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French restaurants in Chicago after WWII

French restaurants in Chicago after WWII
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  • Post #31 - December 6th, 2010, 2:09 pm
    Post #31 - December 6th, 2010, 2:09 pm Post #31 - December 6th, 2010, 2:09 pm
    It's strange but I cannot picture any French restaurant at around 2200 N. Lincoln, or anyway South of Children Memorial Hospital, where you might have lunched on coq au vin in 1972.
    My suggestion is that it might have been L'Auberge at 2324 N. Clark, that offered a good coq au vin at the time.
  • Post #32 - December 6th, 2010, 3:33 pm
    Post #32 - December 6th, 2010, 3:33 pm Post #32 - December 6th, 2010, 3:33 pm
    Katie wrote:We saw Cousin Cousine at the Biograph (that's another detail I do remember clearly), which is on N. Lincoln, so maybe the restaurant was The Bakery, but I thought the place where we ate had a French name.

    it might have been at my favorite french restaurant, maison michelle, on north clark, around 2600. that is close to lincoln ave. it was very small, dark, drab and fabulous. justjoan
  • Post #33 - December 7th, 2010, 9:22 am
    Post #33 - December 7th, 2010, 9:22 am Post #33 - December 7th, 2010, 9:22 am
    In the late 70's I worked around Lincoln and Diversey. There was a French Restaurant south of Diversey on the the West side of Lincoln. I believe it was called The French Peasant.
  • Post #34 - December 7th, 2010, 10:30 am
    Post #34 - December 7th, 2010, 10:30 am Post #34 - December 7th, 2010, 10:30 am
    I believe it was the Bakery-
    wasn't that run by Louis Szathmary?
    (oops I just saw your post on the previous page-)

    I had such fond memories- I think I have an autographed cookbook of his that I snagged at an old Brandeis Booksale-
    I'm going to have to double-check my bookshelf at home.
    "If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay home."
    ~James Michener
  • Post #35 - December 7th, 2010, 10:59 am
    Post #35 - December 7th, 2010, 10:59 am Post #35 - December 7th, 2010, 10:59 am
    Your blog really bought back some memories for me, I remember L'Auberge and also Jean-Claude Poilevey's restaurant at Clark & Arlington, I believe it was called La Fontaine. My English uncle used to come to Chicago on business regularly in the 60's& 70's and discovered Le Bordeaux, which he declared a oasis of civility in Chicago. I loved going there with him and always felt so grown up when he took me. I didn't realize you were originally from Nimes, I'll have to pm you for some recommendations. Thank you for the lovely memories.
    For what we choose is what we are. He should not miss this second opportunity to re-create himself with food. Jim Crace "The Devil's Larder"
  • Post #36 - December 7th, 2010, 11:15 am
    Post #36 - December 7th, 2010, 11:15 am Post #36 - December 7th, 2010, 11:15 am
    Thanks Mary-Beth,
    In fact I'm talking a lot about the very comfy La Fontaine that was one of my favorite French eateries in the mid-seventies in the next article that I'm writing at the moment.
    Last edited by alain40 on December 10th, 2010, 7:16 am, edited 2 times in total.
  • Post #37 - December 7th, 2010, 8:08 pm
    Post #37 - December 7th, 2010, 8:08 pm Post #37 - December 7th, 2010, 8:08 pm
    The Bakery was open 1963-1989. Chef Louis Szathmary was from Hungary, and his dishes - beef Wellington, pork loin stuffed with Hungarian sausage, and strudel - reflected his origins. It was considered fine dining, and was unusual in offering fine dining in a casual atmosphere at modest prices, but it would be a stretch to call it French.

    mbh wrote:My English uncle used to come to Chicago on business regularly in the 60's& 70's and discovered Le Bordeaux, which he declared a oasis of civility in Chicago. I loved going there with him and always felt so grown up when he took me.

    I too enjoyed going down the steps off Madison into Le Bordeaux, which seemed like another world from the hustle and bustle of the Loop just outside.

    If you are interested in harkening back to those days, you can still see Kiki, the owner and driving force behind Le Bordeaux, at his namesake Kiki's Bistro in River North.
  • Post #38 - December 10th, 2010, 1:45 am
    Post #38 - December 10th, 2010, 1:45 am Post #38 - December 10th, 2010, 1:45 am
    alain40 wrote:It's strange but I cannot picture any French restaurant at around 2200 N. Lincoln, or anyway South of Children Memorial Hospital, where you might have lunched on coq au vin in 1972.
    My suggestion is that it might have been L'Auberge at 2324 N. Clark, that offered a good coq au vin at the time.

