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Friday, May 10, 2013

Food Review: Let Old Town Social Host a Party in Your Mouth

Granted Old Town Social is not in Evanston, I highly recommend taking the CTA to Chicago and choosing this restaurant as your next dining adventure. If you have the time, let Old Town Social host a party in your mouth, here's how:

Short version: The variety of delicious food at Old Town Social makes this a smart dining out choice for any occasion. It helps that the meats are created in the charcuterie in the basement and most of the cheeses arrive from Wisconsin. The fish tacos are new and worth a try, but stick with the meat – the burger and charcuterie platter will keep you coming back.

This is a photo of the spicy duck wings and really, you don't need to know anything else about this place other than it serves these magic jewels of messy deliciousness. But if you need info on the rest of the menu keep reading.

Very long version: Dining out in Chicago and the surrounding burbs is stressful because you always know, in the back of your mind, that you could you be eating something better, someplace else, even if the meal you are currently eating is amazing. And when I eat something delicious I always first fill with joy quickly followed by regret knowing the next time I have a taco at a different place, I’ll yearn for the taco at the first place, no matter how yummy. I have a dining out disorder and it makes being me very tricky. So you can imagine how anxious I was on my way to Old Town Social to eat and review the place!

Lucky for me when it comes to dining out I’m anxious only about one thing (not the service or d├ęcor) - the food. Because I’m married to a fantastic cook who can whip up gourmet grub in an instant for $1, taking the time to shower and get a sitter and travel to a table, is a huge production and I better be wowed by what I eat or I am angry, not annoyed, but angry. So it’s a good thing that on my first visit to Old Town Social I was wowed by the food on many levels and I’m happy to share exactly what I ate so that you can relive my delicious dining experience!

(I do want to quickly point out that I was wowed by the service and that Jess was wonderful and she had the kind of personality you really trusted – right away. She recommended a delicious beer from Brooklyn while we were reading the menu and from that point on, she chose our entire meal, three courses. Later in the evening she was doing the same thing for a couple in town from Sacramento, CA, who were very happy with the results. But the food was so great that we would have suffered through crap service and not complained. Really. Don’t ask me what the place looked it, it had walls and tables, I don’t even care.)

This is a photos of the OTS burger which is a commitment for sure. And you've got to eat it in one sitting because as soon as yolk breaks, the entire thing is drenched in yolky delicious goodness.

We started with the Spicy Duck Wing appetizer (pictured above) which was not spicy but the meat was perfectly marinated in the OTS-harissa and falling off the bone and the flavor was perfect. I could have used a bit more of the cucmber-mint riatta as I found myself just eating it out the bowl with a spoon (a.k.a. my finger) – it was like tzatziki sauce plus and it’s possible the next time I eat a falafel with tzatziki sauce, I will be filled with the regret that I wasn't eating the riatta from OTS instead. Do you see what I mean by my eating out “disorder”?

Jess went ahead and created a pretty meat-heavy evening for us and I was most grateful for the charcuterie and cheese platter she created. Because Zee (real name) is in the basement creating meat from scratch all day long, the cold meats selection at OTS is impressive, we ate the following meats - Toscano Salame, Branschwieger, Lamb Salame and Lardo and Chicken Liver Mousse. These meats were paired with the following cheeses - Prairie Fruits Farm Fresh Chevre, Roth Kase ‘Surchoix’ Gruyere and Grafton Premium Cheddar.

This is what the charcuterie platter looks like, tons of delicious meat made in the basement by Zee!

Small servings of lardo, pate and tempenade came with the plate and OTS baked ritz crackers (new on the menu and I could have used a box to take home FYI). The meats and cheeses, in addition to being very distinctive and paired perfectly, had a freshness to them that can be attributed to the fact that the meat came from the basement and the cheese from Wisconsin. The farm to table freshness was immediately recognizable, I heard the table next to us commenting on just how fresh everything tasted. In hind sight, we could have stopped ordering there as the platter was very rich and filling - but we just kept eating.

What we ate, all of which I highly recommend:
Spicy Duck Wings - Harissa, Cucumber-Mint Raita
Pear & Fennel Salad - Anjou Pears, Shaved Fennel, Candied Hazelnuts, Pickled
OTS Burger - Sunnyside up Organic Egg, Housemade Bacon, Gruyere
Tacos – Fish and Pork Belly
Charcuterie & Cheese plate with Lardo (Whipped 'Italian Butter') and pate
What we drank: beer from Brooklyn
Dessert: No room but wanted the bourbon gelato
Server: Jess (quite possibly the BEST, if not top 5, server of my dining history).

Old Town Social
455 W. North Avenue
Chicago, IL 60610

Monday - Friday: 5 p.m. - 2 a.m.
Saturday: 11 a.m. - 3 a.m.
Sunday: 11 a.m. - 2 a.m.


Thank you for reading my blog Evanston Newbie, a blog dedicated to helping you too fall in love with Evanston, just like I did. If you have any questions or need to get in touch with me about this blog, Evanston, or anything else you can email me at Also feel free to send me announcements about upcoming Evanston events and I will promote them here!

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