I believe this place opened just a few weeks ago. It is owned by the same folks that have Legends in Irvington, so I was confident that it would be pretty good. Since Pat is out in Cali for the next two weeks I was all by myself. I had planned on visiting this place at a later date and was actually on my way to a different joint when I decided to stop at the last-minute.
The place is nicely appointed with dark woods, leather seats and cozy booths. The large windows make for a very bright setting as well.
I was also quite impressed with the level of service. My server Katie was spot on. She was very knowledgable of the menu and not shy of venturing an opinion when asked. As a matter of fact it was her description of their special appetizer of the day that convinced me that I needed it. Normally I don’t get an app for lunch when I am solo. In this case the app was an arancia, a deep-fried polenta (oops, that should be risotto) ball, for $8.
I thought they were nicely done and with the creamy cheese sauce proved a tasty combo of flavors and textures.
For my main dish I opted for a shaved ham and Swiss sandwich. I know that sounds pretty mundane but it was hardly your standard diner fare. It featured Smoking Goose City Ham, a dry cured ham and orange marmalade with a fennel and apple slaw. They offer a choice of bread from Amelia so with Katie’s recommendation I went with semolina.
The bread was a good choice. Dense and herbaceous enough to balance the other strong tastes. The structure of the sandwich was really very delicate and nicely balanced. A hint of orange and apple, a passing note of mustard and the strong presence of ham. And of course the cheese just sort of hanging out to keep the ham company. A really good sandwich for $10. I may have wanted a more prominent presence of fennel but this was probably for the best. You know that meme about moderation.
I noticed on their beer tap they offer a brew called Diesel Oil. It is a Stout from Columbus Indiana and Powerhouse Brewing Company. Well I thought a good Stout would make for a nice desert. Well it does, especially when paired with a Chewy Fruitmeal Cookie.
They make about a half-dozen cookies and their Fruitmeal is an Oatmeal cookie loaded with dried fruit. It was an excellent bite for a buck. Now marry that with a Milk Stout and its touch of chocolate and coffee and you are on to something really nice.
So this is Penn and Palate. So lets recap. Conveniently located in a newly gentrified locale on the near North Side. A swank and charming interior. Well trained staff. And finally an excellent menu that is well prepared and delicious. I think that this is the start of a beautiful friendship with this joint and this City.
Today we traveled to the west side for some El Salvadoran treats. Pat discovered this place more by happen stance than anything else. His wife, Fran, brought him a tamale she had picked up at the City Market from the 3 in 1 Restaurant,it had a stand at the Farmer’s Winter Market. Sweet corn, pig and no onions. Love at first bite for Pat.
We don’t go to the west side that often so I was curious to see what sights I have been missing. Besides. I am a freak for tamales. Also I was quite curious about the name. At each table was a laminated sheet explaining the origin of their name. I thought it was a touching story so I am posting a copy.
I wish to apologize in advance for my pictures. Normally I make up for my lack of photographic skill by taking multiple shots, and picking the best to publish. However my batteries were dying so I couldn’t.
As you can see the prices are more than reasonable. They also have a special on Pupusas, 2 for $5. A pupusa is a thick corn cake stuffed with various tasty things. Chicken or pork and cheese or loroco and cheese. Loroco is an edible flower. An item I have heard of but never tried. Both pupusa and loroco are common in El Salvador. And the closest I have been to El Salvador is Costa Rica .
We ordered Deep Fried Corn Balls and a Riqua to share. A riqua is like a unstuffed pupusa.
These bad boys were delicious. Look like hush puppies don’t they? That’s what they taste like, but sweeter due to the corn used. At the owner’s suggestion I added powdered sugar to one and it was so reminiscent of a State Fair elephant ear my mouth thought it was August. And if you added the house made tomatillo sauce the whole flavor profile changed. Instead of enhancing the sweet corn it complemented it with a note of sour and a touch of heat. I thought the tomatillo sauce was outstanding. Definitely one of the best I have had. Including my own.
This is one-fourth of a riqua. We did it again. Eating before snapping. It too was tasty. Like a Johnny cake with extra sweetness.
Pat ordered a pork tamale and a chicken and cheese pupusa. Since I ordered a locoro pupusa we shared.
As you can see their presentation is very utilitarian. In addition to the loroco pupusa, I got a plain tamale and a steak taco. They don’t add the garden to their tacos. For that they have a small cold table for the customer to add their own.
The tamale was softer and sweeter than I am used to but it was good none the less. In the future I will go with pork. I know it wouldn’t be “authentic” but I think a little bacon with the pork would be a nice little addition. The loroco had a nice flavor but I am unable to describe it. The end taste was familiar but I can’t quite put my tongue on what it is. I know that’s not much help but that’s the best I can do.The steak on my taco was tender, moist and abundant. I think the one factor that made this taco outstanding was the choices in the condiment table.
In addition to the usual taco toppings they offered green olives, banana peppers, cojita cheese and a crazy slaw. Just shredded cabbage, carrot and lemon juice. Simple and delicious. And the addition of green olives to a taco is brilliant. I can not believe I have not tried it before now.
So if you like good eats with a Latin flair then you should get to 3 in 1 Restaurant. The family that owns the joint is earnest and committed to good food. Also I noticed on a sign as we were leaving you can get the Fried Corn Balls with bacon and cheese for about a buck more. Fried corn, bacon AND cheese. The 3 main food groups.