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A question about think cafe...

  • v

So I'm thinking of taking some friends to Think Cafe after the basically unanimous reviews, but it seems like it has changed recently (or maybe not so recently). From what I can tell, it used to be a lot less formal cafe type place. Can someone explain the change to me? Is it still recommended? Thanks!

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  1. It hasn't been an informal cafe type place for about two years at this point. It's now a casual dinner place.

    The food, last time I was there (before the expansion and before Check Please, maybe a year ago) was good. The salads are especially recommended, as is the seafood soup and the skirt steak.

    I would particularly avoid the desserts, which have never been very good in my experience.

    1. I went about a month ago and was really disappointed. the food was mediocre, though impressive in that it was made in a one-man kitchen. My appetizer, my entree, and my husband's entree all featured the same very lemony, thyme-y sauce. As a result, everything tasted the same. Also, the place is wayyy too crowded, and you get the feeling that the staff can barely keep up. Finally, my husband got sick off the mussels.

      On the bright side, you can bring your own booze.

      1. I went for my birthday last weekend and thought it was fantastic. Granted, the appetizers and entrees took a little longer than we anticipated, but with two bottles of wine waiting in the chiller, who cares? For the appetizer, there was prosciutto, asparagus spears, drizzled in truffle oil. My friend and I both ordered the rack of lamb, which was tender and intensely flavorful. We had the chocolate mousse desert which was decent, but the friend who recommended the place said that their organic apple tart with a creme brulee layer is ridiculously good. I would definitely go back.

        1. we live nearby and have been there a half a dozen times or so. we went in jeans on Saturday night and had a nice meal. there was a small wedding reception taking place upstairs. i think it's what you make of it.

          1. My wife and I have not only eaten at Think about 6 times but each and every time we have dined there we had great meals all around. My friends and family who now eat there regularly love the food and the BYOB ability. I cannot remember so much as one bad course over the past 2 years. So consider this my hearty recommendation. Or maybe we were just lucky with over 20 courses over time. Oh, and we love the desserts. To each his own.

            1. We live near there, but tend not to go too often. The food is fine, but seems a bit overpriced. It seems very heavily Italian, and there are places we like better for that sort of food. The BYO is a plus, though.

              1. THINK AGAIN (before going here)
                I recently went to Think Cafe for one of my close friends farewell dinner in Chicago before she moved to NYC. There were about 6 ladies in our party. We had heard rave reviews about this place and were excited to try it out (and especially liked the idea of BYOB). The disappointments started the minute we walked in on time for our 8pm reservation. A stocky lady greeted us at the front door with "Party of 6, your table is upstairs through the hall, I'm sorry I won't be able to walk you to your table".
                Ok, not a big deal we thought. And so, we blindly walked upstairs to a corner table on the top floor and were seated about 5 minutes later by another waitress.

                Wine Please? 25 minutes later, we were still waiting for a corkscrew and wine glasses. No waitress or menu in sight. Finally, someone arrived and told us that because we were 6 people (our table seated 7) we were going to be moved back downstairs as they had a table of 8 coming in next. Um, the table we were currently at seated only 7??
                We moved back downstairs to the main room. This time, we were pleasantly surprised by our waitress who immediately apologized for the wait and got us our menus. Finally, some wine.
                Ok, now we were going to have a good meal.

                We ordered our food (4 entrees of the $37 filet mignon special, gazpacho, and an entree size caprese salad). First came the gazpacho, mediocre at its best. Then came the filets. Mine was ordered 'medium rare' and was half decent. Three of my friends ordered theirs 'medium well'.... which all came back 'rare'. Not 'medium rare', but 'rare'. Blood dripping when cut. It was sent back to the kitchen. The waitress reappeared with the 3 steaks cooked to how we ordered it and apologized. Ofcourse by then, 2 of us had already eaten our meals before it all got cold.

