Thursday, September 27, 2012

Blu Moon Café

I was running errands in Carmel the other day (can someone tell me why Indy doesn’t have a party supply store?) and decided to stop into Blu Moon café.  It is one of those places that has been on my radar for awhile, but I just hadn’t managed to get in there.  It is a casual place where you order at the register and they bring you the food. The guy who was working at the register was really nice and helpful and helped me make up my mind about what to order. 
I got the blt with avocado (around $7).  Not a big surprise since this is one of my favorite sandwich combos in general.  And this one was very good. The ingredients were all really good, and there was a substantial amount of a garlic aioli that really added to the flavor of the sandwich.  The bacon was nice and crisp (and plentiful) and the tomato and avocado was ripe. The sandwich was on thin sliced bread that was pressed in a Panini press making the whole thing warm and toasty.  If I could improve it, I would probably just make the bread a little thinner.  It ended up being a fairly bready sandwich. although it was a good quality sandwich overall.

little sample of the egg salad
While I was ordering I also asked if I could try their egg salad, as I am a fan of egg salad in general, although I am kind of picky about it (tons of celery is a big turn off for me). This one looked unique though—yellower than most and I could see there was capers in it.  It was actually really nice big pieces of the boiled egg with Dijon mustard and capers as well as some finely diced red onion.  It was really quite good. I think next time I would get that in something. I liked the slight variation from the standard egg salad.

Blu Moon seems to be one of those places that is making a good effort to make interesting food with really good and fairly healthy ingredients. The people are really friendly, and the place is pretty welcoming.  I think it is the kind of place that Carmel is probably somewhat lacking in.  I would really be interested to hear what other people have eaten there and what others’ experiences have been.  So let me know will ya?

Blu Moon
200 S. Rangeline Road
Carmel, IN 46032
(they’re on facebook)

Monday, September 24, 2012

Meridian - Revisit

Hubby and I realized we hadn’t yet been to Meridian since the chef change, and after a friend texted me about the steak tartare she was eating there, I knew it was time.  I am a sucker for steak tartare (or tuna tartare, or whatever tartare).

Hubby and I took advantage of the lovely weather we were having (hello, autumn, I have missed you) and sat out on their patio. Alone for quite awhile (the place was just not very busy), but it was still lovely.  We were mostly excited by the appetizers, which if you read a lot you know is often the case, and decided to split several.  We started with the prime beef tartare (I think it was around $12) which was very good.  The beef was, well, raw and nice and tender and flavorful, and when you added the egg yolk on top, it turned into a wonderful creamy mix.  You need something to cut the richness, and there was some capers and onion mixed with the meat.  It was served on top of a horseradish cream, which was the right amount of heat to help as well, although I wished there had been just a little more of it.  The ripe bits of tomatoes were a nice acidic complement as well, and we LOVED the crispy fried garbanzo beans.  We only regretted sort of stirring them in a little too soon, because they lost their crispness and they had been so great when you bit into a crispy one.  Next time (and I will get it again if it is on the menu) I would scoot them aside and parcel them out with each bite.  The flatbread served with it had a nice flavor too and the crispy edges were my favorite part.  I would love them to be a little crispier as I am partial to things like potato chips with my tartare, but that’s just my own preference.  You really didn’t care that much about the vehicle since the rest of it was so good.

We then got two more appetizers to share—the shrimp and grits ($13.25) and the hot/cold smoked salmon ($11.50).  The shrimp also featured an egg, a perfectly cooked sunny side up egg that was quite honestly the highlight of the dish.  Not to say the rest wasn’t good, because it was—the whole dish was great. There were two large shrimp on top of nice creamy grits with thin asparagus spears, melted leeks (one of my other favorite ingredients), that egg and little prosciutto. It was like a perfect breakfast—a little ham, a little egg, and some grits. Oh and shrimp. Honestly, I would be hard pressed to not get this again as well.

