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The Depot American Diner
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  • The Depot American Diner

    Post #1 - January 22nd, 2007, 12:45 pm
    Post #1 - January 22nd, 2007, 12:45 pm Post #1 - January 22nd, 2007, 12:45 pm
    This spot opened in my neighborhood last week, and I had a fantastic first lunch there on Saturday. The Depot is run by two professional chefs who know what they are doing and who are apparently now doing what they want.

    What they are doing is completely traditional 40s-50s diner fare: traditional breakfasts (eggs, sausage, hash browns), sandwiches (french dip, ham and cheese), soups (ham and pea on Saturday), and desserts (including red velvet and white chiffon cakes and gorgeous pies). Everything (save for the machine cut fries) is made in house and tastes like it. I had a pot roast sandwich and fries--both smothered in perfect, light gravy. A perfect pickle and cole slaw came on the side. The blue plate special on Saturday was pot roast with butter roasted potatoes and vegetables. I believe it was around $8.00. My sandwich was around $6.00. Coffee was great.

    They've also done a fantastic job restoring their space (which was originally a diner--but had been used for storage and other things before they bought the building) to look exactly like it should. Red vinyl booths on one wall and chrome and vinyl stools along the counter. There is also a little room at the back with a table that will accomodate a larger group.

    I will be back soon and I hope you get a chance to visit as well. I would love to hear other impressions, but for now I am smitten.

    Kristen

    The Depot American Diner
    5840 W. Roosevelt
    Chicago, IL
    (773) 261-8422
    I believe they are open for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, but a call to check, especially in the first couple of months, would be a good idea.
  • Post #2 - January 23rd, 2007, 5:59 pm
    Post #2 - January 23rd, 2007, 5:59 pm Post #2 - January 23rd, 2007, 5:59 pm
    Alerted by Kristen's entry, I went by the Chicago Depot for lunch today. The place is in the middle of a bus turn around and has housed a eatery for as long a I can remember. The place is immaculate inside. The people are very friendly and appreciative that you came. There are some nice touches that I like such as fresh ground coffee, pop in bottles served with a straw and good knives, forks and plates instead of the usual cheap grill utensils. For lunch, I had the daily special of spaghetti and meatballs for 8.59. This includes a large bowl of chicken noodle soup(always available, or a daily soup special). There was a lot of chicken in the bowl with a flavorful broth. With the accompanying roll, this would be a cheap 2.50 lunch. The huge plate of properly cooked spaghetti was covered with a tame but nevertheless flavorful sauce and three 3" meatballs that were excellent. Some garlic toast comes with. Between the soup and the special I was stuffed half way thru the lunch and only managed half the spaghetti. With coffee and tax, it came to 10.83. A little more than I usually spend for lunch, but I felt that it was a good value. They have a good menu with the usual diner sandwiches and plates, as well a very good chili, if the man next to me is to be believed. Also, when I told one of the owners, as I was leaving, that I read about them on LTHForum, he said that I had just missed some other LTHers that had eaten lunch.
  • Post #3 - January 23rd, 2007, 11:42 pm
    Post #3 - January 23rd, 2007, 11:42 pm Post #3 - January 23rd, 2007, 11:42 pm
    Image

    Image

    Image

    Image

    Image
    daily soup: broccoli & cheddar

    Image
    pot roast sandwich

    Image

    Image


    Kristen, you picked a real winner.

    E.M.
  • Post #4 - January 24th, 2007, 12:09 am
    Post #4 - January 24th, 2007, 12:09 am Post #4 - January 24th, 2007, 12:09 am
    Erik M. wrote:Image
    fake rotary phone sir.
  • Post #5 - January 24th, 2007, 12:11 am
    Post #5 - January 24th, 2007, 12:11 am Post #5 - January 24th, 2007, 12:11 am
    error
    Last edited by Erik M. on January 24th, 2007, 12:13 am, edited 2 times in total.
  • Post #6 - January 24th, 2007, 12:13 am
    Post #6 - January 24th, 2007, 12:13 am Post #6 - January 24th, 2007, 12:13 am
    TonyC wrote:fake rotary phone sir.


    It had a dial tone, homeboy.

    E.M.
  • Post #7 - January 24th, 2007, 12:25 am
    Post #7 - January 24th, 2007, 12:25 am Post #7 - January 24th, 2007, 12:25 am
    rephrase: FAUX rotary phone.
  • Post #8 - January 24th, 2007, 12:55 am
    Post #8 - January 24th, 2007, 12:55 am Post #8 - January 24th, 2007, 12:55 am
    Has anyone actually used a rotary phone in the last, oh, 20 years? It's unbelievable how SLOW they are. I swear, I could write the number in longhand and run it to the nearest exchange faster than I can dial it on a phone with an actual dial.

