In one word – Comforting
Location – 218 W Kinzie (Kinzie and Wells)
Food – I had no idea what to expect from Bavette’s (you know, other than bar and beef) and ended up being pleasantly surprised. The cuisine is ideal for the onset of winter – rich comfort food. I ended up having the burger, which was the perfect size for this hungry gal. I added a side of pomme frite because I was on a calorie binge. Did I stop there? Of course not. I topped off the meal with creamed spinach that had bleu cheese and caramelized onions. Did I have indigestion after that decadent meal? Yes. Was it worth it? Yes. Would I come back? In an instant.
Drink –The place feels like a 20’s speakeasy. The drink list fit the environment perfectly. I ended up going for the French 75, which was large, tasty and lasted me through the entire meal.
Service – Our server was chatty, and she provided good recommendations on the food and drink front.
Scene – This is where the restaurant really flourishes. When I sat down in our round booth, I actually felt like I was taken to another time period. The restaurant is decorated like a 20’s speakeasy. Everything in the restaurant aligns with that theme, from the seats to the bartender’s outfits. It’s a really fun experience.
Occasion – The occasion set for Bavette’s is vast. I could see this as a fun date spot or a good place with the girls or the guys. I’m considering having my next birthday party here.
Price – I spent $48 with tax and tip. The cost per calorie made this a bargain.
If you like, try…Gilt (same owner)
In one word – Reassuring
Location – 2723 N. Clark (Clark and Diversey)
Food – The Peasantry bills itself as “elevated street food” – everything you could get from a food truck, just much more gourmet. We started with the pigs in a blanket, which was actually chorizo wrapped in dough served on a bed of white beans and bacon. Excellent, but note that the spicy chorizo is an overpowering element. We then had the reconstructed poutine. I asked why it was reconstructed; we were told it was because the duck confit was separate from the gravy. Anyway, served on a bed of waffle fries, it was unhealthy and delicious. We then finished off with the pork belly gyro. Less like a gyro and more like pork belly on a crispy crepe (which is a compliment).
Drink – They have a craft beer and wine list, but I was fine with their house selection ($6.50 / glass, perfection).
Service – So nice to us! We had lots of questions and asked of all their recommendations. I trusted all the opinions of our servers. They were honest and genuinely wanted to ensure we were happy with the meal.
Scene – The vibe of the restaurant is laid back, though the patrons near us were stereotypical Lincoln Park. Not ideal, but reminded me that I am a smart woman and should feel grateful for that fact. No offense if you live in Lincoln Park.
Occasion – Come here to meet up with friends or for a first date.
Price – We split the meal in half and it came to $37. For the amount we had to eat plus wine, I was impressed with the value.
If you like, try…the Gage
In one word – Customized
Location – 666 W Diversey Parkway (Diversey & Clark)
Food – This is a classy diner option in Lincoln Park, where you can customized your burger to your high maintenance needs. Once seated, you fill out a card where you state your chosen protein, cheese and toppings. Making these decisions gave me the same stress I feel when picking out my stirfry at Flat Top Grill. For some reason, whether or not add roasted garlic aioli feels like the decision that could alter the course of my life. However, I got lucky and made a good decision this time – 1/3 lb of turkey with swiss cheese, grilled onions, avocado, tomato and ginger soy glaze. And sweet potato fries. Do yourself a favor and order the sweet potato fries.
Drink – They have normal diner beverages, including floats.
Service – Essentially you need someone to take the sheet of paper that you fill out and deliver it to the kitchen and then come back in a reasonable amount of time with your order. All systems were go, and I found no fault in the service.
Scene – It’s feels like a futuristic diner in here. I appreciated the cleanliness of the establishment, sometimes a characteristic lacking in a diner…Very casual. Come here during the day in your best hoodie.
Occasion – I wouldn’t say this is a destination, but if you find yourself in this area, it’s worth room in your stomach.
Price – $19.12 for a burger, soda and sharing sweet potato fries. Yeah, it was expensive, but I didn’t have buyer’s remorse.
