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Posts from the ‘Brunch’ Category

7
Mar

Brunch

Website

In one word – Indulgent

Location – 644 N. Orleans (Orleans & Erie)

Food – True to its name, you can get any and all brunch options at Brunch.  I had a hard time making a decision, but ended up getting an appetizer of seared blueberry muffin tops to start (because every brunch requires an appetizer course) and then went on to the Tower of Power.  Yes, I fell for the allure of the name and the description (two scrambled eggs with vanilla bean, maple glazed bacon, zucchini with white cheddar and tarragon pesto aioli served with Brunch potatoes).  I made it through about a third of the dish.  It’s so filling – not sure I would choose it again.  Next time, I’m going to follow my heart and get the red velvet pancakes.

Drink – Intelligensia coffee.  I was happy.

Service – I asked a lot of questions of our server, and he was super patient with me and made sure all my requests were accommodated.

Scene – Overall, it’s pretty low key in here.  My only issue was that the 2 top tables were far too close to each other.  I noticed that the girl at the table next to me had to plug one of her ears in order to hear her eating companion speak (because obviously I wasn’t going to make it easier for her by lowering my voice).  Spreading out the tables a bit would make a world of difference.

Occasion – Come here for your normal brunch occasion.  It’s super casual in here, but since the tables are close, do us a favor and shower first.

Price – $20.72 for my entree, coffee and a small orange juice.  That worked for me.

If you like, try – Orange, Yolk

6
Nov

Nightwood

Website

In one word – Overdelivered

Location – 2119 S. Halsted (21st and Halsted)

Food – OMG, I am so into Nightwood.  I came upon several recommendations from friends around town and was not disappointed.  My eating partner and I started with the roasted Japanese sweet potatoes served with breadcrumbs, parsley, capers and aioli.  You know when you take a bite of something and then do a double take because there is a party in your mouth.  Well, that happened for both of us.  If you come here, I insist you have this as an appetizer.  For entrees, my eating partner when for the spit-roasted half chicken served with mashed potates, rapini and gravy.  The portion was huge and he was really happy with the execution.  I went for the farfalle served with venison and mint.  It was a small dish that was super filling – the venison was ground, so the sauce was more a slightly creamy ragu.  I was closed to licking my plate clean.  We were so full, so we skipped dessert.  Next time, I will ensure I plan my meal better so I can indulge in sweetness.

Drink – We each started with a cocktail.  I had the Wuthering Heights – Broker’s gin, earl grey tea, Cocchi Americano, egg white, rosemary and orange bitters.  It felt like fall – felt like apple cider meets egg nog.  Absolutely loved it.  My eating partner had New Amsterdam – Buffalo Trace bourbon, Averna amaro, tawny port, brandied cherries and Nightwood bitters.  He is a real bourbon lover and was raving about his drink.

Service – By now, you should know that I have a love for unpretentious, yet helpful service at a restaurant.  Our server at Nightwood was perfect.  She was this adorable hipster who didn’t push us through our meal and offered (really spot on) recommendations when we were ordering.

Occasion – I think you can come here for anything.  Dinner with friends, a date, a birthday meal.  I hear Nightwood has an excellent brunch, too.

Scene – So Pilsen is turning into the new Logan Square.  The restaurant was hopping and was filled with those yuppie hipsters (you know what I’m talking about, they bathe but still wear plaid).  The vibe of the restaurant is energetic.  Awesome exposed brick, a beautiful bar, this AMAZING outdoor patio with a fireplace where you can wait for your table.  I thought that that the tables were a bit close together.  I had to suffer through listening to my neighbors say mean things about the University of Chicago (my alma mater) and could not interject my opinion.

Dress – Wear something that shows off your personality.  There is no need to dress up.  But, if you had an occasion to look nice, no one would look twice.

Price – I spent $46 and felt like it was a good value.

