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What’s a “classic” Chicago restaurant? Totally subjective, but Penny Pollack makes a good argument in the introduction to Chicago’s Classic Restaurants: Past, Present and Future. The Chicago mag food editor’s plaint is that the ever changing menus and “educational” focus of today’s restaurants come at expense of kitchen consistency and the diner’s ability to let her hair down and order a reliable chicken Vesuvio. By that definition, I’d say it’s a bit too soon to classify the ever seasonal Blackbird or relative newbie Girl & the Goat as classic in this contemporary oral history by Neal Samors and Eric Bronsky, but they aren’t unwelcome inclusions, if only for the unvarnished accounting from the likes of Paul Kahan, Donnie Madia, Kevin Boehm, and Rob Katz about their origins in the business. Add to that more veteran voices like Rich Melman (who deserves a book of his own), Jean Joho, Lawrence Levy, Rick Bayless, and Gordon Sinclair, and you have a pretty representative accounting of the last 40 years of Chicago restaurant history. And that’s just in the chapter on 1970 to the present.