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“Old School Dining”

Charcoal Oven Restaurant
Reserve a Table
Sat, 7/20
8:00 PM
Ranked #71 of 226 Restaurants in Skokie
Dining options: Reservations
Restaurant details
Dining options: Reservations
Reviewed February 13, 2017

I have been driving past this restaurant for the past 30 years and have always wondered what it was like. Finally made reservations and went for dinner on Saturday. Quite a pleasant surprise. The theater crowd had just left and the staff were great at making the arriving customers feel at home. It's nice to find a place that does not make you feel rushed. Some may find the pace too slow, but we appreciated that they took the time to check on each table. The food was great. Appetizer and salad along with fresh rolls are included with the meal. Along with the entre, fresh green beans and homemade chips were served.
Now I need to find another excuse for a nice evening out.

Date of visit: February 2017
Thank DellG2407
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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7 - 11 of 56 reviews

Reviewed December 5, 2016

I have been driving by this restaurant for the last ten years but have not eaten their for at least fifteen years. The truth is the restaurant is in need of a face lift. The service was extremely disappointing and the food very inconsistent. We were the only ones in the restaurant and it took some time to just get a cup of soup and a basic salad. The bread was served with no butter and I had to wait ten minutes for the wait staff to come back to the table just to ask for butter - by the time he brought it back the bread was cold. I find it very odd that being the only ones in the restaurant they would not pay more attention to us. The entrees we ordered were trout and Greek chicken with a side of mixed vegetables and cottage fries. The trout was far from fresh and a huge disappointment. The chicken was moist, seasoned well and tasty. The mixed vegetables, I am sorry to say were worth laughing at. It was a mixture of corn and carrots topped with one over cooked green bean. Any real chef would have been embarrassed by this combination, not to mention the presentation. All we could do was laugh. The cottage fries were warm, fresh and prepared nicely. The tab was $57.00 for two entrees and no drinks. I am sorry to say we will not be back.

Date of visit: December 2016
    • Value
    • Service
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Thank Don C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 13, 2016 via mobile

This a restaurant is a step back in time. It feels like a classic Wisconsin supper club with a Greek chef. The drinks were great. The food was outstanding although the side dishes are very limited. The service and ambiance were great. Don't be in a hurry. It looked like everything was cooked to order. It's a small and charming place.

Date of visit: July 2016
Thank Candace D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 4, 2016