If you like, try…Lula (who also own Nightwood), Longman & Eagle, Publican

30
Oct

Cafe 28

Website

In one word – Potential

Location – 1800 W. Irving Park Road (Irving Park and Ravenswood)

Food – Come to Cafe 28 for Cuban and Mexican cuisine.  Overall, I was satisfied with the food.  We skipped the appetizer portion, mainly because I foolishly loaded up on the bread and the sweet chipotle butter.  Our server was apologetic at the top of our meal because at 7:3o, they were already out of the day’s special.  For my main, I went with the almond crusted halibut. It was a chunky size of halibut, I was expecting something much lighter.   It was served with jalepeno mashed potatoes and veggies.  I ended up much fuller than I wanted to be.  Because I have an obsession with plantains, I ordered a side of sweet plantains, which were perfect.  One of my eating partners went with the ropa vieja – again, another huge portion.  She gave it top reviews but noted it was a bit salty.  My other eating partner opted for the vegetarian comal – which is basically veggie fajitas.  I will give them props for the amount of veggies they served her – it was like a farmers’ market on a plate.  We skipped dessert, partially because they were out of half of the desserts by the time we had finished the meal – again our server was extremely apologetic about being out of those choices.

Drink – One of my eating partners and I both chose the cocktail special – which had muddled lemon, rum and cava.  It was a tad sweet, but it definitely grew on me and was substantial enough to last the entirety of the meal.

Service – I wasn’t impressed with the front of the house staff.  I really get bothered when I am skipped in line because I am small, so not always seen in a crowd.  This hostess did exactly that to me – not cool.  I had to be Manhattan assertive to let her know that I had arrived.  Then we waited about 20 minutes to be seated despite having made a reservation.  Our server at the table was apologetic about not having many of the dishes available, but beyond that, I found her a bit forgettable.  Then when the dishes came out, the runner mixed up who each plate was supposed to go to.  If the service aspect was up to par, I would have been much more satisfied.  For now, I will say they are just not living up to their potential.

Scene – On the Saturday of Halloween weekend, there were a lot of older couples and 30-somethings looking to find a way to avoid a costume.

Occasion – This place is ideal for groups or just couples.  It’s got a casual and festive vibe throughout the restaurant.

Price – So my halibut was listed as “market price” and I got stuck with a $27 entree, much more than what I was expecting.  I walked out of there spending $54 including tax and tip.  A bit overpriced if you ask me.

If you like, try…Coobah

13
Oct

Flo

Website

In one word – Whelmed

Location – 1434 W. Chicago (Chicago and Bishop)

Food – Remember that pivotal question in 10 Things I Hate About You? – “I know you can be overwhelmed.  And you can be underwhelmed.  But can you ever just be…whelmed?”  The correct response is that you can in Europe and also at Flo.  It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t terrible – it just was.   I opted for the Baja Tilapia Fish Tacos thinking it would be lighter fare.  False – a little too much fried and panko for my liking.  I did appreciate that they top their fish tacos with Asiago cheese, mainly because I respect the indiscriminate use of Asiago cheese on anything and everything.  I will say that I was impressed by the side salad – something that normally I would not notice.  It was huge and had beets on it!  My eating partner went for the special of the day – shrimp cakes.  I suspect that Flo’s forte is brunch and not dinner because we had the same whelmed response.

Drink – They had lots of margaritas on special for cheap.  On Wednesday’s their Original Margarita is only $4.  Originally I ordered a beer, but they were out of what I wanted.  So, I went for a glass of their house Sauv Blanc – surprisingly nice!

Service – I found it strange when the GM of the restaurant came to our table to ask how the service was – this isn’t a  hoighty toighty spot where service is critical.  I sensed some back room drama, and I didn’t really want to be privy to it.  I did find our server to be super endearing.  He didn’t have to do much for us, but the little he did was done well.

Scene – I have been here for brunch where it’s hopping.  Dinner on a weekday, not so much.

Occasion – Come for brunch with friends.  It is good if you are looking to catch up with a friend in a quiet spot at dinner time.

Dress – It’s West Town, no one cares what you wear.