                All our meals arrived except for the caprese salad. How long does it take to slice tomatoes, mozzarella, basil and plate? About 20 minutes later (when the rest of the table was almost done eating, the average caprese salad appeared). We had had enough. We summoned the stocky lady who seemed to be in charge. She stood above us and pretty much threw her employee under a bus by profusely telling us how the waitress didn't know what she was doing and that there were other complaints about her. My friend shortly after took up for the poor waitress and told her that our waitress was one of the better experiences that night. We also complained about the bad service, the mismatched timings of the plates for our table, and the wrong temperature of our food. After all, this was supposed to be a special night. The stocky lady, instead of being a good hostess retorted "Well, we have never had any compaints at our restaurant with our food or service. Everyone loves this place!" (she obviously had never looked up previous reviews of her restaurant on city search) She was just short of telling us that maybe it was us who were the problem. We just nodded our heads in amazement. After that she added "Oh, I don't mean to say you are bad people, Oh god no, if I had thought you were bad people, I would tell you to get the *bleep* out of here"!!!

                OK. NOW we really had enough. Not only had we endured bad service and mediocre food but it was just getting insulting by then. This wasn't a table of rogues she was talking to. It was a table of well travelled 30-somethings that included a doctor, dentist, lawyer, designer and other professionals. Infact, that night I wished I was a reporter for a newspaper doing a blind review. She offered to make it up to us by giving us a desert freebie. No thank you. We were completely put off at this point and just asked for the check. In the end, she took off about 15% off our total. Thank you stocky lady.

                This was an unfortunate dining experience. I would definitely not recommend this place to anyone. It's not worth your time nor money. And the attitude from the lady (who we later learned owns this place) is not very nice. I have however heard good things about her husband who is the chef. Someone should let him know of his wife's hopitality on the restaurant floor.

                4 Replies
                1. re: j chitown

                  i went about 1.5 years ago. the food was great. but at the end of our meal, we were still working on our wine when they brought us the check. when we didn't pay right away, someone actually came and told us to leave because there were other people waiting!!
                  1) we still had wine left in our glasses
                  2) we had made reservations weeks ahead of time!

                  1. re: j chitown

                    Yes, we experienced a similar thing from the owner. When asked by our waiter "how was your food" I said "well, the sauce was way too sweet" - mind you, I didn't volunteer this untii asked. And I certainly didn't want to be comped or anything, I just thought, well if you're going to ask, I'll tell you.

                    So the waiter went across the room and mentioned it to her, and she said "well, it's a GLAZE" or some such. In such a nasty tone of voice, so loud that anyone could hear her, and if that look she gave me could kill, I'd be on the floor. Yes, it was supposed to be a sweet sauce, but this was like someone poured honey over the steak. The scorn that just came out of her, it was terrible.

                    1. re: leek

                      I know. She was awful. We were so insulted after our meal. Bad Bad Bad idea to go there. Apparently she is the owner's wife. Thanks for your response. I'm sorry you guys had similar experiences at that place. I have never written a bad review for a restaurant but I felt compelled to write about our experience at this place because of how bad it was.

                      1. re: j chitown

                        My understanding is the chef is the owner's husband. That is, I think she's the actual owner, but the relationship is flipped for appearances (the "chef-owner" vibe).

                        But I don't know if that's still the case. I haven't been since before they were on check please, and with so many other better restaurants at that price point, I can't see making an effort to go back. BYO doesn't affect me.

                  2. Another bad-ish Think experience: incompetent waiter with heavy gay attitude...wasn't sure he could find an ice bucket for our supposedly oddly-shaped bottle of mueller-thurgau(of course when he deigned to bring out the regular champagne bucket our bottle fit perfectly). He then proceeded to defer to my three other dining companions and completely ignore me(no eye contact) to the extent, absurdly, I had to remind him to take my order!!! Which p-o'ed me no end.

                    The s/o n I were entertaining his aunt and her friend from Virginia and thought Think would be a great idea.

                    Good thing-esque: the scallop appetizer we ordered offered some of the best scallops I've ever had.

                    Meh-things: virtually every item on the menu included the same roasted pepper sauce.

                    In general the food was just okay. There were no outright misses. But, between the waiter's messed-up attitude, the wine "issue," and the shrug of a meal I figure Think chugs along on that peculiar Wicker Park hype that elevates the mediocre to destination status(see: Sultan's Market, Papajin, and that trio of taquerias).