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“Disgusting”

Charcoal Oven Restaurant
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Ranked #38 of 205 Restaurants in Skokie
Dining options: Dinner, Reservations, Seating, Serves Alcohol, Waitstaff
Restaurant details
Dining options: Dinner, Reservations, Seating, Serves Alcohol, Waitstaff
Chicago, Illinois, United States
2 reviews
“Disgusting”
1 of 5 bubbles Reviewed November 11, 2013

I have never been to a place less welcoming than this overrated shack. The owner/bartender was rude and offensive. Don't go there unless you live in the neighborhood because they don't know how to be slightly civil.

  • Visited November 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank Connie D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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52 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    19
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Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Evanston, Illinois
1 review
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“This is how it's done”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 30, 2013

I relocated to the Skokie/Evanston area about a month ago and had driven past Charcoal Oven a few times. The first time I drove by and saw their amazingly retro signage and exterior décor I knew I wanted to check it out, but wasn’t sure if the place was still in business as it was rare to see a car in the parking lot. I read a few online reviews that assured me it was indeed open, if only from 5-9pm each night. A friend’s upcoming birthday gave me the excuse I needed to make a reservation and try it out. We arrived promptly at 7pm on a Tuesday evening, and there was only one other car in the lot. We were the only diners there from 7-9pm, which should have felt strange and awkward. However, I can honestly say it was one of the most memorable dining experiences of my life (in the good way). Our host welcomed and seated us with a genuine enthusiasm and cheerfulness. He explained the specials, took our drink orders, and spared no attention to detail throughout the evening. The internal décor was magical, mid-Century from top to bottom and wonderfully preserved in time. In fact, the entire experience was just that…an experience. Something you don’t get anymore…the supper club treatment. A regal dining experience without stuffy pretentiousness. The menu was hand-written and diverse, lots of great entrees to choose from. The sides were standard for the table, and were simply outstanding. The food was amazingly well-prepared, reasonably priced, and my wife’s gluten-free dietary restriction was met with the utmost level of professional dedication and excellence. This ended up being so much more than expected, from the ambiance to the service to the food and drinks. I can’t say enough about this establishment; it was an experience I’ll never forget. Not sure how it’s such a well-kept secret after so many years (established 1949) but I like it that way. I’ll definitely go back for special occasions and those once-every-so-often cravings for a fine dining experience.

  • Visited October 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
2 Thank Robert T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Spokane, Washington
Level Contributor
24 reviews
19 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 27 helpful votes
“Rat Pack Dining, Amazing Food!”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 15, 2013

I am 49 years old and I grew up near this restaurant as a little boy and passed by it for years. It was for "old people when I was a child" and I could not afford it when I was a teen. I think I was also scared to go inside thinking the mafia was still in there. I now live on the West Coast but in Skokie for a recent visit with family, I finally made it for the first time Oct 2013 and am so appreciative that a place like this still exists in the USA. Black and red leather booths, old wooden bar, I can imagine Sammy, Dean and Frank eating here along with a myriad of colorful characters from its past. They would return here because the food was top notch and still is. In existence since 1919, this place was originally for the Irish mob, taken over in 1932 by the Jewish mafia and a supper club since 1949 "for the Northwestern gang" ever since. If you are coming for anything modern its not your place. If you are coming for thick, large portion steaks, a myriad of fresh fish made your way or traditionally, fried potatoes, buttered bread and the entire experience of days long gone this is the place for you. The chef doesn't come from anything nouveau and can only help you with your cholesterol by helping choose a fresh fish entree for which there was plenty. But I suggest the old time meat entrees, that is why we came in the first place. We had a 30.00 bottle of great wine (my dad a traditional martini), I had the rack of lamb and where modern places give 3-4 pieces this was a huge rack. It was flawless, delicious, I'm full 24 hours later while I write this review. No restaurant gives such a portion anymore. My parents both had fish, one done his own way. The menu is diverse but filled with cuts of beef and various fish (salmon, snapper, several). Don't expect many appetizers or lots of different vegetable options. The meals come with both soup and salad, the soup piping hot, nothing to scream home about but this is what we at back in the day. Salad simple but fresh, on a cold plate and dark green lettuce, not the cheap iceberg stuff. Fresh pies for dessert. Freshly made thick salad dressings. Sure the service was simple and (we had no complaints) I can see if they were busier it would have been slower. But if you are in a hurry, stay home. You are there to look around the room, to hear stories of gambling in the basement, to imagine Sinatra at the private looking red booth in the front. My only regret is I haven't been here more often. This place deserves KUDOS for existing this long as even places like this in Beverly Hills are disappearing (like DaVinci or Matteos in Beverly Hills). Thanks Charcoal Oven for a great meal and I am sorry I haven't been a more frequent patron being just blocks away for most of my life. If you are staying in Skokie from out of town, its a short drive from the hotels near Old Orchard or Evanston and minutes from the expressway if you are coming from elsewhere.

  • Visited October 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
2 Thank HeyScottWA
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chicago, Illinois
Level Contributor
107 reviews
63 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 57 helpful votes
“Average food in Skokie”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed September 18, 2013

I was here a few days ago with a friend on a Tuesday night. It was not very crowded and we were seated immediately. We started off with drinks; I had a Cosmo and she had a drink on the rocks. Both were nice portions. Sides come with the meals and are served family style. We started with a minestrone soup (so-so) that came with some rolls that are definitely out of a package. The salad was also ok. I had it with the house dressing which is garlic. I was thinking how much better it would have been with a handful of crunchy croutons. My main course was their version of scampi. The shrimp was tasty with a light breading. What was odd was that it was served on a bed of parsley. As I said, their version. My friend had skate fish which had a light breading and was pretty tasty. They served some green beans and crispy potatoes on the side. For desert i had the triple bundt cake, but it tasted a bit bland. The owner, who was also our waiter asked if I wanted some more chocolate sauce on the side which I turned down. The service was pretty average, not terrible and not amazing but our guy, the owner, was friendly and talkative. This place has been around for years and does provide a nice, old style, quiet place to enjoy an ok meal.

  • Visited September 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
1 Thank phaera
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chicago, Illinois
1 review
“If you are seeking old school supper club charm, seek elsewhere”
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed August 18, 2013

Other reviews seemed polarized, so we all went into this experience assuming the poorer reviews "just didn't get it." Sadly, they were on the mark. Not wholly unfriendly, but glacial and inattentive service, unhelpful menu, and the food was all overcooked.

This seems like a serviceabla family business for the benefit of regulars and old friends. If you are a fan of supper clubs or old school charm, you really shouldn't seek it here. Lots of old, with very little charm.

  • Visited August 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank Medium-Edie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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