Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Chicago Dining World Tour: When in Little Bucharest, Do as the Romanians Do

Little Bucharest
3661 Elston, Chicago

What I ate: Ciorba de Perisaure (meatball & vegetable soup), Charbroiled Sausages, Braised Short Rib Goulash, Chocolate Ganache, Apple Streudel

Little Bucharest Bistro is a prime example of a restaurant I likely never would have noticed, cared about, remembered or patronized if not for overtly seeking ethnic eateries to explore on my Chicago Dining World Tour.

Although i have traversed Elston Avenue numerous times, it was only in early 2013 that while riding with my friend Ken--who accompanied me on several "Sethnic dining" expeditions, including this one--that I noted Little Bucharest, just a tad north of Addison.

I kept it in mind over several months, though for awhile couldn't recall if it was Little Bucharest or Little Budapest.

Ironically, I had to go to Budapest itself last year to eat at a Hungarian restaurant, but went with Ken to the Romanian one in Chicago in mid-December.

Also ironically, when I mentioned my intention to try Little Bucharest to a friend at work, he said that he had just seen an offer for the restaurant from Amazon Local Deals.

So I purchased an offer of $30 worth of food for $15.

But this turned out to be fool's gold in a way.

First of all, as I noticed after buying it, the voucher wasn't valid on Saturday nights, which was when Ken and I preferred to go (we wound up going on a Sunday).

And we were told at the restaurant that, for no clear reason, the voucher couldn't be used in conjunction with the $28 3-course dinner featured on the menu. This essentially meant we wound up spending the $15 we had saved on dessert that otherwise would have been included.

So while the offer for Little Bucharest Bistro seems to be still offered by Amazon, I would be wary of its true value. 

The restaurant was a lot larger than one might have suspected, and rather attractively appointed. We were initially the only ones in the main dining room, but a little later live music was played and more patrons arrived. I enjoyed the European feel.

We were assisted by a waitress who seemed rather aloof, almost cold. So this was far from the best of my "Sethnic dining" excursions in terms of getting wonderful service and helpful suggestions.

But the food was good and the experience nonetheless enjoyable.

We both started with soup. Ken got "Ciorba de Borscht" Beet Soup, made of red beets with cabbage and a dollop of sour cream.

He declared it to be "delicious; very strong and beety."

I ordered Ciorba de Perisaure = meatball and vegetable soup. This was a rather large bowl and although the photo doesn't do it justice, there were lots of meatballs within the broth. I liked it.

For an appetizer, Ken and I shared an order of "Mititei" Charbroiled Sausages = beef and pork, garlic, served with greens and crispy polenta.

This was rather tasty, not only the sausages but the spinach and polenta as well. 

Though on most shared Chicago Dining World Tour stops, Ken and I have intently ordered different entrees so as to let me try a couple to write about, at Little Bucharest our eyes and taste buds were both drawn to the same thing:

"Bucharest Signature" Braised Short Rib Goulash, in which pieces of de-boned beef were mixed with tomato stew, green beans, pearl onions and homemade gnocchi.

We both really liked it, though I would have about half of it at home on a subsequent evening. 

Ken ordered a cup of "traditional Romanian coffee," which, we were told, was Turkish. Certainly not unfathomable, as both Romania and Turkey abut the Red Sea, but a bit noteworthy.

Ken said the coffee was good.

As were our desserts, which we shared.

I wouldn't say the Apple Streudel was as good as that I had in Vienna, or even at the German Laschet's Inn in Chicago, but there was certainly nothing not to like about it.

But considerably more delish, IMHO, was "Tort de Ciocolata" Chocolate Ganache Torte = Cupcake filled with chocolate gelato and raspberry sauce.

Especially as I love raspberry flavoring, this was as good as it sounds.

And a rather delectable to conclude a perfectly pleasant meal--we enjoyed the musical trio, who played presumably Romanian songs, as well as a nice version of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah"--even if everything about it wasn't quite perfect.

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