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Monday, March 27

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Restaurant Wed Aug 07 2013

A Serviceable Slice of France @ Troquet

20130731_194759_1.jpgIt's tricky to put your finger on why one place, bar, restaurant feels comfortable, why you find yourself lingering at one more than another. Troquet, the "neighborhood French bar by LM" in Ravenswood (1834 W. Montrose Ave.) is that place for me, that place I wish was around the corner from my apartment.

It's not much to look at, but that could be part of it too. The unassuming decor of dark woods with flairs of red here and there, wide windows, and music humming as unobtrusively as the TVs above the bar, make this the sort of space you can relax into. It's small, yet lively, with a mishmash of people. The guys in baseball caps eating at the bar, two women with laptops and drinks at a high table, a family eating and friends relaxing outside. I can see myself hanging out at the bar with a book, sipping a glass of wine, or a Kir Royal.

If I'm feeling particularly escapist, I like to pretend I'm in France (who doesn't?), which is easy because the categories of the specials on the chalkboard for aujourd'hui are written in French, and the menu is French-inspired with options like moules, croques, and confit de canard. The Kir Royal, a combination of cassis and sparkling wine, is a common aperitif in France.

On my last visit, I started with a new cocktail, the Gin Lemonade (London dry gin, basil-infused syrup and lemon juice) while my companion ordered a blueberry-take on a Dark and Stormy, a Blue and Stormy (spiced rum, muddled blueberry, lime juice and ginger beer). His drink kicked my drink's ass on inventiveness. Though refreshing, the Gin Lemonade was exactly what you'd expect (I wondered if my drink actually had any basil syrup). But rum and blueberries? This was new to me. The blueberries added just enough sweetness to balance out the dense flavors in the rum, plus the miracle that is ginger beer smoothed out the edges with some spritz and made the drink more easygoing, more summery. Blue and Stormy is now my preferred way to imbibe rum.

As it happened we were there on Wednesday, when the daily special is all-you-can-eat mussels for $12. I immediately announced I was ordering that while my friend ordered a croque végétarien (spinach, brie, caramelized onions) with an egg on top. The sandwich was "solidly good" as were my mussels mariniere, though the first batch was tepid. Round two was smaller than the first but the broth much warmer, allowing the flavors of garlic and thyme in the white wine broth to come through. Also better for dipping the frites (seriously, skip the ketchup).

Those two servings hit the spot, but a girl gets thirsty eating all this salty food. Sure enough, our server vanished, which was odd since he had been attentive. This was unexpected too, since previous visits all included friendly, excellent service. After finding him, then trying and failing to flag him down, we opted to skip the next drink round and just go.

A bit of a letdown, but everyone has their bad days. Still, I find myself wanting to go back because Troquet is the place you go to just grab a bite in a chill environment, or linger over drinks with friends, or just hangout on your own. Next time, I hope to snag one of the outdoor tables, where I can sip a Kir Royal and watch the neighborhood drift by.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
Read this feature »

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