Tonight three of us ate at Longman & Eagle in Logan Square. This was my first time eating there. I was really looking forward to this dinner because I had heard good things about it. Unfortunately, I was quite disappointed. Only one dish was particularly good; other dishes were just okay, and several were virtually inedible.
Longman & Eagle doesn't have a huge sign outside; look for the large ampersand (&) over the door! Because Longman & Eagle doesn't accept reservations and we had heard about lengthy 120+ minute waits to be seated, we arrived at 5:30, when they were mostly empty. We had a choice of indoor or outdoor seating; we ate outside on this lovely night. It turned out to be a good choice, because the inside seating was quite noisy once it began to fill up. As for concerns about lengthy waits, even by the time we left at 7:30, there were still several two-tops available, both inside and outside. The stories of lengthy waits may be accurate on weekends, especially when the weather doesn't permit outdoor dining, but on this Monday evening, waits were not a problem at all.
One thing I should mention is that I had looked at the menu on their website prior to going to the restaurant, and many of the dishes I was hoping to have (seared Maine scallops, duo of foie gras, Maine lobster parfait, shaved pear salad, pot au feu, pork belly confit) were not on the menu tonight. I don't consider this a major flaw; restaurants change their menus frequently, and for me the website menu is simply a sample of what might be there, to give you an idea of their style of food. However, it was *very* different, and I found the offerings on the actual menu to be less appealing than those that I was hoping for.
There was one problem common to many of the dishes throughout the dinner: a heavy hand with the salt and spices. I don't mind spicy food; heck, I love it. But salt, spices, and other flavorings should complement the flavors of the main items in the dish, and should not overpower them, and that is exactly what happened with many of the dishes. Read on.
We started with several appetizers and small plates. One appetizer was the best dish of the meal: an open-face sandwich of fried Ipswich clam bellies. Those who grew up eating fresh clam rolls on the East Coast would be pleased. The chanterelle agnolotti were also good, with the mushroom flavor inside the pasta coming through. However, two others were far less pleasing. One was the meatballs over polenta with pesto; the meatballs were way too salty and spicy, so much so that there was no meat flavor in the meatballs. Another was the pastrami cured sweetbreads; these were sweetbreads prepared with the same spices on the outside as you would find on the outside of pastrami. Unfortunately, those spices were so thick and strong that they totally overwhelmed any sweetbread flavoring.
Next were the entrees. One was salmon, which was okay but not particularly noteworthy. Another was tombo tuna, which was seared medium-rare as tuna is normally served, but was covered by cracked sea salt which overwhelmed the tuna flavor. The third was the wild boar sloppy joe. It was extremely salty and overspiced (possibly with some pickle-like flavorings), which overpowered to the extent that the sandwich lacked any pork-like or meat-like flavor. It was served with the saltiest French fries I have ever eaten in my life. I was unable to finish either the sandwich or the fries, due to salt overload.
We skipped dessert, partly because we were not in the mood after such oversalted/overspiced food, and partly because some of the desserts sounded like they might be equally oversalted/overspiced. At the end of the meal, one of my companions had a salad of mixed greens which I did not try.
The alcohol menu is extensive, with an especially wide selection of hard liquor and beer. One companion was disappointed with the selection of red wines, not so much with the white.
Service was reasonably helpful and friendly.
I understand that others enjoy the food at Longman & Eagle. I'm not sure whether tonight was an off night, or if maybe some folks enjoy food with massive salt and seasonings added. I should add that I don't think I am particularly sensitive to salt and seasonings; I don't recall ever posting about a single dish being oversalted or overseasoned, let alone many dishes in a meal. But that's how our dinner was this evening. It was the worst restaurant dinner I have had in at least a year.
Longman & Eagle
2657 N Kedzie Ave, Chicago, IL 60647