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Citrine and evolving Oak Park scene

Citrine and evolving Oak Park scene
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  • Citrine and evolving Oak Park scene

    Post #1 - March 20th, 2016, 8:13 pm
    Post #1 - March 20th, 2016, 8:13 pm Post #1 - March 20th, 2016, 8:13 pm
    I'm not sure where to put this, because I am not sure there is or has ever been or has ever needed to be a dedicated Oak Park thread, but there seems to be a lot of movement in this former dining desert and neighboring environs. It began with Gaetano's and Marion Street (maybe) and definitely grew with Autre Monde, got better with Katy's Dumpling House and Sugar Fixe, but suddenly there seems to be a whole lot more going on. House Red, formerly in Forest Park, has reopened as Novo Restaurant and Wine Bar right at Lake and Oak Park. Saigon Pho, in Forest Park, is apparently moving to Oak Park more or less right down the street, in the former Flat Top Grill. (That's two Forest Park places moving to Oak Park, for a change.) Our waffle and coffee spot is converting into an Ethiopian eatery of some sort, which would place it right down the street from our Brazilian restaurant, making for two relatively rarified dining options in a village once known for barely anything good. And between the two is Sen, which offers solid sushi.

    We just got an Irish pub, Connolly's Public House, we got a Lou Malnati's, and we got not one or two but three new local breweries: Exit Strategy in Forest Park, Oak Park Brewing Company next to the new Hamburger Mary's outpost on Oak Park Ave., and Kingslagher on Roosevelt. Across the street from Hamburger Mary's is a new spot coming from the people behind the Dawson and Topaz (never been to either), and we now have Beer Shop, which is holding its own, and whose BYO-food policy pairs perfectly with the great stuff they're making and selling at the top-class butcher Carnivore.

    Yeah, we miss the Depot Diner, and I wish Aripos could have made it, but we're getting a Q BBQ down the block from where the latter used to be, which with the increasingly solid Piggyback brings our area respectable BBQ tally to an reasonable two. Plus we have Yum Thai and Axcan in Forest Park, the latter above average Mexican that's across from Brown Cow (still some of the best ice cream in the Chicagoland area); the rehabbed Delia's Kitchen, which breaks out of the Greek diner mold/rut, and Big Guy's across Roosevelt in Berwyn selling the best in dogs, burgers, and specials like the incredible turkey club and corned beef. Factor in that Freddy's is within firing range, that I'm probably forgetting a couple of things and that sure, per the thread, the hit or miss Marion Street is getting another reboot ... man, lots of choices these days! Hammond, someone, anyone - what's going on here?

    (moderator note: split from Marion Street Cheese Market thread at this point)

    viewtopic.php?f=14&t=20200
  • Post #2 - March 20th, 2016, 8:34 pm
    Post #2 - March 20th, 2016, 8:34 pm Post #2 - March 20th, 2016, 8:34 pm
    Couldn't have said it better and in fact I was thinking of making a very similar post.
  • Post #3 - March 21st, 2016, 4:24 pm
    Post #3 - March 21st, 2016, 4:24 pm Post #3 - March 21st, 2016, 4:24 pm
    There are a few others that deserve a mention.

    Maya continues to turn out excellent food and drink, and remains one of the best outdoor patios in town. With the Brewery, Hamburger Mary and the aforementioned other new establishment, that small strip of Oak Park Ave should remain hopping.

    On Lake street, you have the new sandwich shop, Romaine Greens and Grill, and a Nandos Peri Peri moving into the Penzy spice space. Lake St. Kitchen and Bar and Sushi house also continue to turn out decent food.

