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Chicago Report & New find: Crofton on Wells

j
Janet Traub Aug 25, 1998 02:26 AM

Just got back from 2 days of Chicago dining (and
shopping. For our shopperhounds: I found great clothes,
shoes and housewares in Lincoln Park on W. Armitage
from N Halstead thru about 7 blocks heading west)

Lunched at Topolobampo and enjoyed the same Vera Cruz
menu Dave mentioned in his recent thread. I was
pleasantly surprized to find the desserts at Topo were
really special. They weren't at all the usual Mexican
flan, fried ice cream offerings. I had a fabulous
blueberry tart with a tender puff paste crust still
warm from oven and with a wonderfully fresh-butter
taste. Menu said it was served with peach slices but I
got mangoes. The tart was so good, and so was the
homemade vanilla ice cream with it, that I didn't mind
the unannouced substitute.

Had a dinner at Gilles in Highland Park (also mentioned
in the recent Chicago thread) and it was very good,
very authentic French staff, service and menu. The
dining room was empty on a Thurs night so I hope it
survives.

My new find:
Crofton on Wells (535 N. Wells St. 312-755-1790) Near
Topolobampo.

(surf the link below & use their "Search" feature to
find a full review, along with reviews for other new
Chicago restauarants/bars)

Female chef-owner Suzy Crofton. Fabulous meal.

Highlights:
Sauted fois gras appetizer (with sweet potato puree and
roasted mission figs all served layered like a torte)
with the glass of Saturnes the waitress suggested. It
was a dish like that scallop appetizer(?) at Daniel
Ruthie Reichel once described where
you didn't want to speak while eating it lest you miss
out on even one subtle flavor dimension.

Roasted halibut entree with fava beans and a white
truffle oil broth with julienne vegetables was also
phenom. The venison entree with wild huckleberries was
delicious too.

Our dessert was very good too but sadly I can't
remember what it was--a chocolate something. An even
better choc dessert in Indianapolis the following night
at a casual place called Snax wiped out all memory.

Janet

Link: http://www.chicagomag.com

  1. j
    jonathan gold Sep 16, 1998 01:39 PM

    I hate to dissent on this one, but I went
    to Crofton on Wells for lunch last week, and
    had some of the oddest food I've ever had
    in a restaurant. The ``crab cakes'' were
    at least 90% scrambled egg by weight, and
    a mango-vodka-chile-oyster shooter was just
    plain scary.

    A grilled octopus appetizer
    was seasoned in the manner of somebody
    randomly grabbing Korean seasonings off a
    shelf.Slices of capon in a salad had the
    texture of wet tissue, and the rice in
    an asparagus risotto was actually half-raw.

    I believe that you had a great dinner, but
    I fled from the place and had a much
    more satisfying lunch (grilled shrimp
    on sugar cane, seared scallops with a fresh-
    corn/crawfish ``succotash,'' the best
    black bean soup I've ever had and an
    astonishing '94 grand cru Pinot Gris from
    Zind-Humbrecht) just around the corner at
    Harvest on Huron.

    1 Reply
    1. re: jonathan gold
      j
      Janet Traub Oct 16, 1998 01:33 PM

      Hi Jonathon,

      sorry to be picking up this thread a month later. Just
      now saw your followup report. I'm sincerely sorry to
      hear it was so ourageously bad.

      The only suspicious thing I noticed on my visit was the
      female chef (who I read was also the owner) was up at
      the hostess stand all night when we went there. I'm
      pretty sure that was her doing reservations because
      when we told our waitress at the end of the meal
      that we had a general cooking question (about truffle
      oil) for the chef, the waitress went up to this hostess
      and then came back with her answer. Led us to wonder
      who was cooking the great food we were eating?
      Obviously not that same one who was fixing your lunch.

      Thanks for posting. Scratch that place!

    2. j
      Josh Mittleman Aug 25, 1998 09:38 AM

      >Sauted fois gras appetizer (with sweet potato puree
      >and roasted mission figs all served layered like a
      >torte) with the glass of Saturnes

      Ooooh. I might have held out for Muscat Beaumes de
      Venise, but the dish sounds wonderful.

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