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North Side Review: Sweets & Savories

By Amelia Levin in Food on Aug 2, 2007 7:52PM

If you haven’t been to Sweets & Savories on a Wednesday night for $10 Kobe beef burgers, boy are you missing out on this deal. The whopper of a burger, no pun intended, comes in 1/2-pound form (we think it might be more though), seared on the outside and cooked medium rare for the ultimate in juiciness, topped with a strong blue cheese, and sandwiched between two buttery, brioche buns. Slather a little of the blue cheese aioli on the treat and life doesn’t get much better.

So yeah, you might not want to be on a diet when stopping in at this underrated, sleeper of a restaurant at the west end of Lincoln Park. Everything—or at least most items—on the menu seem to be made with extra rich and velvety butter so nothing’s lacking in the flavor department. Since the Kobe beef burger just wasn’t enough for our decidedly gluttonous appetite that night, we ordered a round of apps, sides, and of course, save room for the out-of-this-world desserts by Exec Chef David Richards who’s just as proficient in the art of pastry making as he is in savory cooking.

That’s evident by the delicious, flakey and buttery crust forming the shell of the black grape and goat cheese tart on the appetizer menu. That and the fresh and juicy grapes, plucked from the Green City Market would otherwise make this dish a hit, save for the goat cheese that was on the grainy, watery side probably due to the juiciness of the grapes. Oh well. The heirloom beet salad with arugula was pretty good, but the super strong and rich crumbled blue cheese stood out more than the slightly under-ripe beats.

The stars of the table, aside from the burgers of course, were the lobster mashed potatoes and duck fat fries, and yes, both were as ridiculously delicious as they sound. The lobster potatoes were especially ridiculously good—and indulgent---big, thick chunks of perfectly cooked lobster meat mixed with creamy, garlicky potatoes, all stuffed in a crispy potato skin “shell”, and drizzled with white truffle oil. Those were gone in about 2 minutes. At $14 bucks a pop they were a little on the pricey side but seriously, who cares, you’ve never hard anything like this before. The fries had just the right softness, just the right amount of crispiness, and just the right amount of salt, although we couldn’t really tell if they had been fried in duck fat or not, which was unfortunate. Paired with a semi-sweet, semi-spicy tomato “relish,” they were still pretty tasty.

2007_08_Chicagoist_SweetsSavories3.JPGAt this point, room in the stomach was minimal, so there would be just one dessert for the evening, but next time, we’ll save room or even go straight to the happy ending. The cardamom cake with seasonal black mission figs was more like a warm bundt cake that came slightly undercooked, but this was a great thing. It only enhanced the already super spiciness of the batter, with hints of cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and sugar, making the whole thing taste like an awesome ginger snap of sorts.

The damage? Not so good even when the burgers were a mere $10 (hey, that's down from $22, yes, $22). Truthfully, we spent a lot of money. A cork fee for a byob bottle of wine was $15 instead of $10 as previously thought and the $10 martinis on top of the already pricey food made for a steep bill. But honestly, with food this good, it’s worth every penny if you save and plan ahead of time for it.

That and it’s got some nice character. The tiny, one-room eatery is charming and quaint with white tablecloths and nice wood furniture, mauve walls speckled with large antique French posters and framed newspaper clippings praising Richards’ work, red-accented candlestick “chandeliers,” and a nice bar off to one side with a mirrored back and rows of top shelf liquors and wines. The place is great for dates, a relaxed, fun outing with the guys or girls(this writers’ situation), or even a larger party—a 10-person group sat next to us but the place still felt more on the quiet side. Just know it’s only open for dinner during the week. Servers are attentive, friendly and professional. Overall, we give it two thumbs up.

Sweets & Savories, 773-281-6778, located at 1534 W. Fullerton Av., is open Sunday through Thursday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.