Price – I spent $24 including tax and tip for fish tacos and a glass of wine.  Not cheap, but not a total rip off.

If you like, try…Anywhere in Pilsen

22
May

Victory’s Banner

Location – 2100 W. Roscoe (Roscoe and Hoyne)

In One Word – Y(om)ummmm

Food –VB’s menu is entirely vegetarian and promises that “you won’t miss the meat!” They offer many dishes that may make you believe, including their Famous Meatloaf. Whether or not you’re a fan of fake bacon with your eggs, VB’s food is incredible and worth the trip to Roscoe Village.

My Trusty Sidekick and I met a friend for brunch at Victory’s Banner this Saturday. After a twenty minute wait, we were seated and I was starved. I ordered The Steverino ($9.25), a hefty yet downy omelet with slices of sweet caramelized onions, crunchy red bell peppers, and tangy, creamy goat cheese all folded into it. Heaven! Harmony! I highly recommend this combination of sugar+salt meets fluffy+smooth. Dear Steve of The Steverino: whoever you are, you are a scholar and a gentleman. A side of grilled potatoes with the omelete were good, but nothing spectacular.

Trusty had VB’s award-winning French Toast ($5.95) with a side of Grilled Potatoes ($1.75). Recognized by the Chicago Tribune as the best French Toast in town, the thick pieces of brioche bread had a delicious crust and were skillfully cooked—they were soft, but not soggy in the middle. They were served with peach butter and real maple syrup. Our friend ordered the Oat Bran Raspberry Pancakes ($6.75) which were substantial but fluffy, and had dense pockets of delicious, real unsweetened raspberries in them.

Drink – I enjoyed a cup of peppermint Mighty Leaf tea ($2.25). My Trusty Sidekick had a cup of coffee ($1.85), and our friend, who always makes the best brunch beverage choices, indulged in a mango lassie ($2.95), which is a must-try. It was the thickest, richest mango lassi I’ve ever encountered (even if you flicked the straw, it stood straight up, lodged in the middle of the glass) and one sip took you all the way from the subtle sweet honeyed flavor from the mango to a little bit of sharp tang from the yogurt.

Service – It is unusual for a restaurant to be devoted to offering its guests not only great food but a sense of spirituality, which is what VB’s staff aims to do. Victory’s Banner, named for the phrase “God’s eternal Banner of Victory,” is inspired by the philosophy of Indian spiritual master Sri Chinmoy, who was the restaurant owner’s spiritual teacher for over 35 years. Members of the staff are also followers of Sri Chinmoy, and wear saris and practice meditation before their shifts. While this may sound somewhat cult-esque, that is not the feeling you get at all. The staff are friendly, polite, and work efficiently as a team; their unique dress simply comes off as eclectic and sincere.

Scene – VB is small but cozy. Light-hearted scribbles of birds and colorful abstract paintings decorate the sunny room with yellow booths. Pamphlets on meditation classes at the front of the restaurant may make you feel like you’re in a yoga studio, but the crowd is hardly made up of yogis. There was a wide range of ages and backgrounds in the guests when we dined at VB. Prepare yourself for a wait; when we arrived, twenty or so people were waiting for a table to open up and our group waited 20-30 minutes to be seated.

Dress – Jeans and a sweater work fine.

Cost – With tax and tip our bill for three people was around $40, or about $13 per person. A little bit on the expensive side for brunch, but we felt like it was a fair price for the quantity and the quality of the food we enjoyed.