    Anyway, I meant to go to this place too, but I saw a different westside faux-diner on the way and was too impatient to try to find this one instead. Mine is called Cozy Corner, said Corner being the not especially cozy one of Diversey and Kostner, though I have no idea if it's related to the defunct Cozy Corner around Lincoln and Foster or the Sterns-approved one on Milwaukee or various others in Oak Park, on 169th St., etc. Not quite as hipster-retro as Salt & Pepper or Edgebrook Diner, but thankfully not Kountry Kwaint, and doing a big business with the fellas from the Marshall Fi-- er, Macy's warehouse nearby, it was... not bad. Hash browns were a little thick and chunky to be true hash browns, but at least they had a nice crust. Eggs over easy were undercooked, which is so rare as to be startling. Best thing was ham off the bone, which tasted like it was really was although I did not see said ham or bone to verify. Sitting at the counter, I was privy to perhaps a little too much of the internal workings of the staff, not to mention the price of the group health plan the owner was getting for himself (sounded too expensive for anybody else working there). Anyway, no destination, unless you happen to be very near Kostner and Diversey, but decent enough. Catecornered is a Mexican grocery (which may be the one someone mentioned the other day) which appeared to have a setup for outdoor grilling; now THAT I may come back for.
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  • Post #9 - January 24th, 2007, 12:58 am
    Post #9 - January 24th, 2007, 12:58 am Post #9 - January 24th, 2007, 12:58 am
    Mike G wrote:Has anyone actually used a rotary phone in the last, oh, 20 years?

    Burt has. :)

    Image
    Sauce on the side, always, implied, axiomatic..........never a doubt, BBQ sauce without.

    Low & Slow
  • Post #10 - January 24th, 2007, 1:07 am
    Post #10 - January 24th, 2007, 1:07 am Post #10 - January 24th, 2007, 1:07 am
    G Wiv wrote:
    Mike G wrote:Has anyone actually used a rotary phone in the last, oh, 20 years?

    Burt has. :)

    Image


    The little knob in the lower left corner allows you to switch phone lines. We had this exact type phone for our two phone lines in the mid-1970's.

    My Grandfather had a genuine rotary phone, which looked like the faux phone. I loved the little whirling noise it made when you dialed. It was heavy. How long did he have this phone? The paper disk in the middle began "IRving 8 - XXXX." Yes, it began with the phone exchange IRving otherwise 478. When we phone my other Grandfather's business, we just as often refer to it as "GRaceland 2" rather than 472-XXXX.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
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  • Post #11 - January 24th, 2007, 10:59 am
    Post #11 - January 24th, 2007, 10:59 am Post #11 - January 24th, 2007, 10:59 am
    I don't know what is meant by the use of of the word "faux," above, but here are some interesting factoids:

    1. The phone is an original, not a working replica.

    2. The majority of the kitchen fixturing and equipment is original, it has simply been restored.

    3. All of the desserts, including the donuts, are scratch-made, and based on original mid-century recipes.

    4. The standard loaf bread is contract baked, and the recipe is based on an original mid-century recipe.

    5. The decor and paint scheme were coordinated by a friend in Miami FL, and they are based on historical records.

    -------

    Now, however that may sound, this is hardly an Ed Debevic's-type corporate enterprise.

    This enterprise is instead earnest, hard-won, and a complete labour of love, nay, obssession.

    I imagine that it will strike a deep and resonant chord with many here.

    E.M.
  • Post #12 - January 24th, 2007, 11:06 am
    Post #12 - January 24th, 2007, 11:06 am Post #12 - January 24th, 2007, 11:06 am
    Erik,

    I guess what suggests the phone isn't what one would expect are the raised buttons making it seem like a touch tone phone. Whereas those elderly phones had holes for your fingers. I will admit the cord coming out the rear looks like my Grandfather's phone cable.

    The place looks like a charmer.

    Regards,
    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
  • Post #13 - January 24th, 2007, 11:17 am
    Post #13 - January 24th, 2007, 11:17 am Post #13 - January 24th, 2007, 11:17 am
    Cathy2 wrote:Erik,

    I guess what suggests the phone isn't what one would expect are the raised buttons making it seem like a touch tone phone. Whereas those elderly phones had holes for your fingers. I will admit the cord coming out the rear looks like my Grandfather's phone cable.

    The place looks like a charmer.