    Alain,
    Although it was a bit later than 1972, there was a French restaurant at 2242 N. Lincoln called Cafe D'Artagnan. It was owned by Pierre Etcheber, ex-husband of Red Light's Jackie Etcheber. Could this be the mystery restaurant? At one time during the run of Cafe D'Artagnan, the exec chef was Stephen Langlois who went on to Prairie in Printer's Row.
  • Post #39 - December 10th, 2010, 7:09 am
    Post #39 - December 10th, 2010, 7:09 am Post #39 - December 10th, 2010, 7:09 am
    Neil,
    You are perfectly correct about Cafe d'Artagnan, It actually was at 2242 N. Lincoln and I thought myself that it could be the ''mistery'' restaurant on Lincoln that Irisarbor and Katie are trying to remember.
    But this charming bistro owned and operated, not for very long alas, by Pierre Etcheber, a French native from the Pyrénnées region near the Spanish border who was a former wine steward at Le Français, and at the time husband of Jackie Shen, was opened much later in 1985.
    Good guess though.

    Alain
  • Post #40 - December 10th, 2010, 1:05 pm
    Post #40 - December 10th, 2010, 1:05 pm Post #40 - December 10th, 2010, 1:05 pm
    Since we're heading down memory lane, I'm sure Rene G is correct in placing Maison Michelle at 2118 N Clark and not in the 2600 block. My recollection is that it was on the west side of Clark and south of Webster. I do remember going there about 1970 on a date. I don't remember the meal, but afterwards thought that $15 (including tax & tip) was pricey for dinner for two. How times have changed.

    I also recall going to Les Fountaines Rouge in the early 70's with my wife to be. We shared a Chateaubriand which I really enjoyed. I have no idea what that meal cost, which I guess says something.
    Where there’s smoke, there may be salmon.
  • Post #41 - December 10th, 2010, 1:15 pm
    Post #41 - December 10th, 2010, 1:15 pm Post #41 - December 10th, 2010, 1:15 pm
    I also had several dates at Maison Michelle on the west side of Clark south of Webster. I believe it was BYOB, and the walls were lined with corks from the bottles of their patrons. It was a "special" date place.
  • Post #42 - December 12th, 2010, 10:06 am
    Post #42 - December 12th, 2010, 10:06 am Post #42 - December 12th, 2010, 10:06 am
    I still have a vivid memory of a very busy Saturday evening at Brasserie Strasbourg. Unfortunately, we never had an opportunity to taste their food.

    The restaurant did not accept reservations and was very popular as evidenced by the lobby filled with young people who all had placed their names on the wait list. We were a table of four and were talking to two other couples who had arrived at the same time. This young man began noticing that people were arriving and being escorted through the phalanx of waiting customers directly to waiting tables. We had been waiting over an hour at that time, and this man questioned the maitre de carefully and did not receive an appropriate explanation.

    While one of the "special" customers was seated, he carefully checked the waiting list before asking the Maitre de why he did not check off the top name on the list. Not receiving a response he quietly delivered a concise message, perhaps a warning.

    A few minutes later a cab arrived, two couples entered and were immediately were led to their waiting table. One of the men in the other party asked us to stand adjacent to the podium and block the view. The Maitre de returned and was immediately lifted by his coat and slammed to the wall with his feet off the ground. He was instructed in that position for about 2 minutes. We were immediately seated to some applause by the other waiting customers.

    The approaching waitress seemed to have a bad attitude although not aware of our situation. After requesting menus, we decided to leave. I never had a desire to return; that may have been my loss, but I have wonderful memories of that terrified maitre de up against that wall..

    Tim
  • Post #43 - October 21st, 2011, 4:49 pm
    Post #43 - October 21st, 2011, 4:49 pm Post #43 - October 21st, 2011, 4:49 pm
    I picked up something at an estate sale today I was curious about. It is a menu for the Chez Paul restaurant and I remembered reading this thread back a while ago so I had recalled the name when I bought the menu. On the front is a sketch of the restaurant and on the back lists the appetizers, salads, dinners, desserts and various prices. Wondering how old this menu is. My husband and I are guessing possibly 1960s. I know Chez had been around since the 40s. The menu lists such entrees as Veal Scalopini a la Normande for $3.95, Veal Piccata an Marsala for $3.75, Butt Sirloin Maconnaise for $4.95, Coq an Vin for $3.75 and the stunning winner Calf's brains saute Grewbloise for $3.95. I would scan the menu but unfortunately my scanner is not working. Just really curious to pinpoint the timing of this menu because I love collecting old local Chicago artifacts and trying to figure out the history.
  • Post #44 - October 21st, 2011, 5:36 pm
    Post #44 - October 21st, 2011, 5:36 pm Post #44 - October 21st, 2011, 5:36 pm
    There was a cafe La tour that was high atop the Outer drive with a smashing view of the city. I remember going there in 1969. The chocolate mousse was memorable.

