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Froggy's. Recently, I've been watching old episodes of Anthony Bourdain's show, "No Reservations". If you know a little bit about his tastes, you know that Mr. Bourdain champions the humble parts of the animal called offal. I particularly like European (French, in particular) preparations of offal and I developed a hankering for some. So I searched for a French restaurant near Great Lakes on Google. Surprisingly, there were a number of different restaurants nearby. The one with the highest Zagat rating - 25 out of 30 - and the one with the menu items I was looking for turned out to be Froggy's French Restaurant.
You always need a liberty buddy here at Great Lakes and thankfully, my old roommate J kindly obliged. Thanks, buddy :)
What I ate:
1. Complimentary bread service. I thought the breads were standard issue for the most part. I thought the honey & oat bread was the best. The butter, on the other hand, was outstanding. It was sweet and rich and elevated the bread on which it was spread.
2. A South African Shiraz (9 USD). I didn't get the name of the producer, however, what you should know is that it was easy to drink, it had the typical characteristics of a Shiraz - robust, spicy, bouquet and flavor reminiscent of stone fruit (like cherries) - and it was reasonably priced.
3. Assiette Charcutière (9.50 USD, clockwise from upper left): Pâté, pheasant (or some other game bird) en croute, foie gras terrine, duck rillette, and chicken & shiitake terrine. Served with toasted bread, pickled onion & carrot, cornichons, and whole grain mustard. This plate of charcuterie was one of the main reasons for my visit to Froggy's. I absolutely adore charcuterie. It's one of my favorite things to eat and Froggy's presentation didn't leave much to be desired. I especially enjoyed the foie gras (you can't go wrong with foie). The only negative I saw in this presentation were the toasted slices of bread. They were on the stale side.
4. Complimentary Salad with Matchsticks of Beet. The salad was lightly dressed in a light, creamy sauce. Our server broke out his peppermill and freshly ground some black pepper onto my plate upon request, old school! The ingredients on the plate were exceptionally fresh and, I believe, impeccably sourced. I really liked how the beet defined the flavor of the salad, lending a wintry feel to the dish. Although, it was far from being the star of the show, the simple salad really stood out.
5. Sautéed Sweetbreads with Bordelaise Sauce (27 USD). The main event. The driving force for eating at Froggy's. Let me tell you, it did not disappoint! Again, the vegetables were of exceptional quality and they were wonderfully cooked. The sweetbreads were also cooked perfectly. They were crispy on the outside yet retained a moist, meaty texture. The Bordelaise sauce was tasty as well. I loved how well seasoned the food was, too. The only thing on the plate that seemed subpar was the mound of potato in the middle. It wasn't pommes purée, rather, it was a mix of mashed potato and chunks of potato. A bit too unrefined, if you ask me.
Service was fine, although I would normally expect it to be at a higher level in a restaurant like Froggy's.
Now, I don't know if you've noticed from the photos above the particular style of the food and even the setting of this meal. In reference to the title of this blog post, "The Kind of Food You Never, Ever See Anymore", Froggy's French Restaurant is a restaurant that hearkens to the latter half of the twentieth century. I mean, I've never been to a French restaurant that served French food in this way because most restaurants moved on. They kept up with the times and updated their food (especially presentation) to reflect present trends. But not Froggy's. I don't think that's a bad thing, except that the old atmosphere - somewhat stuffy and highbrow - seems to have pervaded as well.
I think another thing that remained stuck in the past was the cost of the food. For my main course, I paid $27, which, when you look at the plate, seems unjustifiable. Frankly, I don't think the sweetbreads were worth the price I paid. Analyzing the situation, it seems the price of the dish stems largely from Froggy's cost of doing business. I think there were too many people on staff - waiters, bartenders, valets, maybe even cooks - way more than was necessary, anyway. Based on the number of customers (not many), I guess prices have to be inflated in order to sustain business. Nevertheless, I doubt Froggy's is turning a profit.
The clientele were mainly old folks in the twilight of retirement. I have a feeling Froggy's is not long for this world.
The Bill: For J and I, the total came out to be 86.30 USD. That's right, almost ninety bucks!
My Rating: out of four stars (good). I would say the food at Froggy's is some of the best in Chicago's North Shore, however, there are other factors that keep this restaurant from being at the top of the list. Open for lunch Monday through Friday, 11:30 AM to 2 PM. Open for dinner Monday to Thursday, 5 PM to 10 PM, and on Friday and Saturday, 5 PM to 11 PM. Closed Sundays. Credit cards accepted. www.froggysrestaurant.com
The Last Word ... I hope to share with you my third great dining experience in Chicago in the next edition of Woo!Food.
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