    Not the desert it was, and you dont even need to venture into Forest Park if you dont want to.
  • Post #4 - March 21st, 2016, 6:36 pm
    Post #4 - March 21st, 2016, 6:36 pm Post #4 - March 21st, 2016, 6:36 pm
    There's a pretty good new falafel place at OP Ave and North Ave and Restaurant Elbrus (I think that's right) a Russian place that I haven't been to.
  • Post #5 - March 21st, 2016, 9:47 pm
    Post #5 - March 21st, 2016, 9:47 pm Post #5 - March 21st, 2016, 9:47 pm
    You mentioned Carnivore, but I'd add their forthcoming food truck which could be a nice addition roving the 'hood. I'm amazed at how often their take-out option seems to be used at the Beer Shop, though not because of any question I have of its quality - I have none.
  • Post #6 - March 22nd, 2016, 9:44 am
    Post #6 - March 22nd, 2016, 9:44 am Post #6 - March 22nd, 2016, 9:44 am
    Well, Beer Shop does I think actively suggest Carnivore for take-out. Regardless, it's a perfect fit.

    Didn't know about any Russian/Eastern European place, but it looks like it's in Galewood? Close enough. I've also had several people praise the Mexican place that opened up by the gas station on the SW corner of North and Harlem.

    I was underwhelmed by the falafel place on North and OP, especially with Jerusalem Cafe still strong enough, and Lake Street Kitchen I've found really mediocre, to be honest. I'm also dubious of the Romaine place, but totally forgot about the imminent arrival of Nando's Peri Peri. Regardless, a whole lotta shakin' going on.
  • Post #7 - March 22nd, 2016, 11:27 am
    Post #7 - March 22nd, 2016, 11:27 am Post #7 - March 22nd, 2016, 11:27 am
    I'd add Bodhi Thai on Roosevelt Rd. in Berwyn to the list...
    "Barbecue sauce is like a beautiful woman. If it’s too sweet, it’s bound to be hiding something."
    — Lyle Lovett


    "How do you say 'Yum-o' in Swedish? Or is it Swiss? What do they speak in Switzerland?"- Rachel Ray
  • Post #8 - March 22nd, 2016, 12:47 pm
    Post #8 - March 22nd, 2016, 12:47 pm Post #8 - March 22nd, 2016, 12:47 pm
    Well, when you list it all out, it does seem like we're actually doing pretty well, dining-wise. When something new opens on Madison (Robinson's moving to the old Leona's doesn't count) or (dare I dream it) Harrison, then we'll really know that it's a new day. There's work going on in the old La Majada and across the street but I have no idea if anything's planned or if the new owners are just trying to whip them into leasable shape.

    There's also something fine dining-ish going into the storefront at Oak Park Ave. and South Blvd., just north of Maya Del Sol; I forget the details.

    I'll add a plug for Madison Park Kitchen in FP, which does the slightly upscale diner thing better than most, Delia's included. Skillets, sandwiches, sugary pancakes for the kids are all better than they need to be. There's parking, and service is competent and friendly. Hammond discovered that they make an excellent patty melt, and are more adept than most at hitting the requested doneness. Add to that free soup with any sandwich and you've got a winner.
  • Post #9 - March 23rd, 2016, 9:30 am
    Post #9 - March 23rd, 2016, 9:30 am Post #9 - March 23rd, 2016, 9:30 am
    ndgbucktown wrote:<snip>There's also something fine dining-ish going into the storefront at Oak Park Ave. and South Blvd., just north of Maya Del Sol; I forget the details. </snip>


    Yeah! Whats up with this place?

    Drove by a week or two ago and it was filled with people but more often it is closed.
    "Make Lunch, Not War" ~ Anon
  • Post #10 - March 23rd, 2016, 9:33 am
    Post #10 - March 23rd, 2016, 9:33 am Post #10 - March 23rd, 2016, 9:33 am
    Citrine, I think. By the owners of another color or gem named place. Topaz maybe?

    edited to add, yep, that's correct.
  • Post #11 - March 23rd, 2016, 1:40 pm
    Post #11 - March 23rd, 2016, 1:40 pm Post #11 - March 23rd, 2016, 1:40 pm
    Marmish wrote:Citrine, I think. By the owners of another color or gem named place. Topaz maybe?

    edited to add, yep, that's correct.

    Thanks!

    Found them...

