New to the dining duo, this cute establishment is tucked away on Illinois Street and somehow Sheila has managed to drive past it who knows how many times without spotting it. No longer! And for those not in the know, there is a small parking lot behind the building. Thanks to T for letting us know and avoid the more crowded street parking scene.
Our outing included the dining duo + two – our regular companions Jennifer2 and T. Who wants to bet that one of them will order a BLT if one is offered (especially if there is shrimp involved)? No one? Obviously you know those two.
Jennifer fairly quickly decided on the Pescato Tacos, in her quest to see who’s got the best in town. Jennifer2, after considering the Quesadilla (shrimp, naturally), settled on the ‘Shroom Sandwich. She does love her mushrooms. T couldn’t stand to not order the same thing as someone so she also ordered the Pescato Tacos. Sheila was the problem – she went back and forth between the Reuben Sandwich, needing a good one to make up for the disappointment that was her last, or the Bistro Burger, mostly for the waffle fries (mmmm, waffle fries), or the Steak & Potato salad, because, hello, steak, potatoes, asparagus, and gorgonzola, what’s not to like? Finally, to the relief of her dining companions, she settled on…. the Santa Fe Salad. In the words of Jennifer “where did that come from?” It was probably the pico de gallo chipotle buttermilk dressing that did it – very interesting sounding, isn’t it?
The verdict? Both Jennifer and T loved their fish tacos, Jennifer calling them the best she’s ever had. The fish was wonderfully flavorful and everything else with it was just spot-on. Jennifer2 was absolutely in rapture over her mushroom sandwich and grudgingly allowed the rest of us to taste the deliciousness. The artichoke filling was fantastic, and made for a heartier sandwich than mushrooms sometimes make.
Unfortunatly the raves were not completely unanimous. Sheila’s salad was a huge disappointment. No jicama batons that she could find, which honestly is fine, jicama isn’t her favorite thing but she was curious to see how it would be with the other salad ingredients. But the chicken. The chicken. Extremely salty it was just about inedible and finally she did push it aside and eat around it. And it wasn’t just her thoughts – she convinced Jennifer2 and T to try it and they both agreed that it was just bad. The original Jennifer had seen Sheila’s face when she first tried it and wisely declined the offer to taste it. The rest of the salad was very nice though, and the other entrees were so good that we’re convinced something just went wrong with that one.
So what to do when lunch isn’t completely satisfying for at least one of the diners? Eat dessert of course! Crème brulees for both Jennifers, bread pudding for T and the sauteed strawberries for Sheila. T’s dessert was the least favorite – she prefers her bread puddings a little warmer than the cold dish she was served. Crème brulee was fine, but the star of the table absolutely was the strawberries. Our server didn’t know how they were prepared, but the website reveals that Sheila correctly identified that there was wine involved (disclaimer; she was not good enough to identify it as Merlot. tsk tsk.) The presentation was beautiful – berries and vanilla ice cream in a pretty glass – but even more impressive than the presentation was the flavor. The berries had a deep rich flavor and it was all Sheila could do not to rip it out of her friend’s hands when they tried a bite.
So, 7 out of the 8 dishes ordered were good if not great, and at least two were outstanding. We definitely think something went wrong with the one salad and are ready to go back and see what other tasty treats can be found. But it might be difficult to not stick with the strawberries for dessert. That was just amazing.
Food *** 1/2 (would have been 4 except…)
Service ** New server was uncertain about some menu items and had trouble with pacing.
Atmosphere **1/2 Noisy interior – we heard all the details of surrounding diners conversations, especially one boisterous group.
Oh Yumm Bistro
5615 North Illinois Street