Kinzie St., 312-940-9900, barriochicago.com— Bill Daley Beet hummus at Beatnik kicks off the meal with sparks of citrus zest and dusky notes of clove, offset by the crunch of fried chickpeas and the salty tang of blue cheese.(Annie Grossinger / Chicago Tribune)Beatnik is a study in texture.
From the exuberantly ornate dining room to the best dishes on the menu, the West Loop restaurant delights in serving up layers upon layers of style. A beet hummus kicked off a recent meal with sparks of citrus zest and dusky notes of clove, offset by the crunch of fried chickpeas and the salty tang of blue cheese.
Other highlights included a side of broccolini, which combined fish sauce, puffed rice and pomegranate seeds to offer a smoky, umami crunch; curry meatballs, served on a pillow of mashed peas and punctuated with a nice dose of heat; and a near-perfect apple cake, as interesting as it was comforting, spiced and studded with tender chunks of warm apple, melted meringue and crisp tuiles.
As we walked out, back into the stark, cold street, something Jack Kerouac wrote in “The Dharma Bums” came to mind: “I think it’s all lovely hallucination but I love it sorta.”Chicago abounds with tamales.
You can grab them at grocery stores, order them at an untold number of Mexican restaurants and pick them up by the dozen from vendors on select street corners.
The fries, seasoned with togarashi and sprinkled with cotija cheese, are sturdy and crisp.
On the sweet side, the cocoa taco () is a cute waffle-cone-like crisp shaped into a taco and filled with chocolate ice cream and brownie cubes, among other sweet things, but what wowed me were the three churros (), doughnutlike circles dusted in cinnamon sugar.
Lunch is a creative take on Mexican dishes and flavors that pull in American and Japanese additions.
Asked for his recommendations, the server immediately pointed to two starters: grilled octopus () and cornbread ().
Given the promise shown by the other dishes, pluma iberica, a roast pork dish for two, presented well but tasted fairly pedestrian.