    Wine Bar · Mediterranean Restaurant · Cafe

    https://www.facebook.com/citrinecafe
    http://www.opentable.com/citrine-cafe
    http://www.citrinecafe.com/

    Hours:
    Sunday - Thursday: 4:30pm - 9:30pm
    Friday & Saturday: 4:30pm - 10:30pm

    Price Range:
    $31 to $50
    "Make Lunch, Not War" ~ Anon
  • Post #12 - April 6th, 2016, 3:16 pm
    Post #12 - April 6th, 2016, 3:16 pm Post #12 - April 6th, 2016, 3:16 pm
    Marmish wrote:Citrine, I think. By the owners of another color or gem named place. Topaz maybe?

    edited to add, yep, that's correct.

    Branko Palikuca, who co-owns the Dawson in Chicago, has opened Citrine Cafe, a Mediterranean-American restaurant in downtown Oak Park.

    http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/ ... n-oak-park
    "Sandwiches are wonderful. You don't need a spoon or a plate!"
    Paul Lynde
  • Post #13 - April 6th, 2016, 4:06 pm
    Post #13 - April 6th, 2016, 4:06 pm Post #13 - April 6th, 2016, 4:06 pm
    Stopped into Citrine and had some of the best veal ever, slow-cooked in a clay pot, absorbing lots of flavors, rendering luscious and wonderful what is usually a rather vapid meat.

    Veal.jpg Not vapid veal
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #14 - April 7th, 2016, 9:22 pm
    Post #14 - April 7th, 2016, 9:22 pm Post #14 - April 7th, 2016, 9:22 pm
    I did not see Mr. Hammond at Citrine last night but was similarly impressed by the food, the staff and the space. I was pleasantly greeted by the owner Branko who made us feel like celebrities. As I waited for Mrs. Johnnies to get off the Green line, I enjoyed a draft beer at the bar and had a chance to look at the restaurant. The build out, lighting, table spacing was all well thought out. When we were seated we had a great view of the scene inside and out. The place was full and hopping on a Wednesday night--couples, families with kids, young couples etc. Settling in we order some interesting wine off what is now a small wine list but one which I sense from Branko will grow. I ordered the steak tartare which paired with some tasty crackers as opposed to the standard old school pumpernickel bread. It had a nice spice and was a great start. Mrs. J had the smoky eggplant starter which she enjoyed on a chilly wet night. Our main course was the risotto for me and whitefish for the wife. She claimed it has a fishy taste--I did not taste any fishiness, but hey, it's fish. My risotto was top notch with some crispy parm crisps nestled into the dish which gave a bit of crunchy texture to offset the creamy texture.
    Overall, a really terrific dining experience on all fronts and a great addition to Oak Park's dining choices. As someone who has lived in the area for many years, used to scoop ice cream at Happiness Is on South Boulevard, it has been quite a change for the gastronomic better.
  • Post #15 - April 18th, 2016, 1:13 pm
    Post #15 - April 18th, 2016, 1:13 pm Post #15 - April 18th, 2016, 1:13 pm
    Another strong endorsement for Citrine - what a catch for Oak Park! My wife and I ate there on Friday and I'm still thinking about what a great meal it was. I didn't have anything I wouldn't enthusiastically order again. I think they'll do a bang-up business.

    On the other hand...brunch at Marion Street Market (they apparently dropped the "Cheese" during the most recent revamp, although they still feature several cheese plates) on Saturday was a real whiff. I never ate at any of the other iterations so I can't comment directly, but I fear this may just be one of those doomed locations.

    The (new?) menu is "upscale" versions of basic yuppie brunch stuff at about 150x the price I'm used to paying. $12 for cheese curds gives me pause, but the same amount for a donut ("chef's selection, housemade") is criminal. My hungover wife was craving a fountain Coke but settled for the suggested "house-made cola" since there was no alternative ($3.50 for about 8 ounces, pale yellow, didn't taste like much, no refills offered.) A drink menu included wine and cocktails, but no beer whatsoever, even though it was on sale just inside the door. Water glasses went unfilled, and a request for hot sauce was clearly forgotten as soon as it was acknowledged.

