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    Post #1 - May 7th, 2009, 9:14 pm
    Post #1 - May 7th, 2009, 9:14 pm Post #1 - May 7th, 2009, 9:14 pm
    Just came back from an extremely pleasant evening at this month old high end Greek restaurant. Nice decor, gracious service and dishes I found to be a bit different. The prices are quite reasonable for a well-prepared, unique dining experience.

    Taxim
    1558 N. Milwaukee Ave.
    Chicago, IL 60622
    773-252-1558

    Image
  • Post #2 - May 7th, 2009, 9:49 pm
    Post #2 - May 7th, 2009, 9:49 pm Post #2 - May 7th, 2009, 9:49 pm
    What did you have that made it extremely pleasant?
    Fettuccine alfredo is mac and cheese for adults.
  • Post #3 - May 7th, 2009, 9:50 pm
    Post #3 - May 7th, 2009, 9:50 pm Post #3 - May 7th, 2009, 9:50 pm
    There is already the startings of a Yelp frenzy underway...

    Any details on the meal?

    If you want to go to this place while you still don't have a big wait for a table, best do it soon...
  • Post #4 - May 8th, 2009, 5:00 am
    Post #4 - May 8th, 2009, 5:00 am Post #4 - May 8th, 2009, 5:00 am
    For starters we had the fava beans and the sauteed eggplant. For entrees we had the duck gyro and the braised lam shank. My favorites were the fava beans, where the lamb added an interesting taste and texture. Of the the two entrees, I would definitely go with duck gyro. The lamb shank, although good, was pretty standard. The accompanying smoked green wheat had a great chewiness.

    The menu is somewhat limited. The wine list is limited to Greece. I am no expert, but the two glasses we had, one white, one red, seemed fine.

    I think the restaurant is trying to start slow, get things right and expand (menu-wise) from there. So far I think they are on the right track.
  • Post #5 - May 8th, 2009, 9:41 am
    Post #5 - May 8th, 2009, 9:41 am Post #5 - May 8th, 2009, 9:41 am
    I usually never order chicken at a restaurant. But my friend ordered the chicken and I had some.
    It was the most delicious chicken I have ever had- perfect roast chicken with lemony potatoes.
    The tenderness, juiciness, and flavor were something to write home about.
    I also had the goat kebab which was very yummy and perfectly seasoned- almost reminded me of a more Turkish influence. The meat tasted fresh, which is important with goat (and all meat I think)

    I loved my white wine- reminded me of an austrian wine i had at charlie trotters- but much more reasonable!

    So many new restaurants have a corporate feel or have some "famous" chef- but then, you are disappointed and frankly, kind of bored with this "nouveau" food. This place has good energy- authentic, interesting cuisine that makes you recognize the diversity in Greek foods. At Taxim, I never felt bored with the flavors. Taxim is a stand-out and I hope that it thrives. I can't wait to taste their new menu additions which the owner talked about. Although, there are many other foods I still have to taste on the current menu.
    I can't wait to see how brightly Taxim's star shines.
  • Post #6 - May 8th, 2009, 11:53 am
    Post #6 - May 8th, 2009, 11:53 am Post #6 - May 8th, 2009, 11:53 am
    That duck gyros has really piqued my interest in this place. I've never heard of anything like that. And I'm nuts about duck. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.
  • Post #7 - May 8th, 2009, 4:06 pm
    Post #7 - May 8th, 2009, 4:06 pm Post #7 - May 8th, 2009, 4:06 pm
    I went there last Saturday night and loved it. We were there pretty early and the place was about 85% full. It looks really nice inside, tasteful decor, definitely ethnic but not in a distracting, over the top kind of way. We started with the Piperies and the Rampopita, both delicious. The cheese served with the Rampopita was absolutely wonderful, salty without being too salty, soft but not too soft.