    Also I would frequent a place called the Flying Frenchman. It I think was in what we would call streeterville today or maybe the rush street area. I loved the crepes suzette. this was also in the late sixties.
    Toria

    "I like this place and willingly could waste my time in it" - As You Like It,
    W. Shakespeare
  • Post #45 - November 9th, 2011, 11:53 am
    Post #45 - November 9th, 2011, 11:53 am Post #45 - November 9th, 2011, 11:53 am
    Toria,

    The Flying Frenchman was located at 25 East Chestnut. It was launched in 1969 by Bill Contos, owner of Chez Paul.
    First it was essentially known for its crepes, soups and sandwiches. But its menu expanded dramatically when a young chef by the name of Jean Banchet worked there for a while after he had left the kitchens of The Playboy club in Lake Geneva. He would eventually start his own Le Francais in 1973.
    At the time when he worked at the FF the dining room was managed by another talented Frenchman, Jean-Paul Weber
  • Post #46 - January 26th, 2012, 8:03 am
    Post #46 - January 26th, 2012, 8:03 am Post #46 - January 26th, 2012, 8:03 am
    For those of you interested in the history of French Restaurants In Chicago, I am pleased to announce that the third chapter of my series "French Restaurants in Chicago: a 50 years Retrospective, Part 3: 1970-1979 The Fantastic Decade" has been posted on my blog French Virtual Cafe.
    http://frenchvirtualcafe.blogspot.com
    I am interested in any photos that any of you may have that might be available, free of rights, to illustrate some of the mentioned Restaurants
    Thank You
    Alain
  • Post #47 - January 27th, 2012, 9:58 am
    Post #47 - January 27th, 2012, 9:58 am Post #47 - January 27th, 2012, 9:58 am
    I was late for an appointment yesterday because I couldn't stop reading your post, I'm so glad you updated it. It brought back many memories for me, I too loved Le Bastille and thought they had the best frites in the city. I remember John Joho worked there for a short time towards the end of it's run. He also met his wife there, my friend Cynthia who managed the place at the end.
    For what we choose is what we are. He should not miss this second opportunity to re-create himself with food. Jim Crace "The Devil's Larder"
  • Post #48 - March 30th, 2012, 8:00 pm
    Post #48 - March 30th, 2012, 8:00 pm Post #48 - March 30th, 2012, 8:00 pm
    I found some interesting postcards in this guy's Flickr stream. Search his tags for "chicago"

    Here is one of La Tour

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/hollywoodplace/4975177296/
    i used to milk cows
  • Post #49 - September 27th, 2014, 4:45 pm
    Post #49 - September 27th, 2014, 4:45 pm Post #49 - September 27th, 2014, 4:45 pm
    Hello to all of you who have been, like I did, enjoying dining in French restaurants in Chicago for many years.

    As some of you know, I love French food and I have been working for a few years on a pet project: A 75 year retrospective on French restaurants in Chicago covering the period 1924-1999.
    I was trying to finish writing part 4 of that piece (1980-1989) but it took me much longer than I expected. A few of my contacts asked me to let them know when the task would be completed.
    Well, after a too long hiatus, I am happy to report that I just posted the Part 4 of my story on my blog French Virtual Café. http://frenchvirtualcafe.blogspot.com
    If you find a moment to scan it, I am sure that some of the places I write about will sound familiar to you and bring some happy memories back to your taste buds.

