Significant sequels

A virtual parade of cabs drops off Loop-area workers here at lunchtime (I wandered in at noon one day and was quoted a 25-minute wait), early evening sees a surprising amount of family business (there's a children's menu) and late at night, the bar is crowded with restaurant workers coming off their shifts.

I like Little Goat, but the pedal-to-the-metal dishes can be exhausting. If Izard and company could rein in their impulses just a bit, I'd like it a lot better.

The Local Chicago

I was always a fan of Park Avenue Cafe and Mrs. Park's Tavern, two Alan Stillman and David Burke creations that were big in the late '90s. So I was happy to learn that the Mrs. Park's space, including much of the Americana artworks that distinguished both dining rooms, had reopened as The Local Chicago, a second project by Chicago Cut Steakhouse owners David Flom and Matt Moore.

"Matt's first job in America was as a bartender there," Flom says of Mrs. Park's. "So when we took the space, it was important to Matt to bring back that nostalgia, supplementing the old Americana with some pieces of our own."

So, amid wood depictions of the U.S. flag and a star-spangled hot-air balloon with Betty Boop in the gondola, one can peruse the menu, populated by American comfort food classics, albeit much of it representing a step up in class. That's the advantage of having a top-level steakhouse as a big brother; The Local's sliders, a trio of mini-burgers, are made from dry-aged prime beef. So is the meatloaf, soft and delicious; served with mashed potatoes and gravy, this dish is comfort-food heaven.

Tuna tartare goes beyond the ordinary with a base of pureed avocado and decorative slices of red jalapeno dotted with mango cream. Extra-large shrimp make the shrimp and grits dish a keeper, and even the straightforward fish and chips and rotisserie chicken are solid.

Desserts include very good cookies, served warm, and a root-beer float (available only fleetingly) made with a special root beer developed by Two Brothers Brewing Co. in Warrenville.

The Local Chicago keeps long hours, serving from 6:30 every morning to 2 a.m., a definite advantage in the Gold Coast neighborhood, where food options after 10 p.m. are very scarce.

And it's worth showing up in the morning hours, where there's a breakfast buffet for speed eaters, light options for healthy eaters and some specialties in cancel-my-lunch-date portions. Notable in that last category are extra-fluffy pancakes and the surf-and-turf eggs Benedict, the two muffin halves topped with a good-sized filet mignon and lump crabmeat, respectively. You might want to save those two dishes for the weekend.

Watch Phil Vettel's reviews weekends on WGN-Ch. 9's "News at Nine" and on CLTV.

G.E.B.

841 W. Randolph St.; 312-888-2258; gebistro.com

Tribune rating: Two stars
Open
: Dinner Monday-Saturday, brunch Sunday
Prices
: $26-$42
Credit cards
: A, DC, DS, M, V
Reservations
: Strongly recommended
Noise
: Conversation-challenged
Other
: Wheelchair accessible; valet parking
Little Goat

820 W. Randolph St.; 312-888-3455; littlegoatchicago.com

Tribune rating: One star
Open
: Breakfast, lunch, dinner Monday-Sunday
Prices
: Main courses $14-$22
Credit cards
: A, DS, M, V
Reservations
: Not accepted
Noise
: Conversation-challenged
Other
: Wheelchair accessible; valet parking

The Local Chicago

198 E. Delaware Place; 312-280-8887; thelocalchicago.com

Tribune rating: Two stars
Open
: Breakfast, lunch, dinner Monday-Sunday
Prices
: Entrees $19-$30
Credit cards
: A, DC, DS, M, V
Reservations
: Recommended
Noise
: Conversation-friendly
Other
: Wheelchair accessible; valet parking

Ratings key:
Four Stars: Outstanding
Three Stars: Excellent
Two Stars: Very good
One Star: Good
No stars: Unsatisfactory

Reviews are based on no fewer than two visits. The reviewer makes every effort to remain anonymous. Meals are paid for by the Tribune.

pvettel@tribune.com

Twitter @philvettel

CHICAGO

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