If you like, try… Kitsch’n on Roscoe, Orange, The Chicago Diner

Written by hungry yuppie

9
Mar

Meli Cafe and Juicebar – Remix

Location -301 S. Halsted

In one word – Brunch

Food – Despite all the buzz I’d heard about this Greektown brunch spot, Meli—which is Greek for honey—wasn’t as sweet as I was expecting. The prices are good, the portions are ginormous, and the food is solid, but not spectacular. If you’re looking for something “foodie” or off the beaten path, go elsewhere for your lobster and potato gratin; Meli sticks pretty closely to your typical diner fare. However, with a huge selection of different omelets, frittatas, skillets, scrambles, pancakes, French toasts, crepes, wraps, paninis, sandwiches, salads, and more, there’s something for everyone on Meli’s menu. I chose the Vegetable Frittata with egg whites ($9.25), my Trusty Sidekick ordered French Toast ($7.95), fruit ($3.00), and coffee ($2.50), and our friend ordered Scrambled Eggs and Red Potatoes ($6.65) as well as the Banana Maple Crunch smoothie ($5.25). Our food came out quickly after we ordered and there was a lot of food on each plate. My frittata was huge, and while there was no “wow” flavor factor it offered a good texture schmorgusboard—the egg whites were pretty fluffy, the pieces of asparagus were slightly soft, the broccoli florets were crunchy, the slices of avocado were creamy, and on top of the entire frittata were two deli-sandwich slices of provolone: melty goodness. Unfortunately, the texture gods were not in my Trusty Sidekick’s corner; he didn’t care for his French Toast which was too soggy. Our friend enjoyed her Scrambled Eggs and roasted Red Potatoes, but the highlight of the meal was her Banana Maple Crunch smoothie, which I was initially against, thinking that Bananas and Maple Syrup would not taste good together. I was very wrong about this—the smoothie was thick and refreshing and had a great, toasty Banana flavor that wasn’t overly sweet or syrupy.

Drink – Lavazza coffee is available, along with freshly-squeezed juice and smoothies. Try the Banana Maple Smoothie, which tastes like a drinkable version of homemade banana bread. It blends together bananas, pecans, frozen non-fat yogurt, maple syrup, and whipped cream, but feel free to ask for yours without the whipped cream—it’s thick and rich enough without it.

Service – The hostess was fairly rude, and our waitress was still learning the ropes, but once we were seated and placed our order, our food was brought out quickly.

Scene – The restaurant is on the small side, so expect a crowded room with lots of tables crammed close to one another. You’ll see lots of couples, groups of friends, and families. Our biggest complaint was the music—it was too loud, and wasn’t very appropriate given that it was re-mixed dance music that made brunch feel like a spin class. The last thing you want when you’re carbo-loading is to feel like you’re supposed to be working out.

Dress – No need to dress up; you’ll fit right in with jeans and a sweater.

Cost – For food, drink, tax and tip, it was $15 per person. For all that food, it was a decent deal.

If you like, try… Tempo

written by hungry yuppie

30
Dec

Toast Two

Location – 2046 N. Damen (Dickens and Damen)

In one word – Filling

Food – This is the sister to the original Toast (in Lincoln Park). Come here to fill up on brunch or lunch. I was starving, so I went big for the veggie eggs Benedict. Despite being so hungry, I barely could finish half of it. The eggs Benedict are served with cooked spinach and then are doused in hollandaise sauce. The dish is served with house potatoes. So overall, delicious. But I reached a point when it was just too much for me. Too much food, too much sauce. I think the key is to stop when you’re ahead here. My eating partners took on the chicken chutney salad. It looked very healthy…My other eating partner enjoyed the seared ahi tuna sandwich.

Drink – The coffee and tea at Toast is from Julius Meinl. I had the apple tea, which possibly was the most aromatic beverage I’ve ever ingested. Totally recommend it!

Service – So one eating partner wanted to substitute his choice of potato salad or hash as the side included with his dish with fruit. The server said no problem. With his meal came the best looking fruit cup I had ever seen. The server neglected to tell us that he would be charged a pretty penny for the fruit cup and it would NOT be included as a side as we assumed.

Scene – The place is super casual, very relaxed.  You’ll see families, friends, couples, babies.  It’s really quite beautiful.  As long as the baby is not crying.

Dress – This is a lunch and brunch place, so no need for fancy dress.  I fit right in with jeans, Uggs (it was cold!) and a long sleeved T.

