Pea Soup Andersen’s Restaurant

Exterior
Interior
Placemat
Crackers
Quesadilla

*** (3 stars)

A flashback to the 50s in every way from decor to menu to the cracker basket on the table. Even the placements are unchanged! Anderson’s has never been my favorite soup, but the other food on the menu is quite good. My tuna sandwich was just like Mom used to make, and the quesadilla (which I’m pretty sure wasn’t on the menu in the 50s) was huge.

Pea Soup Andersen’s Restaurant
376 Avenue Of
Buellton, CA
93427
(805) 688-5581
https://www.yelp.com/biz/pea-soup-andersens-restaurant-buellton-3

The Barn Steakhouse

Exterior

Interior

Interior

Ceviche

Lamb chops (Saturday special)

**** (4 stars)

This charming restaurant is indeed in an old, two-story brick barn that was a Bordens Milk plant in the distant past. The space has been nicely remodeled while saving its charm.

The Barn styles itself as a Chicago steakhouse, but there is a lot more on the menus, and none of us actually had steak. We really enjoyed the very generous ceviche appetizer. Another favorite is their famous caviar sandwich, which is also a generous serving, and the caviar was quite good for the price.

As an entree I had the lamb chops, which were excellent. Four large chops were perfectly cooked, and served in a wonderfully flavorful sauce that conatined a hint of licorice. The is a Saturday special, so if lamb is your thing, that’s the day to go.

There’s a fairly extensive wine list.

Service was friendly and professional.

Because of the brick walls, the space can get quite loud when busy, so it’s best to go early. The upstairs seating in the loft is a little bit quieter.

The Barn Steakhouse
1016 Church St
Rear
Evanston, IL 60201
(847) 868-8041
https://www.yelp.com/biz/the-barn-steakhouse-evanston-4

Kuma’s Corner

Jalapeno poppers

Kuma burger with impossible burger patty

**** (4 stars)

I’m factoring in the fact that this was delivered by DoorDash, so naturally some things, like fries, don’t travel that well.

I’ve had the Impossible Burger–that vegetable substitute that is almost identical to meat–at several places, and always enjoyed it. This version was about as good as I’ve had. It’s important to order it well or medium well so that it gets a nice caramelized crust.

I didn’t actually order the prefab version of it from Kuma’s because I wanted bacon (call me a hypocrite) and real cheddar cheese. So I ordered the Kuma Burger and chose the Impossible Burger as my patty. This was an expensive way to do it, because the Impossible patty is a $7 upcharge, but I got what I wanted, and it was delicious, with all the fixin’s just the way I like ’em.

I also tried the Jalapeno Poppers. These were large, thoroughly cleaned of seeds (so not spicy at all) and stuffed with a flavorful cream cheese concoction, then deep fried in panko batter. They weren’t oily at all, and reheated in the oven beautifully. The accompanying spicy jam was wonderful.

I don’t know if I would order delivery again, just because of the fragility of the food, but if in the neighborhood I would definitely stop in to Kuma’s Corner.

Kuma’s Corner
852 W Fulton Market
Chicago, IL 60607
(312) 666-9090
https://www.yelp.com/biz/kumas-corner-chicago-5

Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery

Interior

Exterior

Nachos (no beans)

Rib eye

Chili

**** (4 stars)

Based upon the name I was expecting sort of a dive bar, but it’s actually quite modern and nice inside. The menu offers a broad range of sports bar food, and I was pleasantly surprised by how good our selections were.

The nachos were actually better than any I’ve gotten in Chicago’s Mexican restaurants. They were spread out in a thin layer over a huge rectangular tray, so they stayed nice and crisp. We ordered them without the black beans, just our preference.

I had the ribeye, and it was a pretty darn good steak for much less than half what it would cost in any of River North’s steakhouses. About half of it needed to be trimmed away, but that’s what makes a ribeye so tender and juicy, and this one certainly was.

Service from our original server was a bit spotty, but the bartender and manager filled in nicely during her unexplained absences.

I was definitely favorably impressed, and will return.

Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery
One West Grand Ave
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 755-9339
https://www.yelp.com/biz/rock-bottom-restaurant-and-brewery-chicago

Musso & Frank Grill

Fried zucchini

Lamb chops

Musso and Frank’s Special Salad

Interior

Exterior

*** (3 stars)

Musso and Frank’s certainly has a loyal following, and if you like old-school places you’ll probably like it. After all the hype I confess I was a bit underwhelmed.

First off, I was expecting a clubbier, cozier vibe, like the intimate red leather seat restaurants of my youth. But Musso’s is more like a giant box, with booths at the bottom, and not much ambiance in the yawning, brightly lit space above.

The menu is very extensive–I have no idea how they crammed it onto two pages. If you can’t find something you want here, you aren’t hungry.

The salads are good, but not extraordinary. Caesar salad was fine. The Musso and Frank Special salad is romaine, with LOTS of artichoke hearts and avocado, and the house dressing, a sort of creamy French. At $20 it seems overpriced, but it is huge.

My lamb chops were excellent, with a nice charred outside, and tender, juicy centers.

The desserts were just so-so. Chocolate mousse cake had a hard, flavorless chocolate crust, and okay mousse layered with somewhat dry cake. Creme brulee was better, fairly classic. The best dessert was actually a simple brownie that was nice and fudgy with a crisp, salty exterior.

Service was professional when it was present, which wasn’t often enough. Basics like refilling water, wine, clearing plates, glasses and silver were sadly lacking. More than anything, that reminded us that we hadn’t really stepped back in time, because I’m sure Mr. “Mosso” would have insisted on a higher level.

