It’s always unseemly for food writers to gush–I mean, you’ve seen Ratatouille, with its grim stereotype of a humorless food critic, right? No doubt there’s a tendency among some writers to curb their enthusiasm for fear they’d come across as naïve, or be corrected by someone who fails to have a similarly mind-blowing meal, or simply because it’s usually easier to get laughs with a negative review (“This place serves food fit for a king. Here, King– here boy! Ho, try the veal!”)

For whatever reason, then, I’m restraining myself as I write about my experience at Shikago last Saturday night.  A longer review’s in the works but I can say at this point that this was among the best meals I’ve had in a while (and I’m taking into account a recent tour at “the best restaurant in America”). The balance of flavors at Shikago was remarkable in its simplicity, each plate a thoughtful composition of sweet, salty, bitter, savory, with a touch of sour. So far this small place is hidden in the dark folds of LaSalle Street, waiting to be recognized. Running into Alan Shikami, brother of chef Kevin, in the lobby as we left, he lamented with some pride that Kevin is “Chicago’s most underrated chef.”  Even discounting fraternal bias, there seems to be some truth to that assertion.