Omnivore - Checking in at three restaurants

Dakota Blue, Tierra, Chateau de Saigon

Three updates:

I've recently had two good dinners, both specials, at Dakota Blue in Grant Park. It's easy to risk the restaurant's frequent unpredictability when you're paying less than $10.

First was a meal of brisket with a kick-ass, tongue-stinging mustard sauce. It was served with rather weirdly seasoned braised spinach and some cornbread. The second meal was a couple of really good pork-filled tamales made by the Mexican cook there, according to our server. They were served with black beans and rice....

My Friday night dinner friends and I headed to Chateau de Saigon recently. I had my usual dish of "burnt" rice topped with pork cooked until caramelized in a clay pot. My idea was to introduce them to some gourmet-style Vietnamese food, but nearly everyone at the table annoyed me by ordering Chinese-style dishes.

It was confusing. Our server assured me that none of the dishes were Chinese, despite what looked to me like obvious Cantonese cuisine. Another server, stopping by, said that the dishes were Cantonese for sure. Then another, the chattiest of the trio, said they were Chinese dishes cooked Vietnamese-style.

Whatever! The food was great, but somebody needs to better educate the staff....

We also visited Tierra recently. I had two stellar dishes — an entree of chicken mole and a dessert of fig pie. The latter is off the menu for now, but if you ever get a chance, order it, even though it means skipping the restaurants unequaled tres leches cake. As for the mole, also apparently off the menu, it was luscious, served with a chicken breast.