    P.S I finished researching the restaurants of part 5 , 1990-1999, which will be the last one of this series , and I have started the actual writing. I hope to be able to complete it before the end of the year.
  • Post #50 - September 27th, 2014, 5:37 pm
    Post #50 - September 27th, 2014, 5:37 pm Post #50 - September 27th, 2014, 5:37 pm
    nsxtasy wrote:The Bakery was open 1963-1989. Chef Louis Szathmary was from Hungary, and his dishes - beef Wellington, pork loin stuffed with Hungarian sausage, and strudel - reflected his origins. It was considered fine dining, and was unusual in offering fine dining in a casual atmosphere at modest prices, but it would be a stretch to call it French.

    mbh wrote:My English uncle used to come to Chicago on business regularly in the 60's& 70's and discovered Le Bordeaux, which he declared a oasis of civility in Chicago. I loved going there with him and always felt so grown up when he took me.

    I too enjoyed going down the steps off Madison into Le Bordeaux, which seemed like another world from the hustle and bustle of the Loop just outside.

    If you are interested in harkening back to those days, you can still see Kiki, the owner and driving force behind Le Bordeaux, at his namesake Kiki's Bistro in River North.



    This brings back an amusing/embarrassing memory. Back in the early '80's, when I first started working in the Loop, a friend and I went to Le Bordeaux for lunch. I ordered fish and it came out pink in the middle. In other words, perfect. I, of course, asked them to cook it through, which they did without hesitation...it must have killed Kiki. Still we went back, because it was such a special place, multiple times until it closed, and I learned. Love Kiki's to this day, partially due to this memory and the way they handled it with such grace.
    "Living well is the best revenge"
  • Post #51 - September 27th, 2014, 8:58 pm
    Post #51 - September 27th, 2014, 8:58 pm Post #51 - September 27th, 2014, 8:58 pm
    Pursuit wrote:This brings back an amusing/embarrassing memory. Back in the early '80's, when I first started working in the Loop, a friend and I went to Le Bordeaux for lunch. I ordered fish and it came out pink in the middle. In other words, perfect. I, of course, asked them to cook it through, which they did without hesitation...it must have killed Kiki. Still we went back, because it was such a special place, multiple times until it closed, and I learned. Love Kiki's to this day, partially due to this memory and the way they handled it with such grace.


    I had a similar amusing/embarrassing moment, also at Le Bordeaux ironically enough. I'm thinking it was mid to late 70's. I had a friend that was working as a doorman in the building that kept telling me I had to eat there with him. I'm still a pretty fussy eater, but back then I was really fussy. But he assured me that I could order a steak there. So I finally gave in, ordered the steak and had a major fit when it came with sauce on it.

    They don't call me Mr. Sophistication for nothing.
  • Post #52 - June 5th, 2019, 5:42 pm
    Post #52 - June 5th, 2019, 5:42 pm Post #52 - June 5th, 2019, 5:42 pm
    Rene G wrote:
    Tim wrote:Jacques at 900 N. Michichigan Avenue was extremely popular in the 1960's.

    Jacques, opened in 1928, was one of the old warhorses of Franco-Chicagoan gastronomy. Nothing I have read makes me think they served anything close to authentic French food. From the same era there was Le Petit Gourmet (1920s-1960s) and its big brother Au Grand Gourmet (circa 1927). Interestingly, the latter occupied the building at 180 E Delaware that would later become Chez Paul.
    I came across this 1951 menu from Jacques.
    https://i.imgur.com/qLtUOxd.jpg
  • Post #53 - June 6th, 2019, 8:06 am
    Post #53 - June 6th, 2019, 8:06 am Post #53 - June 6th, 2019, 8:06 am
    I came across this 1951 menu from Jacques.
    https://i.imgur.com/qLtUOxd.jpg


    That menu is interesting! Thanks for sharing. That place seemed like it was pricey at the time. I used an inflation calculator, and it looks like a chicken and ham salad would cost $22 in today's dollars!
  • Post #54 - June 6th, 2019, 5:08 pm
    Post #54 - June 6th, 2019, 5:08 pm Post #54 - June 6th, 2019, 5:08 pm
    GlakeCate wrote:
    I came across this 1951 menu from Jacques.
    https://i.imgur.com/qLtUOxd.jpg


    That menu is interesting! Thanks for sharing. That place seemed like it was pricey at the time. I used an inflation calculator, and it looks like a chicken and ham salad would cost $22 in today's dollars!


    Luckily, one 1951 dollar is worth $9.97 in 2019 money so you can just add a zero at the end of the prices to normalize them.
  • Post #55 - June 6th, 2019, 8:28 pm
    Post #55 - June 6th, 2019, 8:28 pm Post #55 - June 6th, 2019, 8:28 pm
    alain40 earlier this year talked about French restaurants in Chicago from 1924-1999. You may listen to his Podcast.
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast

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