Rustic House is permanently closed
American in Lincoln Park
- Perfect for
- Date Night
- First/Early in the Game Dates
Written byClaire Schlafly
Rustic House has all the makings of a perfect date spot. It has culinary buzz without the pressure. It’s surrounded by popular but lineless bars and restaurants, so you can kick things up a notch for round two (or cut and run if need be). It’s in a price range that says, “Yeah, it’s three dollar signs on Yelp, but you shouldn’t feel guilty about me picking up the check.” And the ambience is the ideal level of dark where everyone looks modelesque, but you can still read the menu beneath their giant candle chandeliers (we call them “candeliers”). Comfortable, warm, and cozy, if you can’t seal the deal, it’s definitely not the decorator’s fault.
While the setup is beautiful, our life purpose is #EEEEEATS, and we can't endorse the food with the same level of enthusiasm. At first glance, the menu appears to cater to your cause - it has a decent number of safe options and the portions are ideal for sharing. But the food is, for lack of a better word, meh. Much like Moscow Mule mugs or make-your-own froyo concoctions, it’s visually dazzling but functionally disappointing. A couple dishes are superb, but the quality is unpredictable. That’s not to say it's all bad, we just had higher hopes. Signature dishes are underwhelming, coursing is sporadic and inconsistent, and the entire experience took almost four hours on a recent visit.
Logistics are the biggest issue, primarily coursing and timing. While the service is friendly and engaging, a standard dinner shouldn’t last that long unless we’re guzzling drinks with long lost pals. And for your first date, it could seriously salt your game. If the logistics were better, the food would probably sit better with us too, but that’s just not the case.
We’d shy away from a full meal at Rustic House as your money can be better spent at one of the many options less than a block away, but it’s perfect to grab dessert or a glass of wine for a late night meet-up with a “friend.” Worst case scenario, you’ll get a quality Instagram and save a few bucks. Best case scenario? Well, you know.
We didn’t expect to review the bread basket, but their homemade focaccia is some of the best we’ve ever had. Soft, buttery, salty, herbed focaccia dipped or drenched in olive oil.
A threesome of maple-peppered bacon, duck fat almonds, and olives. It’s exactly what it sounds like, except double the oil, and the bacon is cold.
Hand Rolled Gnocchi
This pillowy, creamy appetizer is a bright spot with a wonderful flavor combination of foie gras, garlic, and parsley. If possible, save some of your focaccia to sop up the leftover broth - otherwise you’ll be left using your finger.
Tomato confit paired with octopus but without the typical rubbery consistency. Problem is on our most recent visit it came out cold. They insisted on serving all three apps at the same time, leaving the octopus to marinate in its neglect.
Rotisserie Organic Chicken
The signature dish (there are literally chicken motifs all over this restaurant) with garlic mashed potatoes and chicken jus. This chicken is particularly dry. We’re not entertained, Maximus.
Braised Lamb Shank
A heartbreakingly beautiful piece, and also quite tasty. The lamb is cooked well, but the accompanying risotto is forgettable.
Kurobuta Pork Chop
A high quality cut that’s cooked well, but under-seasoned. The overall flavor combo is right in our wheelhouse with butternut squash bread pudding and brussels sprouts, but they can’t compensate for an under-seasoned chop.
Bailey’s Crème Brûlée
We really enjoyed this tasty dessert. The Bailey’s is strong without being overwhelming, and the portion is sizable. We amicably split it amongst four greedy, territorial adults.