We’re approaching the first weekend of the year. Anyone opening a new dining spot right now either had their permits delayed or has a strange death wish, but here’s one launch you might have missed that’s definitely worth noting: Kumiko (630 W. Lake St., River West), a Japanese-influenced bar from former GreenRiver mixologist Julia Momose and Oriole chef Noah Sandoval, opened last week. It is pretty much guaranteed to blow up, so go now while everyone is still out of town.
If you’ve been following the fairly epic saga of money laundering and international crime behind former West Loop hotspot Embeya, that saga might finally be coming to an end. The short version: The popular restaurant unexpectedly closed after part-owner Attila Gyulai allegedly absconded with a huge amount of money. He was arrested in Spain in late December, after a warrant for his arrest had been outstanding for nearly a year.
Every year, Eater Chicago pulls in year-end opinions from notable writers around town to compile various lists, and it’s always fun to read people’s takes on the food scene. My favorite roundup is the list of “headline predictions,” including this gem from Morgan Olsen at Time Out: “You don’t have to interact with a single human at this new-wave poke shop in River North.” I wasn’t consulted, but the word I’d use to describe 2018’s food scene would be “bloated,” and my biggest dining grievance may be the crazy loud music at Bar Sotano.
One of the better year-end lists, in my humble opinion, is this one of the 18 best things the Tribune food staff ate in 2018. It includes some obvious choices (yup, Oyster Pie at Bellemore is on the list) and some more obscure ones, like a potato purée at Etta that I’m going to go eat immediately.