Restaurants & Bars 3


Pete | Jun 9, 2003 01:09 PM

I wasn't able to find any reviews from fellow 'hounds on this restaurant, so I figured I'd post one.

Having recently moved into the neighborhood, I noticed the exterior facade while driving by, one night. It's hard to miss - the exterior is adorned with a flat black paint and a understated stainless steel sign bearing it's name. At night orange/red lights behind the sign cast a somewhat eerie glow. The overall effect, combined with the dim lighting from inside, looks almost evil. It's completely over the top, but it forces you to look at the place, and in my case, it piqued my interest.

Our first attempt at visiting was thwarted by the fact that it was a Monday - they're closed Mondays.

After dropping in on a Tuesday night for drinks, and to survey the menu, we finally made it back for dinner on Friday night - around 9:45.

The interior is dimly lit, with a definite photographic theme to the decor. The walls bear quite a number of artistic photographs. The booths are large and high-backed giving a measure of privacy, and the tables are inset with what can best be described as "sparkly things". It's got a feel more akin to a trendy bar or a nightclub, than a restaurant. (The lacy fabric hanging from the walls between booths made me feel like I was in the VIP room at RedNo5, prior to it's recent remodeling.)

There were only two or three other tables when we walked in - the waitress/hostess nearly cheered when we said we'd be having dinner. The service was quick and attentive, without being overly intrusive.

We both had a taste for the calamari, and found it to be slightly overcooked. Entirely edible, but a bit chewy. In all honesty, I wouldn't have been surprised if it was the sort that comes in a bag, frozen.

The entrees were another matter entirely. The dinner menu isn't terribly extensive, but the dishes cover a pretty broad range of tastes - and each seems well thought out.

I tried an entree that doesn't really have a name, aside from describing it. It consisted of three curried risotto cakes, with sauteed spinach, tomato, and mushrooms piled on top. Feta cheese was sparingly sprinkled over this, and sauce that tasted like a light white wine reduction was drizzled over this pile. It was fantastic - the cakes had a slightly thicker texture than standard risotto. The curry added just a hint of spiciness to them, without being overwhelming. The vegetables were all fresh, and were sauteed just enough to impart the flavor of the sauce to them - without turning them into an overcooked or soggy mess.

My date tried the chipotle glazed chicken with polenta. The chicken was fantastic - with the smokiness of the chipotles, and just enough of the spice to make it interesting.

An interesting thing happened around 10pm - the Frank Sinatra/Dean Martin-esque background dining music abruptly stopped, and a bona fide DJ came on. He was spinning a very good assortment of classic Chicago house tracks, interspersed with some more tribally influenced stuff. The music got louder around 10:30, and it was obvious the bar crowd was the focus at that point. (And the bar crowd kept growing, for the entire length of our visit.)

I spoke to the bartender a bit, and he mentioned that they had only recently been granted a liquor license. (Not surprising in the current political environment - especially if there's music involved.) Apparently they were open for 18 months as a BYOB restaurant. This is surprising, as the bar crowd surely seemed to be the most lucrative share of their business.

They're currently constructing a patio, out back. I'll definitely be back to check it out.

The Darkroom
2210 W Chicago Avenue
Chicago, IL 60622-4827
Phone: (773) 276-1411

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