Saturday, April 16, 2011

Owen and Engine

In the last year or two, Chicago has had a run of English-style Gastropubs. Logan Square (where I live) seems to have grown more than most. The joke is that one of the requirements (other than the "and" in the name) is a scraggly bearded waiter and Logan Square, being the new hipster central, has more than their fair share of scraggly bearded hipsters. I went to Owen and Engine on March 28th for Earth Hour, an hour in the last Saturday in March in which you are asked to turn off all of your externally powered electrical equipment for an hour. I find the easiest way to participate is to turn off everything and go out for the evening so I went to Owen and Engine for a late (and light) dinner. While there are some modern conveniences, Owen and Engine really looks as if it would fit in Victorian Era England or be ripe for a live staging of a Clue Game. The walls, window frames and bars are all made with heavy, finished, dark wood, the lighting looks like old style gas lanterns and there are some very heavy arm chairs and a couch like a salon in front of the fireplace upstairs. All of the waiters have at least some facial hair and dress with suspenders, collared shirts, and gartered socks. Many also have British accents. The food is what you might expect to find at a British pub, examples include the fish and chips, a roast chicken, rasher and eggs, and bangers and mash. There is also a charcuterie program. It is simple but is made very well. Everything is locally sourced if not outright house-made. While they have a good cocktail list, they also have a great beer list and employ a Cicerone (the beer equivalent to a Sommellier) to maintain their beer list. For my dinner, I simply had a single course and a beer but I will say that I really liked what I had. I started with a beer, a Saison Dupont, from Brasserie Dupont. I like Saisons and this one is done very well. on the food menu, I saw something that, once I saw it, there was no question of what I was going to order. They had roasted beef marrow bones served with a mushroom risotto and pearl onions. I ordered the small order because I wasn't that hungry. I was surprised though at the size of the small. I was given two large bones with what looked like a full size portion of risotto. My thought was "If this is the small, how big is the large?" When they set it in front of me, I was given a small spoon with which I could use to scrape the bones. I was told to scrape the marrow and mix it with the risotto. As they were served apart though, I did have to try the risotto and the marrow separately. The marrow was fatty (as it should be) and very well seasoned with salt and cracked pepper. The risotto was creamy with just the right amount of mushrooms. Together, the entire dish was much better, the marrow and the risotto complemented each other well. When I come back, and I am going to have to come back several times, I will have to try different parts of the menu.

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