    Service was somehow simultaneously harried and glacier-slow (multiple people checking to see if we'd been helped, but not offering help themselves). 3/4 of our entrees arrived with an announcement that there had been an "issue" with the pesto omelette and that one was being prepared "on the fly" (how else...?) and finally arrived 10-15 minutes later, when the rest of us were mostly finished with our relatively small portions.

    I don't predict much of a future for version 3.0 if this is a representative visit. Working out the service kinks won't create a raison d'être, and I'm not sure there is one here anymore.
  • Post #16 - April 18th, 2016, 4:50 pm
    Post #16 - April 18th, 2016, 4:50 pm Post #16 - April 18th, 2016, 4:50 pm
    I don't know if the Marion Street space is cursed, but each iteration has featured its own comically inept service.

    Re: Citrine, how have the prices sat with everyone so far? Can Oak Park support a place that charges $25-$40 an entree? I guess the higher end dishes are for splitting, but still. Were you cool with how your bills turned out? Fair prices? Comparable/on par with Autre Monde and Gaetano's?

    Speaking of which, had several dishes from the revamped Autre Monde the other night. Service was actually pretty weird there, too, either slow (cocktails) or poorly paced (food), and it was louder than ever, but the dishes big and small were all pretty strong, with the pork chop and snapper we had at the end of the night excellent, the former in particular.
  • Post #17 - April 19th, 2016, 11:12 am
    Post #17 - April 19th, 2016, 11:12 am Post #17 - April 19th, 2016, 11:12 am
    Vitesse98 wrote:Re: Citrine, how have the prices sat with everyone so far? Can Oak Park support a place that charges $25-$40 an entree? I guess the higher end dishes are for splitting, but still. Were you cool with how your bills turned out? Fair prices? Comparable/on par with Autre Monde and Gaetano's?


    I was cool with my bill. $175 all in is a big night out for the two of us, but that included four small plates, a bottle of wine, and the flagship $42 branzino. I would have felt differently if the execution wasn't where it was, but they nailed everything. The menu feels flexible to me; I can think of a few meals I could cobble together there for around $25-$30 pp.
  • Post #18 - May 6th, 2016, 2:02 pm
    Post #18 - May 6th, 2016, 2:02 pm Post #18 - May 6th, 2016, 2:02 pm
    Eyrie, the Robert Morris student-run restaurant, closed on April 30:

    http://www.robertmorris.edu/eyrie/

    I had some really nice experiences there, including a great African peanut stew this spring, and the burger was always reliable.

    I hit Q BBQ on Marion, which David Hammond covered well here. Like the LaGrange location, it is dear and packaged ("adult contemporary barbecue," I've called it), but high-quality and flavorful. I don't recommend the burnt ends over the regular brisket. Street corn and hush puppies are good. Don't miss the pickles by the condiments. Ribs have a nice tug and are not overglazed.

    Nando's is also open now, and takeout chicken I had was better than expected - moist and some serious grill-char on the skewers. Like many chain and suburban protein options it is a vehicle for the sauce, but that's a good one-trick to have for a pony (favorite: lemon and herb peri peri. Macho peas are a worthy side. Charred pineapple lemonade tasty but a bit cloying).
  • Post #19 - May 9th, 2016, 9:56 am
    Post #19 - May 9th, 2016, 9:56 am Post #19 - May 9th, 2016, 9:56 am
    Santander wrote:Eyrie, the Robert Morris student-run restaurant, closed on April 30:

    http://www.robertmorris.edu/eyrie/

    I had some really nice experiences there, including a great African peanut stew this spring, and the burger was always reliable.

    When I drove by over the weekend I would of sworn I saw a sign in the window mentioning something new and exciting coming...
    "Make Lunch, Not War" ~ Anon
  • Post #20 - May 9th, 2016, 7:41 pm
    Post #20 - May 9th, 2016, 7:41 pm Post #20 - May 9th, 2016, 7:41 pm
    Oak Park getting two new brewpubs

    http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/ ... w-brewpubs
    "Sandwiches are wonderful. You don't need a spoon or a plate!"
    Paul Lynde
  • Post #21 - May 10th, 2016, 11:23 am
    Post #21 - May 10th, 2016, 11:23 am Post #21 - May 10th, 2016, 11:23 am
    I love all this local activity.