Hubby says the salmon was one of the menu items that has been on the Meridian menu for awhile, but honestly I can’t tell you if he is right or not.  I can tell you that we enjoyed it although probably not quite as much as the other two dishes.  It is ball of herby creamy cheese with the hot smoked salmon mixed in—it has that smokier flavor.  Layered around the ball was the cold smoked salmon making a lovely presentation. The salmon was on top of red onion marmalade and drizzled with herb oil. I liked the marmalade for a little bit of sweet and tartness with the smoky salmon. It was served with nicely oiled and toasted sliced of bread, which was nice and thin to maintain all the flavor of the salmon.  It is a very generous portion and probably a better portion to share with more than 2 people—it was the only thing we didn’t finish (and lick the plate).  We also had a side of the fries ($5.50), which are really quite good.  Our server told me one of their secrets is using a little sugar with the salt.  They didn't taste sweet to me at all, but they were really good--fresh and crisp and plenty salty. They didn't really need the ketchup that came with them and they were good for dipping up leftover sauce from the other plates.

We had the classic Meridian dessert-- one which I know has been on the menu for awhile because I have had it before—the fresh made doughnuts.  As always, you can’t really go wrong with freshly made hot doughnuts.  They are shaken in cinnamon sugar and served with malted coffee to dip in.  It’s a good one to share and hit the spot for a sweet ending, even if they aren’t mind blowing or anything.

We thoroughly enjoyed the meal and felt like with three appetizers between us, we had more than enough food.  I am imagining the entrées are huge.  I was a little concerned with their business though—the restaurant was pretty empty (including the patio) and a friend who went recently on a Saturday said the same thing.  Our server, while exceptionally knowledgeable about the food and the chef, was almost over the top in the amount of information he gave (it was a situation in which I am pretty sure he assumed we knew nothing about food which I find annoying).  But the food alone will make us return for sure.

5694 N. Meridian
Indy 46208

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Pure Eatery

This was a place that had been on my list for quite awhile and then randomly, several different people mentioned it to me in the course of a week, so I took that as a sign (it doesn’t take much for me when it comes to trying a new restaurant).  I was a little surprised when we walked into the place—I was expecting a basic lunchy-sandwich kind of place and it is actually quite large, nicer than what I expected,  has dinner AND beer and wine.

The menu is pretty big too, and a lot of things sounded good to me, but being in an eggy mood, and always slightly intrigued by any taco I see on a menu, I tried 2 of the breakfast tacos ($3.20 each for the several varieties).  I had the # 3 and the #5 and enjoyed both quite a bit.  The #3 is egg, blue cheese, bacon and green onion mayo.  This was probably my favorite although I liked them both.  It was very creamy—between the blue cheese and the green onion mayo—and it had that salty kick from both which kept it unique and not bland at all.  Honestly, I didn’t get a lot of bacon in this looking back, but honestly, it didn’t really need it.

The #5 had bacon, egg, white cheddar, potato, and jalapeno-cilantro sour cream.  It was slightly more of the traditional taco flavors. Again, I didn’t get a ton of bacon, and the potato showed up mainly in the last two bites of the taco.  I might have enjoyed a bit more bacon in this one, as it was more of a breakfast flavor with the potatoes, egg, bacon and cheese.  The tortillas were nicely warmed and slightly crispy though, and both were worth getting.

I also had a side of the dill potato salad ($2.75) to round out the meal.  I asked the server how it was and he said good, although very “dilly.”  That part was true, and didn’t bother me, but the red potatoes in it were just a bit too firm for me.  It wasn’t bad, but I think I would get something else next time.

The BFF had the roasted veggie panini ($7.80) which was quite good as well (well, based on the couple of bites I had).  I liked the way the server told her (when she asked) to get the whole sandwich vs. the half based on the fact that because it was veggie, it wasn’t as big or filling.  We both agreed that we liked that it had a lot of different veggies in it—not just the ones you typically see in veggie sandwiches.  There were Portobello mushrooms, yellow squash, zucchini, tomato and red onion, as well as provolone and Chipotle mayo.  I also liked that there were no roasted peppers which to me, always overwhelm any other flavors in sandwiches like this.  The mayo had a kick of spice and flavor that took roasted veggies up a notch.  The locally made potato chips from the Amazing Potato Chip Company were really good as well (love that they’re the thinner variety).

