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Maude's Liquor Bar

Maude's Liquor Bar
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  • Maude's Liquor Bar

    Post #1 - January 5th, 2011, 11:18 pm
    Post #1 - January 5th, 2011, 11:18 pm Post #1 - January 5th, 2011, 11:18 pm
    Despite the name, Maude's feels more restaurant than bar. Mods feel free to move this thread if you think it belongs under Drink. I made an unplanned stop here tonight, only their second night in business.

    I'm not sure how to describe the two-level space. The bottom feels much like any West Loop/Randolph Corridor gallery--longish, floors made with seemingly reclaimed wood, exposed brick. The first floor is medium dim, with mixed chandeliers, felt very much like Georgetown circa 2005 or an Anthropologie store. The upstairs is much darker, more loungey, but again Georgetown loungey, not West Loop loungey. Both floors have bars. View into the kitchen upstairs. Music selection for the whole place is confused.

    The theme, according to owner Brendan Sodikoff (also of Gilt Bar), is "dirty French barbecue." I have absolutely no idea what that means.

    To start, I had the Salade Lyonnaise. This dish had a lot of potential. The serving was definitely adequate to share with three or four people, as are most dishes at Maude's, if I understand correctly. It was kind of overdressed, and I would have liked to see runnier yolk, but I really enjoyed the grilled smoked pork belly (maybe this is the dirty French barbecue?) which had some serious char. Like blackened. I imagine that will turn off some diners.

    In addition, I had the Burgundy Snails "Escargot." I asked why "escargot" was the only word on the menu in quotes (even other French words were sans quotes); server conceded the punctuation didn't make any sense. I verified that they were real snails and ordered them. Snails at Maude's are served without shells, not my preference, but I fished them out of the butter, garlic and herbs and was pretty content. I'm not sure if the ciabatta served with the snails is made in-house. Food is in the $7 to $18 range except some special seafood platters. Value seems about right.

    To drink, I had a Bijou. I would have paid $3 less for the same cocktail at the Whistler, but I guess that's the West Loop surcharge.

    I box very near Maude's, so it's likely I'll end up back there at some point. Better food than, say, Marché; much less of a scene than Girl & the Goat.

    Maude's Liquor Bar
    840 West Randolph Street
    Chicago, IL 60654
    312-401-8315
    http://www.maudesliquorbar.com/ (Warning: annoying music & Flash)

    [Update: I will not be returning to Maude's. Apparently, Chef does not approve of my comments above. There are too many other places to eat and drink in Chicago.]
    Last edited by happy_stomach on January 7th, 2011, 6:18 am, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #2 - January 6th, 2011, 7:34 am
    Post #2 - January 6th, 2011, 7:34 am Post #2 - January 6th, 2011, 7:34 am
    happy_stomach wrote:
    I box very near Maude's,


    Thanks for the info, but just curious, POW?

    SSDD
    He was constantly reminded of how startlingly different a place the world was when viewed from a point only three feet to the left.

    Deepdish Pizza = Casserole
  • Post #3 - January 6th, 2011, 9:37 am
    Post #3 - January 6th, 2011, 9:37 am Post #3 - January 6th, 2011, 9:37 am
    headcase wrote:
    happy_stomach wrote:
    I box very near Maude's,

    Thanks for the info, but just curious, POW?

    Making it to POW for the first time next week. Only WAC so far, and I have a trainer. I wanted to make sure I liked boxing (and the "I'm going to die" feeling of the first few sessions subsided) and got a little stronger before going over to POW. Turns out I have a pretty mean hook. Who would have thought???
  • Post #4 - January 6th, 2011, 10:46 am
    Post #4 - January 6th, 2011, 10:46 am Post #4 - January 6th, 2011, 10:46 am
    happy_stomach wrote:
    headcase wrote:
    happy_stomach wrote:
    I box very near Maude's,

    Thanks for the info, but just curious, POW?

    Making it to POW for the first time next week. Only WAC so far, and I have a trainer. I wanted to make sure I liked boxing (and the "I'm going to die" feeling of the first few sessions subsided) and got a little stronger before going over to POW. Turns out I have a pretty mean hook. Who would have thought???


    Cool, have fun; I use to train at POW around three years ago before I blew my knee up in a BJJ class. Lost confidence in the knee that I just never fully got back.

    Ok, back to food!

    SSDD
    He was constantly reminded of how startlingly different a place the world was when viewed from a point only three feet to the left.

    Deepdish Pizza = Casserole
  • Post #5 - January 6th, 2011, 11:17 am
    Post #5 - January 6th, 2011, 11:17 am Post #5 - January 6th, 2011, 11:17 am
    headcase wrote:Cool, have fun; I use to train at POW around three years ago before I blew my knee up in a BJJ class. Lost confidence in the knee that I just never fully got back.

    Ok, back to food!

    SSDD


    To make this semi-food related, my office used to be in the same building as POW. When they opened, they displaced a nice little café that used to turn out some mighty fine soups and sandwiches. They were sorely missed...especially on cold winter days when I was able to avoid going out of the building for lunch.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #6 - January 9th, 2011, 2:27 pm
    Post #6 - January 9th, 2011, 2:27 pm Post #6 - January 9th, 2011, 2:27 pm
    Went to Maude's last evening with the wife. We both love traditional French fare and were not disappointed. Despite its recent entree into the Chicago food scene (open for less than a week), the service, food, and decor create a polished yet comfortable experience.
    They have dining on two levels. The downstairs reminds me Sepia with a French flair. The lighting upstairs is dimmer and the tables have candlelit lanterns as centerpieces – cool idea.

