Chicago: The Bristol

On my friend's birthday, a small group of us went to The Bristol to celebrate.  Because we were worried about the wait (and because Bristol doesn't take reservations), we got there before the restaurant opened at 5:30pm:


As my friend predicted, we were let in early:


Communal tables sometimes make me feel a bit awkward (I always wonder if I'm intruding on someone else's space), but because we were the first through the door, we got to sit at the end of the table.

The five of us decided to split a few appetizers.  First up was the monkey bread with dill butter and sea salt:


The bread was dense and doughy, while the dill butter was very light and subtle.

My favorite of the night was the duck fat fries, which came with garlic aioli and house ketchup:


My friend had been talking nonstop about the duck fat fries since her last visit and it was just as amazing as she made it sound.  There are no words to do justice to its salty crunch.

At the server's recommendation, we also ordered the spicy ramp chorizo verde with sweet masa cake and thinly sliced cucumbers:


The chorizo was pretty spicy, but the sweetness of the cucumbers and masa cake made for a good balance.

My friend went with the soft shell crabs with pickled ramps, arugula puree, and new potato (whatever that means):


Her boyfriend got the hanger steak with green lentils and chermoula spiced carrots:


My other friend got the black and white garganelli with squid bolognese:


And her boyfriend ordered the roasted half chicken with dill spatzle and crunchy salad:


I was the fifth wheel in the group.  How sad is that?  It's like being the third wheel, but times two.  I took comfort in my pork tortellini in green garlic broth with fennel pollen:


Out of all the main dishes, I enjoyed the steak and the crab the most.  The pastas were obviously made in-house, but were a little tough to chew.  The chicken wasn't particularly memorable to me, but then again, I only had a bite to base my opinion on.

My birthday friend got really excited when she heard about Bristol's "root beer float" so we forced her to order it:


I think she regretted it.  It really wasn't very particularly pleasing to the palate.

Before the we went out the door, we each grabbed a caramel:  


Bristol was a bit of a hit or miss for me.  The appetizers and the mains were great, but the pastas and dessert were a little lacking.  The service was fantastic though.  My water glass never reached less than 3/4 full and our waitress was super friendly.  Love the ambiance and the chalkboard decor too.

I would definitely come back just for the duck fat fries.

A big happy 25th birthday to my dear friend, stalker, and future roommate.  May our next year together be filled with even more food and fun!


The Bristol
2152 N Damen Ave
Chicago, IL 60647
(773) 862-5555

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