I don’t like to pass full judgment on a restaurant on opening night. Since Loop 22’s opening was delayed several times, I was doubly prepared to be kind; triply prepared since the team that opened Loop 22 (at 2222 Dundee Road) also opened Game and Hammerheads. I could write big wordy article about the atmosphere, the ideas behind Loop 22, my hopes for the place, but I’m going to tell you what you really want to hear about: the food.
The cocktail list was too good to resist—the Foggy London Town ($10) with Bulleit Rye, sweet vermouth, Fernet Branca and Heine Brothers Earl Grey Tea was labeled “Here’s one for all the tea drinkers.” It was a charming, civilized drink.
We started off with fried oysters, perched atop baby portabellos with artichoke Parmesan cream ($10). The dish was a well-balanced and meaty appetizer, beautifully presented with chunks of pork strewn around the molten-hot cups of cream and oyster.
The charred vegetable fritters ($7) with truffle-tarragon cream and basil oil, were similarly presented; think of this as high-falutin’ fair food. I’d give anything to see a booth selling these at Thunder, perhaps out of checkered paper cones with little cups of the truffle-tarragon cream.
Half a rotisserie duck (with a side of seasonal asparagus for $18) was succulent, delicate, and juicy. Since Loop 22 is specializing in rotisserie meats, one would expect the rotisserie duck to be the best thing on the menu, and one would be right. Half a duck would feed two normal-sized people. Duck is fattier and sometimes considered gamier than chicken, but prepared correctly it’s a religious experience, and this was one sexy duck.
The bone-in Creekstone Farms short rib (with side of collard greens, $16) was tender, well flavored, fresh. The accompanying greens were undercooked, a rookie greens mistake.
The bourbon ball truffle cake ($6) tasted of neither bourbon nor truffle, but came studded with fresh berries and oozed warm chocolate seductively. The heavy flavor of good chocolate is probably overwhelming the bourbon flavor, but we didn’t complain; dessert is well worth it at Loop 22, and I can’t wait to try the raspberry-lambic cheesecake.
Loop 22 is pricier and larger than Game or Hammerheads, but more respectable; Loop 22 will also take reservations. I look forward to another Foggy London Town, and many more rotisserie ducks.