    They offer about a dozen cocktails ($11), we sampled a few of them while seated on a couch in their bar area. A vintage Playboy contributed to overall ambience which I would describe as classy with a touch of kitschy. Complex flavor combinations like sparkling wine, absinthe, lemon, and a sugar cube which gradually dissolved and altered the sweetness of the cocktail were an interesting way to wake up the palate.
    For dinner we began with a half-dozen oysters ($15) – they offer one East Coast and one West Coast type daily – which my wife found fresh and delightful (she wouldn’t share).

    For starters we sampled the foie gras torchon ($18) served with a cherry jam and charred bread. The smoky notes of the bread coupled with sweet-tart of the cherry nicely rounded out the richness of the foie. Next came the escargot ($9) – prevailing citrus notes stood out in this dish, adding a welcome brightness to what is typically only a heavy-handed garlic and butter sauce.

    We ordered two sides – pomme frites ($6) with a garlic aioli and the blackened brussel sprouts ($7). The frites were crisp and properly salted but the star of the show was the brussel sprouts. Although the menu describes only lemon and parmesan in the preparation the sauce was a rich brown in color and read almost beefy in flavor.

    We each ordered an entrée, beef shortrib bourguignon ($18) and the cassoulet ($14) for the evening – white beans with duck and chicken confit. The flavors in this entree reminded me of a dish one would get a Vie - yum. The short ribs were not fatty and could be cut with a fork. Perfectly cooked vegetables added texture and dimension to the traditional bourguignon sauce.

    Their dessert menu, at this point, only consists of a crème brulee. I didn’t try it.

    Anyone who is apprehensive to try brand new restaurants should not be worried about heading to Maude’s so soon.
  • Post #7 - January 9th, 2011, 3:46 pm
    Post #7 - January 9th, 2011, 3:46 pm Post #7 - January 9th, 2011, 3:46 pm
    So is this an attempt to be the Chicago version of Minetta Tavern? That's the sense I get, though I'd be content to never hear "dirty french barbecue" ever again. (Maybe Darden or Brinker will run with it...)
    Last edited by chezbrad on January 9th, 2011, 10:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #8 - January 9th, 2011, 4:58 pm
    Post #8 - January 9th, 2011, 4:58 pm Post #8 - January 9th, 2011, 4:58 pm
    No, I don't think they're aiming for Minetta Tavern. At its heart, Minetta is a steakhouse with a fairly limited number of dishes. You won't find cassoulet at Minetta or lots of the other francocentric dishes at Maude's. I went to Maude's during a friends and family night and instantly fell in love with it. Going back Tuesday night again.

    That said, I totally understand what you mean in a sense. MT isn't truly a "steakhouse" but their best items (Bruni said it, and I agree) are steak (he said best steak in NYC). Maude's is aiming for a bit of a broader array, I think....but after I wrote the above, I got to re-thinking it and am now tending to agree more than when I first wrote the above paragraph.
  • Post #9 - January 18th, 2011, 10:38 pm
    Post #9 - January 18th, 2011, 10:38 pm Post #9 - January 18th, 2011, 10:38 pm
    Had a nice dinner at Maude's tonight pre-Bulls game with a friend.

    I started with an Old Fashioned which I really enjoyed (not that I really know anything about cocktails, but I thought it was a good, balanced drink...not to sweet).

    We only had a few dishes as we weren't looking for a big meal, and we enjoyed just about everything we had. We started with a half dozen Shibumi oysters. They were fresh tasting, had a good amount of liquor and were well shucked. Next we moved on to the steak tartare. The texture was perfect with the steak having been chopped into good sized (not too big, not too small) chunks. Two weird things about this dish though. First, the egg yolk served on top of the tartare was served somewhere between a solid and a liquid. I asked our server about it and he said that it had been cooked sous vide, with the apparent goal of getting it to that particular texture. I would say they should either ditch the egg or just go with a proper runny yolk. Second the tartare comes with a bottle of sriracha. I'm a fan of sriracha and I liked adding a little to my tartare, but I thought it was out of place given what I think Maude's is going for.

    For our next two dishes we did the cassoulet and the market fish (which tonight was a striped bass). The cassoulet was the real winner of the night. Tonight's version had pork belly, duck confit, and garlic pork sausage. I don't eat cassoulet much but I would go back to Maude's just for this dish. The meats all blended together perfectly and the white beans were the perfect texture. Everything was working in perfect harmony. My dining companion mentioned that it was the one thing we ate that really reminded him of his recent trip to Paris. The bass had a nice crispy skin but was somewhat undercooked in places (a little pink and mushy on the inside). Not egregious enough to send back, but it certainly didn't reach the same heights as the cassoulet.

    For two of us, the food above plus two cocktails and a glass of wine ran about $110 after tax but before tip which is certainly in line with other restaurants in the neighborhood. Service has friendly and informed (and pretty excited about the food). There was no mention of "dirty French BBQ", only talk of French comfort food which is really a much better description. I look forward to heading back and exploring more of the menu (especially the bone marrow).
    -Josh

    I've started blogging about the Stuff I Eat
  • Post #10 - January 26th, 2011, 2:24 pm
    Post #10 - January 26th, 2011, 2:24 pm Post #10 - January 26th, 2011, 2:24 pm
    I recently dined at Maude's with group of big eaters and liked it a lot. Don't let the silly/pretentious web site and "greatest hits of 2010" menu fool you -- everything was pretty terrific. Cassoulet was among the better restaurant versions, which I mention first because it's one of those deceptively simple icons, like paella, that is almost always completely wrong and bad coming out of the kitchen. Other standouts were the tartare (unlike jesteinf, I thought the sous vide yolk was brilliant when incorporated), the steak (a very funky, local, dry-aged number sliced to share), the Maine lobster (of some designer origin, steamed and chilled with the meat artfully returned to the shells); the Brussels sprouts; and the fries -- which were aggressively porcine in their lardiness (confirmed to be lard not tallow).

