Had a lovely ladies lunch. Expensive occasion lunch with excellent food and very good service. Charming room.
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Hemmingway's (across from the Hemingway Museum and down the street from the Hemingway Home) is my favorite spot in Oak Park. An intimate setting, easy menu, well-served. We have lost track of time here with excellent food, good drink, quiet conversation and occasional live entertainment. We have been back again and again and have never been disappointed.
I have been eating at this charming restaurant with a Parisian flair in a 1920's apartment hotel right across the street from the Hemingway Museum. Recently I hosted my 75th birthday party there for 40 people. The food was marvelous, the service good, and the birthday cake (made from scratch) is still gathering compliments from usually non-cake eaters. It was the perfect place to celebrate the special occasion, and I had no dishes to wash after the event. We offered three choices, and the fish dish (haddock) was as fresh as could be and was accompanied by fluffy mashed potatoes and spinach, while the steak frites was as good as in a Paris bistro, and the chicken paillard was also marvelous. Our appetizers (shrimp, smoked salmon, and stuffed mushrooms) were quickly consumed and declared delicious, and the three sorbets with fresh fruit that accompanied the birthday cake were perfect.
Since then I have returned for their bouillabaise which is full of the freshest seafood and fish in a deeply satisfying flavorful stock with traditional accompaniments, and for the walleye pike with a light beurre blanc with pea risotto and asparagus.
I am beginning to feel like the Bistro is my private club since I can go alone and am greeted warmly and soon find a warm baguette at my side.
I don't want to forget the need to order your souffle when you order the entree, since the souffle is made to order and varies in flavor from Grand Marnier to raspberry to mango (had it the other evening). This is a light dessert that few restaurants offer but it is always a treat and you can ask the waiter to hold the whipped cream if you are watching calories or fat intake.
Their soups are generally excellent but I find the potato leek a perfect winter soup ....made with a light stock but just rich and smooth enough to warm you up on the coldest day. This is a soup that is perfectly seasoned, not too salty for those of us watching the salt, and good enough to want to order a second bowl.
This is not a restaurant resting on its laurels. No, indeed. Chef Ala is always introducing new dishes along with the traditional Coq au Vin, Beef Wellington, Crepes, and other classics. Yes, it is elegant enough for a special celebration but homey enough for a quick stop before going home from work.
And remember you can get a marvelous breakfast with eggs Benedict or lunch with many specials as well as a regular menu.
The small bar area attracts many neighborhood regulars who swear by their martinis. Wine by the glass answers the need of the solitary diner. Go there once and you will definitely want to return....maybe the next night.
I have been there twice within a short time. The atmosphere is pleasant and the service was flawless. The dishes were tasty and hearty. As appetizer I tried a plate of mussels and as main dish I enjoyed the whitefish with mashed potatoes and spinach.
We were there on Sundays December 1 and 8 at around 7:00 pm. The first visit and food was very good; the second was very poor. Therefore this rating is on the second visit. On the second visit we were (my husband and I) served Flounder, de-boned at the table. The fish was over cooked and therefore not de-boned well, and served to us with the organs (large-sized pink lungs inside). Gross! to say the least. We did not enjoy the entree at all. The cost of the overall meal $67.00 was reduced by $12.00 (the cost of a glass of wine); the cost of the Flounder was $34.00 of which we consumed about 3 ounces before we could no longer take it. Bad experience. We do not plan to return.