A very good experience overall, and a nice place with an exceptionally down-to-earth and friendly server.  Again, I didn’t realize it was more than a lunch place, but after eating there I told hubby we should give it a go one night for dinner.

Pure Eatery
1043 Virginia Ave
Indy 46203
Pure Eatery on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 17, 2012

Ocean Prime

It’s new, so of course I had to try it.  I have heard a lot of mixed things—but am always excited to see for myself, particularly when it is so close to my house.  We met my parents and my sister and her husband one night for dinner. I always enjoy these meals because my family knows they have to share whatever they order.  They are down with blog participation.

Hubby and I perused the menu before we got there because we knew we would need lots of time for negotiations—the menu is pretty big.  After guessing what my family would order (with a high degree of accuracy I might add), we decided to go with a meal of lots of appetizers to share between us. 

We started with the tuna tartare ($16) and an order of the fried calamari ($14) for the table.  Hubby and I mainly ate the tartare and enjoyed it. I liked the way they had mixed the slivers of fried wontons right into it.  It had a fair amount of avocado and was topped with some crème fraiche. The whole thing sat in a ginger ponzu sauce.  I tend to like ponzu—which is soy based with some citrus mixed in as well. Sounds like it would be a great combo with the tuna and it was good—it just had a little strange twist of sweetness, almost like there was some sweet chili oil in there too.  But all in all, an enjoyable dish.  My family really likes the calamari which is fried and served with a true sweet chili oil and candied cashews.  The calamari itself was really good—very fresh and really tender.  I have pretty much come to the conclusion that I am tired of sweet chili oil though—it seems like it is on so many menus these days.  It is certainly a very generous portion and easy to share.  If you like calamari, and a slightly sweeter taste, you will probably like this.

Next, hubby and I split the Shellfish “cobb” salad ($19).  I was intrigued by the salad because it was about as close to a Louis salad as I have seen around town and I desperately miss them.  There was lettuce, blue cheese, chopped egg, and shellfish—lobster, crab and shrimp.  Strangely, the dressing with it was called “gourmet” dressing—really? Is that a technical name for a dressing?  When asked the server told me it was egg and champagne vinaigrette based and described it as “dull” which I thought was a little weird.  It wasn’t bad, and the salad contained a whole bunch of my favorite things on a plate, but overall, it just didn’t seem to mesh together. I am not exactly sure why.  I appreciated that they split the salad evenly between us.  I think I enjoyed my sister’s Ocean Prime house salad better—the dressing (a Sherry vinaigrette with some Dijon) was very good.  The salad had lettuce, spinach, apples, goat cheese and walnuts. It was well done.

For my “main” dish, I had the goat cheese ravioli appetizer ($11).  Even though it wasn’t steak or seafood, I thought it was the best thing on the table all night.  The pasta was housemade (that makes me so happy) and was stuffed with goat cheese—the broth it sat in was buttery and lemony and there were also thinly sliced shitake mushrooms scattered throughout, which added a nice earthy flavor to go along with the sharpness of the goat cheese and lemon.  Even my brother in law liked it, and he claims not to like goat cheese.

Hubby had the “signature appetizer” crab cake ($16) for his entrée (you can get it as an app or entrée; he went with the smaller version).  I had heard decent things about it and it was so well featured in the menu, I had pretty high hopes, even though generally crab cakes bore the crap out of me these days.  This one was not very good—it wasn’t that crabby—more of a flatter pancake kind of version without much of the crabby lumps I like.  Hubby was really disappointed.