    Less good was the chicken liver spread --too cold in its cutesy jar. Short ribs were tasty but old hat. Marrow bones were over the top. A huge portion of huge bones -- too much, too late in the meal even for the offal lovers. Good rustic breads all around.

    Prices are very reaonable given the plush surroundings, ingredients, skill and, yes, portions. Drink list is short, sweet and well-executed with good booze, good ice and good glassware. Swell staff too. I personally was not confused by the music -- Edith Piaf and MC5 can coexist. This is sort of what I'd hoped for Old Town Social. Maude's will be packed very soon. I hope they can send out the same kind of food when it happens.
  • Post #11 - January 26th, 2011, 5:59 pm
    Post #11 - January 26th, 2011, 5:59 pm Post #11 - January 26th, 2011, 5:59 pm
    West Randolph Street
    Chicago, IL 60654
    312-401-8315
    http://www.maudesliquorbar.com/ (Warning: annoying music & Flash)

    ][Update: I will not be returning to Maude's. Apparently, Chef does not approve of my comments above. There are too many other places to eat and drink in Chicago.

    i'm surprised no one has asked you yet to explain this. would you please elaborate?? thanks, justjoan
  • Post #12 - February 5th, 2011, 11:19 pm
    Post #12 - February 5th, 2011, 11:19 pm Post #12 - February 5th, 2011, 11:19 pm
    We had a very enjoyable cocktailing & dining session at Maude's on Friday evening. I arrived right around 5 to an empty house and grabbed a couple of seats at the end of the bar. Early arrival was a good thing because the place filled in steadily and by 6:30 or so (iirc), the mellower-than-I-expected crowd was 2-3 deep at the bar. The dining room on the main floor filled up -- with a wait -- a bit later on but I'm not sure what the status of the upstairs dining room was at that point.

    Jeff and Owen -- the gents who were working the bar -- took great care of us with well-made cocktails and professional, friendly service, which included our casually-paced dinner. The spirit selection, while not vast, was thoughtfully assembled and the wine list echoed that. I started out with a very well-executed Boulevardier (Old Overholt), which I followed with an extremely enjoyable Old Fashioned (Four Roses). Later in the evening I went "Dealer's Choice" and ended up with a tasty Old Pal and a perfect rendition of an old-school Whiskey Sour. Maude's is definitely a liquor bar, though the food was no second fiddle.

    Image
    Maude's Liquor Bar - 840 W Randolph, Chicago

    We started out with a special . . .

    Image
    Pig's Trotter Stuffed with Veal Sweetbreads and Hen of the Woods mushrooms (it was very dark, so this is the only dish of which I took a picture)

    I really loved this dish, which I thought was excellent across the board. It was a great concept and very well-executed. The skin was not crispy but tender and unctuous, and loaded with intense pork flavor. I loved the stuffing, too. The dish was disarmingly rustic, with several of the small bones still intact. The trotter was cooked so well, that the tender flesh just slipped off the bones. I happily put those gnarly knuckles in my mouth and cleaned them completely of every tasty morsel they held. A Bibb Lettuce salad with fines herbs and sherry dressing was very tasty and its balanced and focused acidity was a nice foil for the richness of the trotter but the salad was, for my taste, a bit overdressed. In a very nice move, a server who was pleased by the fact that we ordered this dish, comped us some pours of pinot noir because he insisted those mushrooms needed a pinot accompaniment. This was a great gesture, which reflected the ethusiasm of the staff.

    Next up was the Sausage of the Day, which happened to be Cotechino served over a bed of lentils. I really liked this dish, too. The cotechino had an invitingly course grind, was very moist and possessed a loose but not crumbly definition. Flavor-wise, it was mild with a faint backnote of aromatics (cinnamon, clove?), which were judiciously applied. The highlight of the dish, however, was the lentils, which were spectacular, with a perfect texture and deep, complex flavor. All in all, a very enjoyable dish.

    After the sausage, we went for the Steamed Mussels and an order of Pomme Frites, which come with garlic aioli. The mussels were damned good but didn't pop for me in quite the same the way some of the previous dishes did (for me, it's hard to top all that pork with something from the sea). I also liked the crusty bread, which was served with them. The broth was tasty and I used the bread to sop up a goodly amount of it. The frites were some of the best I can remember having in a long time. They were hard and crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. Really, these were an example of textural perfection and long after they cooled off they still maintained that great texture. But I may have buried the lead on the frites because it was evident the moment I tasted them that they had been cooked in some sort of delectable animal fat. Sure enough, we were told that it was lard. Dayum! Just great frites. The garlic aoili was excellent, too, with an assertive but not overbearing bite. However, the fries were so damned good on their own, the aoili wasn't even necessary (even though I really enjoyed it).

    There was one dessert on the menu: creme brulee. We were informed that what distinguished this version from others is that the top layer of sugar was burnt with an iron, rather than a blow torch. It was a thing of beauty, served in a low, round, iron skillet which provided a large amount of surface area for maximum burnt sugar real estate. I loved the 'brulee' aspect, which really reminded me of marshmallows cooked over an open fire. The creme had a nice texture but I really missed that distinctive vanilla note that I'm used to with creme brulee.

