-Grubbing in Chicago
New to the 'Scene'.
Summertime Chicago is a beautiful thing. Although this current one has been almost unbearable with the heat factor forcing many like myself to stay indoors wear the AC is on low. Eventually the temperatures will be a little more bearable and when they are I like to dine at places with nice outdoor seating. A recent article in the Red Eye which I read at the gym featured some of Chicago's hottest "eating" and dining streets and speaking of good places with outdoor seats and a street I think will join the hot blocks to dine on scene, Three Aces on Taylor Street is where were headed today.
a new young hip peoples favorite on Taylor Street
Three Aces is described on its website and Twitter account as "The Italian Countryside Meets the American farmhouse in Keith Richards Basement Bar" and its not a bad description at all. This place is geared toward a younger crowd that's taking over this part of Taylor Street that once wasn't as hopping as the other parts but with the empty lot across the street as well as other spaces available I think Three Aces will set off this little strip as the next popular spot to open a hip and happening place. I've been a few times most recently with my family and before that it was nice enough to sit outside where they have a really nice patio for people to do so.
They did a really nice job with this old space that used to be a Bar Louie and before that an old school Italian restaurant. It's got a rock and roll vibe inside with a bar area to greet you as well as plenty of tables to sit at. You can play pool or hop into the old school photo booth while you eat and drink. Its a cool place to have in the new University Village neighborhood. They even have a spectacular special for the college crowd on Monday's when their pizzetta is half price. They make some good pizza here and I pretty much like them all and think that the calabrese with spicy salami is really good but the ram merguez and pork belly pies are without a doubt their two best.
Ram sausage w/ roasted baby carrots, goat cheese, local greens, pistachio oil & chile
Everyone in my big family dinner which we celebrated my birthday during agreed that these two were the best and we tried them all. The pork belly was great with charred crispy edges and a spectacular combination of flavors incl. the pork belly with pickled spring onions, sun dried tomato pesto, ricotta salata, calabrian chiles and honey. They have a nice selection of menu items ranging from bar food like the pizza and others like duck fat chips and arancini. I remember really liking this offering below which included some really solid braised meat. They took this old school Italian dish up another level.
I've tried their Clams Calabrese twice and had mixed results. On one visit when we sat outside I think they might of been a special but don't remember if they were already on the menu like they are now. The first time this dish really shined with some nice plump manilla clams inside an excellent pork belly wine sauce broth with the spice from the Calabrian chile being an excellent addition to clams which are a favorite of mine. The most recent visit we made this dish was below average unfortunately. The clams were very tiny. I know they are naturally but these had barely any meat that wanted to come off. They say they give a 1/2 pound but the 2nd time around there was no way that's how much there were. The baked oysters are pretty good and nice to have as a snack option if your drinking one of their house cocktails or one of the many fine beers they have on tap and in bottles and cans.
I knew I would be a fan of the Bolognese fries before I ever tried them just from reading the description. How could hand cut fries topped with their house special Bolognese sauce and Parmesan not be good? They are indeed pretty great. These will make a great winter time snack as they are pretty heavy but very hearty. Think of these as an Italian take on chili cheese fries.
On the "mill" section of the menu they have a Bruschetta as well as house made ricotta gnocchi and Goat Cheese Caramelle. At my bday dinner we decided as a table to try the caramelle. The caramelle is a house made pasta which is served al dente in tube form. Inside of the pasta is citrus goat cheese, arugula pesto, toasted walnuts and parmesan. I thought this dish was an excellent eat for summer. It was pretty citrusy but it all worked out with the pesto and al dente pasta paired with everything else. The Steelhead tartare was another great eat in this summer of heat. It was served with beet chips, caper berries, chervil, lemon, Fresno chiles, cucumber and chives. Very cooling and an item I would order again.
I'm not the biggest fan of octopus unless its cut up in smaller pieces but my entire family enjoyed their Grilled offering of it. I thought it was really good too and worked really well with the white beans, watercress puree, Italian sambal, cured lemon, sundried tomato and black garlic. Yet another very nice summertime snack. They do a good job with their menu changing it up as the seasons go by and service is really nice. Don't be afraid of the fact everyone has tattoos. Its a rock and roll atmosphere. My uncle wanted to know if they had a parlor in back. In fact the night we went for my bday recently the waitress that took care of us was great. She was friendly and very patient and ready to answer any questions my family asked. Most of which had nothing to do with the food or menu.
But for me the star of the show in what I've tried thus far at Three Aces is their burger. The Ace Burger as it's called and an ace it is. This one has Cy Young stuff. Their beef is magnificent and easily the best part about this burger and that better be the case if you want to be one of the best. Its a little loose because it's a fresh blend and when they add some bacon jam with aged cheddar, trimmings, aioli, garlic and hops pickle it becomes one of the best "fancy" burgers I have had. The house cut fries served with a little lemon zest and parsley come with a magnificent aioli and I couldn't stop eating those despite eating most of what you see up above. We had to pass on their steak but we all decided we'd be back. I know I'll be back for another burger. And sooner than later.
Ace Burger at Three Aces
1321 West Taylor Street
Chicago, IL 60607