    Regards,


    Look, I didn't try dialing the damned thing, but I can tell you that it weighs a ton, the cord is old, and the plastic housing has the patina and age of a synthetic material which has degraded over time. Now, please, just go so that we may talk about the food. :wink:

    Oh, and when you do, be sure to engage Robert, the kindly owner. He will be more than happy to go on at great length about his professional history, his new enterprise, and the principles behind it all.

    E.M.
  • Post #14 - January 24th, 2007, 1:09 pm
    Post #14 - January 24th, 2007, 1:09 pm Post #14 - January 24th, 2007, 1:09 pm
    Erik M. wrote:I don't know what is meant by the use of of the word "faux," above, but here are some interesting factoids:

    1. The phone is an original, not a working replica.


    I thought Restoration Hardware sold that phone at one point.
  • Post #15 - January 24th, 2007, 3:46 pm
    Post #15 - January 24th, 2007, 3:46 pm Post #15 - January 24th, 2007, 3:46 pm
    I thought from the title of the thread someone was going to describe a meal at Home Depot - you know the hot dog stand at the exit? I have never actually seen anyone buy food there but I have bought a coke there once.

    The only worse place to get a hot dog is probably the movies.
    I'm not Angry, I'm hungry.
  • Post #16 - January 24th, 2007, 3:53 pm
    Post #16 - January 24th, 2007, 3:53 pm Post #16 - January 24th, 2007, 3:53 pm
    AngrySarah wrote:I thought from the title of the thread someone was going to describe a meal at Home Depot - you know the hot dog stand at the exit? I have never actually seen anyone buy food there but I have bought a coke there once.

    The only worse place to get a hot dog is probably the movies.
    Actually, at my old company, I worked in two different departments w/completely different people, and there was at least one male in each of those departments that would get hot dogs from Home Depot for lunch. *ack* They liked it b/c it was cheap and apparently good.
  • Post #17 - January 24th, 2007, 4:04 pm
    Post #17 - January 24th, 2007, 4:04 pm Post #17 - January 24th, 2007, 4:04 pm
    Pucca wrote:
    AngrySarah wrote:I thought from the title of the thread someone was going to describe a meal at Home Depot - you know the hot dog stand at the exit? I have never actually seen anyone buy food there but I have bought a coke there once.

    The only worse place to get a hot dog is probably the movies.
    Actually, at my old company, I worked in two different departments w/completely different people, and there was at least one male in each of those departments that would get hot dogs from Home Depot for lunch. *ack* They liked it b/c it was cheap and apparently good.


    I've eaten, granted in a fit of starvation, from the Home Depot hot dog cart. You could do a lot worse; it's not as bad as it would seem.
  • Post #18 - January 24th, 2007, 4:12 pm
    Post #18 - January 24th, 2007, 4:12 pm Post #18 - January 24th, 2007, 4:12 pm
    aschie30 wrote:
    Erik M. wrote:I don't know what is meant by the use of of the word "faux," above, but here are some interesting factoids:

    1. The phone is an original, not a working replica.


    I thought Restoration Hardware sold that phone at one point.


    Sigh.

    Look, I didn't inquire about the phone. My evaluation was solely based upon a very quick and cursory examination. In actuality, I only picked it up so that I could better position it for the purpose of taking the photo. But, really, why the eff do so many here seem to care about the phone? I find it curious that no one has yet inquired about the soup (the best version of broccoli & cheddar that I have ever tried), the bread (delicious), or the sandwich (quite good, but I would have preferred a more tender and finely-shredded roast). But, maybe I just need to learn to better manage my curiosity. I mean, this thread, like so many others in recent memory, has become entirely hopeless in very short order. And, at such great remove from the issues of food, the table, or the kitchen, that it may just as well be at http://groups.google.com/group/alt.bullshit.

    E.M.
  • Post #19 - January 24th, 2007, 4:40 pm
    Post #19 - January 24th, 2007, 4:40 pm Post #19 - January 24th, 2007, 4:40 pm
    Can I talk about the food here or is it limited to phone talk? :lol:

    Went to Depot American recently and felt as though I was jumping into an Edward Hopper painting. Great vibe. If you're one of the many LTHers I've met who is in constant pursuit of places with a pulse, check this spot out.
    Alot of thought is going into the details here; sodas from Mexico, homemade pies, homemade breads, homemade soups, homemade, homemade, homemade (and a real neato phone).
    From what I tried, I thought the soups were the standouts. The owner told us that the daily blue plate specials are his early regular's favorite order; just like the old days.