    All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed Maude's. The well-made cocktails were easily (not marginally) into the "this is a real bar" level and while the food was all at least good, a few of the dishes I ate stood out as excellent. I'll especially be thinking about that trotter and those frites for quite some time. The scene was barely a scene at all, which was so welcome. And, service was great. Being located in that spot on Randolph had me expecting that the experience would be a bit more of a show. Instead, it was low-key and relaxing; with some serious chops both in the glasses and on the plates.

    =R=
    By protecting others, you save yourself. If you only think of yourself, you'll only destroy yourself. --Kambei Shimada

    Every human interaction is an opportunity for disappointment --RS

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #13 - February 6th, 2011, 8:01 am
    Post #13 - February 6th, 2011, 8:01 am Post #13 - February 6th, 2011, 8:01 am
    I second the pig trotter as being great (its a special btw, not normally on the menu). I had it a week or 2 ago and loved. That time it was stuffed with pork sausage, but this version sounds even better.
  • Post #14 - February 6th, 2011, 8:22 am
    Post #14 - February 6th, 2011, 8:22 am Post #14 - February 6th, 2011, 8:22 am
    The stuffed trotter I shared with Ronnie was indeed spectacular, and I appreciated the kitchen's willingness to take what seemed like a substantial risk with it. Even if executed perfectly - which is no easy task - it's unlikely that they're going to sell much of this to the well-dressed, high-heeled 20 somethings that made up much of the crowd. Even in 2011. Every element of the dish was indeed executed flawlessly: unctuous, meltingly tender trotter skin, soft and just gamey enough sweetbreads, an ideal texture and earthy flavor achieved with the mushrooms, and rich, slightly gelatinous jus filling the pan. My only wish was for some bread to soak it all up. The wonderfully lardy fries would have worked too.

    I didn't share Ronnie's affection for the cotechino. For some reason, everyone around town seems to be serving cotechino lately, and everyone is butchering it. Cotechino is delicious, and from everything I know about it it should have a mild taste and somewhat sticky texture from lots of skin used with the forcemeat. In a traditional manner, the sausage would be boiled or steamed to best preserve its flavor and texture, and served over lentils that are spiked with vinegar to cut the unctuousness. Doing the roundup of massacred cotechino around town, we start with Vie, where the kitchen pan fried thin disks of the sausage, thereby completely ruining its texture. Then we move on to Sepia, where an entire jar of nutmeg seemed to have fallen into the batch and destroyed any chance of a diner tasting pig, and they studded the lentils with completely-out-of-place bacon. The Bristol did their cotechino better than these other places, but buried it stuffed into the worst suckling pig preparation I've ever had. And now there's Maude's, where a whole link of cotechino is grilled (wrong, in my opinion), and served over long-cooked lentils that are themselves too unctuous to let the sausage shine. Rant over.

    Though it's possible that even a fantastic mussels preparation wouldn't have stood a chance after what we'd already eaten, I found the broth somewhat flat-tasting, and I thought the tiny mussels themselves were too soft. I'm not sure what variety they were, but I'm gussing I prefer PEI mussels over whatever Maude's was serving. Maybe these were more French. Either way, at $18 this is not a dish I'd consider ordering again.

    The bartenders and the cocktails and Maude's were great, and I enjoyed 2 or 3 Death in the Afternoon's which were, I think, made with Herbsaint rather than Absinthe. It was a very food friendly cocktail that paired well with what we ate.
    ...defended from strong temptations to social ambition by a still stronger taste for tripe and onions." Screwtape in The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis

    Fuckerberg on Food
  • Post #15 - February 17th, 2011, 2:22 pm
    Post #15 - February 17th, 2011, 2:22 pm Post #15 - February 17th, 2011, 2:22 pm
    between ronnie's fantastic photos and descriptions & trixie-pea's well written article on Maude's in The Reader, this place has shot to the top of my "must hit a.s.a.p." list.

    reader article:

    http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/ma ... id=3222476
  • Post #16 - February 18th, 2011, 7:07 pm
    Post #16 - February 18th, 2011, 7:07 pm Post #16 - February 18th, 2011, 7:07 pm
    Nice review in Time Out:

    http://timeoutchicago.com/restaurants-b ... view-maude’s-liquor-bar
  • Post #17 - February 28th, 2011, 8:48 am
    Post #17 - February 28th, 2011, 8:48 am Post #17 - February 28th, 2011, 8:48 am
    Maude's high on my list of places to try was a pleasant surprise last night as a plan B dinner option. We tried to go to Frontera, but it was packed @ 5:00 when they opened. Wo we took a cab over to Maude's which opens @ 5:30. To kill some time we had a drink @ Girl & Goat which is across the street from Maudes(could have gotten a table right away @ G & G, but G & G isnt a place I am in a hurry to go to.

    Maude's, great space, small, but I liked the layout. Nice subway tiling, casually elegant. We grabbed seats at the bar, and ordered up some specialty cocktails to start. Jeff the bartender is a talented mixologist from NYC. Friendly, engaging, and can mix an ass kickin' drink. I went with a mezcal old fashioned, also ordered was a Buffalo Trace manhattan & a third drink I dont remember. Really liked that they have PBR tallboys for $3, as well as Miller High Life on Tap. Also a $3 whiskey shot. Maude's was a busy place last night even as early as we were there. Clientelle was mixed, lots of attractive girls, and of course a few obnoxious yuppie guys who enjoyed hovering over on the back of my chair at the bar and loudly talking about work on a Saturday night.. :roll:

    Image

    mezcal old fashioned:

    Image

    PBR tall boy:

    Image

    The food, good, some really good. Small, but focused menu. Well executed.

    roasted bone marrow, magnificent dish, buttery roasted marrow with some carmelized chunks, great red onion jam, and grilled bread. Loved this dish:

    Image

    classic lyonnaise, also great, egg could have had more runny yolk,but it was still good. Star was the pork belly, masterfully prepared, some of the best in the city.:

    Image

    - Traditional cassoulet, varies nightly, this version was really nice, crispy top, pork belly, and sausage underneath, along with tasty white beans, Never had one before, really liked this version. Sadly no picture for this or the following dishes.

