Thursday, February 7, 2013

Blokes & Birds

For years there have been any number of Irish-style pubs in Chicago.  There really isn't a big difference between English and Irish Pubs as far as the bar and food menus are concerned, but the music and some of the designs are different.  In the last few years, there have been several places offering takes on English Public Houses and pub food.  Longman & Eagle, Owen & Engine, Bangers & Lace, and Blokes & Birds all do takes on British pub food if those takes are all have very different.  I went recently to Blokes & Birds for dinner to see their take on a cuisine that is stereotypically thought of as pretty boring.  The dining/drinking area is all wood with hanging lights and exposed rafters.  The front wall is a window wall looking out on Wrigleyville.  The communal table in the center of the room was actually cross shaped and I was seated at one of the arms.  The menu was divided into Bits N' Bobs (appetizers), Sarnies (salads and sandwiches), Fortnight (entrees), and Dessert (dessert).  I started out with a Bits  N' Bobs dish called Cheesy Peavey.  This consisted of a cored and roasted Granny Smith Apple filled with melted Brie and slices of Puff Pastry topped with Apricot Chutney.  This was a nice looking dish that reminded me of a deconstructed apple pie.  But while this was a creative dish that tasted pretty good, it unfortunately was the highlight of the meal.  This is not to say that the rest of the meal was bad, it was however, rather uninspired.

For my entree, I had an English standard in Chelsea Fish & Chips.  This consisted of Beer Battered Cod, a cup of Frites, with a grilled lemon, and side dishes of ketchup, tarter sauce, and pea puree.  On paper this does sound interesting and the frites were pretty good but the two fish sticks could have been found at Bennigan's.  The batter on the fish was crisp but it wasn't particularly light and the ketchup and tartar sauce were fairly standard.  The pea puree was an interesting touch but it was kind of thick and I was unsure as to what to do with it.  The food was good enough to eat but wasn't anything to rave about.

The dessert menu had four items on it, of which they only had two available, a creme brulee and a trifle.  I ordered the Creme Brulee which came with fresh berries and a strawberry.  The crust on top of the custard wasn't the thinnest I have ever had but it also wasn't particularly thick.  The berries were fresh and ripe and the custard was creamy and sweet but the dessert was like any other creme brulee that I have ever had.

While the dinner here wasn't bad, I shouldn't have expected much more as the vast majority of Blokes & Birds neighbors are bars.  I am sure that this place is fine as far as bars are concerned and it does compete well with the bars on the street, but it was not what I was looking for. 

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