Category Archives: The Fives

DILLMAN’S Scored a 5

We orderd:  knish, chicken liver toast, raw kale salad, shaved brussels sprouts,  smoked whitefish and bibb lettuce salad, chicken pot pie, roast chicken, rice pudding.

This could easily become the go-to restaurant for the Blogger and the Money.

(We’ve learned that the knish has been removed from the menu. Most unfortunate.)

Cuisine and style of dining:  Jewish Deli and cozy clubby feel

354 West Hubbard, Chicago, IL

Visited on October 5, 2013


THE BRISTOL Scored a 5.6

This restaurant would have received a 6 (which is pretty unheard of for us) except for a seating problem and one  snippy comment from a waiter that caused the Critic to rate it a 4.  Everyone else rated it a 6. One of our ongoing problems has been being seated with a party of 5 at rectangular tables where one person looks across the table at an empty spot.  We Need More Round Tables!  It’s hurting the ratings, I’m telling you.

Some of what we ordered: monkey bread, duck fat fries, radishes, (which looked like they came straight out of the garden and arrived at the table with their tops still on) smoked carrot salad, farm roasted half chicken, beef sirloin cap.  The Blogger would go back just for the smoked carrot salad.   There wasn’t anything we ate that we didn’t like —  a lot.

Cuisine and style of dining: American

2152 N. Damen, Chicago, IL

Visited on 9/21/2013

AU CHEVAL scored a 4

Somehow we got the impression that our server didn’t like us and was dishing up a little attitude. Hard to believe because we’re a likable bunch. But that’s not the reason why we were really split about this place.  It doesn’t take reservations and we arrived early (5:30) because we’re a party of five and that can be tricky.  We were seated immediately but were crammed into a booth that was clearly meant for four.   (That made the evening a little uncomfortable.) The food was — on average — good, but the Money  felt  the value was a little skewed.   On the other hand, it has a nice atmosphere.  The bottom line is that we would return if we were looking for a fun bar with some interesting bar food.

We ordered: Bread & Butter Pickles; delicious. (We like pickles and pickled things.) Chili Con Carne with Corn Chips; fun and delicious and served with a bag of Fritos. (Kind of reminded us of the bolognese fries at THREE ACES); Burgers:  delicious and topped with an egg; Salmon (on special); well-prepared.; Mille Feuille; totally boring.

Cuisine and style of dining: American/bar food and cozy booths.

800 W. Randolph, Chicago, IL

Visited on July 13, 2013.

AVEC scored a 5.2

AVEC doesn’t take reservations so arrive early if you don’t want to wait.  Our party of five arrived at 5:30 on a Saturday night and were seated immediately.  Within minutes people were waiting. The room is sleek and modern, long and narrow with bench seating along one wall.  It’s a small plate kind of communal seating restaurant.

On the downside, we had extraordinary long waits between dishes which was partially attributed to our ordering patterns.  Still.  The kitchen did seem to be having a hard time keeping up.   We left three hours later at 8:30.  If it weren’t for this, AVEC would have scored higher.

We ordered:  “Deluxe” focaccia with taleggio cheese, ricotta, truffle oil, and fresh herbs: taleggio is a soft, mild but rich cheese and when ricotta is fresh all you need is it, a little honey and good bread. This was delicious and not heavy cheesy as you might think.  Truffle oil added complexity but wasn’t overpowering. Not sure why it’s called “deluxe.” Squid ink pasta alla chitarra with steamed mussels: the pasta was cooked perfectly as were the mussels which are very easy to overcook, just another 30 seconds and you’ve ruined them. If you’ve never had squid ink pasta, you should have it here; Wood-oven roasted pork shoulder: delicious in that hearty,  deep flavor kind of way; Chorizo stuffed medjool dates: versions of stuffed and wrapped dates are turning up on menus everywhere.  These were a stand-out; Seared shrimp with corona beans, radish top pesto, roasted radish and limoncello viniagrette: why throw out the radish tops when you can make a pesto out of them? Limoncello is a sweet, strong, lemony after dinner drink popular in southern Italy. Delicious; Nutter Butters: can’t go wrong; Affogato: not something that’s easy to ruin. Espresso over ice cream: bitter, sweet, hot, cold. Yum.

Cuisine and style of dining: Mediterranean, small and large plates, and semi-communal seating on spartan benches.

Visited on June 29, 2013.

615 West Randolph, Chicago, IL

BIG JONES scored a 5

Big Jones has the distinction of being our inaugural restaurant.  We agonized later whether we had improperly inflated the rating but decided, no.  It deserves every bit of its “5.”  Even though we agreed that the place lacked atmosphere, it was crazy spotless which always wins huge points with one reviewer who would like to be the person who ensures that every glass and utensil placed on every table in every restaurant is crud and smudge free.

Big Jones would have gotten a better rating if they had accommodated our request to sit outside.  They said they probably wouldn’t open the outside and our party of 5 was probably too large when we called for last minute seating.   The outside was open but don’t know about the size issue. The feeling was that they weren’t going to put themselves out.

We ordered: The Pickle Tasting: really good and more than just pickles. Farmhouse Chicken and Dumplings circa 1920:  Best-Dressed Guy loved it, but cautioned not to be put off by its grey color. Crawfish Etouffee a la Breaux Bridge, circa 1940: Early Guy wanted it to be spicier. Shrimp and Grits: the best the Cook has had. Bittersweet Chocolate pot de creme for dessert: loved by all

Cuisine and style of dining:  Southern and tables and chairs.

 5347 N. Clark, Chicago, IL

Visited on June 16, 2013.