    - blackened brussel sprouts, nice fresh dish,

    - Pomme frites, basic dish, nice garlic aioli for dipping

    - Fish of the night was a scallop dish, brown butter, perfectly cooked dish.

    Definitely interested in going back for some more bone marrow, pork belly, needing to expolore the menu, and some oysters next trip.
  • Post #18 - March 3rd, 2011, 12:49 pm
    Post #18 - March 3rd, 2011, 12:49 pm Post #18 - March 3rd, 2011, 12:49 pm
    Hit Maude's for the first time with one of my best friends for dinner and drinks last night. Purposely arrived about 15 minutes before our reservation to check out the interior/vibe and to grab a pre-eats cocktail. The Sazerac is my favorite cocktail, so I ordered one at the bar. It was expertly made and tasted outstanding -- the super ice cold glass was a much welcomed touch.

    We ate. Half dozen West Coast oysters. Shaved vegetable salad. French onion foudue. Tenderloin steak tartare. Veal paillard.

    Every single bite of every single dish was absolutely freaking delicious and ... perfect. I wouldn't have changed or even slightly tweaked one single component of anything we ate. My friend and I started laughing at one point near the end of the meal because of how stupidly tremendous everything was.

    I've seen comments in this thread about the sous vide egg yolk they use on the tenderloin steak tartare and how they would prefer a runny and traditional egg yolk. Look, I'm an runny egg slut. I'd put sunny-side up egg AND poached egg on Cap'n Crunch and lick the entire bowl clean. I thought the non-runny egg yolk they use was pretty brilliant -- it made the raw steak THE star of the dish and complimented it perfectly.

    Another thing that struck me about Maude's is how they expertly pull off "polished casual" service that I think also best describes my experiences at The Bristol and at Big Star (when they're not slammed). Our waitress at Maude's was warm and professional and friendly. She paced the meal expertly. And she informative without even the slightest hint of being overbearing -- totally exuding the essence of "polished casual".

    Case in point: I switched from their Sazerac to a Whiskey Smash once we were seated (on time) at our table. Less than five minutes went by and my drink hadn't arrived, but I didn't think anything of it. She came back to the table, said she forgot what I ordered, and apologized. She took my drink order again and calmly said "This one's on me" and brought a Whiskey Smash to my table about two minutes later. There, I told her the comp wasn't necessary at all. She smiled and started talking to us about the food menu. The drink was comped when we received the bill. She didn't want to make a fuss about the botched drink order and took care of the situation quickly and effortlessly in a supremely "polished casual" manner.

    Maude's easily ranks as my favorite eating/drinking experience of 2011. And Maude's is easily one of the five best eating/drinking experiences I've had in the last three years. I'll be back soon and often.

    (Non-disclosure disclosure: Maude's isn't a client. And I don't know anyone over there.)
  • Post #19 - March 12th, 2011, 3:57 pm
    Post #19 - March 12th, 2011, 3:57 pm Post #19 - March 12th, 2011, 3:57 pm
    Went to Maude's for the first time last night with some friends. We had the back couch on the main floor and I have to say the staff were very tolerant of our ever changing group which morphed from 3 to 5 to 6 and back to 3. If we hadn't been sitting where we were this would not have been possible, but they made it work. It was a lot less of a "scene" than I thought it would be, the early crowd was headed off to the Bulls Game and the later crowd did not possess the number of Trixies and Chads I assumed would be there.

    I started off with a sazerac which was well made with a nicely herbal edge, moved on to a boulevardier which was my favorite, bourbon (sorry I don't know what kind), campari and sweet vermouth finished with a house made cocktail cherry, it was rich with a nice bitter edge. Lastly I had an old fashioned which was the only disappointment, it was a sugar bomb and I wasn't alone as another friend ordered this also and was also overwhelmed by the sugar aspect. Hopefully it was just a misstep, I'm willing to go back and try it again.

    For food we had two orders of the steak tartare which I really liked the sous vide egg was just runny enough and really complemented the good quality beef of the tartare. The accompanying bread was also very good and toasted just right. We then tried the bone marrow and pomme frites, two teriffic dishes. The frites were crispy on the outside and had a nicely fluffy interior, clearly animal fat was involved it their cooking, they had a beefy undertone which I assumed was lard. They served 3 halved marrow bones with coarse salt and an onion jam. These were amazing and my favorite bite of the meal, the marrow just melted on to the good toasty bread and the jam cut the richness. I'm going to have a hard time ordering other things on the menu after this. We ended with the mussels which was the only miss of the evening. The broth was kind of flat even with the addition of the accompanying aioli which we stirred in, the mussels themselves were a strange combination of mushy and tough, we didn't wind up finishing them.

