Papagus - Oakbrook
- Bill Pisarra, Jr.
Papagus is in the Oakbrook shopping center. The mother ship is in Chicago, but I haven't been to that one.
Ignore the Disney decor - there's some great food here.
Grilled octopus app is outstanding - incredibly tender and tasty pieces, mixed with tomatoes and chicory. I can't think of better octopus anywhere. The dish has shrunk in size over time, alas....but you still can't beat it.
Spanakopita is also outstanding. Ordering it as an app gets you a huge rectangle, so plan on splitting it. Top layers of perfect phyllo, then a thick and creamy layer of spinach and feta, with a hint of dill. Fabulous.
Braised lamb is fork tender and melting in a light tomato sauce, on orzo. Aunt Olga's chicken comes out golden, still in the skillet, sprinkled with
dried currants. And they know what they are doing grilling fish.
Plate watching, generous bowls of various pastas look inviting, as do the three tennis ball sized meatballs on a plate.
One Sunday we saw an elderly lady, dressed to the nines, floating among the tables dispensing pasta from a big bowl. Clearly not one of the staff, so we asked. Turns out it's the owner's mother, who "likes to come down once in a while," make a little something, and go around handing it out in her Sunday best. Now, ya gotta love that.
I am not much of a dessert guy, but the bogatsa was good, and the chocolate and fig pudding excellent. The latter comes out cold, big enough for two, thick enough to slice, and with a skin. You can spend half an hour eating your share....wee little bites are intense enough to last a minute. Have a few Turkish - oops! oh gawd, GREEK coffees - and you're set.
Wine appears to be all Greek, which is Greek to me. If you like an ouzo or two, as I do, there's lots to choose from.
Check it out. I hope the one in the city is as good. Or..its a straight shot out the Eisenhower, and a stone's throw from the highway...worth a weekend expedition. Would love to hear how folks fare.
i wasnt very impressed the first time i ate at papagus chicago. walking out of the very greek looking restaurant into this awful, bland hotel lobby to find the bathroom sort of destroyed the mood. i dont like erzatz decorations. BUT....the culinary historians of chicago had a lunch at papagus/chicago last year. The owner, who is greek, presided over the event and his obvious passion for authenticity and high quality ingredients totally won me over. not to mention the food, it was a real feast. he clearly gave us more than we had paid for and with such love in his heart for his country and its food that i was totally won over. and i still remember the incredibly thick, pristine yoghurt with honey and walnuts we had for dessert. i now would reccommend the place highly, in spite of its setting.