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Oct 19, 2007 02:46 PM

Phil Smidt's Closing

For those who have not yet heard, Phil Schmidt's is going to be closing it's doors tomorrow (Saturday) night. They were famous for their frog legs, lake perch, and fried chicken.

I have gone to the restaurant numerous times and will miss it. I thought those on here would be interested to know.

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  1. Thanks for posting the article! There are few restaurants in the country or in this world that thrived for nearly a century. I've never been to Phil Smidt's but I feel that it is important to recognize it's significance in being part of the local history and a tradition for so many happy family gatherings. Much like the demise of the Berghoff restaurant, it's sad to hear that Phil Smidt's is closing after 97 years.

    1. Wow. When I was a kid (more than a couple years ago), my family made it an outing to go to Phil Scmidts. We were always rewarded with great perch, frog legs, pickled beets, cottage cheese, great vinegar-based coleslaw and bean salad.

      The place has aged badly in recent years. I was there about 5 years ago and found the pink and black decor not nostalgic, but kind of silly. The food didn't taste like it used to and it cost way more than we thought it should have, but still I'll miss it.

      A fond farewell, Phil's. We loved ya in yer prime.

      1 Reply
      1. re: chicgail

        I was just there about a week or two ago. I agree, the food there has been a little iffy. It seems like whenever I would get the perch "boned", I would still find a number of bones in the fish.

        However, I have to say that this last time I was there, the fish was the best I have ever had in my life. There was not a single bone in there and it was just awesome.

        Yes, it will be sad, but I'm hoping that they relocate or open up shop somewhere in Chicago. From the rumors I hear, the owners are thinking about doing that. I mean, I think a lot of it had to do with the location.

      2. I was at Phil Schmidts the saturday the cubs played there last game for '07. There were 6-8 tables with customers. This is a 450 seat place. I always loved this place { boned and buttered perch } and have seen the crowds shrink. When i heard they were closing , I wanted to go one last time. The lot was full and people were standing in line. I have been going here 30+ years and never seen this. Why do people stay away and then when they hear its closing after 97 years they slam the place ? Will be missed very much.

        1. My father used to take us to Phil Schmidt's for special occasions and I remember going there, at my request, for lunch after my graduation from the University of Chicago. The food was excellent. Phil Schmidt died and the family bequeathed the restaurant to some community college in the area. The food quality plummeted when the community college hired someone to run the place. I heard that ownership had changed again and that the food quality had returned to near its original level, but by that time, I had moved to Florida. I assumed that Phil Schmidt's had long since closed and I'm truly sorry that I did not look it up during occasional trips back to the Calumet Region. It was a true landmark, an institution, and a memory that will be missed greatly. In its prime, the perch couldn't be beat.

          1. I know it's a long time since the closing of Phil Schmidt's, but I was wondering if anyone has found the recipe for their tartar sauce?? It's the best!! I understand it was published a long time ago in Gourmet magazine. Please help.

            1 Reply
            1. re: rsaks

              Phil Smidt & Son frog's legs and tartar sauce
              Prep: 15 minutes Cook: 5 minutes Makes: 8 servings

              From 1910 until it closed in 2007, Phil Smidt & Son of Hammond, Ind., was the place Chicagoans went for frog's legs and parsleyed tartar sauce. At its heyday, Smidt's served 2,000-plus pounds (35,000 pairs) of the legs and 12 gallons of tartar sauce a month. A little history: Original owner Smidt bowed out of the business in 1976 and bequeathed the restaurant to Calumet College. For four years, Mike Probst managed Smidt's for Calumet. Probst then bought the restaurant in 1980 and operated it through 2000. With Phil Smidt's closing, the name and rights to the restaurant went back to Probst who is talking to potential buyers about relaunching the concept in the Chicago area. To satiate many readers' frog's-leg cravings in the interim, Probst agreed to share Phil Smidt's original recipe. Order frog's legs from your local fish store.

              Tartar sauce:
              1 small bunch Italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped
              1 cup sweet dill pickles
              1/2 onion
              2 cups mayonnaise

              Frog's legs:
              Butter-flavored cooking oil, for frying
              1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
              2 tablespoons potato flour, optional
              1 1/2 teaspoons seasoned salt
              2 pounds frog's legs, the smaller the better

              Combine parsley, sweet pickles and onion in a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped. Transfer to a piece of cheesecloth; wrap. Squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Combine parsley mixture and mayonnaise in a bowl; mix well.

              Pour 1 inch of oil into a cast iron skillet; heat to 375 degrees over high heat. Mix flours and seasoned salt in a shallow dish. Place frog's legs in flour mixture; coat thoroughly, shaking off any excess. Fry in hot oil, turning once, until golden brown, 4-5 minutes. Season with salt to taste. Serve with tartar sauce.

              Nutrition information
              Per serving: 496 calories, 69% of calories from fat, 37 g fat, 5 g saturated fat, 97 mg cholesterol, 10 g carbohydrates, 28 g protein, 571 mg sodium, 1 g fiber