    I liked this place, I'll go back again to try some more of their cocktail menu and that marrow.
    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 #20 - April 13th, 2011, 2:08 pm
    Post #20 - April 13th, 2011, 2:08 pm Post #20 - April 13th, 2011, 2:08 pm
    Secured the coveted last-minute babysitter for a meal out last night, and decided to try Maude's because of, among other things, the early time (5:45ish) and consequent availability, per the hostess, of walk-in tables. We had tried Maude a couple of times before, last minute-style, with spectacularly unsuccessful results, so we jumped at the opportunity to try it out.

    I parked, and given the option between the tall boy near the bar and a table upstairs, my wife picked the upstairs table, which turned out to be one of their low-slung couch with a coffee table combinations. After sitting (slouching) and trying to adjust, I asked if we could switch, so we ended up downstairs next to the already packed bar. A note about upstairs: it is incredibly, comically dark. Do they turn this into a lounge later at night? In addition, while I could see (perhaps the wrong word based on the lighting) sitting on the couch and sharing a bottle of cham or some cocktails, the idea of eating at the provided table struck me as absurd. All of that said, from the little that I could see, it still felt like a pretty cool room and has been mentally filed in my private party folder. With a few extra sconces and/or candles it would really work. Incidentally, my wife thought it was nice and more romantic, so reasonable minds can differ.

    Downstairs, we ordered breakfast radishes and frites to nibble on with our cocktails, 1/2 dozen E. Coast and 1/2 dozen W. Coast oysters and a 1.5 lb. lobster cocktail, a salad lyonnaise and the tartar, and a creme brulee to finish. The butter accompanying the radishes prompted us to ask about bread service, which was not compulsory but happily provided - a nice crusty mini country baguette (for a buck, we found out later). Frites, as mentioned upthread, were perfect. I missed the name of the E. Coast oysters, but they were nice litttle briny chaps, and a good contrast to the cleaner kusshis (interestingly, the waitress sold them as kumamotos - we didn't mind). Lobster (split tail, claws and knuckles) was good and the tarragony mayo was nice, but I wouldn't order this again for $32 (the waitress clearly said 1.5 lbs of lobster meat, which this was not - I'm not even sure the meat was from a 1.5 lb lobster - this we did mind). Others may have noted this, but the seafood plateaus are a good value play - the more basic version comes with 2 dozen oysters (cost of $60 on the menu) plus clams, mussels, shrimp cocktail and some salmon tartar or other, and only costs $70; the big version adds lobster and crab legs to the basic version and costs $115. We didn't have the ordering heft with only two people, but based on the success of the oyster service, I wouldn't hesitate to get either with 4 or more people. In fact, the couch table next to us of four did exactly that, and proceeded to almost make me walk out by incessantly and loudly referring to their "tower of power". Coulda been the green gooey drinks they were putting down. Not much to add on the frisee au belly and the tartar - I agree with those that the respective egg preparations worked for. Really loved them both, and they were obviously entree rich so the fact that we didn't order any big plates didn't prevent us from walking out comfortably full. Brulee was fine but unremarkable - one of only two desserts offered, and I can't remember the other not quite a day later.

    A couple other notes on the place: (i) the crowd, except at the bar, was elderly - not exactly what I was expecting based on earlier reviews - maybe it was the time; (ii) only 10-12 wines are offered, each is available by the glass and is relatively inexpensive - we had a bottle of the Muscadet, which was terrific and well worth the $40; and (iii) it was jamming at 7:45 or so when we left with buzz at the bar and a fun vibe. For our part, the tall boy was fine, but if you have any sort of back issue it wouldn't be good (not sure the alternative we were offered would have been either). We ordered some luxury items, but at $230 for two, sitting on bar stools is probably not the way I'd want to go again. Well-executed food though, and a fun place. Sort of Chicago's answer to Blue Ribbon -- too bad the Maude kitchen isn't open until 4 am.
  • Post #21 - April 16th, 2011, 10:50 am
    Post #21 - April 16th, 2011, 10:50 am Post #21 - April 16th, 2011, 10:50 am
    Just to clarify something the previous poster was getting at: on the weekends Maude's saves 3-4 tables for walk-ins upon its opening at 5:45; otherwise, the lengths are, well, lengthy.

    The lyonnaise may be the unsung dish of '11, most especially for its clever use of pork belly, here presented almost as a cross between tocino and ham steak. I've eaten through most of Maude's menu, and not much touches the salad (!) in both lusciousness and nuance.
  • Post #22 - June 20th, 2011, 1:31 pm
    Post #22 - June 20th, 2011, 1:31 pm Post #22 - June 20th, 2011, 1:31 pm
    We made our first visit to Maude's on Friday night at the insistence of our bartender at The Violet Hour. Thankfully, there was a last minute reservation available on Opentable.

    Our table wasn't ready and the bar was packed to overflowing, but we were seated after a brief wait and ordered drinks from the short menu (3 Sparkling, 3 Stirred and 6 Smashes). The Chartreuse Smash is a seemingly simple cocktail, fresh mint & herbal/spiced liqueur, cut through with fresh lemon, but it was simply brilliant. In fact, it was so good that after my first sip I turned around to look at the bar and was surprised by a familiar face. Josh Habiger (ex Alinea, The Patterson House, who had returned to Chicago to help open Aviary) was behind the bar. I can't tell you how excited I am to find that level of talent behind the bar of a restaurant that is also firing on all cylinders. Speaking of...