Musso & Frank Grill
6667 Hollywood Blvd
Hollywood, CA 90028
(323) 467-7788
https://www.yelp.com/biz/musso-and-frank-grill-hollywood

Lawry’s The Prime Rib – Beverly Hills

End cut

English cut

Bar

Interior

***** (5 stars)

I’ve been going to Lawry’s for almost 50 years, and aside from moving across the street a few decades ago, nothing has changed.

Perfectly cooked prime rib is still served, cut to your liking, from 70-year-old table-side carts. The creamed spinach is still the best anywhere, as is the gravy poured into the divot in your mashed potatoes.

Service is proper but not prim, and wine pricing is reasonable.

Lawry’s The Prime Rib – Beverly Hills
100 N La Cienega Blvd
Beverly Hills, CA 90211
(310) 652-2827
https://www.yelp.com/biz/lawrys-the-prime-rib-beverly-hills-beverly-hills

Nate’n Al Delicatessen

New York on rye

Deli case

Interior

Interior

***** (5 stars)

This is the deli you’ve been looking for. Its extensive menu offers all the genuine New York style Jewish delicatessen standards, in every conceivable option.

Speaking of New York, try the New York sandwich: meaty pastrami on seeded rye (or whatever your preference) with their not-to-heavy cole slaw, and a perfect amount of Russian dressing. Order the half sandwich unless you want to take some home. My favorite (included) side item is the potato salad, but you can also upgrade to fries (three kinds) onion rings, and a lot of other stuff.

The serving staff has been here forever (and a few of the clients look like they have too), so it’s just like you remember it from however far back your memory goes. A great deli.

Nate’n Al Delicatessen
414 N Beverly Dr
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
(310) 274-0101
https://www.yelp.com/biz/naten-al-delicatessen-beverly-hills

Swift & Sons

Interior

Interior

Big eye tuna crudo

Crispy rock shrimp

Tomahawk

Chocolate trolley

**** (4 stars)

There are a lot of steakhouses in Chicago with great atmosphere, and there are some with great steaks, and there are fewer still with great side dishes. Swift & Sons is one of the rare places that offers all three, along with excellent service and fair prices.

We started with the big eye tuna crudo and the crispy rock shrimp. The crudo was melt in your mouth delicious, but a very small serving. The rock shrimp was a huge portion, as generous as the tuna was stingy. The crispy coating held up to the slightly spicy sauce; an excellent dish.

A Caesar salad split three ways was a nice palate cleanser, but it was just okay, and the croutons were fairly indestructible.

We shared a 38-ounce tomahawk rib eye (the smallest size!) three ways. That’s a lot of steak, but it was so delicious, with its charred crust and tender marbling, that there wasn’t a scrap left.

We also had a side of Lobster Thermador, which was very good, but not a traditional Thermador, more like a half lobster tail with some butter-based sauce.

The creamed spinach was also very good; rather than being minced it used the whole leaves, but was definitely more creamed than sauteed.

A popular dessert option is the chocolate trolley, with an assortment of small bites for $3 each. I opted instead for the very interesting white coffee ice cream, which was indeed white, and very nicely flavored.

Wine selections are extensive, thoughtful, and fairly priced. Our server was extremely familiar with the wine list, so that we didn’t even need the sommelier.

Both server and busser were friendly and attentive.

Swift & Sons
1000 W Fulton Market
Chicago, IL 60607
(312) 733-9420
http://www.yelp.com/biz/swift-and-sons-chicago

Wildfire

Interior

Bar

Tuna tartare

Scallop appetizer

Onion soup

House salad

Horseradish Filet

Beef Wellington

Wine flight

**** (4 stars)

This is another brilliant effort from Lettuce Entertain You. It’s much more old school than their other restaurants, and really does capture the look and feel of a 1940s steakhouse. Not only does it offer some of the best steaks in town, it also offers some of the best steakhouse prices in River North. Both the food and the wine list is priced substantially below those of other restaurants, including some of Lettuce’s other restaurants.

Highlights of our meal included the house salad (the smallest size is huge), the very traditional French Onion Soup, and the very creative tuna tartare. The bacon wrapped scallop appetizer was also quite good.

My horseradish crusted bacon-wrapped filet was just as good as it sounds. In fact, I think it was the best steak I’ve had in Chicago, and I’ve had a lot of them. Creamed spinach is a good side dish.

The wine tasting flights offer four interesting selections for $15 or less. Where else can you get that in River North?

Our server was friendly and attentive. And of course the Lettuce Entertain You Frequent Diner Club points make it an even better deal. Highly recommended.

Wildfire
159 W Erie St
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 787-9000
http://www.yelp.com/biz/wildfire-chicago

White Sox Grill

Bacon cheeseburger

Bahn mi

Interior

**** (4 stars)

We’ve eaten at this place dozens of times when it was Harry Caray’s and it was never better than mediocre. Our first visit to the new incarnation was much better.

In the changeover they brightened up the walls and lighting, so its not the dank hole it once was. Big improvement. The attitudes of the employees are much brighter, too.

The menu is more interesting, with items such as a banh mi sandwich. It was fairly authentic, except for the shredded pork, which is probably also used for a BBQ sandwich. But it was very good.

The bacon cheeseburger was also decent.

The kitchen is much faster than it used to be. During a busy lunch hour we were seated immediately and were in and out in under 30 minutes.

Our server, Jason, who I guess it’s normally a bartender, was fantastic.

White Sox Grill
5700 S Cicero Ave
Chicago, IL 60638
(877) 325-8777
https://www.yelp.com/biz/white-sox-grill-chicago