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Restaurant Wed Mar 12 2008

Cafe Ballou: Off the Menu

My server asked what I, as a vegan, wanted to see her serve. I took that as license to order whatever I wanted that could be reasonably made with what the cafe already stocked: a bagel with hummus and loaded with veggies. She filled in the details. Sunflower seeds loaded my multigrain bagel sandwich, warm and served open-face, each side with hummus and then sliced cucumber, tomato, red onion, red cabbage and greens, perhaps beet greens. She had asked after bringing out my first order, an English muffin on a dainty plate with a dollop of jelly. Sometimes their soup is vegan, she told me.

I became the official doorman at Cafe Ballou near the end of my visit, or so our server joked. I'd been closing the nearby door that had perhaps given up on a long life of reliable latching. Two storefront windows flanked the door, providing clear views of fluffy snow falling outside. Tables on the window ledges lured customers up. Sepia photos hung on parchment colored walls, above a wood floor, and below white tin ceilings. Marble tops set into wooden tables that held small shaded table lamps. In the middle of the cafe, across from the counter, upholstered armchairs stood around a table and over a rug. Free internet. (773) 342-2909. 939 N. Western.

Illinois Master Gardener / March 16, 2008 5:55 AM

Sounds like this place is a must visit! The establishment that can take their service to the next level, by changing their menu up a bit to comply with a customer's request, gets top preference in my book!

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Jesse Valenciana knew what he wanted his mole-inspired stout to taste like, but he was a cook and home brewer, not a professional brewmaster. The co-founder of ManBQue, the local men's grilling and social club, and recent author needed a...
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