    Out first came the escargot, steak tartare and country terrine. The excellent snails were served with an equally delicious baguette. My wife said that it was the best she'd had in Chicago. Thick-cut toasted bread accompanied the tartare and terrine. It was really good, but I would have preferred to have the frites that we'd ordered with the tartare (they didn't come out until later). The terrine was a great, classic example. The tartare, however, deserves all of the accolades it's received here, and more. It's one of the best I've ever had, and the bottle of Sriracha was put to good use. On the texture of the egg yolk, I'll side with JeffB and others over jesteinf. I found it to be quite ingenious. When broken up and mixed into the rough-chopped meat, it doesn't simply disappear into a slippery mix as a raw egg would, but remains a distinct, contrasting visual and textural element of the dish.

    In the second round of plates were the Salad Lyonnaise, Frites and a side of Lentils. Another terrific trio... The steak-like hunks of smoked pork belly on the salad were an extremely bold, perhaps gratuitous, replacement for lardon. I can't rave about it quite as strongly as some of those above, but I greatly enjoyed the dish as a whole. The lentils were perfect, just as Ronnie described them above. And, the frites are addictive.

    I can see many return visits to Maude's in my near future. The combination of impeccably executed food from a genre that my wife and I both adore with unbelievably talented bartenders will be a wicked combination for my wallet.
  • Post #23 - July 15th, 2011, 7:04 am
    Post #23 - July 15th, 2011, 7:04 am Post #23 - July 15th, 2011, 7:04 am
    Maude's rises to the top of my list. My wife and I had an excellent meal last night. Cocktails were perfect. Then we moved on to the salad Lyonnaise; country pate and escargots; and steak tartare and frites. The grilled bread that came with everything was, as noted, amazing also. The standouts to use were the salad and the steak tartare. The roast chicken at the table next to us looked incredible, as did the sausage of the day at another table.
  • Post #24 - July 15th, 2011, 7:33 am
    Post #24 - July 15th, 2011, 7:33 am Post #24 - July 15th, 2011, 7:33 am
    Ditto on Maude's.

    My girlfriend and I ended up there a few weeks ago after waiting in front of the Aviary for half an hour or so then leaving. We didnt mind the wait, but got pissed with the douchebag bouncer who refused to give an indication of when, or even if, we would get a table. His response to reasonable inquiries for tables was to nod his head and say "thats great, OK, we'll let you know," and walk away. Fucko.

    Good thing we walked over to Maude's instead and enjoyed a couple of smashes each - absolutely fabulous. I want a recipe for the whiskey smash. Orders of escargot and asparagus were a perfect complement to the tasty drinks. People were friendly and good looking, and they were playing TV on the Radio on the Ipod.

    So yeah. Screw the Aviary. Go Maude's.
    "By the fig, the olive..." Surat Al-Teen, Mecca 95:1"
  • Post #25 - July 15th, 2011, 8:17 am
    Post #25 - July 15th, 2011, 8:17 am Post #25 - July 15th, 2011, 8:17 am
    We asked the waitress about the smashes. My recollection is that she said they muddle lemon and mint, add ice and the liquor of choice, and then top with ginger beer. It's possible I'm missing an ingredient. When I specifically asked about the Smoking Violet, which was one of the few, or only, ones that didn't strike me as a single liquor (i.e. whiskey, gin, etc.), she listed about four other ingredients, which I can't remember right now. In any case, I ordered it and it was great.
  • Post #26 - September 18th, 2011, 3:51 pm
    Post #26 - September 18th, 2011, 3:51 pm Post #26 - September 18th, 2011, 3:51 pm
    Had a 7:45 reservation at Maude's this past Friday - here's our account :)

    Arrived approx 10 minutes early, assured that we would be seated closer to 7:45 and directed to the bar. They have a decent beer and short wine by the glass list and as discussed above, nice cocktail choices. My friend got one of the smashes, I got wine, the DH got a beer. We took a while to make our choices, but the bartender was very pleasant and helpful, going into great length with my friend who got the cocktail. We hadn't settled our bar tab and it was moved to the table. We were trying to come up with the right change for a tip and told not to worry, they do pool tipping.

    Our table was near the front downstairs. They definitely need their vestibule up now! Every time the door opened we felt the wind blow through. We had a generous 4-top next to a stingy 2-top. About 10 minutes in the 2-top became a 4 - they had friends who had been dining across the room. Our table then became part of theirs as one of the joining friends sat practically on top of my friend, and put his glass on our table (there was room, and the guy did acknowledge it was a bit friendly for someone he'd never met).

    Looking more at the wine list to pick out a bottle, it just didn't seem like it had been given as much attention as the beer and cocktails. Just not as interesting and broad as the other choices.

    The food was good, though all of it was very rich. Don't go here thinking you will get a varied range of things, it is truly French comfort food. Fairly traditional bistro dishes, with a little bit of a twist, but nothing that will challenge your palate. This is not a bad thing, it is just a thing.

    We had 6 oysters, the frites, the cassoulet, the steak (ribeye cut tonight), lentils, and french onion fondue. We enjoyed all of them very much. My friend who is a huge french onion soup fan really though this was a great version. Although I love ribeye, I don't think this cut is the best steak to use for the "slice and share" because you end up with some slices that are nearly all fat. My favorite dish of all was the lentils, though the oysters were good. I would like to be able to get the oysters (west coast or east coast) in combos of 2 and 4 instead of having to get 3 and 3 (what's with restaurants giving random arbitrary number restrictions if they allow you to mix and match? They don't GET the oysters in packs of 3, I assume).

    It was not crazy noisy, quite lovely to be able to have a conversation. We were downstairs, so I don't know what the noise level upstairs was like. It wasn't restrained either, people were clearly having fun, and some of the tables were larger groups (5-6). So whatever they were doing with the accoustics is working nicely.

