I was competing with the dog for space on the bed and not getting very sleepy. A small diet coke from the O'Hare Oasis on the way in probably did not help. A drift in the thoughts one has when not sleepy, I happened upon the problem of Zim driving along north avenue without a place to eat.
Initially, I thought I'd direct him to the better than average taqueria in the strip mall at north and oak park avenue that serves a heady sopa azeteca in a small styrofoam cup, but then in between thoughts of everything else that kept me awake, i came to the Homestead. Owned by the Rickett's family who have been feeding Chicagoans for many, many years in many many locations. The Homestead. Have you been I asked.
If not, make sure you have plenty of time. This is slow food alright. It suits the pace of the clientele. Sadly, family and I often stand 30 years younger than the rest of the audience.
Order a bargin priced, well made martini or manhattan as directed, without irony, on the menu. Fortify yourself because you will be fortified.
Dinners start with a plate of cornbread, more like corn cake, light on the corn meal. Two or three brownie sliced chuncks topped with butter go well with the earlier ordered cocktail. Fresh soup follows, the vegetable, for instance, has them in abundance. Then, salad, cole slaw or that mid-western version of a starter, jello. The entree includes potato and more real vegetables. Great house deserts, but who rarely has room.
Fried chicken comes out great 2 out 3 times. It is the famous Homestead dish. It may take a second drink because this chicken gets the pan, not the deep fryer. It arrives over the gravy, very nouvelle cusine. It is partially worth ordering for the maple syrup soaked dumpling that comes only with the chicken.
The most consistent great entree, I feel, is the chopped steak. A flattened football of quality meat, crusty but red inside, surrounded by piped in "dutchess potatos", a meal from another era. Most other entrees reach their marks as well, the cliche so square its hip type of food.
The Homestead is on North Avenue between Thatcher and First Avenue or next to the sign advertising a soon to be built retirement community. If the Rickett family did not invest in this place, they surely must be counting the days until its development.
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