    For entrees we shared the Yemista me pligouri and the duck gyros. The lamb-stuffed eggplant dish was light and well-seasoned and the yogurt and pomegranate sauces complemented the meaty flavor of the lamb. The dish was excellent, both in taste and texture. The duck gyros were amazing. The type of dish I couldn't imagine anyone not liking. Definitely heavier than the other entree we ordered but the flavors were outstanding and the little cucumber salad that came with it complemented the dish well. I really can't describe it. Seriously, duck gyros, what a good idea. For dessert we had the chocolate cardamom cake with candied kumquats. Yum. We were actually quite full at that point but, in keeping with our habit of forcing ourselves to eat dessert when a new place has impressed us up to that point, we ordered the cake and ate every last bite.

    Service was just right for us, always there when we needed something but not overbearing. Our server knew the menu and was prepared to answer questions too - like what are barberries? Despite our lack of knowledge about Greek wines we ordered a bottle of Merlot (safe choice, I know) and it was quite good, especially for $30. I would definitely go back, in fact I want to go back ASAP. I thought the prices were right on point for what you get. I've paid double for a less enjoyable experience both in terms of service and food plenty of times. The portions were generous too - we're not big people but we couldn't finish our duck gyro and we were going out after so we couldn't take it with us which made us both want to cry.

    I read the yelp reviews before we tried this place and it seemed like no one had anything negative to say about it which made me highly skeptical. But now I find myself doing the same thing. I hope the neighborhood supports this place because we have so few of restaurants of this genre in the city (I'm thinking Tizi Melloul and not sure where else). I'm interested in hearing thoughts from other people who have been there.

    Hikari
  • Post #8 - May 11th, 2009, 8:06 pm
    Post #8 - May 11th, 2009, 8:06 pm Post #8 - May 11th, 2009, 8:06 pm
    We're just back from a delicious and creative dinner at Taxim. We arrived for a 7pm reservation to a largely empty space that soon filled nicely for a Monday. Our server was charming and very knowledgeable, and on his recommendations we enjoyed interesting Greek white wine and beer. Attracted to the appetizers, we ordered the baby okra, which was a tasty and texture-revolutionizing dish; the arugula salad with seared halumi (yum) and a bright lemon mint vinaigrette; and the ramp-opita, which was served with a wedge of impressive bulgarian feta and had a delicate ramp flavor in a satisfying pastry. For entrees we had the previously recommended roast chicken with preserved lemon, which was transcendent (perfect skin, wonderfully moist, intensely flavorful without being salty) and the much feted duck gyros (inspired!). Dessert was chocolate "halva" with candied kumquats (awesome) and whipped cream. The cardamom scent was appealing, though it was more of a casual cake than a halva . Totally pleasing experience: every dish was thoughtful but not pretentious. We'll be back for more, especially if the menu expands.
  • Post #9 - May 20th, 2009, 10:05 pm
    Post #9 - May 20th, 2009, 10:05 pm Post #9 - May 20th, 2009, 10:05 pm
    Went to Taxim with a few friends and I have to say that I was very pleasantly surprised by how good the meal was. My favorite appetizer was the Rampopita, which featured fresh and vibrant flavors of ramps, garlic, dill and goat cheese feta encased in a crispy homemade phyllo dough.

    My next favorite appetizer was the Piperies, which was roasted peppers, capers, garlic and kefalograviera cheese, which I understand to be a sheep's milk cheese. This combination of flavors was excellent.

    I also enjoyed the Melitzanosalata (essentially baba ghanouj) which had a nice, smoky flavor and a chunky texture.
    We also ordered the Revithia (hummos) which was also very good. The latter two dishes came with warm, slightly charred pita.

    My entree was a whole sea bass, filleted tableside, was cooked just perfectly and served with a very light dressing of salt, lemon and olive oil. The best whole fish I've had in some time was a couple of months ago at Piccolo Sogno . . . this was not far off.

    Better than my sea bass though was a friend's duck gyro. Very moist duck meat, some pomegranate sauce and a nice, tangy yogurt made for a great version of gyros.

    The oven roasted half chicken was also very nice - crisp and juicy and nicely flavored with oregano and lemon.

