Recent Reviews

Re: “Trotter's to Go

Trotter's To Go is probably the best take out restaurant in the Midwest. The quality is unmatched even by most sit-down restaurants. Fresh food is constantly being churned out throughout the day, including fantastic breads, desserts, soups, and meats.

They have a display case with several fine pasta salads and vegetable options. The potato gnocchi with kalamata olives and mozzarella is probably the best gnocchi I've had, even compared to some fine restaurants. The artisan pesto pasta is fine, much better when served with basil pesto than spinach pesto (the latter can be a bit bland).

I've enjoyed a few vegetables here that I won't eat at home. That's a real testament to the talent of the cooks here (though I've never spotted Trotter in over a dozen visits). The rapini with garlic and brussels sprouts with mustard sauce transform usually overcooked bitter vegetables into healthy treats. They also have an assortment of sandwiches filled with many of the ingredients you can find in the display case. All taste OK but stay away from them, they are overpriced and skimpy.

The fresh meats are all organic. The chickens are superb but a whole chicken (a la carte) costs $13, and some roasts cost upwards of $30. This is really a problem for the whole eatery. Even your delicious pasta salad is going to cost $12-15 a pound. So if you want to have a small serving of pasta with a side of vegetables, you are going to spend around $12. That's too much for a healthy lunch, even at this level of quality. If you come to get some dinner you will likely spend $35-50 for two, and that's just for pick-up. Keeping the bourgeoise clientele price factor in mind, this is still a one of a kind place and an excellent choice for catering, parties, or a quality meal.

Posted by Josh Shepperd on 02/03/2005 at 2:27 PM

Re: “Bistro Campagne

Bistro Campagne has become our default special occasion restaurant. They only use organic meats and greens, which does make a big difference in the taste. The appetizers here are my favorite in town. The french onion soup is so large, and so good, that on occasion I come in and just order a bowl with several other appetizers for dinner. It's plenty of food, and combined with the corn fritters, polenta, and/or onion strudel, it's a great alternative to the traditional large plate and one appetizer dinner experience.

The entrees here are always good, but on occasion suffer from a lack of seasoning. The rare salmon with eggplant puree wasn't much more than its description. The steak frites is good, as expected, but I personally prefer a big ol' char steak from one of the downtown steakhouses if that's the reason I'm going out to dinner. Occasionally, though, they come up with a special that rivals anything you can get at Tru or Trio. In a recent visit, the red snapper with leek puree and red wine reduction was out of this world.

The desserts here are decent. In the past I didn't enjoy them as much as other restaurants, especially since the dessert menu hasn't changed in almost a year, but they have sweetened up some of items. Maybe they have had to cater to my (lack of refined) taste.

The space is beautiful--covered in wood from floor to ceiling. A very romantic setting. The service is very spotty, but the runners are very efficient and the food always comes out warm. It can be hard to flag your waiter though, which can be a tad annoying, but with the extremely moderate pricing of the food, one doesn't need to expect the full treatment.

Posted by Josh Shepperd on 02/01/2005 at 10:54 AM

Re: “Art of Pizza

Art of Pizza, aptly named after its owner, serves the best delivery pizza in town. The stuffed pizza is enormous, the sauce is incredible, and the ingredients are really high quality. The prices are also very fair. Ribs only cost $10, and pasta costs $5. Don't try to eat in the restaurant, the decor is nonexistent, and there are only a few lawn tables. We were originally Giordano's patrons but we tried this place after reading about it in the Tribune (where it was voted best pizza in Chicago). Slowly, after a period of about a year, we phased out ordering stuffed pizza from anywhere else. You know a place has to be good when you stop eating classic Chicago stuffed for this small independent, but it's that good. The thin and pan pizzas are decent, I'm not particularly more impressed with them as any other place, but for stuffed there's only one go-to place for us now.

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by Josh Shepperd on 01/31/2005 at 2:41 PM

Re: “Fat Willy's Rib Shack

Fat Willy's does the best BBQ north of Roosevelt Avenue. The ribs are smoked overnight and then charred upon ordering. The sauce is sweeter and lighter than most places, so expect your ribs to be more meaty than saucey. At $21, though, the ribs are more of a treat for me than a regular take-out item. The BBQ burger here, I believe, is the best burger in the whole city. It's 2/3 of a pound of fresh ground meat and covered with an overwhelming amount of cheese, bacon, and grilled onions. It's really decadent and filling. I think I've ordered it at least 5 times and it has always been superb. The pulled pork and beef are also very good when fresh, but can be dry on occasion. The sides here are also surprisingly good for a BBQ joint. The mashed potatoes seem to be done to order from scratch and the baked beans are full of bacon bits and tangy sauce. The Texas toast is just about the best garlic bread I've ever had, and somehow they melded the flavors so that it tastes great with the meat and the sauce. Note that this place is extremely unfriendly to vegetarians, save an overpriced and bland macaroni and cheese dish. But for an evening of cadaver gluttony, this place is tops.

Posted by Josh Shepperd on 01/30/2005 at 6:34 PM

Re: “Sunshine Cafe

Sunshine Cafe is one of those places that you hesitate to recommend because you are afraid to blow its cover! But this cheery, quaint, clean restaurant is probably the best value in Andersonville. The majority of the customers seem to order udon soup, filled with either meat or vegetables. The soup is enormous and is extraordinarily affordable. It's a miso base and is filled with fresh ingredients and has a medicinal effect on me when I eat it. The tempura here is among the best I've had in town--not to mention that it costs less than half one would spend for instance in a Bucktown sushi spot. The restaurant is family run and the love vibe runs supreme. It's a joy to eat here, be waited on, return when one wants some comfort food.

Posted by Josh Shepperd on 01/29/2005 at 1:50 PM

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