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Cafe Marie-Jeanne

Cafe Marie-Jeanne
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  • Cafe Marie-Jeanne

    Post #1 - April 17th, 2016, 11:37 am
    Post #1 - April 17th, 2016, 11:37 am Post #1 - April 17th, 2016, 11:37 am
    Two hungry women were badgering me for lunch ideas yesterday that must be nearby, good, and interesting- but not too crazy (no N. Thai street food) and it was on me to deliver options. A few minutes away, the corner of Augusta and California has undergone a bit of a renaissance lately, so I suggested we head there and try our luck. And lucky we were.

    Cafe Marie-Jeanne is a nice open space w/a large bar and lots of natural light serving 3 squares in an easy laid back atomsphere. I liked it as soon as we walked in. While we didn't care much for the Monkey Buns (a better name than representation) we really enjoyed everything that followed. Who does creamed herring in house? Pretty much no one, and this was the best I've ever had. My grandmother would weep. Chix liver mousse was smooth and delicious coupled w/crusty bread and a fig compote/relish of sorts and grain mustard. Eggs were soft and creamy. Service was on point and in all, an excellent new addition to the neighborhood. Looking fwd to going back for dinner, where smoked meats (chix, brisket) w/simple sides and sandwiches play a significant role.

    Cafe Marie-Jeanne
    1001 N California
    Chicago, IL 60622
    (773) 904-7660
    "In pursuit of joys untasted"
    from Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata
  • Post #2 - April 22nd, 2016, 5:50 pm
    Post #2 - April 22nd, 2016, 5:50 pm Post #2 - April 22nd, 2016, 5:50 pm
    I've lived with someone that was bi-polar. The high highs were great, and the low lows, not so much. I couldn't help but be reminded of her last pm. What's good here is really good, but what's not is a pity. Based on a pretty solid 1st visit, we started w/some of the greatest hits: the cured/smkd seafood plate, the chix mousse, and the fried anchovies. All were excellent, as are the different in house baked breads that accompany them. But a side of morels w/cheddar were destroyed by the amount of lemon or whatever acid being used, overpowering the flavor of the morels completely. What a waste. Peas w/crawfish suffered as a dish that should have worked but did not. It looked good on paper but didn't transfer to plate. Would have helped to have a better quality of crawfish. Shelled and sautéed, these seemed beat- mealy, possibly even freezer burned or overcooked, I'm not quite sure, but the execution of the dish left something to be desired.

    Their smoked meats sounded good, so we asked for a combo of brisket and chix, w/the chix being the by far favorite. Well smoked and moist w/crisp skin over chix bread (I believe), it was very nice. The brisket though suffered from being quite salty and lean, which in turn begat dry and stringy, reminding me of why I didn't eat brisket for 40 yrs. We began losing our faith around this time. Are we in the same restaurant that just served us a steelhead roe w/a dollop of whipped cream w/buttered wheat toast, or the fantastic creamed pickled herring- both among the best bites in a long time. A decent-good lamb sausage over blk lentils was also salty and could have used a bit more fat in the mix, as it was bone dry. By the time the final dish of tripe came out, I was not that interested, had a bite for posterity and threw in the napkin. An overzealous busser took the opportunity to start clearing, even though I was the only one finished, and pretty much took the food away while one of us was still eating. Some fine tuning is needed, especially watching acid and salt, but all and all, you can do quite well here judiciously, and I still quite like the room.
    "In pursuit of joys untasted"
    from Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata
  • Post #3 - May 29th, 2016, 4:39 pm
    Post #3 - May 29th, 2016, 4:39 pm Post #3 - May 29th, 2016, 4:39 pm
    We had a very enjoyable lunch yesterday. Fregola with spring vegetables were a great vegan dish. Also tried good home fries, olives, and smoked brisket. Tried their blood mary and I while really dislike blood mary's, I would order one there.
  • Post #4 - September 4th, 2017, 1:42 pm
    Post #4 - September 4th, 2017, 1:42 pm Post #4 - September 4th, 2017, 1:42 pm
    Jazzfood wrote:I've lived with someone that was bi-polar. The high highs were great, and the low lows, not so much. I couldn't help but be reminded of her last pm. What's good here is really good, but what's not is a pity.

    A year and a half later and so it still goes at Cafe Marie-Jeanne. We had a pretty disappointing dinner here the other night at which the lows really obscured the highs. Most of what we ate was flawed in some significant way. Tempura-Fried Squash Blossoms were filled with burrata but also with sardine, which completely overwhelmed the flavors of the blossom itself and the cheese. All we could taste was the fish. And when biting into them, a good amount of oil oozed out, suggesting they'd been cooked at too low a temperature. An Uni Scramble, served on toast, also suffered from 'over-ingredienting,' as there was so much going on here, the uni was completely lost.

    The Smoked Chicken was so salty, it was inedible. No one at our 4-top could tolerate more than a bite or 2. We left it uneaten. I just don't understand how or why this was even served. Did no one in the kitchen taste this? Did they taste it and think it was ok? Did they taste it and not notice how salty it was? Did they know it was too salty and hope diners wouldn't notice or care? Ironically, our Steak Frites, while cooked very nicely, was under-salted (or maybe our palates were blown out by the chicken). A nicely composed Arugula Salad lacked much-needed acidity.

    On the positive side, house-baked breads (served with some of the dishes) were excellent across the board. Mussels were also excellent. And the hand-cut Frites served with the aforementioned steak were very good. An order of Lobster Mushroom Pasta was cooked perfectly and had a satisfying chew, though the preparation was bland. For me, the highlight of the meal was a Smoked Salmon Head, served with an assortment of beautiful accompaniments, including delicious house-baked toast and house-made pickles . . .

    Image
    Smoked Salmon Head

    We flipped that head over and went at it, disassembling it to get every last morsel of delicious salmon flesh. It appears that non-head portions of smoked salmon are served at brunch and if this head was any indication, they are probably worth an order.

    With only a couple of choices available, we decided not to double down and skipped dessert.

    Service was great -- super friendly and helpful -- and the room was very loud. We were still able to converse but it was tough. At some point, I was answering my companions with hand signals. This wasn't a deal-breaker for me but I know that it is for others, so I wanted to mention it.

    In the end, I think the food here is interesting, ambitious, distinctive and creative but also inconsistent, undisciplined and in need of some editing and quality control.

    =R=
    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain

    Another beer before happy hour to put me in the mood for drinkin', uh huh huh, oh, forget thinkin' --Beaver Nelson

    I find it a matter of note that in New York or Terre Haute, school cookies always seem to be oatmeal --Mr. French

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