Cost – For food, drink, tax and tip, I paid $15.  I thought for all that food, it was a decent deal.

20
Dec

Tempo

Location – 6 E Chestnut St, on the corner of Chestnut and State

In one word – Bustle

Food – Having moved huge masses of people in and out of its doors over the years, Tempo is a Gold Coast/Chicago institution and a well-oiled brunch machine. It’s a good place to take big groups and out-of-town visitors, and while my high school girlfriends were visiting me this weekend Tempo did not disappoint.

Here’s how the production line works. First, you wait for a table. Reservations aren’t accepted for Saturday or Sunday, so unfortunately this prerequisite is part of the Tempo weekend brunch experience. Get there early (before 9:30) or late (after 12) and depending on the size of your party you’re more likely to be looking at a wait that’s 15-20 minutes or less.

Once you’re seated you’ll be faced with a more pleasant challenge: choosing what to order. Their menu is huge and has something for everyone. Try one of their legendary 3 egg omelets served with a thick slice of white or wheat toast, home-made marmalade and crispy, country-fried potatoes ($8-$14). A Tempo omelet is truly a thing of beauty. It is basically an open-faced frittata the size of a Frisbee (I dare you to finish an entire one on your own). Whether you order it with egg-whites-only or not, it is as light and fluffy as a Sarah Palin interview answer, and there’s a huge variety of ingredients to choose from. Between the eight of us, our group sampled the Artemis (artichoke, tomatoes and Swiss), the Veggie (spinach, zucchini, and broccoli), and the State Street (broccoli, ham, mushroom, tomato). If you ever try either the Jamaican omelet (banana, walnut, honey) or the Michigan omelet (apple, cheddar), let me know how it is–I’ve always wanted to try them but can never stray from my usual orders. Our group also tried the Banana-nut Buckwheat Waffle ($12), topped with a heap of banana slices, walnut confetti, and thick maple syrup, and the Eggs Benedict ($12), which had a smooth, tangy hollandaise that had it’s way with everyone (cholesterol schmolesterol). No matter what you order there’s a good chance that even after you stuff yourself, there will still be so much food left over that you’ll leave feeling slightly inadequate.

Drink – Order a smoothie ($4)—we tried the Casablanca, a combo of cantaloupe, strawberry, and fresh orange juice—or you can get just a freshly squeezed glass of juice ($4)—I recommend carrot-apple. Pop, coffee, and specialty coffee drinks are available, but coffee hounds be forewarned—there are no free refills.

Service – The staff here are seasoned pros and they do not mess around. The service is usually impersonal, but very efficient. You’re expected to order quickly, but you can expect your food to arrive just as quickly. Plan ahead, because if you’re going during Sat/Sun brunch rush-hour you will not be seated until your entire party has arrived. They only accept cash, so leave your credit or debit cards at home.

Scene – There’s not much to the decor; Tempo is basically a clean, bright, busy diner. If it’s nice out, try to stick out the wait so you can sit in their great outdoor patio area—you’ll be rewarded with some top-notch people watching. Their clientele runs the gamut—you’ll see tourists, locals, students, families, big groups, couples, Chicago’s finest and more.

Dress – There is no dress code. Tempo is open 24/7 so depending on what time you go, you could wear PJs to sweats to yoga-wear to jeans.

Cost – About $13-$15 per person before tip.

If you like, try… Ann Sathers, Yolk

Written by hungry yuppie

20
Dec

Crofton’s on Wells

Location – 535 North Wells Street

In one word – Eh.

Food – On paper, Crofton on Wells sounds great, especially to a pesco-vegetarian like me: the food is New American with a French/Southwestern flare, the menu shifts seasonally and, most importantly, the chef always features several vegetarian and vegan options. Did you know that Crofton has been open for over 10 years? Given this unusually long tenure in a city where restaurants come and go, you may be surprised that you’ve never heard of it. Well, there’s a reason it’s not on your radar. Unfortunately, it was only so-so and expensive. Not a great combo.

