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TODAY

Saturday, June 15

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Who doesn't love to indulge in comfort food, particularly as winter seems to have approached Chicago quite suddenly, and harshly at that? And no doubt, southern cooking definitely lives up to its reputation as some of the best comfort food around. So on a freezing/snowy/icy/windy Saturday night, I was craving just that, and found it all at Wishbone. Wishbone is a fantastic pick for Southern-style eats, with a Cajun flair kicking it up a notch. They serve up this down-home southern comfort food in a casual and relaxed atmosphere. And what's more, they have very budget-friendly prices (even for this miser of a post-college grad). The restaurant is large and spacious, so there's none of that sitting directly next to your dining neighbors, catching parts of their conversation. The décor is interesting, with a rather eclectic mix of art on the walls (keeping you entertained while waiting for your food), and the dim orange-tinted light makes you feel all warm and fuzzy.

For a Saturday night, Wishbone seemed to have a steady crowd, but was by no means swamped. We didn't have to wait for a table, and the service was terrific and attentive the entire night. As soon as we sat down we were brought a plate of fantastic cornbread muffins and potato bread. The cornbread was ultra-moist and crumbly -- a great way to start off your meal and whet your appetite.

The menu is extensive, and there is something for every type of eater -- lots of seafood choices, such as blackened catfish and crab/crawfish cakes, numerous vegetarian options, such as stuffed eggplant, and a wide selection of chicken, beef, burgers, and salads, as well as Creole-inspired dishes like jambalaya. They also have a rotating daily menu insert with additional special choices, and special side options too.

I opted for black bean cakes, which were made with chopped green onions, corn, red bell peppers, and cilantro (one of my absolute favorite flavors). It was served with a mango-jalapeno salsa, giving me some heat. I also got a choice of two sides, and there were so many to choose from: everything from your standard collard greens, black eyed peas and okra to red beans and rice, mac and cheese and mashed potatoes. I can never say no to macaroni and cheese (talk about comfort food!), so I went with that, and green beans sautéed with mushrooms. The entire meal was delicious, well-prepared and immensely satisfying. My dining partner ordered stuffed eggplant (on the daily special menu), red beans and rice, and the green beans as well, and was equally pleased.

The presentation was impressive for such a low-key affordable restaurant -- portion sizes were perfect or leaning toward the generous side, and we both cleaned our plates happily (darn, no leftovers). The food was all fresh, and the tastes were solidly pleasing -- and, of course, comforting. As I keep mentioning, the prices are super-affordable. My entrée was $7.95, and I don't think I saw anything on the menu over $15. Considering the amount of food you get, it's a true bargain.

The desert menu was equally tempting and fabulous, with so many choices it was nearly impossible to choose. All priced between $3-$4, there were southern favorites like chocolate pecan pie and sweet potato pie, along with a red velvet cake, carrot cake and a bread pudding that sounded so divine that we decided to share it. This was truly one of the best desserts I've had in quite awhile. For $3.50, this was a gigantic slice of moist, cinnamony goodness, drenched in caramel and served with a side dish of decidedly homemade whipped cream. It was melt-in-your mouth good, and we polished it off in no time. Suffice to say, soon afterwards I was in a food-induced coma, looking forward to breaking out the elastic waistbanded sweatpants at home.

Overall, I highly recommend Wishbone for a casual, affordable, delicious meal, especially if you’re craving a meal to get you through a cold winter night. I would even go back there for just coffee and dessert. You truly get the most bang for your buck, complete with a relaxed atmosphere and great service. They also have a decent list of cocktails, beer and wine by the glass and bottle.

I also hear they have a wonderful and popular brunch (rumored to be one of the best in the city), for which you do have to wait in line -- at least that's the word on the street. I intend to check this out.

Wishbone is located at 3300 N. Lincoln Ave. They are open from 7am to 3pm on Mondays, 7am to 10pm Tuesday through Fridays, 8am to 10pm on Saturday and 8am-9pm on Sunday. Brunch is served from 8am-2:30pm on Saturday and Sunday.

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About the Author(s)

Kim Conte is on vacation, returning next week.
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