If you like, try – DMK Burger Bar
In one word – Patience
Location – 401 1/2 N. Franklin (Franklin and Kinzie)
Food – I had read so much hype about the Doughnut Vault, I had to try it myself. To obtain a doughnut from the Doughnut Vault, you stand in a long line that weaves from Franklin onto Kinzie for minimum 45 minutes (my wait on a Saturday was 65 minutes). And when you finally are able to enter the vault, which can fit 5 people max, you can order a selection of doughnuts. When I finally got in the special birthday cake doughnut was sold out (mega FAIL), so I tried the chestnut and the chocolate glazed doughnuts. Beware, these doughnuts are giant. I truly believe that a normal sized human being should/can only have half a doughnut (unless feeling sick from overindulging in sugar is your thing). The doughnuts were special. Whether it was worth the wait is debatable, but I think everyone should have the Doughnut Vault at least once.
Drink – You can get Metropolis Coffee here, which tasted great to me after my long uncaffeinated wait.
Service – You really only interact with the cashier for about a minute. But, she was fast, so I was appreciative. It’s cash only, so leave the plastic at home.
Scene – So much of the experience is the wait. When you stand in line for that long, you are forced to become friendly with your neighboring fellow patrons (whether you want to or not). So, it became a very social, community experience. We learned about where our neighbors were from, what they liked and didn’t like about living in the city and which doughnuts they were going to buy. Misanthropes, you’ve been warn.
Occasion – I dragged my friend with me to stand in line for over an hour. She was not pleased. Find a patient person to go with.
Price – $10 for 3 doughnuts and a coffee.
If you like, try – Krispy Kreme?
In one word – Sociable
Location – 5260 N. Clark (Clark and Berwyn)
Food – I had a bunch of friends getting together, so I thought that Lady Gregory’s would be the ideal venue to catch up over food and drinks. We started with Goat Cheese, Basil, Tomato Flat Bread (ah-maze) and then the sweet potato fries, which frankly weren’t that awesome (go to Hopleaf for their curry fries instead). I wasn’t super hungry after that, so I had Cavolo Nero soup, which had white beans and kale. Loved loved loved it. And, it was a very generous portion. My eating partners had the portobello mushroom sandwich (got good reviews), the Gastro Burger (which is like eating 3 burgers at once) and the macaroni & cheese (which looked like a heart attack on a plate…in a good way).
Drink – This place prides itself on its beer and whiskey selection. The whiskey list alone is an entire book.
Service – Our server was named Laura, and she was fantastic. The group I was with was energetic and sociable, and she indulged us in conversation and quality recommendation.
Scene – Like Branch 27, Lady Gregory’s is modeled after a library. The library vibe wasn’t too strong where we were sitting, but it did feel like a social English pub (which I liked). The place was full despite it being a Wednesday night during the holidays. And, I appreciated that they allowed us to sit despite not all of our party being present when our table was ready.
Occasion – This is a fun place to catch up with friends, no matter the size of your group.
Price – I spent $37 for my soup, my share of appetizers, 2 beers and a generous tip (because Laura was really exceptional).
If you like, try – Wilde (same owner), Duke of Perth
In one word – Gourmet
Location – 615 N. State (State and Ontario)
Food – I am always open to gourmet chefs opening affordable spots for us less-fancy folks (see – Rick Bayless and all his jazz at Macy’s and Xoco). Graham Elliot did the same with this little sandwich spot on State. I opted for the vegetarian option on the menu, the Portobello Gyro, which had these great marinated portobello mushrooms with tomatoes, cucumber, tzatiki and feta cheese. All of it was served on a great pita. It was the most messy sandwich I’ve eaten in a while, but I thought it was totally worth it. My eating partner had the same and came to the same satisfied conclusion. I was full, but not too full after lunch. They also had popcorn and soft serve ice cream, which I plan to indulge in at some point.
Drink – I didn’t try them, but they make their own sodas here and have exotic-sounding flavors like vanilla kola.
Service – There is no table service. You order at a register and the cashier puts your order into a fancy iPad (how modern of them!). It took them about 5 minutes to make our sandwich. Works for me.
Scene – When I came, there were many families of tourists. The eating experience is fast, so they shouldn’t bother you too much. Worst comes to worst, take your food to go.