    For dessert, we shared the chocolate halvah (more of a dry warm chocolate cake) which was served with candied kumquats. This was good, but nothing great.

    But overall, the food was very well prepared and much more interesting to me than the run-of-the-mill Greek restaurants I have gotten used to in Chicago. I appreciated the wonderful combination of flavors - e.g., - charcoal roasted vegetables, with fresh herbs and cheeses. I would highly recommend a visit to Taxim and I look forward to returning soon.
  • Post #10 - May 21st, 2009, 8:17 am
    Post #10 - May 21st, 2009, 8:17 am Post #10 - May 21st, 2009, 8:17 am
    Seamus wrote:That duck gyros has really piqued my interest in this place. I've never heard of anything like that. And I'm nuts about duck. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.



    You beat me to this post. I have to admit, with all of the outstanding working class Greek fare (and Ameri-Greek fare) in Chicago, it is pretty cool to see a ramped up version. The menu really does seem like some well done, high level traditional Greek and some twists on the stuff most are more familiar with. I may have to add this to the list of places to hit before I can't get anything like this.
  • Post #11 - May 21st, 2009, 11:20 pm
    Post #11 - May 21st, 2009, 11:20 pm Post #11 - May 21st, 2009, 11:20 pm
    OK - I need to get in my two cents here. I'm Greek and I have uncles who own restaurants in Greektown (the names of which will go undisclosed). In fact, I worked as a waiter and host in Greektown while putting myself through grad school at the U of C (and, boy, do I have stories...). That said, having lived outside of Chicago for awhile now, I am amazed when I return how Chicago's Greek restaurants seem stuck in a time warp. There are really exciting things happening at Greek restaurants elsewhere in the country, especially New York, but in California, where I've been living, as well. Not ridiculous fusion-foo-foo stuff, but back to the basics, regional, seasonal Greek cooking.

    It seems that Taxim may be moving in the right direction. I've not been yet, but from what I've heard, it seems hopeful.

    If anyone has any theories as to why Chicago is lagging behind other cities on the Greek front, I'd love to hear them...
  • Post #12 - May 22nd, 2009, 8:21 am
    Post #12 - May 22nd, 2009, 8:21 am Post #12 - May 22nd, 2009, 8:21 am
    Dr. K wrote:If anyone has any theories as to why Chicago is lagging behind other cities on the Greek front, I'd love to hear them...

    No Greek restauranteur was willing to try something new or couldn't find the backing to support it. If Taxim is successful, then there will be many taking the leap. Sometimes all it takes is one.

    You have relatives in the business, ask them the same question and let us know. If you have these relations, then you are closer to the Greek restaurant culture than us.

    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 #13 - May 22nd, 2009, 10:22 am
    Post #13 - May 22nd, 2009, 10:22 am Post #13 - May 22nd, 2009, 10:22 am
    Dr. K,
    Could you share the names/locations of the restaurants in California?
  • Post #14 - May 22nd, 2009, 10:28 am
    Post #14 - May 22nd, 2009, 10:28 am Post #14 - May 22nd, 2009, 10:28 am
    Cathy2 wrote:
    Dr. K wrote:If anyone has any theories as to why Chicago is lagging behind other cities on the Greek front, I'd love to hear them...

    No Greek restauranteur was willing to try something new or couldn't find the backing to support it. If Taxim is successful, then there will be many taking the leap. Sometimes all it takes is one.