    Curious to hear what hardcore diner lovers around these parts will have to say about it.
  • Post #20 - January 24th, 2007, 4:50 pm
    Post #20 - January 24th, 2007, 4:50 pm Post #20 - January 24th, 2007, 4:50 pm
    Erik M. wrote:the soup (the best version of broccoli & cheddar that I have ever tried), the bread (delicious), or the sandwich (quite good, but I would have preferred a more tender and finely-shredded roast).


    Well why didn't you say so in the first place? :wink:

    I look forward to trying this place.
  • Post #21 - January 24th, 2007, 4:56 pm
    Post #21 - January 24th, 2007, 4:56 pm Post #21 - January 24th, 2007, 4:56 pm
    That's great, but to get back to the phone, it looks to me like a Western Electric 302 that's been rewired to accept an RJ-11 and a new button console that fits where the dial used to go.

    But how was the line quality?
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  • Post #22 - January 24th, 2007, 6:09 pm
    Post #22 - January 24th, 2007, 6:09 pm Post #22 - January 24th, 2007, 6:09 pm
    Erik M. wrote:
    aschie30 wrote:
    Erik M. wrote:I don't know what is meant by the use of of the word "faux," above, but here are some interesting factoids:

    1. The phone is an original, not a working replica.


    I thought Restoration Hardware sold that phone at one point.


    Sigh.

    Look, I didn't inquire about the phone. My evaluation was solely based upon a very quick and cursory examination. In actuality, I only picked it up so that I could better position it for the purpose of taking the photo. But, really, why the eff do so many here seem to care about the phone? I find it curious that no one has yet inquired about the soup (the best version of broccoli & cheddar that I have ever tried), the bread (delicious), or the sandwich (quite good, but I would have preferred a more tender and finely-shredded roast). But, maybe I just need to learn to better manage my curiosity. I mean, this thread, like so many others in recent memory, has become entirely hopeless in very short order. And, at such great remove from the issues of food, the table, or the kitchen, that it may just as well be at http://groups.google.com/group/alt.bullshit.

    E.M.


    Don't be mad at us, you're the one who posted the picture of the phone. :wink:
  • Post #23 - January 24th, 2007, 6:26 pm
    Post #23 - January 24th, 2007, 6:26 pm Post #23 - January 24th, 2007, 6:26 pm
    Erik M. wrote:or the sandwich (quite good, but I would have preferred a more tender and finely-shredded roast).

    Erik,

    Frankly, I can take or leave pot roast, but I'd love to hear more about the deliciously crisp looking onion shreds on top of the sandwich. I'm thinking burger or club house sandwich paired with an order of fried onion crisps.

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    Sauce on the side, always, implied, axiomatic..........never a doubt, BBQ sauce without.

    Low & Slow
  • Post #24 - January 24th, 2007, 6:42 pm
    Post #24 - January 24th, 2007, 6:42 pm Post #24 - January 24th, 2007, 6:42 pm
    G Wiv wrote:Frankly, I can take or leave pot roast, but I'd love to hear more about the deliciously crisp looking onion shreds on top of the sandwich. I'm thinking burger or club house sandwich paired with an order of fried onion crisps.


    Kristen asked me about those too, Gary. Interestingly enough, they weren't served with her pot roast sandwich last Saturday. At any rate, they were quite good. They weren't firm like onion rings, but instead sort of soft and limp like the onion threads that can be found at places like P.J. Clarke's, etc.

    Me, I am tempted to try the very simplest things next, like egg salad, chicken salad, and grilled cheese. I saw tomatoes on a grilled cheese sandwich yesterday, which certainly doesn't appeal to me at this time of year, but the sandwich otherwise looked great. I guess that they use real ham on the bone, so a plate of ham and eggs might be in my future as well.

    I'll be curious to know what you think about the place. Robert strikes me as the sort of guy that thrives on critical (good & bad) feedback, so I really think that this place could be a true gem.

    Oh, and Gary, if I understood Robert correctly, they fashion the burgers from freshly-ground beef which has never been frozen, and they serve homemade biscuits and gravy on one of the weekend days. :wink:

    E.M.
  • Post #25 - January 25th, 2007, 1:22 pm
    Post #25 - January 25th, 2007, 1:22 pm Post #25 - January 25th, 2007, 1:22 pm
    Just got back from The Depot.

    First things first: I sat by the phone. It indeed is a working model. It appears (from my short observation) that the phone is used for people to call in to ask for food for pick-up. It may be possible to call out on the phone but it was not used for that function while I was there. I think we need further research on that topic.