I drive by this place twice a day. For two years I've wondered about it. I wish the owners had the guts to really blow it out of the water. This place is iconic and could be so campy and trendy now if they just tried - just a little bit. The service is slightly absent, but delightful when it's there. The place was positively empty at prime dinner time on a Friday night. We sat in the parking lot, made an open table reservation and walked in at 6PM on a Friday night. Two tables were seated. Two more walked in behind us. We were in shorts and t-shirts. This was a formal dining room - white linen tablecloths and napkins. 70's decor and Wisconsin Supper Club atmosphere. The place was fabulous. In the back left was an older woman (late 70's early 80's) and her spouse/companion. She was decked out in a black suit and the cutest little hat with feathers pinned to her exquisite updo. Last night was her Friday night supper club night and she was there with bells (and feathers) on! I loved it immediately. My husband thought we should back out politely and come back another time when we were dressed appropriately but the table next to Ms. feather hat had a guy wearing a white t-shirt with a bullseye on it. I told him our money was as good as the couple in the suit. Then we were belatedly greeted by someone in jeans and a t-shirt - so there you go. Like I said the owners aren't playing the part. They're phoning it in. If I owned this place there would be a line down Golf Road of cars trying to get in. We had two servers and both of them were lovely. The other server was wearing a flowing top which got in my salad dressing and water glass. That kind of annoyed me. Fortunately I was done with the salad when she did that and I was drinking my martini more than my water... The prices shocked us. Nothing was under $20 and everything was closer to $30. But in true 70's supper club fashion your meal comes with appetizer, salad, and family style vegetables. No "a la carte" which usually drives up your bill. Our server RAVED about the fresh fish they have flown in every day. RAVED. Fresh. Flown in Every Day!!!!! There is a lot of fish on the menu - brook trout from Idaho, walleye from Minnesota, salmon, shrimp, skate... these people like their fish. They also have lamb and lots of it in every shape and form. The menu boasts two sides - meat and fish and then the Greek. The Greek side had Moussaka, Pastichio, Greek Chicken and a bunch of other dishes that really could be any ethnicity. The Moussaka and Pastichio were the cheapest dishes at $19-22. I love both those dishes but couldn't see paying those prices for pasta and mashed potatoes. Ok Moussaka has ground lamb, but still. I could make a tray of that stuff for 20 people and not have it cost $22. So imagine our surprise when the Pastichio was our appetizer. I wondered aloud - if I'd ordered the Pastichio for my entree what would my appetizer have been? Lamb chops? Ha! But back to the beginning. Two servers took care of us and the other (now four total) tables. We mentioned that we had someplace to be meaning we weren't into staying here for two hours. There wasn't live music but there was a piano by the front door which I believe implies that maybe sometimes there is live music. So we quickly got two martinis. Then our pastichio came out followed quickly by our salads. At this point we'd been in the restaurant 30 minutes. And then we waited. And waited. And waited. About 40 minutes late our meals came. The minute my fish was set in front of me I caught a whiff of off fish. My husband's lamb chops were enormous and there were four of them - easily 8oz of lamb. He ordered it medium rare. It was more like medium well. The side dishes were sauteed green beans and onions and potato chips. Yes you read that right. They were thick sliced potato slices almost like you'd use to make potatoes au gratin but then instead of au gratin in a casserole they just threw them in the fryer. They weren't salted. Served in a silver serving dish with a spoon. Odd. While I was curiously grabbing a potato chip with my fingers (because who uses a spoon to eat a potato chip) my husband cut open his lamb and it was so hot instead of taking a bite he let it cool while trying my fish. He cut into my fish and the smell hit me - ammonia. Before I could stop him he took a bite and turned green. He said he'd never had skate wing before, but it sure had a funny aftertaste. I told him skate wing is absolutely delicate and buttery and there's no way it has a strong aftertaste. My fish was way off. I continued eating potato chips hoping for the 3-minute check-back that never came. We'd waited 40 minutes for this food and now no one cared to know how it tasted. My husband and I ate two of his four lamb chops before he got up and found someone. The server looked like she expected what we were going to tell her and then had the gall to sound incredulous..."but we fly our fish in fresh daily". She'd said that so many times during the evening that I think even she'd begun to believe it. If that skate wing had been flown in that morning it was caught about a week ago and it hadn't been properly refrigerated. She offered me a different dish but first, we were already late for our appointment and second, our stomachs had turned. When the bill came the server had certainly made amends and she apologized. I'm sure, if she's worth her salt, she went back into the kitchen and put her nose to my plate and realized there was no way I was lying or exaggerating about the severity. To her credit - she's not the chef and she's not the person who receives the food delivery every day. She's just the person who has to deal with this kind of crap when management and chef's don't do good QC. The last thing I thought was so completely odd and embarrassing was when we paid the server had to tell us that if we wanted to leave a gratuity (which was completely up to us she said over, and over, and over) that we had to tell her what it was because with the new chip system she couldn't add it in later. Now this is where technology fails us and people who work for tips. How awkward. I was embarrassed for her. Not only did she have to deal with our disappointment but now she had to ask for her tip before she processed our discounted dinner. We told her we had cash to tip so she could just run the amount on our card. I think she was worried she'd get stiffed. I felt so bad for her. When we left at 7:30 there were still only 4 tables. I really hope they have a late night 9pm rush I don't know about. This place could be so good. The real estate is prime. I'm sure if they closed their doors the building or the land would not sit empty for long. I wish them luck. I won't go back because there's nothing there I want to go back to try. Greek diners are a dime a dozen in Chicagoland and much cheaper than this place. In the steak and fish restaurant business Charcoal Oven has a lot better competition. I wish this place the best. Some social media hype and a few minor changes could make this place the talk of the town.

Date of visit: June 2016
    • Value
    • Service
    • Food
Thank Kristin C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 22, 2016

Gave this a big thumbs -- at one time. Went 3/4/16 and unfortunately not likely to go again -- at least not for dinner.
Same décor, similar menu as last visit, but the place smelled a bit like my grandmother's basement and the food was at best mediocre. Service was very good and I still enjoyed the 1970's look, but I came there to eat. The chicken I had was chewy and my mate's enormous pork chop was ham ( I swear it was like a slice of easter ham!)
too bad - as the prices are a little high to not have better than mediocre food. Oh Well....

Date of visit: March 2016
    • Value
    • Service
    • Food
Thank 44JE44
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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