    I've been talking to David Schneider of Taxim for an upcoming column and this very subject came up. (Unnamed) friends of his in Greektown restaurants told him they tried his approach many years ago but it never took off. Its a little more complicated than that, but apparently Chicago just wasn't ready for reform.
  • Post #15 - May 22nd, 2009, 10:52 am
    Post #15 - May 22nd, 2009, 10:52 am Post #15 - May 22nd, 2009, 10:52 am
    First, let me say that I love Greektown. But it is phenomenon unto itself -- the 'Saganaki Experience' --not a representation of Greek cuisine today. When I've taken friends from Greece to Halsted Street, it feels like a time-warp to them -- the way a 50's cafeteria still serving Salisbury steak and jello might seem to us. It is surprising to me that given the evolution of Greek cooking across the US, exemplified by high-profile chefs like Michael Psilakis, Jimmy Botascos and Kat Cora, that Chicago is stuck in a rut. You're right that as a Greek who has worked in Greektown I'm close to the culture, so here's my two-fold theory:

    1) The kitchen staffs in Greektown are all Mexican, with the exception of the head chef, who oversees the kitchen. In most cases, young chefs learn their craft, then move on. The Mexican cooks in Greektown (hard-working, talented guys), rarely move on, and if they do, they are not motivated to open Greek places, nor are they in touch with contemporary Greek cuisine.

    2) The Chicago Greek formula has been succesful. Not only have the restaurateurs taken it to the bank, but generations of Chicagoans have become accustomed to the formula, and their expectations are locked in.

    The best Greek restaurants in America right now are Anthos and Molyvos in NY. In California, I enjoy Evvia (Palo Alto) and there was a place here in San Diego called Exy, which showed promise, but opened at the wrong time. Chicagoans need to let go of the flaming cheese..
  • Post #16 - May 22nd, 2009, 11:19 am
    Post #16 - May 22nd, 2009, 11:19 am Post #16 - May 22nd, 2009, 11:19 am
    Dr. K wrote:Chicagoans need to let go of the flaming cheese.


    To me, this is the one large part of the answer to your question, and part of the answer to the question why we have no Momofuku equivalent, no Ramen purveyor, Italian that (overall) pales when compared to NYC and Sf, et al. I think the Chicago food culture has matured significantly in recent years, but it has its limits and tends to linger on certain types of restaurants (say, the pan-asian sushi joint) sometimes longer than it needs to. The exception to the rule, the molecular gastronomy movement (and let me know if I'm missing the boat here), seems to be maintained by out-of-towners, not necessarily natives.

    What's the overall ambition of Taxim, exactly: to be Anthos, or to just be a "modern dining" take on Greek?
  • Post #17 - May 22nd, 2009, 12:47 pm
    Post #17 - May 22nd, 2009, 12:47 pm Post #17 - May 22nd, 2009, 12:47 pm
    Dr. K wrote:Chicagoans need to let go of the flaming cheese..



    I know what you are saying here but I think there is room for both. I would be thrilled at having access to Greek fine dining but I see no reason that this can only happen by replacing the "workingman's fare". I, for one, this flaming, oozy, caramelized, meted cheese is a good thing. The lyrics to Auld Lang Syne come to mind.
  • Post #18 - May 22nd, 2009, 12:59 pm
    Post #18 - May 22nd, 2009, 12:59 pm Post #18 - May 22nd, 2009, 12:59 pm
    Yes, I agree there is room for both. Right now, Greek food in Chicago is stuck at the level of red sauce and meatballs Ameri-Italian of the midcentury. And it really is a Chicago-Greek hybrid, for the most part; if it is 'workingman's fare', then we're talking about Chicago's workingmen, not Greece's, who would be eating 'patsa' (tripe stew) after their shift, or 'bougatsa' in the morning. Gyros, what a good portion of diners order at G-Town restaurants, isn't even remotely Greek (well, at least not the processed cone version sold across Chicago). The duck gyros at Taxim sounds much closer to the real deal. Over the past few years, I have seen an evolution on Halsted Street towards a wider variety of offerings -- grilled octopus, shrimp saganaki (nothing like the cheese version -- saganaki refers to the frying pan), lamb aginarato, etc. As more Americans become adventurous and dive deeper into menus, it encourages restaurateurs to offer food that is closer to their tradition. As much as I would like to see fine-dining Greek in Chicago, what I REALLY want to see is more authentic taverna-style places, the Greek equivalent of the trattoria or bistro.

