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Northwest Side Review: Treat

By Amelia Levin in Food on May 15, 2007 9:00PM


Treat is a treat for the eyes thanks to a colorful, funky atmosphere. The food, unfortunately, was not such a treat.

2007_05_Treat4.jpgThe Humboldt Park breakfast-lunch-dinner eatery had everything set up to be just right — happy, bright yellow walls lined with black-and-white photos picturing urban people and scenes; a quaint, little espresso bar/countertop area at the front; retro, faux-wood furniture; a nice, quiet crowd that matched the décor (think funky and eclectic), dishware in cool shapes; pretty presentation of food; reasonable prices. Even the server, despite that she was working the whole room that day, was very sweet, attentive, and comforting.

The execution of the dishes — at least during the Saturday brunch when this Chicagoist writer was there — just didn’t make the cut. Let us explain.

2007_05_Treat3.jpgThe menu describes the fare as “globally influenced American cuisine,” and fusion, essentially, it is — African and Indian spices such as tamarind and garam masala, plus Middle Eastern-style ingredients like chickpeas and lentils, find their way into various items on the menu like the "Masala French Toast" and "Pakora," or Indian-style pancakes. The buttermilk pancakes, which we ordered, get a tasty dollop of honey and Chevre goat cheese mousse, and two side containers with strawberry compote and homemade Chai-syrup. Light, fluffy, and huge, the pancakes and toppings were delicious.

We were more excited about the steak Benedict and three-cheese omelet with gouda, parmesan and Gruyere that we ordered, but were, sadly, disappointed. The steak Benedict had such great potential — fresh ingredients, interesting spices, creativity. Two poached eggs sat atop strips of skirt steak and fresh, barely wilted spinach on sesame baguette slices, an interesting twist from a traditional eggs Benedict with Canadian bacon and English muffin. The big problem was it was cooked just a few too many minutes long. The egg yolks, which should have been runny and buttery, were instead hard and dry. The steak, which should have been rare and juicy, was also overcooked and dry. The spinach was perfect, however.

2007_05_Treat2.jpgSame problems with the three-cheese omelet. The outer egg “shell,” having cooked a bit too long, was stiff and dry when it should have been soft, gentle, smooth. But, strangely, the cheese filling was barely melted when it should have been oozy and delicious. A side of prosciutto, which tasted more like Serrano ham to us, was also overcooked and dry. So sad. We wanted to like this adorable place for brunch so much, but it just wasn’t there. The pancakes and strong, hot coffee were the true real winners, and perhaps the French toast, had we ordered it.

On a happier note, from the looks of the menu, Treat seems to have a nice lunch and dinner menu. We wouldn’t mind stopping in to try the list of Panini sandwiches like the artichoke parmesan, turkey and beer battered cod. The dinner items seem equally enticing — Moroccan braised lamb shank, pan-seared salmon with herb spaaeztle, curried gnocchi with raisins, fennel and mint. Let’s just hope next time the heat’s not so turned up on that grill.

Treat is located at 1616 N. Kedzie Ave., 773-773-1201. Open Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Closed Tuesday. BYOB.