    Second: I had a really nice lunch. I ordered the blue-plate special - 2 slices of meatloaf, real mashed potatoes, veggie medly (corn, peas and carrots) and real nice gravy on meatloaf and potatoes. Came with cream of potato and bacon. It was a ton of food, done real well. I will be going back.
    I'm not Angry, I'm hungry.
  • Post #26 - January 25th, 2007, 1:50 pm
    Post #26 - January 25th, 2007, 1:50 pm Post #26 - January 25th, 2007, 1:50 pm
    "uuummmm, this is a tasty burger"*
    Image
    1/2 lb angus, hand formed, medium rare, topped with a runny egg (by request) and provolone. skip the fries. all accompanied by a chocolate egg cream:

    Image

    apparently there's a real rotary phone in the works... but owner said no to the manual juicer when i mentioned Ramova's equipment. :lol: :lol: :lol:

    there was a quick mentioning of a triple decker grilled cheese. i'd love for someone to try this in the near future.

    * AngrySarah, i was the dude at the counter. i think u were standing by the window?
    Last edited by TonyC on January 25th, 2007, 6:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #27 - January 25th, 2007, 3:34 pm
    Post #27 - January 25th, 2007, 3:34 pm Post #27 - January 25th, 2007, 3:34 pm
    TonyC wrote:[...] skip the fries.


    Yeah, the fries are forgettable.

    In an effort to defend his use of a commercial, previously-frozen product, Robert talked at length about his difficulty with getting hand-cut fries crisp.

    I am hoping that someone with more knowledge can educate him. ;)

    E.M.
  • Post #28 - January 25th, 2007, 6:48 pm
    Post #28 - January 25th, 2007, 6:48 pm Post #28 - January 25th, 2007, 6:48 pm
    Erik M. wrote:Image

    This picture really bothered me; it seemed I'd been there before but I couldn't remember the details. A search using the address turned up some previous restaurants—Paul's Diner, Dianna's Snack Shop, El Tarasquito—but those names meant nothing to me. Last night I pulled out Chicago's Food Favorites (1986) by Pat Bruno and there it was in the chili chapter—Big George's Grill at 5840 W Roosevelt. Big George's opened in the early 1960s and I guess it closed sometime around 1990. They were best known for breakfasts and chili (or you could take care of both at once with something like Scramble Two Chili Size). I only managed to get there once before they closed but I remember it being a great old place. It's good to see some of the interior has been preserved.
  • Post #29 - January 25th, 2007, 7:10 pm
    Post #29 - January 25th, 2007, 7:10 pm Post #29 - January 25th, 2007, 7:10 pm
    aschie30 wrote:
    Pucca wrote:
    AngrySarah wrote:I thought from the title of the thread someone was going to describe a meal at Home Depot - you know the hot dog stand at the exit? I have never actually seen anyone buy food there but I have bought a coke there once.

    The only worse place to get a hot dog is probably the movies.
    Actually, at my old company, I worked in two different departments w/completely different people, and there was at least one male in each of those departments that would get hot dogs from Home Depot for lunch. *ack* They liked it b/c it was cheap and apparently good.


    I've eaten, granted in a fit of starvation, from the Home Depot hot dog cart. You could do a lot worse; it's not as bad as it would seem.


    (Hijack warning)
    Back when the Home Depot location on North Avenue was open 24 hours, it was a regular stop for patrons of nearby club Exit. Nothing like a "Depot Dog" after a night of punk rock and whiskey. :lol:
  • Post #30 - January 25th, 2007, 10:32 pm
    Post #30 - January 25th, 2007, 10:32 pm Post #30 - January 25th, 2007, 10:32 pm
    I just returned from The Depot, where I enjoyed a great dinner with kl5.

    I ordered the open-faced turkey sandwich with mashed potatoes/gravy and a vegetable medley. And, because I wasn't interested in the daily soup offering, Robert was kind enough to offer me tomorrow's daily soup, clam chowder, which had just been finished moments before our arrival. Anyway, everything was really, really good: the soup had a wonderful, creamy body, and the heady aroma of freshly-minced thyme; the turkey sandwich contained big, tender strips of both white and dark meat, and the potatoes/gravy and vegetables were clearly prepared with a skilled hand.

    As we were eating, some Chicago cops came in and were offered a preview of tomorrow's blue plate special, which is chicken-fried chicken with macaroni and cheese. I didn't stick around long enough to ask them for a review, but I can tell you that the look of the dark, peppery crust on the chicken was enough to put me in mind to consider it for my lunch tomorrow, that's for sure. ;)

    E.M.

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