    The one restaurant I give credit to is Venus, which specializes in Greek Cypriot cuisine. Although their execution is spotty, they've tried to broaden the palate of Chicagoans. And much of what is offered on the rooftop of Pegasus is much closer to the meze-style dining you find in Greece.
  • Post #19 - May 22nd, 2009, 1:07 pm
    Post #19 - May 22nd, 2009, 1:07 pm Post #19 - May 22nd, 2009, 1:07 pm
    I'm keen to try Taxim, so I cannot speak to it directly. I do very much enjoy Venus for what it's worth and I'm generally happy with a Greektown meal. My general peeve (as might be expected) is with the quality of ingredients in Greek restaurants, especially the produce. If Greek food, real Greek food is so locavore and seaonally focused, why cannot a Greek place here do it?
    Think Yiddish, Dress British - Advice of Evil Ronnie to me.
  • Post #20 - May 22nd, 2009, 1:10 pm
    Post #20 - May 22nd, 2009, 1:10 pm Post #20 - May 22nd, 2009, 1:10 pm
    chezbrad wrote:The exception to the rule, the molecular gastronomy movement (and let me know if I'm missing the boat here), seems to be maintained by out-of-towners, not necessarily natives.


    I think you're missing the boat :wink:

    A few years ago, Grant Achatz gave a talk at the Steppenwolf and I asked him why molecular gastronomy has caught on more in Chicago than anywhere else (in particular New York). He gave a very thoughtful answer about how Charlie Trotter really set the stage for other restaurants here to do new and creative things, and without CT there wouldn't have been a Trio and without Trio there wouldn't be a Moto or Alinea (or, now, Graham Elliot or Avenues under Curtis Duffy). He gave the people of Chicago a lot of credit for their willingness to be open-minded when it comes to fine dining and to not get to hung up on traditional cuisine.

    So (while Alinea does do a fair amount of business from out of town guests) without the right culinary climate and culture maintained by those who live here, the restaurant (and MG) probably wouldn't have been able to open/be sustainable in the first place.
    -Josh

    I've started blogging about the Stuff I Eat
  • Post #21 - May 22nd, 2009, 1:58 pm
    Post #21 - May 22nd, 2009, 1:58 pm Post #21 - May 22nd, 2009, 1:58 pm
    Another Greek here chiming in to agree with Dr. K. I've fantasized over the years that if I had money and talent, I would open a Greek place outside of Greektown that would feature lesser known authentic Greek dishes like my mom's and like some of the ones featured in Paula Wolfert's "The Cooking of the Eastern Mediterranean". It sounds like Taxim is going for that but has some fun with the ingredients and authenticity. For example, the faki I grew up with was basically a very simple, thick lentil stew whereas at Taxim it involves feta and a balsamic reduction. And the duck gyros - I never saw duck on any of the Greek tables I visited growing up but maybe it's more common in other regions in Greece. The idea of duck gyros is quite an excellent one, authentic or not. But turlu though, my mom did make occasionally.

    The one restaurant I give credit to is Venus, which specializes in Greek Cypriot cuisine. Although their execution is spotty, they've tried to broaden the palate of Chicagoans. And much of what is offered on the rooftop of Pegasus is much closer to the meze-style dining you find in Greece.


    I've had a few good dishes at Venus as well and enjoyed the live music on weekends though it has been a while and I don't know if they have them any more. Years ago (it closed in 1998 I think) there was a lovely small Cypriot place on Clark north of Fullerton now overtaken by one of the generic bar/restaurant/frat party places. It was a small plates menu that featured very good authentic Cypriot dishes. I had several Cypriot friends then who were regulars there.

    I'm very intrigued by Taxim and plan to pay a visit soon. Maybe I'll post a date on the events board.
  • Post #22 - May 22nd, 2009, 2:13 pm
    Post #22 - May 22nd, 2009, 2:13 pm Post #22 - May 22nd, 2009, 2:13 pm
    Hellodali wrote:Maybe I'll post a date on the events board.