We had bites of pretty much everyone else’s food—steak, shrimp pasta, scallops and lobster.  It was all cooked properly (well, the shrimp was a bit tough) and was enjoyed by the people who ordered it.  It was pretty classic steakhouse type food.  We also all shared a couple of sides—one I really liked and one was a bit of a letdown.  The jalapeno au gratin potatoes ($10) were really good—the potatoes were more shredded, had just a hint of heat from the peppers and lots of Swiss cheese which was nice.  They were cheesy but not so much so that you felt like you were just eating cheese.  They were worth ordering for sure.  The black truffle mac and cheese ($12) was a letdown.  One of my big pet peeves is when something is called “truffle” and has absolutely no truffle flavor (but is still priced as if it does).  You can see the two slices of truffle in the picture, but that is the only evidence of truffles.  By looking at the picture you can taste the truffle flavor as much as I could that night.  The mac and cheese wasn’t a bad basic mac and cheese, but I was sad about the truffles.
Desserts were good as well--hubby and I shared the peanut butter pie ($9) (we have a peanut allergy in our house, so we never have peanut stuff in the house, so it always seems extra decadent).  It was really very good.  I am not sure I would call it a "pie," but regardless, I would say it was tasty.  It was basically peanut butter mousses covered in a dark chocolate ganache.  The middle was very light and soft and the chocolate super rich.  Like an amazing peanut butter cup.

Overall, it’s a nice place, very popular with some highlights on the menu for sure.  The interior is nice, although many of the tables are kind of cramped together.  They have a great looking outside bar area in which I would enjoy grabbing an appetizer and a glass of wine some time. There are definitely ups and downs food-wise, and it is pretty pricey, so some of the entrées are kind of risky endeavors if you don’t want to spend a lot.  I do like that they have a fair amount of non-steak (and mainly seafood) entrée options.  I would go back, but I would probably stick with appetizers. 

Who else has gone? What was your experience like?

Ocean Prime
8555 North River Road
Indy  46240

Ocean Prime on Urbanspoon

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Detour American Grille Express


I was excited about an independent casual restaurant opening near us in the Fashion Mall area (it’s over by Kohl’s)—we are always looking for nearby places to take the kids for lunch. There are about 1000 chain options, but obviously we prefer to go to a locally owned place if possible.  I have never been to the branch of Detour in Carmel, where it started, but I was looking forward to a possible new option.

The first thing I noticed about the place was how sort of corporate it looked—the inside is very clean and well, I don’t know, kind of generic I guess.  You order your food at the register and then a runner brings it to you.  The menu is pretty straightforward—burgers, sandwiches and wraps with various fried side dishes.  I opted for the “hard hat” sandwich which they describe as “a grilled cheese with a twist” ($9.99).  It has 2 kinds of cheese, tomato, avocado and ham and is served on sourdough bread. I opted to go without the ham because if I am having a grilled cheese, I want a grilled cheese, not a ham and cheese sandwich. Also, I am particular about my ham. Ok, so for $10 I was expecting a pretty big and gooey grilled cheese sandwich. I was imagining a fairly thick homemade type of sandwich with lots of stuff.  Well what I got was a sandwich that reminded me a bit of a school cafeteria.  There was thin small bread with a couple of slices of cheese, a couple of very thin (and have to say fairly flavorless) tomatoes, a couple of slices of avocado (it was ripe though which was good) and there really isn’t much more to say.  It wasn’t gooey, it wasn’t memorable.  It wasn’t worth $10 (and an extra $.99 to add the tater tots).  The tater tots were as good as they get. I mean, every now and then they sound good and this was one of those days for me.  But again, it added to the whole school cafeteria vibe.

Hubby was trying to be healthy and ordered tomato basil soup ($2.99) and a salad ($3.99).  I can tell you he was very annoyed by the salad. It was pretty small.  He kept comparing it to a garnish. And the dressing (Yuzu-ginger vinaigrette) was really oily.  He thought the soup was decent—he really likes tomato basil soup. I tasted it and it was fine. Basic, nothing fancy, but good enough if you’re in the mood for tomato soup.

So my daughter just wanted a plain cheese quesadilla, which wasn’t on the kids menu, but they do serve one that is on the regular menu that comes with all kinds of other stuff inside—chicken, beans and peppers.  She didn’t want any of this stuff and they made it for her, but still charged us $10.99 for it (which is expensive in my opinion either way you look at it).  I didn’t realize this until after hubby had paid and told me that our bill was like $42 or I would have made her get something else. My son had mini corn dogs ($5.99) which were standard food service type.  The fries that came with were pretty good—they leaned toward the thinner side with a bit of skin on them.

