Saturday, September 20, 2008

Oh Yumm! Bistro

One of my favorite neighborhood restaurants (not in my neighborhood unfortunately) is Oh Yumm! Bistro on 56th and Illinois. I have been there many times and am usually quite pleased with the food. They have a traditional menu with salads and entrees and then they have an entire page devoted to what can either be appetizers or tapas. I love tapas because I love to get to eat lots of things with different flavors and because you are pretty much guaranteed the portions will not be too big. They only time I have ever ordered an entree was when we had a larger group and just added one of the entrees to our tapas order to share.

Hubby and I went on a Friday night--one of the few times I have been there on one of their busier nights because usually we eat out midweek. As per usual, we ordered several tapas to share. We had the guacamole with chips (and a tomato relish), fried green tomatoes with a tomato/corn relish and arugula pesto, crispy fried calamari with spicy marinara, the mini pizza (based on a tortilla) with shrimp, pesto, cheese, bacon and caramelized onions, and the petite slider with gorgonzola (you can choose between gorgonzola, goat cheese or chedder) with pickled red onions.

Everything we had was really good. The guacamole is fresh and chunky, the way I like it, and the chips are clearly house made. Tasty, and a good thing to share. The fried green tomatoes were really tasty too. The fried items at Oh Yumm are always prepared with a light touch, so you don't feel like they are too greasy or over the top. The corn and tomato relish and arugula pesto was what really made it though--all the flavors combined really well. Those things really are the taste of summer in the midwest.

Speaking of fried items, we also had the calamari--I think this may be the best calamari I have had in this City (sorry if I have said that before!). The calamari was in no way chewy as it can get sometimes (ok, a lot of times) at other places when it is overcooked. And again, the batter is quite light and goes really well with the spicy marinara sauce. It is very simply prepared, with just a sprinkling of sea salt, but it doesn't need anything else.

We almost always get the pizza. The toppings vary from season to season and some are definitely better than others. And what they do to their tortilla crust is one of the things that makes the whole item so delish. I think they lightly pan fry it in butter--ok, that is maybe not the health option, but oh so tasty nonetheless. As for the toppings on this one, it was quite a list. Shrimp, pesto, cheese, caramelized onions and bacon crumbles. Now, don't get me wrong, I love ALL those things, but it was maybe just a few too many things on such a dainty pizza. Tasted good, if not a little rich for me. I think some of the simpler ones in the past may have been better. Not sure though. I guess it depends on what the toppings are.

Lastly, we had the petite slider with gorgonzola (if there is blue cheese involved, you know we like it). The thing I like best about this little burger (not being a big burger eater myself) is the pickled red onions. They are so good. They remind me of this little Peruvian place I used to eat at when I worked in Oakland, CA. The slider is almost always on the menu I think, and like I said there is some sort of tortilla pizza, but many of the other items change seasonally. Sometimes I will be sad to see certain items go, but they always come up with something new that is just as good.

I really like the bistro-ishness of this place too. It is in a store front right on Illinois (basically across the street from the Safeway) and it really has that neighborhood restaurant feel. It is small, although in the warm months they have decent outside seating in front of the restaurant (although I have something about being THAT close to the traffic, but obviously that is just me since the outside area was much fuller than the inside). The servers are generally friendly, and we have had the same guy the last several times we have been there who I really like.

I have to comment on the one negative from this particular evening however. As I said, it was a Friday, and they were busy (but not packed) and they seemed to be having some service issues. I am not sure exactly what the problem was, but the host seemed a bit overwhelmed and when I asked if we could have a 4 person table (even though we were only 2) because we always get the tapas and often need the extra space, he said no, they had reservations for them. This is fine, I completely understand. But from 7:30 when we got there, until nearly 9:00 when we left, three 4-top tables went unseated inside. Now, maybe they decided to sit outside after arriving, but it was a little annoying. And they were short of menus. How this happens, I do not know, but it took us a good 15 minutes after being seated to get our menus. And although our waiter knows what he is doing, everything on this night seemed off. The bread came after some of the food and it took a bit to get our wine. I don't want you to think though that this is usual, because it is the first time we have had this problem in the probably 8-10 times we have been there. But again, we don't usually go during peak times, so maybe it is more common than I know. But I am guessing not.

Regardless, this is a great, locally owned neighborhood restaurant that is definitely worth a trip. Also, although we haven't tried it yet, they also serve lunch during the week and brunch on the weekends and have a kids menu. When mine are a bit older, I hope to make this a regular family place to go as well.

Oh Yumm! Bistro
5615 North Illinois


  1. I really need someone to explain Oh Yumm to me. Maybe we order the wrong things (though if it's on the menu, it shouldn't be "wrong"). I really want to like this place because it's in my neighborhood and I love bistros, but we've tried it three times and it's been bad to inedible all three. And the service was awful all three times. Yet it's constantly busy. And I like everything from foie gras and truffles to a nice quarter pounder with cheese, so it's not like I'm overly picky or sophisticated or hard to please. Help!

  2. Well, silver, my advice is this: only order off the tapas menu...not the regular dinner menu. And they certainly have service issues...I will be posting a new review soon...