    If you post it, they (I) will come.... :wink:
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  • Post #23 - May 22nd, 2009, 3:23 pm
    Post #23 - May 22nd, 2009, 3:23 pm Post #23 - May 22nd, 2009, 3:23 pm
    I. too. agree with Dr. K here.

    First of all in my love for Greektown, and I would not want it to change any more than I want Vernon Park Tap to change their menu and begin serving more regional-Italian Italian food. Greektown is unique in a variety of ways (other cities might have a couple of comparable restaurants but certainly not with such concentration, choice, and, probably, quality for this kind of cuisine).

    Now, I have never been to Greece, but after a meal at the Black Olive in Baltimore, I realized that Chicago was missing something. The cost of that meal and the absolute insistence on immaculately fresh fish (a major element I would guess for any topnotch Greek restaurant) might be other reasons why no Greektown entrepreneur has considered opening a similar restaurant, but I am hopeful that a restaurant like Taxim (and whatever successors may arise in its wake) will add a missing component (now acknowledged) to Chicago's culinary scene.
    "The fork with two prongs is in use in northern Europe. In England, they’re armed with a steel trident, a fork with three prongs. In France we have a fork with four prongs; it’s the height of civilization." Eugene Briffault (1846)
  • Post #24 - May 24th, 2009, 2:28 pm
    Post #24 - May 24th, 2009, 2:28 pm Post #24 - May 24th, 2009, 2:28 pm
    m'th'su wrote:
    Cathy2 wrote:
    Dr. K wrote:If anyone has any theories as to why Chicago is lagging behind other cities on the Greek front, I'd love to hear them...

    No Greek restauranteur was willing to try something new or couldn't find the backing to support it. If Taxim is successful, then there will be many taking the leap. Sometimes all it takes is one.


    I've been talking to David Schneider of Taxim for an upcoming column and this very subject came up. (Unnamed) friends of his in Greektown restaurants told him they tried his approach many years ago but it never took off. Its a little more complicated than that, but apparently Chicago just wasn't ready for reform.
    Or a $24 Greek style half chicken.
  • Post #25 - June 8th, 2009, 9:23 pm
    Post #25 - June 8th, 2009, 9:23 pm Post #25 - June 8th, 2009, 9:23 pm
    Image

    The theory is that Taxim, the new Greek restaurant in Wicker Park, is kind of the Greek equivalent of the early new Italian restaurants that helped get Italian food out of the meatball-and-red-sauce rut. That's what Mike Sula reported in the Reader:

    If a single historical figure could be blamed for that orthodoxy—the one that upholds the ideal of Greek food as bechamel-blanketed pastichio and high-viscosity avgolemono soup—it would be European-trained Greek chef Nicholas Tselementes, who in the early part of the last century sparked a culinary revolution in his homeland, exiling simple, fresh ingredient-driven dishes made with olive oil, garlic, and native herbs in favor of a French-influenced hybrid employing butter, cream, and flour. Tselementes wanted to purge Greek cuisine of Turkish and other influences... Since then a kind of collective denial of eastern Mediterranean Greek cuisine has persisted in Greece and abroad, while Frenchified Greek cuisine, aided and abetted by the tourist trade, has been exported all over the world.

    I tried this theory on Stevez, and he didn't quite buy it; his wife is Greek-American and he says the Greektown classics are what all the old ladies make when they're cooking for themselves, too. It's not just Greek food for tourists, in other words. But he did buy that it might at least be similar to Greek regional foods unknown in the US, but similar in many ways to Turkish and other neighboring foods (not that you'll make any friends in Greece saying their food is like Turkish).

    Whatever the provenance of its style, Taxim is the first new Greek restaurant in Chicago to get excited about in a long, long time. Chef David Schneider came from places like Green Zebra, not The Parthenon or Santorini, so he's blessedly free of the Greek orthodoxy that insists on all the flamingly cheesy cliches of the cuisine; he's broken Greek food back down to first principles, and even something as simple as the baba ghanoush-like melitzanosalata feels reinvented back into the fresh and distinct flavors— charcoal-grilled eggplant, olive oil, garlic, toasted pine nuts— that are usually blended into a gray mush.

