A lovely lime Tajín cruller, just for me. | Aimee Levitt/Eater Chicagoo
Mining the latest dining gems Chicago has to offer
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USDA Prime Tasting at Perilla Korean American Fare
USDA Prime Tasting at Perilla.
Pleasing a crowd is easier said than done. For those of us whose dining companions usually don’t extend beyond a four-top, scaring up plans for a group of, say, seven (including a vegetarian and a teen with a tree nut allergy) is a particularly tricky calculation. Fortunately for this particular party (and the reservations-maker, see: me), this year’s Father’s Day weekend puzzle was cheerfully solved by Perilla, the Bib Gourmand honoree in River West that’s among the top spots for Korean cuisine in Chicago. The casual restaurant’s long tables with embedded tabletop grills serve a dual purpose — they’re the springboard for glistening, well-seasoned hunks of USDA prime beef (or wagyu, if you’re fancy) and an interactive element that keeps diners engaged with one another and the serious eating at hand. Our sole vegetarian wasn’t left by the wayside: staff swapped out meat for a plate of fluffy lion’s mane mushrooms that take on a golden hue when grilled. It all goes down amid a swirl of banchan and sides, from perfectly crispy dumplings to a delightfully light soybean stew that caps off the gleefully gluttonous endeavor. Perilla Korean American Fare, 401 N. Milwaukee Avenue, River West — Naomi Waxman, Reporter
Lime Tajín Cruller from Brite Donuts & Baked Goods
Lime Tajín cruller at Brite.
Let me make this clear: there are no truly bad doughnuts, even crullers that have been sitting in the Dunkin’ case for three days or a plastic-wrapped gas station sinker with an advertised shelf life of 70 days. But then there are the great doughnuts, the perfect combination of texture and flavor that manage to go beyond pillowy and sweet. The bakers at Brite Donuts in West Town have been conducting fascinating experiments with texture and flavor, even venturing into the realm of — gasp! — savory and boozy doughnuts. (And why shouldn’t doughnuts get a chance to be something other than sweet?) The lime Tajín crullers, which I sampled at the Botanical Cafe in North Center, was a particularly successful one. (The Botanical Cafe is also a very nice place to eat doughnuts: it’s quiet and peaceful, and true to its name, filled with plants that customers can buy and take home.) Crullers have always been one of my favorite doughnuts anyway because I like the texture and the way glaze collects in the ridges. This one was textbook perfect — crisp on the outside, soft and airy on the inside — and the lime glaze is a bit sweeter and more muted than lemon. The Tajín crumbs, however, were the real surprise: they added just a hint of spice and crunch, just enough to be interesting without being overpowering. I will dream of this doughnut for a good long time, because Brite keeps changing up the menu with few repetitions, always looking ahead. Brite Donuts & Baked Goods, 2021 W. Fulton Street, West Town — Aimee Levitt, Deputy editor