My Trusty Sidekick and I went here for a little weeknight datey-date and we were seated immediately. Crofton’s first moves were good ones: hot and crusty rolls, shining with brushed butter, followed by a cute little foodie “bite” from the chef. Yes, and yes.

To start, Trusty ordered the wild mushroom starter with bacon, pepper, and brioche ($13). But the mushrooms were over-salted and the bacon was the only discernable flavor. He should have followed my lead, which I recommend you do. You know the scene in When Harry Met Sally when Sally fakes an orgasm and a lady in the diner orders “what she’s having” for dinner? Try the Signature Crab Cakes ($16.75) and this will happen to you. But you won’t be faking it. So dense and packed with crab, there’s no end or beginning to the lumps of meat—cutting into it with your fork is like cutting into a thick, plump piece of fish. Plus it comes drizzled in a warm, sweet corn or yellow pepper reduction that has a little bit of a bite—like a hint of sweet, mild Chinese mustard. If I go back to Crofton’s again, it will only be to eat three courses of their Signature Crab Cakes.

For the main course, I tried the vegetarian Buckwheat Soba Crepes with Beets and African Blue Cheese foam ($20). The plate arrived with three fist-sized crepes topped with a dollop of foam and a spray of micro-greens. Pro: the foam was wonderfully weird in taste and texture (imagine a pungent, blue cheese meringue). Con: the crepes were impossible to eat—the portion of dice-sized cubes of beets was fairly meager and because the beets had no binder (with the typical binder of cheese being on the outside in the form of foam), the result was that when you cut into the crepe it would unwrap and all the teeny tiny beet cubes would spill out. When you’re forced to regroup each bite several times before it makes it into your mouth, it’s difficult to eat and enjoy a meal. Crofton, don’t tease me like that.

Trusty had big thumbs down for his main course, which was a piece of Florida Snapper on a bed of barley ($32). To make a long story short: it was salty and salty. And Trusty thought it was too heavy, as though it had also been marinated in melted butter.

We were too overwhelmed for dessert, although the unusual fruit sorbets our waitress pitched sounded tempting.

Drink – Pretty good wine list. The half bottles are on the super-duper pricier side (most were in the $35-$62 range), so you have a great excuse to order by the bottle (many were in the same range as the half-bottles). The price of wine by the glass is more reasonable ($8-$12).

Service – Our waitress was friendly and recommended a wine for Trusty that he enjoyed.

Scene – The ambiance is very low-key in a mainstream kind of way. Low lights and low music—exactly what you would hear in a Borders. So, the restaurant doesn’t have a lot of character and doesn’t attract any characters, but if you aren’t looking for a unique dining experience, it’s pleasant and you can easily have a conversation. If your parents are the type who won’t be susceptible to sticker-shock when the bill arrives, this would be a great place to take them.

Dress – I went in jeans and a blouse and felt very comfortable for their week night crowd. Trusty was in business casual. Because the scene is so low-key, no need to primp.

Cost – I walked away feeling like it was not a great value. Without drinks, tax or tip, price was $40-$45 per person. With drinks, tax and tip, it was about $65-$70.

If you like, try… Green Zebra, Spring, Sola

Written by hungry yuppie

20
Dec

Jane’s

Location -1655 W. Cortland Street (between Marshfield Ave. & Paulina Street)

In one word – Simple

Food – My Trusty Sidekick’s family was in town for the weekend, so with Mom, Dad, and Brother Sidekick, as well as our friend, we headed to Jane’s, located in Bucktown, for a Saturday night dinner. Trusty’s mom is a very conscious eater, so on top of my pesco-vegetarian restrictions it was important to go to a restaurant whose menu would offer healthy choices. With lots of vegetarian options, fresh seasonal ingredients, and simple, but well-prepared food, it definitely fit the bill.