    So, speaking of options, do any of you have suggestions for or recommendations of local places that do a great job with on-site catering? Was thinking of asking the usual suspects - Carnivore, Autre Monde, Gaetano's, et al. - but was wondering if there was something I might be forgetting.
  • Post #22 - May 31st, 2016, 12:10 pm
    Post #22 - May 31st, 2016, 12:10 pm Post #22 - May 31st, 2016, 12:10 pm
    OK, here's something I didn't expect: Filipino cuisine in Oak Park. I'd seen the awkwardly named Lola Tining's Cuisine pop up in the a cursed corner space at Harlem and Garfield, in the strip mall across from the Volvo dealership, but I had no idea what it was until someone brought it to my attention that "turo turo" means Filipino carry out. (I guess "Lola" means "grandma?") I haven't tried it yet, but will soon, since it's an intriguing addition with, I assume, an uphill climb ahead of it. My wife forwarded me some dishes they carry, which include: goat kalderetta, beef tapa, garlic rice, mungo stew with mackerel, and acharya/pickled papaya. I know nothing about Filipino cuisine, so assume these are familiar offerings. Anyway, it's right down the street from me, and now on the radar. Hopefully someone knowledgeable can try and report back before it goes the way of many of its predecessors.

    Lola Tining's Cuisine
    1141 Garfield St.
    Oak Park, IL 60304
    (708) 616-8000
  • Post #23 - May 31st, 2016, 4:12 pm
    Post #23 - May 31st, 2016, 4:12 pm Post #23 - May 31st, 2016, 4:12 pm
    Very interesting. I'll have to check this out too. I also know nothing about filipino cuisine except when my buddy deep fried a pork hock once. AKA crispy pata. It was delicious.
    "I Like Food, Food Tastes Good" - The Descendants
  • Post #24 - May 31st, 2016, 6:49 pm
    Post #24 - May 31st, 2016, 6:49 pm Post #24 - May 31st, 2016, 6:49 pm
    And now there is news Oak Park is getting a pie shop at the former site of LaMajada, 226 Harrison... Called Happy Apple Pie Shop, I guess.

    My Filipino friend was praising the virtues of Chicken Adobo, which I guess the Filipino shop also sells.
  • Post #25 - May 31st, 2016, 10:03 pm
    Post #25 - May 31st, 2016, 10:03 pm Post #25 - May 31st, 2016, 10:03 pm
    House-made spiced lamb sausages at Citrine were one of my favorite plates of the season so far: a small clay pot of harissa tomato sauce with perfectly spiced grill-charred succulent lamb, topped with shaved fennel and cucumber and cut by a mint raita. This and other dishes - softshell crab over asparagus, chicory and farm egg with their own excellent smoked pancetta, octopus and crisp potatoes over a green olive vinaigrette, even the flourless chocolate cake (more of a mousse) - are quite similar to other local light Autre Monde, which is just fine by me. Service is stronger and better-informed, handling a completely packed restaurant with ease on a Saturday night. The drinks list (wine, beer, and cocktails) has some unusual-for-the-area hits in all categories, reflecting the Publican pedigree. We played it safe with an Old Fashioned and margarita - the former a bit sweet, but the latter just exactly right, both potent.
  • Post #26 - June 3rd, 2016, 11:51 am
    Post #26 - June 3rd, 2016, 11:51 am Post #26 - June 3rd, 2016, 11:51 am
    Lola Tining's is still in a soft opening period - no menu printed yet, halo halo and shaved ice plans but not currently implemented, no fried rice, and still doing some unpacking. However, the steam table items look and smell great, from giniling guisado to tripe with lots of vegetables, and I was gifted some arroz caldo with my coffee - Filipino congee, rich and gingery, and punched up by bottles of home-made vinegar hot sauce they have going. It looks like they will eventually have standard grilled Pinoy breakfasts in addition to the standing stewed items. I'll start or jump on a separate thread when they've hit their stride.
  • Post #27 - June 5th, 2016, 3:23 pm
    Post #27 - June 5th, 2016, 3:23 pm Post #27 - June 5th, 2016, 3:23 pm
    After a late breakfast at...