They also have this super fancy soda machine that you can use to mix up 100s of different flavors of soda (say you press Coke, you can get it flavored with like 6 other flavors as well if you want).  My kids (and I am sure most kids) found it intriguing and wanted to play with it A LOT.  I found it a bit annoying since they don’t drink soda.  You can get lemonade flavored many different ways as well. The drinks (for adults) are $2. 

So all in all, I feel like this place is really expensive for the quality of food you are getting. I don’t know, maybe the burgers are better, but based on our experience, I doubt we will be repeating, no matter how much the kids want to play with that soda machine.  I did notice on the back of the menu and their website that they are looking for people to franchise the restaurant, and to me, it has the feel of a chain already even though it isn’t.  And I think they are charging a bit too much to make it really a fast food type option. 

***Note, since publishing, Detour Express has left a comment that they have lowered prices on many items.

Detour American Grille Express
8487 Union Chapel Road
Indy 46240
Detour American Grille Express on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 10, 2012

Tiger Lily - Revisit

After having a friend tell me that he really liked Tiger Lily, and since I haven’t been back since my first visit shortly after they opened, I met my friend wibia there for a quick lunch the other day.  My friend who had recommended I go back told me that he really liked the hot and sour soup so I ordered that to start ($2.50).  It was very good.  It was very full of all the typical hot and sour ingredients (bamboo shoots, mushrooms and lots of tofu).  I liked that the veggies were still fairly crisp, but not too crisp and I loved all the tofu in it.  It also had a decent amount of acidity from the vinegar (sour) and just enough of the spiciness (hot).  Our only complaint (we both had the same soup) is that it wasn’t very hot temperature-wise.  Not cold or anything, just not hot.

So after ordering what I wanted, which was a noodle dish, our (very pleasant) server came back to tell me they were out of it.  I went with garlic chicken ($6.50), which is sort of a standby dish for me at Chinese places.  I am bummed I didn’t get to try the noodle dish because it sounded more interesting, and honestly, I wasn’t very impressed with the chicken. It was slices of white meat chicken with water chestnuts and mushrooms in a garlic sauce.  One of the things I didn’t like about either of our dishes was that there was very little of the “sauce” other than what was directly on the meat.  There was steamed rice with it, and there wasn’t enough of the flavor/sauce to make it onto the rice.  The chicken was also a bit dry on the inside as well and the garlic sauce a little bland. Maybe if they gave a bit more of it.

Wibia had the pork bulgogi and I thought it suffered many of the same problems—it was dry and had little “sauce” to it… in other words, just not a lot of flavor. I do appreciate the crisp little egg roll and crab rangoon they give you with your lunch.  I liked the egg roll because it was nice and crispy (it is on the small side) and not overly filled with stuff.  The crab Rangoon was fine, but I have rarely met one that got me excited (not my favorite thing—cream cheese just doesn’t belong many places for me besides spread on a bagel).
Anyway, it was fine, and I liked the soup, but I wish I could have tried the noodles.  So far none of the rice dishes have made me overly interested in returning and I have a feeling it may be awhile again before I do.  When this place first opened, there was a lot of buzz about it, but less so as of late. Are there still some of you that are regulars?  Love to hear what you think.

Tiger Lily Restaurant
1146 West 86th Street
Indy, 46260
(they’re on facebook)

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Café Audrey

The other day we took the kids on a trail ride at Ft. Ben (my daughter is OBSESSED with horses), and I took the opportunity to find somewhere new and nearby to try for lunch. (By the way, thanks to my twitter friends for recommending both ideas.)  We had a great time on the horses (the trails are quite pretty) and headed over to Café Audrey afterward, which is right on the Fort property.  I had checked out the menu beforehand, and noticed they offer Broaster® chicken, which is a type of fried chicken cooked in a pressure fryer.  Of course, if there was going to be fried chicken, I was going to have to try it.

