Cuna [Closed]

  • Restaurants
  • Contemporary American
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Photograph: Sally Ryan
Lakeview

The waitress set the Sazerac down with an apology for the wait. “The bartender’s still learning how to make the drinks,” she explained. Really?, I thought. A month after opening?

Then I tried the drink and wished that bartender had taken longer. Maybe then the cocktail wouldn’t be overwhelmed by absinthe.

The waitress set the Sazerac down with an apology for the wait. “The bartender’s still learning how to make the drinks,” she explained. Really?, I thought. A month after opening?

Then I tried the drink and wished that bartender had taken longer. Maybe then the cocktail wouldn’t be overwhelmed by absinthe.

Perhaps as some sort of misguided compensation for the delay, the rest of that meal came out at breakneck speed. As we were working on a flatbread (topped with the bright, contrasting flavors of grapes and sausage) and bland pork sliders, the waitress announced that our main courses were ready. Did we want her to hold them in the kitchen?

If you’d wandered into Cuna off the street, perhaps none of this would be notable. You might even be impressed by some of the food. But if you come in knowing that the chef, Kendal Duque, received a James Beard nomination for the food he was cooking a year ago at Sepia, it’s hard not to be flummoxed. Duque still has a knack for imbuing seafood with meaty flavor—scallops paired with earthy mushrooms; skate wing atop bacony greens. But a lot of what I ate—dryish chicken with lentils; potato soup cloaked in salt—felt phoned in.

And then there’s dessert. Ice-cream sandwiches were so thoroughly frozen the cookies threatened to break a tooth, and the chocolate pot de crème I ordered arrived as a walnut-studded brownie. James Beard nom or not, that’s just careless.

By Julia Kramer

Venue name: Cuna [Closed]
Contact:
Address: 1113 W Belmont Ave
Chicago

Cross street: between Seminary and Clifton Aves
Opening hours: Dinner (closed Mon)
Transport: El stop: Brown, Purple (rush hrs), Red to Belmont. Bus: 22, 77.
Price: Average main course: $12
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