.

Actually, to be fair, Primehouse probably deserves its selection. In a town still largely associated with steakhouses, it's one of the best, featuring (as everyone should know by now) beef sired by its own dedicated bull and aged in a room lined with Himalayan rock salt. Reviews have been solidly positive, and its reputation for top-notch steaks as well as a wide range of other options has been well earned.

Condé Nast praised DeLaCosta's "young, loud, and sexy crowd" and its location by the river, but mentions no food other than the ceviches — singling out the spicy scallop ceviche. This made me wonder if that was the only thing the reviewer ate, as I found no mention at all of this particular dish in any other reviews I found. If you've gotta have a steak, you're not going to be disappointed.

Yelpers are undecided, LTH Forum reviews were negative to mediocre, and even Metromix's Chris LaMorte wasn't won over. Even odder, DeLaCosta isn't listed in Condé Nast's own guide to Chicago eating. Sounds to me like you're better off landing a table at Topolobampo if you're looking for quality upscale Latin-American.

I found it interesting, though mostly irrelevant, that both of these restaurants are executive-cheffed by out-of-towners who made their names elsewhere: David Burke has returned to his New York home base, and DeLaCosta's Douglas Rodriguez also runs restaurants in Philadelphia, Scottsdale and Miami Beach. That's certainly not a knock on either chef nor on the restaurants themselves, per se, but it seems as though restaurants where the executive chef isn't present run more of a risk of flagging quality. (I have nothing to back that up, it's just a personal suspicion.) With so much home-grown talent, it would have been nice to see a restaurant run by a resident, rather than visitors.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
Read this feature »

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