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Chalkboard Restaurant

By Victoria Wiedel | Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Address: 4343 N. Lincoln Avenue
Phone: 773-477-7144
Website: http://www.chalkboardrestaurant.com

Part of the eponymous menu. Credit: Victoria Wiedel

As Chalkboard restaurant, 4343 N. Lincoln Ave., approaches its fifth anniversary, I would like to thank Chef Gil Langlois for staying the course and continuing to offer refined comfort food that allows the flavors of high-quality meat, seafood and vegetables to shine French preparations with a Southern comfort twist

I’m not a fan of the molecular gastronomy movement, and I don’t enjoy meals that feel like a visit to a theme park, so I really appreciate the restaurant’s respect for ingredients. When you order a beet salad at Chalkboard, you get a mound of paper-thin beet shaving simply dressed and ready to stain your shirt. And when you order the tomato soup, you get roasted tomato bisque served with a toasted Bleu Cheese sandwich (because Chef Gil is French).

The infamous Southern Fried Chicken (top) and traditional Bouillabaisse (bottom) are complimented by a nice bottle of wine. Credit: Victoria Wiedel

Chalkboard’s most beloved menu item is the Southern fried chicken served with collard greens, a mountain of buttermilk mashed potatoes and smothered in white sausage gravy. This may be a French restaurant, but you wouldn’t know that from the portion sizes. The bill can add up during dinner service, but the restaurant runs different specials (such as kids eat free from 4 – 7 p.m. and half-price wine on Mondays).

That being said, Chef Langlois doesn’t shy away from getting creative with the dishes. Believe it or not, the dry-packed scallops served with sugar cured Kalamata olives, vanilla bean “mayo” and roasted walnuts is a combination that actually works. Perhaps that is because the ingredients are left to compliment, instead of compete against, each other.

The dessert list is never lengthy, but there is usually something that can tempt the table into sharing something sweet to cap off dinner. However, I’ve never been enticed to order the chocolate chip cookie dough eggroll, despite the promise of housemade caramel sauce.

The restaurant’s environs are equally comforting, although I can understand why some diners do not care for the unconventional chalkboard menu that vaguely states “salmon” and “mushroom salad.” It can be awkward (depending on your seat) to view and interpret the current menu, but the affable server never seems to mind my interrogation.

You can also try the fried chicken (along with waffles and something called a Duck McMuffin) during Sunday brunch, or lift your pinky during weekend afternoon tea service. The restaurant is closed on Tuesdays.

[ratings]

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