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A Harmony of Flavors at Schubas

By John DiGilio in Food on Jul 22, 2011 7:00PM

2011_7_22Harmony.jpg There are many ways a watering hole can work its way into the hearts and psyches of a city and its denizens. Sometimes it is an atmosphere or a vibe that reflects the soul of its environs. Others, it is the characters in the crowd that call themselves regulars. Schubas may lack the quaint, hokeyness that was everyone's favorite sitcom bar, but it is every bit as representative of the Windy City as Cheers was of Boston. It's got our grittiness, our gregariousness, and our lust for life and good time. As this is a restaurant review, we are also happy to say that it offers some damned good food too.

Tucked into the side of this iconic bar and concert venue is the much more humble and understated Harmony Grill. But for the funky neon sign hanging from the side of the complex, you might not know it is even there. Good ol' American cuisine is the focus here and it is served up in large, tasty portions. Sandwiches, soups, and savories fill the menu with comfort foods that beckon you to just sit, relax, and enjoy. Having heard so many wonderful reviews of the entrees and desserts, we endeavored to do just that on our first visit.

We happened into the Harmony Grill on a frenetic Sunday evening. It was hot outside, but the vibe and the air in the eatery were thankfully both cool and peaceful. A round of beers from Schubas brew list was most definitely in order while we perused the menu. Taking a few recommendations from our server we settled on a sandwich for the meat-eaters and an entree for the vegetarians. The Cuban sandwich was a pork-lover's dream-come-true with its layers of slow roasted pork, shaved ham, Swiss cheese, pickles and garlic aioli. Served on a baguette, it was actually lean, tender, and very tasty. Equally as decadent and delicious was the vegetarian chili mac; a hearty portion of meatless chili topped with a baked melange of elbow macaroni, Schubas own secret blend of cheeses and bread crumbs. We came for comfort food and comfort food was definitely what we got!

We could not leave the Harmony Grill without sampling something from the dessert list. We had heard great things about the chocolate bread pudding and we eager to put it and our already full bellies to the test. It turned out to be everything we expected and more. The bread pudding itself was sweet and not too heavy. Its crowning glory, however, was the thick Maker's Mark sauce that made it so good and gooey. It was worth loosening our belts to finish that baby off!

The Harmony Grill will go down in our books as being the "softer side of Schubas". Though we were not used to seeing the place without its signature live music and appreciative crowds, it was definitely an evening worthy of an encore or two. It may not be Cheers, but as long as Schubas keeps serving up fare like this, you can count on us going back until everybody there knows our names.

Schubas Harmony Grill is located at 3159 North Southport Avenue.