In Chicago, Argentine food may bring to mind the red wine hangover/meat coma that results from consuming too much BYOB malbec and skirt steak at Tango Sur. Or maybe you think of those South American churrascarias fueled by meat-wielding servers in gaucho pants (which are actually Brazilian-inspired, to be fair). “Iron Chef” alumnus Jose Garces and his chef de cuisine Cory Morris (both of Mercat a la Planxa) have launched Rural Society in the new Loews Chicago Hotel in Streeterville to disabuse you of those notions. “We want to show that Argentinian food is so much more, that you can come here and get a high-quality four-course meal with incredible ingredients, fresh off the grill,” Morris said. I stopped in recently to see if the pair would succeed in redefining the essence of Argentine food.
You might not have heard of Peruvian chef Gaston Acurio, but he has 33 restaurants around the world, including Astrid y Gaston in Lima, which ranked one spot higher (#14) on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2013 list than Chicago’s celebrated Alinea. Tanta, his newest spot in River North, is only his third restaurant in the United States. While Tanta, billed as a casual cebicheria (heavy on citrus-cured seafood), isn’t shooting to be a four-star restaurant like Astrid y Gaston, it displays the mark of a very talented chef.
Everything I know about Colombia can be summed up thusly: Shakira, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Sofia Vergara and Pablo Escobar. Though just as America is not made up of a bunch of hamburger-eating-cowboys , I recognize Colombia is not only about belly-shaking pop singers, Nobel Prize-winning magical realists, buxom brunette bombshells, and cocaine-slinging drug lords. That is why I’d schlepped out to the Dunning neighborhood on Chicago’s northwest side to check out La Parrilla, a new Colombian Steakhouse. I’d hoped to discover more of the culture by eating a little dinner. I did and I didn’t.
I was woken by a stomach-churning caterwaul followed by a horrid thump and the sound of drywall crumbling into the chasm between the studs behind my bed.