A few days ago, a girlfriend of mine called me up to meet for lunch. She’d just taken a new position at a PR firm in Chicago and had, therefore, acquired a couple of new accounts of the best kind: restaurants. She suggested we meet at one of her new places that she hadn’t tried yet. You can imaging how I laughed when she told me to meet her at e.leaven on Ontario St. I explained that the only other e.leaven food company in existence is, literally, one block from where I grew up in Jackson, Wy. Such a small world! And although I’d driven by it a couple of times, I’d never been in to the Chicago location, so I more than happily agreed.
Rarely do I order only salad. I mean, it’s good in theory and sometimes I think I’m going to, but when it comes time to pull the trigger, I usually weaken and choose something more interesting. But this time I was going to be good, darn it! I was sure of it! So I ordered the Chopped Mediterranean.
Good? Definitely. “Market Fresh”? That might be a stretch. Roasted red peppers, chickpeas, capers and peperoncini were most certainly from a jar or can, but the combination including the feta and light red wine vinaigrette made it a satisfying salad, none the less. The best part, by far, are the homemade croutons from various leftover loaves, where rye and caraway seeds lent something interesting and unique to an otherwise relatively common salad.
My lunch date opted for the BLT with goat cheese.
In theory, this is an excellent idea, no? Crispy, smoky bacon, juicy tomato, fresh lettuce, creamy, tangy cheese. Maybe I’m just picky but with so few ingredients, each one really has to pull it’s weight, don’t you think? In this case, unfortunately, the mealy, mediocre tomato brought everyone else down. Isn’t it summertime yet? Can’t we get good tomatoes yet? The bacon, too, would have had a better chance at hitting the mark had it been more recently cooked rather than sitting around waiting for us to order him. The golden-brown, crispy sourdough was beautiful, though, even if the rest didn’t quite come together as well as one would hope. And the home made potato chips were wonderful, too. Thick, crunchy and salty… what else can a girl ask for?
The real treat, however, was the Short Rib Sandwich. Yes. Listen up, everybody. SHORT RIB SANDWICH. OMG. I wanted to devour this entire thing in the blink of an eye and never look back. Sooo good.
It was so flavorful! The meat was moist and, well, meaty. Then add the sweetness from the caramelized leeks, the salty, nuttiness of the Manchego and the tangy, creaminess of the horseradish sauce and you’ve got yourself a hell of a sandwich!
The sad, sad truth of the matter is that this sandwich is not on the menu in JH. My suggestion to all of you Jacksonites is that you immediately get yourselves to e.leaven, get on your knees and BEG for them to add it. Trust me. You’ll thank me later. As for you lucky dogs in Chicago, don’t take this for granted. Just go get one.
Here’s what happened to the rest of our food when the Short Rib Sandwich arrived… Abandoned!
See. All smiles when it comes to the short rib sammy.
Oh, and I hear they’re doing some new delicious stuff for Fathers’ Day like Steak & Eggs with beer molasses demi-glaze with candied spaghetti squash. The specials are going to be a total score since they’re all under 10 bucks.
Both locations are clean and open with big windows that let in lots of light. I like that. The service is casual counter service and, at least in my experience in Chicago, quick and friendly. What else is there?
The Short Version (Out of 10)…