I have talked to several people who went before I did, and who told me that the menu and ordering system was kind of crazy. Maybe because I went in prepared for it, I didn’t find it too overwhelming, but some handheld menus to look at might be nice, instead of only being able to see it on the blackboard as you walk in. They do have a staff member who was very friendly and helpful to help you figure it out, but the fact that he was even there just demonstrates to me that people might find it confusing. I would at least add a printed version by the register so that you can remember what you are ordering by the time you get there, particularly with some of the cutesy names for the menu items. Basically, there are small plates and sides I guess. The top of the menu is made up mainly of salad-type items. There’s a section under that that includes most of the protein-type items. Some of the proteins are just the meat itself; some are little mini composed plates (for instance the duck option was served in the form of tacos. The fried chicken was just two chicken thighs without sides). The pricing of the top items is 1 choice for $6, 2 items for $10 or 3 for $12. The other things are priced individually.
Ok, so based on that long-winded paragraph attempting to simplify, maybe it is a little confusing. Anyhow, I was with the BFF and we decided to just order a bunch of different stuff and see how it was. Having never been before, we weren’t really sure what the size of things would end up being, and it seemed like we ordered a lot, but it was pretty close to the right amount.
From the top of the menu, we got the “rocket man” salad and the “kriss kross” which is the name for their mac and cheese, and which came highly recommended by several staff members. From proteins, we got the fried chicken thighs and the Moroccan stew. We also had a side of the fries.
I’d say my favorite things overall were the two fried items, which sort of surprised me given that the menu is heavy on veggies and the sort of more healthy-type offerings. Those fries were really, really good. Super light and fluffy inside and really crisp on the outside. A little thicker cut than the ones at Petite Chou, and a little crisper. They were seasoned and salted well (they were pretty salty, but I like them this way). At first I was sad there was no fancy dipping sauce offered alongside (there is Local Folks ketchup available), but after eating some, I realized they needed nothing. They were perfect on their own. The portion on the fries is large though—definitely meant for sharing.
The chicken thighs were also really good. Super crisply fried and nicely seasoned with a nice dash of salt on top. Love that they call them chicken tenders, but they make them with chicken thighs, and marinated in buttermilk, so they aren’t dried out sticks of chicken breasts like most chicken fingers are. They retained moisture inside. This would be a weird thing to just have by yourself as well, as there was just the chicken. It’s a nice accompaniment to other things, and honestly, I only really needed one of the pieces, so in my mind, also a good sharable item too.
I also enjoyed the rocket man salad, which included arugula, roasted Indiana corn, black beans, pickled onions, and spicy buttermilk dressing with crushed up spicy potato chips. The ingredients were pretty fresh-not sure how they’re getting that Indiana corn, but they were all good. I appreciated the kick of acid from the onions, but I did wish for a little more. The dressing could have used a bit more tang from the buttermilk. I think next time, if I ordered a similar meal, I would go with a salad with vinaigrette. Also, the salad portions are on the small side—I don’t think you could really make a meal of just one of the portions here.
I just had a bite of the Moroccan stew. It was good. It had a fair hit of spice from the seasoning, but I wouldn’t call it spicy in the “heat” kind of way. It was chock full of chickpeas. I liked the freshness of the baby greens on top and the crunch and texture from the crisp quinoa on top. This was the one thing you could eat on its own by yourself and make a meal out of it I think. I personally wouldn’t, because this kind of stew is not my favorite thing, but it was hearty and filling and a decent portion (although would probably still be nicer to balance it with a salad or something).
Honestly, probably the biggest disappointment was the mac and cheese. It wasn’t bad I guess, and made a nice thing to scoop up with a bite of the fried chicken, but it was pretty bland and kind of oily. I am not sure if the cheese was separating or they used olive oil or something in it, but by the time we were near the bottom of the bowl (yes, we still ate nearly all of it), there was a fair amount of oil sitting on the bottom. It was made with white cheddar, but I felt like it could have used a little more seasoning. I liked the little crunch from the little bit of breadcrumbs on top, although I would have enjoyed them more if there were a few more of them and they were a little browner.
All in all, we enjoyed it. I like that they apparently change the menu every week, which I would hope would keep me out of the rut of ordering the same things each time, as I often do at Patachous (what? I really like their egg salad). Like all Patachou places, I feel like they are using great ingredients and are making food that is pretty appealing to people, but also with a sense of creativity. There are comforting type items, but they make it easy to mix them up with some other more unusual items. The interior is rather sparse, mostly white—I’m not a fan of the big table in the middle with the little stools. I hate sitting on a stool without a back to eat—but the other tables are comfortable enough. It is certainly a place I look forward to returning to see what other items pop up on the menu.
What about you? Have you been? Tell me about your experience.
900 E. 64th Street (it’s right on the Monon)