Eat Out Awards 2012 | Bloggers' Choice
Who should you vote for in this year's Eat Out Awards? Well, 5,000 or so of you don't need our opinion on that: You've already cast your votes. But for anyone looking for a little guidance, we called in pals from across the Chicago food-writing universe to fill out the ballot and share their opinions on who should win the coveted plates. Our panel includes: Eater Chicago editor Ari "Edgewater" Bendersky; 312 Dining Diva Audarshia "I Love To Stir It Up" Townsend; Serious Eats Chicago editor Nick "I Don't Like Brunch" Kindelsperger; Grub Street Chicago editor Mike "I Really, Really Loathe Brunch" Gebert; and Chicagoist Food Editor Anthony "I Got Yelled At At The Aviary" Todd. Over the course of this week, we'll share their thoughts with you, and if you feel adequately swayed, you have a couple weeks left to cast your vote. First up:
BEST NEW RESTAURANT COCKTAILS
The nominees are: Acadia, Perennial Virant, Yusho, Ripasso &
Gebert: I've actually had four of these! I dug the absinthe ice cubes at Acadia, so that.
Kindelsperger: Yusho. It's rare that I look at a list and find it hard to visualize what will come out. Every cocktail is a surprise. Plus, though unique, none are overly showy.
Todd: Acadia hasn't gotten nearly enough attention for their cocktail menu. Michael Simon is doing really creative work with amaros, mezcal and other trendy ingredients, and doing it at a reasonable price. There are little touches in the drinks that show someone is paying attention, like making his own absinthe or coconut dill ice cubes so tall drinks change as they melt.
The consensus: The bloggers love absinthe ice cubes! Acadia.
BEST NEW SPORTS BAR
The nominees are: The Anthem, Barn & Company, Frontier, &
Bendersky: I don't go to sports bars but have heard great things about the Anthem. The BBQ at Barn & Co is pretty stellar, too.
Gebert: I have successfully managed to go to none of these!
Kindelsperger: Barn & Company. Have you seen that massive wall of TVs?
Townsend: The Anthem
The consensus: The bloggers do not go to sports bars. If we split Bendersky's vote in half, it's a Barn & Co/Anthem tie.
BEST NEW BREAKFAST
The nominees are: , Jam, , ,
Bendersky: 2 Sparrows—it may be a bit pricey, but when you can get brunch all day (ok, until they close mid-afternoon) that is that refined and have fantastic cocktails with seasonal ingredients (and not to mention it's around the corner from my trainer—counter intuitive?), this gets my vote.
Gebert: I had serious issues with both of the two of these I tried. I would pick Marmalade, which isn't perfect but is easy to get along with. [Ed. note: There are no write-ins.]
Kindelsperger: I don't care much for breakfast foods [Ed. note: We know.], but Jam is one of those places where I just shut up and order pancakes.
The consensus: The bloggers love foie-gras pop tarts. [Okay, not you, Gebert.] 2Sparrows for the win.
BEST LOCAL CHAIN
The nominees are: l, , , & Banh Mi & Co.
Bendersky: Hannah's Bretzel. Love their little sandwiches on pretzel rolls.
Gebert: The best local chain is that there are about to be two Khan BBQs on Devon. From your list, I say Hannah's, even though just the thought of working downtown and eating a sandwich every day fills me with existential dread.
Kindelsperger: I hate big-ass burgers, which explains why I haven't been to any of the new burger joints. Burgers shouldn't be so complex—just a thin patty that's been seared on the grill and stuffed on a toasted bun. That's why I have a thing for M Burger.
Todd: M Burger
Townsend: Epic Burger
The consensus: A tie for Hannah's Bretzel and M Burger.
The nominees are: , , , , Pasteur
Bendersky: While it had some bumps critically when it opened, there's no doubt the Pump Room is one of the more exciting places to open in Chicago in a long time. The room only gives me chills every time I go in there. I've found myself going for drinks, morning coffee and more.
Gebert: $75 chicken at NoMI Kitchen is a punchline until you actually have it. It won Best Leftovers at my house.
Kindelsperger: The Pump Room. I never knew the old one, but thanks to low price points and a focus on vegetables, I quite like this redraft.
Townsend: NoMI Kitchen
The consensus: The bloggers love glamour. The Pump Room ties with NoMI Kitchen.
What will the Bloggers pick for the rest of the categories? Check back during the week for more posts. And as always, VOTE!