Trusty’s mom ordered a mixed-greens salad with balsamic vinaigrette and goat cheese “croutons” (Melba toast with goat cheese spread) ($7) and the beans and brown rice dish with vegetables ($16), and she was very happy with her choices. Trusty’s dad ordered the soup of the day, which was potato leek ($7) and had the black Grouper with a sake-ginger sauce and Asian vegetables ($22). After everyone at the table tried a bite of the Grouper we were hooked—it was cooked and seasoned perfectly.

Try the corn chowder ($6), which Trusty ordered to start. It has lots of crunchy chunks of garden vegetables (not just corn), and tasted fresh, not heavy. For his main meal, Trusty went with a spinach salad with grilled vegetables and julienne carrots ($14), which he thought was good, but in a chlorophorillicious way (healthy but unmemorable). None of the appetizers caught my eye while I was ordering, but along with Trusty’s brother I ordered the vegetable risotto with artichoke hearts, broccolini, asparagus, and red peppers ($16) for my main meal and it was far more than enough food (I ended up taking half my meal home). We both thought it was very rich and satisfying, especially for a vegetarian dish. The vegetables were fresh and crisp, the nutty flavor of the artichoke hearts came through, and the risotto was perfectly cooked with a little toothiness.

Everyone agreed that the portions were very generous across the board and the only one to finish his meal was our friend, who ordered the seafood risotto with lots of calamari, mussels, and shrimp ($22), a dish which our waitress revealed had just been added to their menu. In addition to the Grouper, the seafood risotto was the other super-star at the table. We all agreed that when coming back in the future, we would order one of these two choices.

I must point out that you needn’t be a health nut to enjoy Jane’s. If you are a meat and potato eater, there is a black pepper crusted New York Strip, with scallion garlic mashed potatoes and port reduction ($25) on the menu. There are also very tempting dessert choices, which unfortunately we were too full to try, including rotating gelato flavors ($7) as well as a chocolate and caramel turtle brownie. Next time.

Drink – The wine menu was short but had some good selections, like Au Bon Climate, that you would see at trendier restaurants. Most choices were California wines, but there were some international options also. The waitress also recommended three seasonal beers they were offering, including an apricot wheat beer that Trusty’s Dad really enjoyed.
Service – We made reservations (which I would recommend) and were seated immediately, even though half our party hadn’t arrived yet. Extra gold stars for that. Our waitress was very nice and the cooking staff accommodated Trusty’s Mom’s special requests, but I felt like we were a little rushed. At two different points, someone tried to clear our friend’s plate before he had finished. There was an automatic 20% surcharge for our group of six, which is a little steeper than the standard 18% usually applied to a larger group.

Scene – Overall, Jane’s feels like a casual, intimate neighborhood restaurant that would be a perfect “I-discovered-it!”-candidate for the popular local show, “Check Please.” Architecturally, it is a long, narrow room with a barn-like roof. While the peaked-ceiling is unique and a homey feature to a Chicago restaurant, the narrowness of the space makes it difficult to completely escape the feeling of being a little crowded. However, despite our lack of elbow room, we had a very pleasant conversation and I was able to hear everyone even at our large table for six. Jazz music played throughout the evening, but not too loudly. Be forewarned that the restaurant is very dark with candlelight only. As in, if you were going to Jane’s for a date it’s a little past romantic mood lighting–you may be squinting across the table at your sweetheart.

Dress – I was surprised that the crowd at Jane’s was extremely casual, especially for Bucktown. We all dressed in jeans, even the ‘Rents, and this was perfectly fine. A bachelorette or birthday party came into the restaurant during our meal and they were a little dressier, but still fit in with the crowd. So, if you’re going out after dinner and want to be a little more polished or stylish for the evening, as long as you’re leaning towards a stylish Anthropologie-esque look, versus a smokin’ hot look, you won’t be overdressed.

Cost – Without drinks, tax or tip, the total per person was about $25-$30 dollars. The most expensive item on the menu is $24, but with the double-sized portions, it’s a great value for what you’re paying.

If you like, try… Feast, Karen’s Cooked

Written by hungry yuppie