Last week’s dining out appears to have been brought to us by the letter “M.” First, Matilda’s in Lakeview, where we watched Michigan (really, what is going on here?) win the Sugar Bowl, and than Maude’s Liquor Bar in West Loop. Surprisingly, while Matilda’s and Maude’s are conceptually very different restaurants, the same word can be used to describe both: cozy.
Matilda’s considers itself a “dynamic bar/restaurant that cannot be categorized within the boundaries of its licenses.” I would categorize Matilda’s as a great place to watch a game (especially for Michigan fans), with large screens, artsy tables, and excellent service. In fact, when the kitchen was pounded all at once with orders, since everyone in the restaurant was on the same game schedule that night, our very nice waitress offered us free drinks. Also of note, Matilda’s is 23 and over.
I was also impressed by the number of healthy selections on Matilda’s menu. While there was plenty of the typical bar fare – chips and salsa, nachos, quesadillas – there were also several salads, hummus and pita, and flatbreads. I went for the fancy mixed greens, a salad with raisins, walnuts, crumbled bleu cheese, granny smith apple slices, and balsamic vinaigrette. I opted to include grilled chicken to add some lean protein to the dish and asked for the dressing on the side. I also skipped the bleu cheese crumbles. I’m not a huge bleu cheese fan, and at about 240 calories and 19 grams of fat per ½ cup, I’d rather just skip it. The salad would have been great if not for the apples, which were mealy and completely unappetizing.
A few nights later some friends and I hit up Maude’s Liquor Bar for drinks and appetizers, where I loved the tastefully over-decorated plush old-school French decor. Having been introduced to the wonderful world of St. Germain’s elderflower liqueur at Sable a few weeks back, I immediately honed in on Maude’s St. Germain’s fizz, made with Death Door’s vodka, aperol, and St. Germain. Delicious. I have definitely found my new drink.
For my appetizer, I opted for Maude’s half dozen oysters, served raw with cocktail sauce and horseradish. So long as you don’t have cholesterol issues, oysters are a wonderfully low calorie dish. And by ordering the oysters, and also because I was have a very generous and gracious friend, I got to nibble on the appetizer she ordered, the otherworldly French Onion Fondue. Made with caramelized onion and gruyere, the fondue, which was not your typical vat of cheese, had a beautiful smoky flavor that was rustic and sophisticated all at once and paired perfectly with the crusty white bread served along side.
Try Matilda’s at 3101 N. Sheffield Ave. and Maude’s at 840 W. Randolph St.