From Suckling Pig to Fried Chicken Sandwiches and Steak/Frites

Mon Ami Gabi

Nothing says bistro like steak/frites, and no one does steak/frites better than Mon Ami Gabi, a Lettuce Entertain You Enterprise restaurant that’s celebrating its 22nd birthday this year.   

“It’s our best selling dish,” executive chef Susan Weaver says. “We offer the steak finished with four sauces other than the Classique, but none of them sell as well as the original.”

To begin at the beginning, Mon Ami Gabi uses prime beef, the top grade given to meat. The steak is a top sirloin, a cut with less  marbling than “luxury” cuts like a New York strip or a bone-in ribeye. Fat carries flavor, so a cut of beef with more fat will be, inherently, more flavorful than a leaner cut. Obviously, there’s a point where a cut can have too much fat, but I’ll leave that discussion for a future date.

img_6514The steak is  marinated overnight in a mix of cracked black pepper, crushed garlic and olive oil. With a thinly cut steak like top sirloin, it’s important to pound the meat until it’s the same thickness throughout.

Weaver observes, “One of the beauties of the dish is how well the thinness of the steak pairs with the thinness of the hand-cut frites. They’re a perfect match.”

Both the steak and the frites need to be cooked quickly, the first on the grill, the second in the deep fryer. The cooked steak is topped with a sizable dollop of butter seasoned with herbs, garlic and a hint of citrus. Watercress, which has just a touch of acidity that partners well with the richness of the butter, is used as a garnish.

Mon Ami Gabi offers four classic French sauces that can be ordered in lieu of the Classique: Au Poivre, Bordelaise, Roquefort and Bearnaise. All of the options are $24.95, a price in line with Mon Ami Gabi’s role, according to Weaver, as a “neighborhood” restaurant, albeit a neighborhood that’s one of the city’s best.

Mon Ami Gabi, 2300 N. Lincoln Park West  773.340.0006 Photo courtesy of Lettuce Entertain Upi Enterprises.


Only on Sunday

Sunday suppers are the bridge that connects the weekend to the rest of the week. Traditionally a leisurely meal enjoyed with friends and family, it’s a time for center- of -the-plate entrees like prime rib or leg of lamb. With this in mind, Bar Ramone recently debuted their only-on-Sunday suckling pig dinner.

“Suckling pig has always been ‘special’ in Spain,” Chef Alex Trim explains. “It’s a celebratory dish, something you can’t make for dinner on weekdays when you get home at 7pm. So when we decided to add a Sunday supper special, it was the ideal choice. And as an added bonus, dinner is BYOB for guests ordering the suckling pig special.”


suckling pig dinner at Bar Ramone

suckling pig dinner at Bar Ramone (photo courtesy of Lettuce Entertain You )

Served family-style, the pig dinner includes side dishes, such as whipped potatoes, home-baked baguettes with herbed olive oil and vinegar, roasted carrots and parsnips glazed with Pedro Jimenez, and a rich mustard pork jus. Dinner, which is served from noon to 9pm, is available in two sizes: the quarter pig ($69.95) serves 2-3, the half pig ($139.95) serves 4-6.

Bar Ramone,  441 N. Clark Street  312.985.6909 Photos courtesy of Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises.


Boxcar Betty’s

 Not being a fan of chicken breasts in general and boneless skinless chicken breasts in particular, I’m happy to report that Boxcar Betty’s has me giving serious thought to changing my mind about the whole fried chicken sandwich thing.

the Boxcar

the Boxcar

Maybe it’s the fact that the chickens are local and sustainably raised, or maybe it’s because the chicken is marinated overnight, and the sides are all made in-house. Whatever the reason, the signature Boxcar sandwich is habit forming, as are the sweet potato fries dusted with brown sugar and cinnamon.

The Ogilvie Station venue is Boxcar Betty’s first location outside of its home base in Charleston, South Carolina. Local franchisee Abbott Smith plans to open additional sites, while, at the same time, growing the catering and delivery side of the business. 

three different sandwiches with the Boxcar in the middle

three different sandwiches with the Boxcar in the middle

Boxcar Betty’s signature Boxcar sandwich is layered with pimiento cheese, peach slaw, pickles and spicy mayo. The chicken can be ordered grilled or fried, as is the case for the other variations.



Two sandwiches, one layered with bacon jam, maple syrup, pimiento cheese and tomato and another topped with a blue cheese sauce, are also available, as is a build-your-own option and a children’s menu.Vegetarians can swap out the chicken for pimiento-stuffed portobello mushroom caps, and if you’re cutting carbs, there are chicken tenders and an entree salad made with Bibb lettuce, candied pecans, fried green tomatoes, and a choice of protein. 

Boxcar Betty's housemate pickles

Boxcar Betty’s housemade pickles

Boxcar Betty’s is open for breakfast on weekdays. Think biscuits in lieu of buns with eggs as an add-on option. For dessert, there’s pie, milkshakes, and a float. Of course, you could also satisfy your sweet side by ordering a second round of sweet potato fries. 

Boxcar Betty’s is on the second floor of the Ogilvie Train Station. Turn right when you get off the escalator and then left at the “corner.” The restaurant is on the left, just before the pedway that connects the station with the adjacent office building.

Boxcar Betty’s, 500 W. Madison 312.496.3450 Photos courtesy of Boxcar Betty’s.



Restaurant Week January 24-February 9

 Barton G’s

At Barton G’s, the Restaurant Week dinner begins with a choice of Laughing Bird popcorn shrimp, short rib pop tarts or a seasonal chopped salad. Next up is a choice of pan roasted Atlantic salmon, chimichurri hanger steak, or golden roasted half chicken, followed by one of the restaurant’s signature desserts Dinner is $48, wow factor included.


Food on a table Description automatically generated

Barton G. The Restaurant, 415N. Dearborn St.


Bub City

Dinner at Bub City ($36) includes a choice of starter, an entree, a side and a slice of homemade pie. Included in the options are an 18-hour smoked beef brisket, BBQ Atlantic salmon, roasted beets with candied walnuts and goat cheese, baby back ribs, and Phoebe’s Mac and Cheese.

Bub City, 435 N. Clark St.

Wildfire (various locations)

Lunch ($24) at Wildfire (various locations) begins with soup or a Caesar salad. Next up are sandwiches like the buttermilk chicken sandwich and the open-faced Mediterranean salmon sandwich, along with Chicken Moreno and a mushroom crusted pork chop. For dessert, there’s Key lime pie and flourless chocolate.

For dinner ($48), starters include shrimp and crab bisque, while Parmesan -crusted New York strip steak, petite filet mignon, and honey mustard glazed pork chop. To finish, there’s chocolate cream pie, Key lime pie, and carrot cake.

Chinese New Year

The 2020 Chinese New Year Dumpling Making Dinner is scheduled for Saturday, January 18 and Saturday 1 at 3:30 at Hing Kee Restaurant in Chinatown. The program includes a performance of the Chinese Lion Dance, a lesson in dumpling making, story telling, and dinner. The event is $45 per person, $40 for children under 12.

To make reservations, call 312.842.1988 or check online at



Leave a comment