Occasion – When your parents come to the city and you need a lunch break as you are shopping on Michigan and State, come here.
Price – With tax, my sandwich was $8.88.
If you like, try – Xoco, Hannah’s Bretzel
In one word –Accomodating
Location – 837 W. Fulton (Fulton and Green)
Food – Among my eating partners, there was a gluten allergy and a shellfish allergy. Our server didn’t flinch and was knowledgeable about what was in bounds and out of bounds for us. I was impressed by the willingness to accommodate. And even with our restrictions, holy food coma. You go to the Publican for meat – and mission accomplished. We started with the Taste of 3 Hams, which was consisted of a platter of serrano, country ham and an american cut from Iowa. This dish is falsely named – it is actually just 3 Hams. There is so much pig on this plate, so order only if you are a big eater. We then partook in the Hamachi Crudo, which was a great lighter option. Then the Half Grilled Chicken with Summer Sausage and Frites appeared (how much did we order?). The chicken was succulent and the sausage was nicely charred (it wasn’t my favorite, but my eating partners loved it). I wasn’t impressed with the frites, but let’s be real, after eating 3 pigs on a plate, I didn’t need to eat french fries. What dazzled my palette was the Suckling Pig – it was sweet and simple. It’s just a bowl of confit-style pig. Moving to the sides (yes, my eating partners and I are fatties), I was most impressed by the Brussel Sprouts, that are served with both burrata cheese AND parmesan. I was really excited by the Squash Gratin, but let down in execution – I just thought the cheese was too overpowering (yes, I know what gratin is, but still). The Cauliflower was forgettable.
Drink – We drank cider – which was perfect. With the amount we ate, we couldn’t afford to get full on beer. Try both the Basa Jaun and the E.B. Poire.
Service – I mentioned how accommodating and knowledgeable our server was. Overall I found service to be very good.
Scene – We were seated at the communal table, so I found it a delicate balance of shouting to be heard and speaking softly enough so that my gossip didn’t become common knowledge for my stranger neighbors. Also, single ladies – there are a lot of men in this restaurant.
Occasion – This is a great place for groups. Some of the tables are singled off into pig pen type set-ups ideal for parties of 4. I think the occasions to come to the Publican are varied and broad – anything from a nice Friday out to a special birthday or anniversary.
Price – When you order the farm, you pay for it. I paid $63 for my share including tax and tip.
If you like, try…avec, Longman & Eagle
In one word – Cavernous
Location – 230 W. Kinzie (Kinzie and Franklin)
Food – Last night was cold, windy and rainy, so I took the opportunity to dive into autumnal comfort food. My eating partner and I went halfsies on the meal and started with the beet salad, which was served with hazelnuts, whipped goat cheese and preserved lemon. I thought the cheese was overabundant on the plate, but beyond that it was quite satisfying. Then we moved to the salmon. Because they pan roast it, it was perfectly crispy on the outside. It’s then served with brown butter, capers and lemon. It was a far better version of what I would cook at home for myself. Points for execution but not for creativity. Then we had the butternut squash ricotta gnocchi which ROCKED MY WORLD. Team, be real, you put pancetta, sage, squash and pasta in a bowl and I am happy. Note that it’s really sweet for a pasta dish, so if you have an aversion to sweetness (which I clearly do not), beware. My eating partner was in it to win it and wanted dessert, so he got the warm milk chocolate chunk brownie (which is actually 3 brownies). I had a bite (or three) – super rich and perfect for those who enjoy decadent chocolate.
Drink – They have a pretty decent cocktail list. My eating partner had the Sazerac, which is one of those rye drinks that all the hipsters are drinking. I had a Grenache/Syrah blend, which the recommendation of our server and was perfect for me.
Service – Good things to say here, I found our server to be attentive and offer good recommendations. And, as long time readers know, I love it when someone from the restaurant says I made a good choice for my order. He did that.
Scene – It was cold, rainy, windy and a Wednesday, yet Gilt was bumpin’. You definitely need a reservation unless you want to go to their lounge or bar. The restaurant is pretty dark and with all its unfinished wood accents and candles, it felt pretty cavernous to me.
