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Recent Reviews

Re: “Chicago Diner

Service: Slow but friendly.

Food: Inventive in idea, and maybe even sincere in the intent, but sometimes poor (or rushed?) in the execution:

1. Biscuits and Hash Scrambler: The scrambled egg and tofu combination was very tasty - the tofu added a wonderful flavor to what can sometimes be a blase batch of fried eggs. The potato-tempeh hash was very different from conventional hash but it was great; it also had a nice tex-mex like taste and texture. The two drawbacks to the dish were the vegan biscuits (very dense and bland) and the gravy (tasted more like carrot juice than gravy).

2. Veggie Scramble (a Special): The three egg spinach, onion, and mushroom scramble was well done, but not very flavorful or filling. The potatoes were ABSOULTELY disappointing! They were dry on the outside (not crispy at all!) and mushy on the inside - almost as if the cook had decided to skip the grill and throw the potatoes directly into a microwave.

Overall: There are plenty of other, more consistently good breakfast places in Chicago that serve vegetarian options at a much more reasonable price.

Posted by Neko on 11/24/2002 at 12:44 PM

Ambience: The ornaments and pictures from Afghanistan were a nice touch. The private dining booths would have been more romantic, if not for the somewhat disturbing poster on the dining table depicting the harsh plight (war, weather, etc.) of the Afghani people.

Service: Fast, and very accommodating. Perhaps it was because there was a shortage of waitstaff, but our waiter seemed like he was in a rush. Nevertheless, we never felt like we were being rushed with our meal.

Food: Some high points and some low points:

1. Afghani tea: Rich, dark flavor with a hint of cardamom.

2. Complementary Bread: Much better than run-of-the-mill pita bread; moist on the inside and very similar to Italian Foccacia.

3. Salad: Very bitter lettuce and very metallic taste to the tomatoes; the yogurt dressing was also bland.

4. Bouranee Baunjaun: Wonderful fried eggplant spread mixed with various spices; a terrific complement to the warm, thick, Afghani bread.

5. Subzi: Delicious fried spinach. The spinach was cooked perfectly - not boiled to oblivion, and not too stringy/tough. The spice combination enhanced (but did not overpower) the dish.

6. Super Combo Special: A combination platter of Quabili Palau (seasoned rice) served with three different kababs (grilled meat): chicken, lamb, and Shami (season ground beef). The rice was very good - subtle in flavor with a wonderful texture. All the kababs were moist and tender. The one drawback was the oversalted lamb - to the point where one wondered whether an entire vat of salt was dumped on the lamb by mistake.

7. Chicken Biryani: It was very disappointing. The menu discribed the dish as a an "excellent" combination of chicken, "mixed vegetables", and rice. This was an exaggerated description because what came out was a platter of a lot of rice (not so bad) with a few stray lima beans and several slivers of carrots (bad), on top of some slices of extremely oversalted(!) chicken (very bad).

Overall: Decent fare for the price that you pay, but not worth the drive all the way out to Skokie. However, if you are in the area - stay for the appetizers, kababs, and vegetarian dishes, but skip the salt!

Posted by Neko on 10/20/2002 at 12:58 PM

Re: “Dixie Kitchen & Bait Shop

Ambience: A lot of kitschy American paraphernalia on the walls and ceilings. Although it is not authentically Louisiana or Cajun, it is a fun, touristy environment.

Service: Not too friendly (perhaps the waitress was having a bad day?), but very fast and efficient.

Food: Decent Bayou Grub, but the sides (each entree came with a choice of two) needed a bit of resuscitation:

1. Mango Mambo Mixed Drink: Mango puree mixed with a really strong rum - very yummy (and very dangerous!).

2. Blackened Trout: The butterflied trout was tender and moist; the blackened "Cajun" seasoning had a good heat.

3. Fried Steak: A bit too much breading made the batter very doughy (and not crispy), but the steak was okay.

4. Cole Slaw: A decent vinegar based slaw (MUCH better than the cole slaw that is made with mayo!); however, they could have been a bit more bold with the vinegar!

5. Collard Greens: Melt-in-your-mouth wonderful! A nice combo of smokey, salty, and peppery flavors.

6. Vegetarian Black Beans and Rice: A bit boring, but then again how much can one dress up beans and rice?

7. Red Beans and Rice: A bit too salty and the rice was overdone.

8. Mashed Sweet Potatoes: Decent, but needed cinnamon or nutmeg or something to give it more life.

9. Bread Pudding with Whiskey Sauce: Very strong whiskey flavor, decent bread.

Overall: Not very authentic, but decent for the price that you pay.

Posted by Neko on 10/15/2002 at 9:17 PM

Re: “Jilly's Cafe

Ambience: The quaint little dining room, cute decor, paintings, music, and even the "La Toilette" accentuated the southern French charm of this cafe.

Service: Friendly, efficient, attentive.

Food: A scrumptious brunch menu; the chef was also more than happy to accommodate any special requests (even if it wasn't on the menu!):

1. Coffee: Very strong and very good.

2. Complimentary Zucchini Bread: Moist and delicious.

3. Complimentary Mini Blueberry Muffins: Bursting with blueberry flavor!

4. Wild Mushroom Omelette: The generous quantity of chantrelles were so tender and so good. The omelette had the perfect balance of egg and mushroom - just enough egg to coat, but not smother the flavor of the chantrelles. The accompanying Petite Salad (radiccio and leaf lettuce) had a wonderful red wine vinaigrette. The four strips of bacon were crispy, smokey, and greaseless!

5. Smoked Salmon on French Bread with Capers: The smoked salmon was wonderful and was balanced nicely by the flavors of the crumbled morsels of boiled egg and the capers.

Overall: A great place to have a relaxing French brunch with a modern twist.

Posted by Neko on 10/15/2002 at 8:50 PM

Re: “Las Palmas

Ambience: You know that a place is authentic when everyone working there (including host and servers!) is Mexican/Spanish. The mariachi band was a nice touch too. You also know that you are eating in an authentic place when most of the clientele are Mexican too!

Service: Fast but not so friendly; our waitress might have had a bad day because she seemed quite irritated when I asked for a slight modification in my meal.

Food: VERY good!

1. Complimentary Salsa and Chips: The chips tasted as though they were made in-house; they had a wonderful roasted corn flavor. The salsa had nice hints of cilantro and lime juice - and a real wollop of a caliente kick!

2. Taco Dinner with Marinated Chicken: A humungous plate came out with three tacos (corn tortillas) heaped with marinated chicken breast, topped with a mountain of lettuce and tomatoes. The chicken had a mild smokey flavor (maybe from the chipotle?) and was not over salted! The accompanying Spanish rice was the best that I have tried thus far!

3. Enchilada Huatulco Spinach: A generous plate of three flour tortillas rolled up and stuffed with huatulco mushrooms, spinach, tomatoes, and onions, and topped with white sauce and cheese. The mild white sauce was a good balance to the earthy flavor of the mushroom. A delicious and filling dish for anyone with a vegetarian bend.

Overall: It is more expensive than a typical taquerria, but the quality, generous portions, and menu selection make it worthwhile!

Posted by Neko on 10/05/2002 at 2:14 AM

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