    The decor was nice, I don't think it was too kitschy, though the menu on the mirror idea is, a bit.

    Anyway, I'd go back. Not sure it's going to be on my MUST do EVERY month, but if you've got a craving for cassoulet or French Onion soup, and I sometimes do, this is a very good place to get it.
    Leek

    SAVING ONE DOG may not change the world,
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  • Post #27 - February 27th, 2013, 9:16 pm
    Post #27 - February 27th, 2013, 9:16 pm Post #27 - February 27th, 2013, 9:16 pm
    Wow, I'm surprised it has been well over a year since anyone's posted about Maude's.

    I had a great dinner there the other night and need to get this place back in the rotation. A group of us split a bibb salad, a pan fried salmon, a beef-pork sausage over lentils, and sides of Brussels sprouts and gnocchi. Everything was impressive, but the consensus star was the sausage and lentils. This was a dish I could eat everyday, maybe half a sausage on diet days. The lentils were flavorful and perfectly cooked.
  • Post #28 - February 28th, 2013, 8:02 am
    Post #28 - February 28th, 2013, 8:02 am Post #28 - February 28th, 2013, 8:02 am
    I had a good meal here a couple of weeks ago. Not particularly memorable, but strong enough to warrant a recommendation. If there's any downside it's that the menu is ultimately pretty limited, which may be a further limitation of the relatively traditional fare, but for a more casual than one might expect night out with a few friends, it seems like a good place to hunker down and share some drinks and dishes.
  • Post #29 - August 4th, 2013, 8:02 pm
    Post #29 - August 4th, 2013, 8:02 pm Post #29 - August 4th, 2013, 8:02 pm
    Though it had been quite some time since my last visit, I had been wanting to get back to Maude's for a while. My last meal there really left me wanting more. I just love the (anti-Randolph Street) vibe of the place. In a sea of loud, overly-marketed, tourist-focused joints, Maude's feels like what it is: a low-key, high-quality, local spot where the food, beverage and service are outstanding. Is there any other place on Randolph where there's a daily $3 shot of whiskey? On this day it was Old Heaven Hill Bottled in Bond, which is a very nice pour for $3 (I didn't have one but this is a great value). Maude's also happens to be an ideal place to have some drinks and a meal before a concert at City Winery, which is brought me there a few weeks back.

    I arrived before my wife, and had a couple of drinks while I waited for her. Lance and Sasha did a nice job of working the bar. They made their drinks well and handled the service elements for both drinkers and diners exceedingly well. Once the wife arrived, we ordered a dozen perfectly-shucked, ice-cold, briney east coast oysters and slurped them down in fairly rapid succession. After that we shared the Bibb Lettuce Salad and the Shaved Vegetable Salad, both of which were vibrant, judiciously-dressed and delicious. We followed that up with Tenderloin Steak Tartare, Pomme Frites and Braised Lentils. The tartare was nothing short of spectacular. The frites were as good as I remembered them from my last visit. The braised lentils were sensational, with a deep flavor that was accentuated perfectly by moist, tender and sweetly-smokey lardons. It was a rich dish that was substantial enough to satisfy us without being overwhelmingly heavy.

    I'm rarely down in this neck of the woods but Maude's is a destination-worthy place in an unsuspecting location. And for me, it takes a lot of the sting out of Randolph Street. I really need to stop in here more often.

    =R=
    By protecting others, you save yourself. If you only think of yourself, you'll only destroy yourself. --Kambei Shimada

    Every human interaction is an opportunity for disappointment --RS

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #30 - February 20th, 2014, 11:04 am
    Post #30 - February 20th, 2014, 11:04 am Post #30 - February 20th, 2014, 11:04 am
    Headed over to Maude's last night with Mr. X and another couple. Three of us started at the bar and were seamlessly moved to our table before our fourth arrived. One friend had the Boulevardier. I started with the Vieux Carre. Mr. X had the Brooklyn Nouveau. All cocktails were nicely prepared and balanced. For my second, I went dealer's choice and ended up with a gin drink that I enjoyed (sorry, don't remember the name). Our beer drinking friend started with a Rocky's Revenge from Tyranea Brewing Co. then went left with a Miller High Life tallboy.

    For food, we shared an assortment of a dozen oysters (3 of each variety offered), salmon tartare (from the limited availability section), chicken liver pate, ricotta gnocchi, brussels sprouts, cauliflower gratin and the roasted bone marrow. Not a clunker in the group. The gnocchi was especially good. I agree with leek about the number restriction put on the oysters. There were four of us and would have liked to try all of the oysters. Instead, we ordered three of each kind so someone didn't get to try a variety. The chicken liver spread got better as it warmed. As JeffB noted earlier in this thread, it was too cold at the start. I would have liked a thinner bread with the chicken liver spread. What they served was almost like Texas Toast -- too think for my preference. That didn't stop us from eating every scrap of it... ;-) We also shared the two desserts -- creme brulee and chocolate mousse. The creme brulee was fantastic -- I loved the balance of burnt sugar from the top and the creaminess underneath.

    As Ronnie notes, they offer a $3 shot of whiskey daily. The table next to us took advantage of the deal. I liked that they bring the bottle over with a couple of shot glasses and leave the bottle, trusting guests to report how many shots the drink. They also recommended drinking a shot from a marrow bone to get the last bits of fatty goodness with the whiskey. We enjoyed watching our neighboring table do this -- we passed.

    Now that my office is closer to the West Loop/Randolph Street dining scene, I can see stopping at Maude's again for a cocktail and more of that gnocchi.
    -Mary

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