Occasion – I found the restaurant to be pretty loud, so this is a place that I would recommend taking a group to. They seemed to have more 4 tops and communal tables than most places, so they probably are pretty accommodating.
Price – I didn’t think it was cheap. We split the meal (but my glass of wine was far too expensive), so I was putting down $60 with tax and tip. More than I would pay on a Wednesday normally, but appropriate for a Friday or Saturday.
If you like, try…Publican, avec, Longman & Eagle
In one word – Comforting
Location – 228 W. Chicago (Chicago and Franklin)
Food – Farmhouse boasts a robust menu of Midwestern comfort food. They claim to make their own burgers, sausages, condiments and sodas from scratch. According to my taste buds, this is no lie. My eating partner and I started out by sharing the fried cheese curds. The experience was better than being at a county fair in Wisconsin. I was embarrassed by how aggressively I attacked the appetizer, but I really wanted to get more than my fair share of the dish. As the main, we cut the calories and shared the veggie burger (my eating partner doesn’t do the meat). I will say with confidence that this veggie burger (mushroom-based) was the most satisfying one I have ever had. It didn’t hurt that it was topped with gouda, roasted garlic mayo, not to mention the home-made fries on the side.
Drink – If the Midwestern food doesn’t win you over, perhaps the Midwestern drink will. I have never seen such an extensive list of Midwest craft beers in a restaurant. Because I’m so sophisticated, I picked an “import” – the Ommegang Hennepin from Cooperstown, NY. Very pleased with the choice.
Service – I found our server to be very amicable and very knowledgeable when answering our beer questions. She also affirmed our food decisions, which I always appreciate when dining at a place for the first time.
Scene – The restaurant is not that big, so there are a lot of people crammed into a relative small space. As a result, it’s loud and feels filled with energy. Beyond that, everyone there is really casual – It’s kind of weird to get dolled up for Midwest comfort food and craft beer.
Occasion – My impression is that it’s better to go with a smaller party just because of the size of the tables and restaurants. However, I may not go for a first date just because it’s loud. Go once your relationship is really stable and you’d rather focus on cheese curds than each other.
Dress – Save the fancy dress for Hubbard Street. Come as you are in jeans.
Price – #Winning! $20 to share cheese curds, a burger and a craft beer (I didn’t share the beer, obvi). If you are a bigger eater than my dieting self, then you’ll probably spend $25-30.
If you like, try…Hopleaf
Location– 501 North Ogden (Ogden and Grand)
In one word– Filling
Food– I won’t lie; I’m a big fan of their brunch menu. I’ll challenge anyone to find a better fried egg sandwich, though I do prefer to order french fries instead of the home fries with it. They have a great selection of sandwiches if you’re headed here for lunch or dinner; I’ve not been disappointed with any selection that I’ve made to date. The ‘fat boy’ burger is huge, and endlessly customizable. One thing to note is that I’ve never left here hungry, but I’ve been disappointed with their appetizers a few times. I’d stick to drinks and sandwiches or come for brunch.
Drink– One of the biggest selections of whiskeys, scotches, and tequilas I’ve seen. If you like a particular brand of brown liquor, chances are they’ll have it. They also have a solid mixed drink menu, including a variety of Bloody Marys as well as a $125 Manhattan (haven’t tried it). The beer list is nothing to sniff at either; I think they have 12 drafts and dozens of bottled options.
Service– First and foremost, the Twisted Spoke styles itself a biker bar. You’re not here for the service. I’ve never had any serious complaints about the wait-staff; the biggest problem is that they don’t come by to refill your drinks quickly enough.
Scene– You do get an actual biker bar crowd in here sometimes, most of the time though it’s people watching a game or some yuppies taking a walk on the wild side. They do have a nice rooftop seating area, but the surroundings aren’t much to look at.
Dress– Anything you want, I’d actually be careful of wearing anything too nice as you’re likely to spill something from sandwich on to it.
Occasion– A casual night out drinking good beer while having a great selection of drinks and tasty food available, or an alternative to the crowds found further north and west for brunch.
Cost– Sandwiches $10, drinks about the same, though prepare for that drink bill to be high.
If you like, try… Kuma’s Corner, Hop Leaf
written by ieatthis