Yesterday evening my wife, son and I went to CASINO Restaurant on the far southeast side of Chicago. Its a Croatian restaurant that has been around for some 30 years or more, though in 1997 it was taken over by a new owner, who is there still.
We ordered two items: a Gypsy Platter for Two and a half order of stuffed peppers, with the idea being to get a fairly broad sampling of the current Casino offerings. The Gypsy Platter for Two was arranged in two matching sets of equal portions. On each side there appeared the following: two pieces of Parisian snicel, one skewer of shishkebab (four pieces), one small patty of pljeskavica, and two cylindrical pieces of cevaps, accompanied by a mound of mashed potatoes, dressed in gravy and festooned with a bright slice of tomato all resting on a large leaf of iceberg lettuce. The only shared zone of the platter was a mound of chopped raw onion at the epicentre of the Gypsy feast, and a side-dish of corn which came in a separate bowl. A few minutes after the platter was served, we were brought our half order of stuffed peppers: one, very large red pepper stuffed with a combination of rice and ground meat, and accompanied by another mound of mashed potatoes and the whole dish dressed with a tomato flavoured gravy. Here follow comments on the individual items:
Parisian snicel: veal, pounded quite thin, dipped in flour (no breadcrumbs) and fried. To me, this was the weakest element of the platter, for the flour coating was too voluminous and maintained an unwelcome floury taste. I would be most willing to try one of the three other snicel preparations and would suffer the Parisian again as part of the Gypsy Platter, but I would not want to order it on its own.
shishkebab: marinated pork pieces, grilled. Tasty enough for me.
pljeskavica: a well seasoned, ground meat patty of veal and pork; very tasty.
cevaps: very garlicky, also very tasty.
mashed potatoes and gravy, brown and red: serviceable.
stuffed pepper: I think the individual pepper which we got had been overcooked, for the pepper itself was too soft and characterless. The stuffing, of rice and, I suspect, veal and pork, was very nice and I would gladly try this again.
Our son (31/2 years old) ate some mashed potatoes, cevaps and shishkebab and seemed reasonably happy. My wife, who spent some time in old Yugoslavia thought the food was both good and quite authentic. She had for dessert a krempita, which I sampled not once but thrice, in order to be certain that it really was as delicious as it first seemed it was.
There is a bar in Casino but the beer offerings were only of the most basic sort, i.e., no beers from Croatia: just Becks, Heineken, and various products of the two American mega-brewers. I should have, but failed, to ask if any Dalmatian or Slovenian wines are available.
There are daily a couple of specials ($5-6), the most interesting of which seemed to me to be the Dalmatian Roast chicken ($6.50), which is offered on both Saturdays and Mondays and, according to our hostess, is very popular. Two other dishes which Id like to try are the vesalica (grilled veal steak) and the muckalica (pork with onions and peppers); the other snicels are Casino, natur and Vienna. There are also different soups offered daily and a number of sandwiches, all about $4. Half orders are available for a number of the basic dishes, none of which costs more than $9. The Gypsy Platter for two costs $20. Finally, the delicious krempita costs a mere $2.
All in all, it was a fine place for cheap eats; good food at good prices from an ethnic cuisine we seldom get to enjoy. We intend to go back when the opportunity next arises.
9706 South Commercial
Open till 9 p.m.; closed Sundays.