    Addis Café (was 206 Café until February)
    818 S Oak Park Ave, Oak Park
    (708) 613-4142

    A great spot for a waffle and coffee.

    A reading this article about an Ethiopian restaurant opening there I wanted to get a little information.

    They are just in the planning stages as there are several hurtles to jump before opening a full restaurant. Won't be until the fall or maybe next spring.

    They will continue to serve coffee and waffles.

    After breakfast I was just going to duck my head in the door at Lola's as mentioned...

    Vitesse98 wrote:OK, here's something I didn't expect: Filipino cuisine in Oak Park. I'd seen the awkwardly named Lola Tining's Cuisine pop up in the a cursed corner space at Harlem and Garfield, in the strip mall across from the Volvo dealership, but I had no idea what it was until someone brought it to my attention that "turo turo" means Filipino carry out. (I guess "Lola" means "grandma?") I haven't tried it yet, but will soon, since it's an intriguing addition with, I assume, an uphill climb ahead of it. My wife forwarded me some dishes they carry, which include: goat kalderetta, beef tapa, garlic rice, mungo stew with mackerel, and acharya/pickled papaya. I know nothing about Filipino cuisine, so assume these are familiar offerings. Anyway, it's right down the street from me, and now on the radar. Hopefully someone knowledgeable can try and report back before it goes the way of many of its predecessors.

    Lola Tining's Cuisine
    1141 Garfield St.
    Oak Park, IL 60304
    (708) 616-8000


    ... and was unable to get out without a few items to go.

    The Pancit Bihon was good. The addition of roast pork was tasty. They also gave me a serving of lugaw, a taste of the roast pork and a touch of sweets.

    Very friendly and even Lola (the grandmother) was in attendance. Filled with FFAR (Friends, Family And Relatives).

    Everything was very tasty although I wonder how they will be able to keep the steam table items fresh. She was already talking about simplifying the menu.

    Menu still in flux.
    Lola.jpg Milkfish and Roast Pork
    "Make Lunch, Not War" ~ Anon
  • Post #28 - June 12th, 2016, 10:49 am
    Post #28 - June 12th, 2016, 10:49 am Post #28 - June 12th, 2016, 10:49 am
    Not only are the burgers at the Oak Park Brewing Co/Hamburger Mary's mostly average and totally misbalanced in terms of bun/meat/toppings, not only is the service erratic at best (an Oak Park trademark), but last night two of the house beers I tried were literally undrinkable, the stout (flat and plain as water) and a beer I took from my buddy's flight that tasted like vinegar (forget which it was, but was on the darker end of the spectrum, albeit still amber). This was my second visit here, and my last.
  • Post #29 - June 13th, 2016, 10:46 am
    Post #29 - June 13th, 2016, 10:46 am Post #29 - June 13th, 2016, 10:46 am
    Disappointing if not unsurprising to hear about OPBC/HM. Given the amount of time and presumably money that went into getting this venture up and running, I hope they manage to pull it together (and, while they're at it, revamp their loading dock-chic outdoor dining area).

    It won't do you any good for lunch, but I can recommend burgers across the street: both Maya del Sol and Citrine do respectable versions at the same price point (and as such represent better deals at both places). Maya's reminds me of an upmarket interpretation (in a good way) of an In-N-Out California-style burger, where the lettuce, tomato, and special sauce (here, chipotle mayo) are star players and balance is key. Comes with McDs-esque skinny french fries...probably frozen, but handled well. Citrine's offering is more of a "pub burger" with a larger (1/3 to 1/2 lb.) patty that, in my experience, comes to the table actually cooked to the requested medium rare. The fries are a thicker, boardwalk/hand-cut variety.
  • Post #30 - June 13th, 2016, 4:38 pm
    Post #30 - June 13th, 2016, 4:38 pm Post #30 - June 13th, 2016, 4:38 pm
    Ha, I'm not at a loss for better burgers in the Oak Park area. Not least Big Guys.

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