    We mainly worked our way through the appetizers because, well, that's pretty much what you should do in almost any restaurant these days, and it paid off. A "rampopita"— spanakopita made with ramps— was exponentially more flavorful than spinach would have been. A stew of lamb, fava beans and housemade yogurt was deeply comfy. Most exotic was a special, urged on us in no uncertain terms by our James Spader-circa-Tuff Turf waiter, of grilled sable liver with grilled zucchini; the funky, slightly fishy liver, the pita crisps and the soft zucchini melded beautifully, lushly magnetic-repellent.

    Image

    We were fairly full after these four dishes and split our only entree, the duck gyros, which has been (understandably) the most talked-about dish to date. Duck, prepared basturma style (basturma is basically air-dried pastrami; I'm not sure what it means in this context as it's certainly not nearly so salted or dry as basturma I've had) is then grilled on a gyros spit and served inside a flatbread with pomegranate sauce and the housemade yogurt (again):

    Image

    It makes for probably the best wrap you'll have this year, although I must admit I ate about half of my share by simply picking the roasted duck out of the wrap and gnoshing on it directly; it was delicious enough to not strictly need anything more than that.

    The wine list is mostly Greek and following our waiter's guidance we variously ordered (or were given a glass of) white, rose and red Greek wine; all of it was pretty good, none of it said "minor wine-producing nation." To our surprise, the restaurant was empty when we arrived at 6, but by 7:30 or so it was getting pretty full; it is Wicker Park, after all, 8 pm is the early bird special (and as we were leaving even The Violet Hour didn't have a line yet).

    It's not quite as modest-priced, and it's more upscale in appearance, but in many ways Taxim seems to me like this year's Mixteco Grill, the place that catches fire for a fresh and appealing take on a familiar cuisine. It should be packed soon, go now so you'll want to go later, when it's harder to get into.

    Taxim
    1558 N. Milwaukee
    773-252-1558

    Here's Mike Sula's video of chef Chris Schneider preparing the flatbread which wraps the duck gyros above.
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  • Post #26 - June 12th, 2009, 11:41 am
    Post #26 - June 12th, 2009, 11:41 am Post #26 - June 12th, 2009, 11:41 am
    I just got this message from the Reader:
    The publicist for Taxim informs us that the restaurant was unable to open to open for breakfast and lunch today. No word on when they will.
    I want to have a good body, but not as much as I want dessert. ~ Jason Love

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  • Post #27 - June 28th, 2009, 3:57 pm
    Post #27 - June 28th, 2009, 3:57 pm Post #27 - June 28th, 2009, 3:57 pm
    Finally back in Chicago, after seven years exile in Southern California. I weighed in on the idea of Taxim a few weeks back, but just had the chance last night to go for the first time. So here's my take -- I like the idea better than the execution. The atmosphere is fantastic - it reminds me of many of the new wave of restaurants in Greece itself - energetic, clean and stylish. The menu, as others have discussed, offers little-seen Greek dishes, along with some Green Zebra-ized concoctions. I have quite a lot of experience with regional Greek cuisine, and Taxim makes nods in the right directions. When we visited, however, we found the dishes uneven. Our first course was the sauteed eggplant and the fava beans. The eggplant was charred too much, but otherwise flavorful. The fava beans were lost in a mild yogurt, but the lamb confit added depth of flavor. They do not serve bread alongside to sop of the sauces, which is inconceivable in Greece. When I asked for some they sent some admittedly delicious fresh pita, but it arived ten minutes later and we were charged for it (not a big deal, but annoying). They should take their cue from Zaytinya in DC, Greek/Turkish meze-style place which serves the puffiest fresh pita in baskets alongside each dish, replenished continuously. Our main courses were the stuffed egglant/zuchini and the duck gyros. Both were under-seasoned . The pattern that I'm sensing is that Taxim's dishes rely for flavor on their accompanying sauces, usually smeared sparingly on the plate . The duck was dry, as was the goat inside the stuffed vegetables. We didn't get to dessert, but I did have two glasses of a nice Cypriot cabernet.

