Why it’s this week’s Best Bite: Three Dots and a Dash has been generating buzz ever since bartender Paul McGee announced last year that he was leaving the Whistler to be involved with a tiki concept. The basement bar finally opened in River North two weeks ago, and it truly is a tiki paradise, down to every last swizzle stick. The drink menu is extensive – and fully illustrated, of course – so for a girl who really likes rum, it was a paralyzing task to decide which tropical concoction to order first, even with a significant head-start while I waited for friends to arrive. I was thrilled with my first selection, the Painkiller No. 3, which was a frothy, just-sweet-enough blend of pineapple, rum, coconut, and cinnamon, topped off by a flower and cinnamon stick. It’s worth noting that every drink we ordered came in a different ornate tiki vessel with its own beautiful set of garnishes.
The snacks we tried proved to be a suitable match for the outstanding cocktails. My favorites were the crab rangoon, fried golden-brown with a thin, smooth filling that actually tasted like crab rather than a hunk of cream cheese. I also adored the divided dish of four dipping sauces (chili, mustard, peanut, and citrusy sweet-and-sour) that were versatile enough to mix-and-match with our Thai fried chicken and coconut shrimp as well. I have no doubt that Three Dots and a Dash will become a major River North destination, but I’m hoping that at least the alley entrance, marked only by a single tiki torch, might take the crowds a little longer to find.
The details: Three Dots and a Dash, 435 N Clark St., Chicago.