The interior of the place is cute—it is one of the old brick fort buildings and is full of mismatched tables and generally friendly servers.  It wasn’t totally full, but was doing a decent business.  As soon as we ordered our drinks, I ordered the 2 piece chicken meal ($7.29) because it takes like 20 minutes to cook.  After the kids and hubby pondered the menu, they settled on chicken fingers ($5.99), a chicken quesadilla ($6.99), and the pork tenderloin sandwich ($7.49).

So the fried chicken was only ok unfortunately.  They served a breast and a leg—the leg was pretty tender and juicy, but there was really little flavor to the crispy outside.  I will say, I don’t think I have ever had hotter (temperature-wise) fried chicken in my life.  The steam that poured out of it was intense.  The breast was dry (sigh).  They served it with these battered potato wedges that were somewhat interesting—but pretty sure they probably aren’t making these themselves.  They were okay, but nothing that makes me want more.  There was also a biscuit that sadly was also a little dry. I had to ask for some butter for that puppy.

Hubby’s pork tenderloin was made in house, and I like the whole using crushed cornflake crust (there were some whole cornflakes in there too). I have had a tenderloin with this kind of crust before at Big Daddy’s downtown and I use it myself on catfish fingers I make for the kids a lot. While I really like the crunch appeal of the cornflakes as well as the slight sweetness, it couldn’t make up for the overcooked dry tenderloin inside.  It was one of those that was pounded a bit too thin and cooked a bit too long.  We had to ask for extra mayo. The sandwich was served with homemade chips which were pretty good.  I have noticed that homemade potato chips are a big trend these days—too bad more places won’t do homemade fries…but I digress.  The chips were on the thick side, but were still nice and crunchy.

Sadly, my son’s chicken fingers were more tender than the breast on my fried chicken, and were more seasoned as well.  I say sadly because they were foodservice chicken strips and not housemade. My daughter had a chicken quesadilla and a side of black beans.  I didn’t try it, but it was a nice presentation with lettuce and tomatoes on top.
All in all, it is a cute place that as hubby says, “is trying hard.”  I am sure this neighborhood could really use a good independent restaurant serving fresh made food.  I don’t know, I would be interested to try breakfast—it seems like a place that might be able to pull it off.  Honestly though the day we went was the first time I had ever heard of this place. Have any of you guys been there?  Have you tried breakfast?  Of course I would love to hear about it.

Café Audrey
9134 Otis Avenue
Indy 46216

Monday, September 3, 2012

Chicago - Summer 2012

I feel like all I have done this summer is travel.  I also feel like I have written a ton of posts lately that are not about Indy restaurants because of it.  Bear with me; this will be the last one for a bit.  We did a quickie trip to Chicago a few weeks ago and here is a brief (ok, brief for me) summary of where we ate.

We were meeting an old college friend of hubby’s and the first night we went to Quartino.  It is a loud, buzzy Italian place with a pretty wide ranging menu (good for kids, whom we had with us).  Honestly, I found everything to be fairly average – the cheese/charcuterie plate ($25) was fine, the heirloom tomato salad ($7.75) could have stood a little more flavor (people, tomatoes should be AWESOME right now or you shouldn’t be serving them), and the Rustica pizza (with potatoes, pancetta, rosemary and onion) ($12) was bland (I think there were like 6 pieces of rosemary) and should not have had a red sauce on it in my opinion.  We also had a mushroom risotto ($11.50) which was ok—it had balsamic in it giving it more of an interesting flavor than many risottos—I appreciate the acid in what is often a ridiculously heavy dish. 

So with all of these things, they weren’t really wowing us—but luckily we had also ordered the steamed clams ($11.75). Wow, these things were great.  They were the little teeny clams that I often dream about and have pretty much only had in Italy I think.  I had begun to think they were impossible to come by in this country or something.  They were in a white wine and chili broth that was also outstanding.  It had a ton of the actual wine flavor (I find many shellfish broths to be pretty watered down) and a touch of heat.  They were served with great pieces of grilled bread that completed the dish perfectly. Seriously, I would go back to this place just for the clams.  Oh, and the zeppole for dessert ($5.50).  They were great as well—super puffy and hollow freshly fried doughnuts with a dark chocolate sauce.  That would be a great little meal actually—clams and doughnuts. (Hubby says that's gross. Whatever).