    As I said, I like the idea of Taxim, and had a better experience than my comments might indicate. I'm still pining for big, hearty homestyle regional Greek dishes, like Arni Kleftiko or trahana with yogurt, accompanied by lots of crusty bread. But until my dream rustic Greek restaurant comes along, Taxim is a decent alternative to the Halsted strip.
  • Post #28 - June 30th, 2009, 5:30 pm
    Post #28 - June 30th, 2009, 5:30 pm Post #28 - June 30th, 2009, 5:30 pm
    Taxim started serving lunch today:

    Image
    Flatbread (forgive me, I can't remember the name and it's not on any of the menus) with basturma. This is really nice for lunch -- quick, fairly inexpensive ($7), filling, and delicious.

    Image
    Melitzanosalata - a great eggplant spread, with tahini and pine nuts. Not much more to say about it.

    Image
    Boughatsa - This was on the house, in return for opinions: I thought it needed more lemon flavor in the custard -- schneider is thinking of adding more lemon zest -- but the phyllo was outstanding.

    I'm happy Taxim is open for lunch. I'm looking forward to seeing more dishes from the dinner menu, and more unique-to-lunch items, in the future.
    Ed Fisher
    my chicago food photos

    RIP LTH.
  • Post #29 - June 30th, 2009, 9:24 pm
    Post #29 - June 30th, 2009, 9:24 pm Post #29 - June 30th, 2009, 9:24 pm
    jesteinf wrote:
    chezbrad wrote:The exception to the rule, the molecular gastronomy movement (and let me know if I'm missing the boat here), seems to be maintained by out-of-towners, not necessarily natives.


    I think you're missing the boat :wink:

    A few years ago, Grant Achatz gave a talk at the Steppenwolf and I asked him why molecular gastronomy has caught on more in Chicago than anywhere else (in particular New York). He gave a very thoughtful answer about how Charlie Trotter really set the stage for other restaurants here to do new and creative things, and without CT there wouldn't have been a Trio and without Trio there wouldn't be a Moto or Alinea (or, now, Graham Elliot or Avenues under Curtis Duffy). He gave the people of Chicago a lot of credit for their willingness to be open-minded when it comes to fine dining and to not get to hung up on traditional cuisine.

    So (while Alinea does do a fair amount of business from out of town guests) without the right culinary climate and culture maintained by those who live here, the restaurant (and MG) probably wouldn't have been able to open/be sustainable in the first place.





    Thought this is an interesting article relating to this very subject.

    http://www.gourmet.com/restaurants/2009/06/back-to-basics-in-chicago
  • Post #30 - July 4th, 2009, 1:22 pm
    Post #30 - July 4th, 2009, 1:22 pm Post #30 - July 4th, 2009, 1:22 pm
    JP1121 wrote:Thought this is an interesting article relating to this very subject.

    http://www.gourmet.com/restaurants/2009 ... in-chicago


    This article is tremendously silly--why does everything having to do with "molecular gastronomy" have to be situated as backlash or anti-movement? The restaurants listed in the piece are good because they serve good food, which is always welcomed; it's not a response to anything other than the fact that Chicago could use more restaurants like Avec than Sushi Wabi (or whatever). Yeesh.

    Finally got to Taxim last night: the Melitzanosalata, their baba, is a must-order, the tahini, pine nuts, and charcoal notes entirely haunting; the rampopita is certainly worth ordering for its simple and rustic flavors; and that yogurt redefines ethereal. I found the duck gyro to be about the least interesting thing I have eaten this year--though the vinegary cucumbers served with it were great--but loved the lamb with bulghur wheat and fennel salad; the orchid root ice cream was great. We sampled a number of the wines on their list and didn't find much of interest--or aligned to the cooking. YMMV.

    I'll be curious to see where Taxim is going: are they planning on changing the menu to fit with the seasons? Expanding it? A lot of potential here.

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