Anyway, my mini-MxMo is a review of the Maple Tree Inn in Chicago. It truly is a little piece of the Big Easy in the Second City. They have all sorts of New Orleans specialties from crawfish etouffee to barbecue shrimp, and, of course, classics like fille gumbo and jambalaya. The bar, meanwhile, serves probably the most authentic sazeracs and hurricanes in the Windy City, and has an excellent beer selection as well with twenty brews on tap. This is a bar that never put “appletinis” or even cosmos on its menu, but would be more than happy to serve you an old fashioned with your choice of Angostura or Peychoud’s bitters, and probably has a bottle of orange bitters behind the bar as well. With that said, I doubt the barstaff have ever even heard of Jeffery Morgenthaller or Paul Clarke, or anyone else who writes online about the resurgence of classic cocktails, but they cannot imagine a world where you cannot get a properly made negroni or Manhattan, and have been making them the same way for thirty years.
Charlie, the owner, is a great guy, and is vaguely reminiscent of the walrus that serves as the inn’s mascot, and, if you give him notice, is more than happy to mix up specialties that aren’t on the menu. My parents swear that one of his shrimp dishes is the best example in the world. I call it “shrimp beyond veal” since I have absolutely not idea how to spell it. My best shot would be shrimp bingion vie. If you have any idea about the dish to which I refer, please let me know in the comments.
The restaurant is liberally decorated with various Marti Gras style decorations, especially during that time of year, as well a folk- or liberal posters and slogans. A recent visit had signs suggesting that January 20th, 2008 would be the end of America’s great mistake. Other signs suggest that you drink more, though only quality hooch. Meanwhile, the restaurant’s motto is “Sit long, talk much.” and if you aren’t talking enough, Charlie will come talk with you.
Good food, good drink, good service, good atmosphere, good prices. What else can you ask for? Check it out:
Charlie’s Maple Tree Inn and Louisiana Brasserie
13301 S Western [That’s Old Western, there are two Western’s in Blue Island]
Blue Island, IL 60406
Or give them a call at (708) 388.3461.
I bid you good eating,