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Restaurants & Bars 5

Charcoal Oven in Skokie -- Mob Front or Time Warp?

Brent Brotine | Oct 25, 200312:11 PM

This is not quite for "A Little Game" as our curiosity did get the better of us -- but we're still wondering about this restaurant's reason for being. Charcoal Oven has been on Golf Road in Skokie for years, and Dr. B passes it every day on her way to Rush North Shore. They're only open for dinner, the parking lot never seems to have more than three or four cars, we never hear about them, they don't advertise, and economically I don't see any way this George Diamond-era steakhouse should be surviving. If memory serves us right, we ate there twenty-plus years ago with her parents -- and recently went there on a whim one weekday night. The menu and food are still 50s Greek steakhouse; I had sea bass, she had a steak, and both were no better than average. Dark, clubby interior that hasn't changed. We were the only people there at 6PM; two other parties, one that seemed to be regulars, came as we were dining. Their shtick, as I remember years ago, was to give you bread and tomatoes in a paper bag to take home; we received the tomatoes, but no bread (only bread they served us was heat-and-serve garlic rolls, so I imagine they don't bake their own bread any longer.) OK, friendly service from the manager and a 60-ish waitress right out of central casting. Is there some "story" to this place that explains how they keep their doors open?

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