Given the choice between steak and duck breast, I'll always choose the latter. Cooked medium rare, each has that chewy, knife and fork necessity mouthfeel, but when I get a hankering for gamey richness, nothing else will do.
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The toothsome, spicy slivers of pepper are a nice offset to the chewy, charred steak, and the whole thing still feels vaguely restrained in spite of itself.
I found myself nearly trembling with excitement while staring at the gorgeous 40 Day Bone-in Ribeye ($51) at David Burke's. It certainly looked impressive, with a gorgeous browned exterior and meat cooked exactly to medium rare. But it was all the things I couldn't see that truly set this steak apart.
I've seen all kinds of terms used to denote that something was created from scratch in the kitchen, but I don't think I've ever run across "handcrafted" before. It would have been easy for me to scoff at the handcrafted spaghetti ($15) if I wasn't in Terzo Piano, which is overseen by Chicago's current master of Italian cuisine, Tony Mantuano (Spiaggia).
These supple baozi are stuffed with a luscious mixture of braised pork and served in a smoked trotter broth with crunchy cracklings on the side. Even though this was my second dinner of the night, I could have eaten a dozen more of these things.
The Hot Brown at Billy Sunday looks unlike any version of the dish I've ever encountered. Not that I've seen thousands of variations, but I did eat my requisite share of the Kentucky classic while growing up in the Louisville area, and none of them looked nearly as beautiful as this one.
To be honest, you can order anything on Birrieria Zaragoza's condensed menu and leave in a stunned stupor. But on a recent visit with Joe, I was introduced to an item not currently listed on the menu: Birria en Barro. What was Zaragoza holding back from me?
After trying all of the tacos at Takito Kitchen, it's hard to pick an absolute favorite. Instead, I'm going with the Crispy Redfish Tacos ($11), which I think neatly sum up what I love about the place.
The vegetables are lightly coated in a greaseless batter, which surprisingly maintains its integrity even as it cools. Most of the mix is made of green beans, which are pleasingly crisp and sweet. But it's the other vegetables that are worth hunting for.
I didn't stop by Owen & Engine with steak on my mind. But I can't remember the last time I enjoyed a steak as completely as the dry-aged ribeye steak here.