Sunday, July 03, 2011

HB Home Bistro in Chicago

Having a Proud Time in this Comfy Spot
3404 N. Halsted St., Chicago
PH: 773.661.0299
Dinner, Tuesday through Sunday (closed Monday)
Major credit cards, reservations accepted


Whenever I’m in the Windy City, I get together with my Hawaii childhood friend Angel. We always have a good time together (in fact, sometimes too good of a time because I often can’t remember our meals because we drink so much).

Because it also happened to be Pride weekend, I suggested that we meet up in Boystown, Chicago’s gay neighborhood (just a couple of blocks from the CTA Belmont station). There were a lot of people out and about, but we weren’t there for people watching (well, maybe a little) and started looking around for a place to eat.

I didn’t do any research on the neighborhood to find out what’s good, but Angel said there were a few new restaurants. While walking up the major street Halsted, I spotted a cute little restaurant called Home Bistro. I like any kind of bistro, and the low lighting and tiny spot made it look quaint compared to all the loud and crowded bars surrounding it.

Checking out the specials board outside, the menu offered up some interesting things like pork cheek and lamb belly. So I knew this was my kind of place.

When we walked in, we were greeted by the owner at the front, Joncari Lachman, a trained chef who worked for years at another nearby restaurant and decided to strike it on his own with this French-style neighborhood spot four years ago. Because we had no reservations, we had to wait since the tiny space was packed. Since the restaurant has no corkage fee, Angel went out to get a bottle of red wine for us to drink while we waited.

When we were finally seated, we got one of the two tables in the window (this used to be a storefront, so it has a display window). Angel and I (mostly Angel) waived at people on the street all night, wishing them a happy Pride.

Side note: Even though owner Lachman is a chef, the kitchen is headed by Chef David Cooper.

For starters, I ordered the Crispy Veal Sweetbread ($12), which came out beautifully presented with some greens on top. The sweetbread were huge, with one piece looking like they were two still stuck together. They had a crispy edge, but a soft center. On the bottom of the plate was a nice hummus with a few drippings of jalapeno hot sauce. I felt I really got a lot of sweetbreads and enjoyed the overall dish.

Angel let me order for him, so I got him the Artichoke and Edam Fritters ($9) because I don’t eat deep-fried foods but love artichokes and wanted to see what the dish looked like. It came out looking like meatballs, but of course they were light and fluffy fritters. I tried one and while it seemed like they were fried well, I could barely taste the artichoke.

For our entrees, I ordered Angel the Wild Boar Ragu ($20), just because it sounded interesting with wild boar. It came out with the ragu sauce mixed with pappardelle-like pasta. I tasted a bit and it was good and hearty, a very homey flavor, but not a lot of wild meat flavor.

I ordered the Lamb Belly ($23), which came on a plate of beluga lentils. The lamb belly looked black, so they could barely be seen against the lentils. (And the dim lighting made it even harder to photograph.) The only pop of color on the plate were what tasted like pickled radish on the top.

The lamb belly was tender, like it had been braised for awhile. There was a nice flavor, but nothing different. The website describes the approach as grandma’s cooking, and that seems like an appropriate description. Nothing fancy, but hearty and comforting.

I always have a great time getting together with my friend Angel, and we enjoyed our meal at Home Bistro. The service was spectacular and the setting is cozy and fun. And you can’t beat the people-watching from the window tables.

Single guy rating: 3.25 stars (Comforting French fare)

Explanation of the single guy's rating system:
1 star = perfect for college students
2 stars = perfect for new diners
3 stars = perfect for foodies
4 stars = perfect for expense accounts
5 stars = perfect for any guy's dream dinner

Home Bistro on Urbanspoon

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