Rustic House

The next night we did a meal with just the adults at Rustic House.  Our friends had read about it in a magazine and wanted to check it out.  It has a nice vibe to it—not a huge place that was pleasantly full of people, but not so loud that we couldn’t talk.  Food-wise, this place impressed us more with the appetizers and then went a little downhill overall.  The wood-grilled octopus ($13) was great—it was perfectly cooked with just a little smoky flavor and was served with tomato confit and chopped olives.  Perfect salty/acid combo with the octopus. The wood grilled oysters were good too ($15)—although very cheesy.  They had a slight spiciness from Cajun flavorings and were tempered with a bit of lemon. The handmade gnocchi ($15) was pretty good too—there was a parsley broth and a few (like 3) little pieces of foie gras.  A little more of the foie would have made this dish better—I know it is an expensive ingredient, but not THAT expensive. The duck fat marcona almonds ($5) were kind of a disappointment. They sort of just tasted like oily almonds.

I actually had another appetizer for my main—the baked shrimp with white wine and garlic butter and panko. They were disappointing and overcooked (and expensive at $16 for what was 2 or 3 shrimp). Hubby had the special prime rib ($36), which he ordered medium rare and got served medium at best. It was supposed to be cooked on their rotisserie, but I could see nothing that made it special. Our friend’s lamb T-bone chop was much better—it was perfectly cooked and tender. But I only got a bite, so I can’t talk too much about it. Our other friend had an interesting swordfish “chop” ($32) that hubby liked better than I did. I thought the fish was pretty dry.  We also had a side of the corn crème brulee which was interesting, but honestly should have been a dessert, it was so sweet.  It was pretty much a smooth cream based dish with a slight corn flavor that was sugared and caramelized on top just like crème brulee normally is.  The actual desserts were the weakest link of the meal. Completely not worth the calories. The peaches in the peach crostada ($10) were practically crunchy they were so under ripe. The blondie brownie ($10) was fine, but nothing overly memorable.  Overall, I thought this place was very hit and miss and the misses were kind of bad.  Don’t think that I would repeat this place, although you could luck into a really good meal if you happened to order right.

Table 52
On the last day we had brunch at Table 52, Chef Art Smith’s restaurant.  This was my favorite meal of the trip.  The menu looks great, but there was fried chicken and waffles ($24) on it, so it was pretty obvious what I would be ordering.  That chicken, it was outstanding. Super juicy (even the white meat) and the crust was crunchy and had just the right amount of seasoning and spice.  I mean, just look at it. It is a thing of beauty. Honestly, who even needs the waffle?  (Well, my son ate most of mine while I focused on the chicken).  Hubby had the breakfast pizza which was also outstanding ($14).  IT was a pretty large pizza crust (certainly shareable) with sawmill (or sausage) gravy, loads of cheese and bacon, and a couple of perfectly runny eggs on top. The flavors were great—I was questioning the whole gravy thing but it was perfect. You could really taste the smoky sausage flavor.  We also had a side of mac and cheese that we all shared (there were 8 of us) ($12).  Also really good—several kinds of cheeses and a crunchy breadcrumb top.  Everyone really seemed to like this.  The only downside of the place was the service was a little slow which you seem to notice more when you are dining with several children.

This is a place that takes comfort food to a new level and a place that appeals across the board to just about everyone.  They even have a “healthy” section on the menu if you don’t want to indulge in all the calories.  But if you are going here, I highly recommend you indulge.  It was totally worth it.

626 N. State
Chicago, IL 60610

Quartino on Urbanspoon

Rustic House
1967 N. Halstead Street
Chicago, IL 60614
Rustic House on Urbanspoon

Table 52
52 West Elm Street
Chicago, IL 60610
Table Fifty-Two on Urbanspoon