Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Date Night at the Depot Diner

For date night this past Friday Travis surprised me (he loves planning surprises) with dinner at The Depot: An American Diner (located at 5840 W Roosevelt Rd in Chicago, just minutes from where we live). We learned about the place a while ago from Travis' dad, who called to tell us about it after seeing it featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives (or "Triple D," as I've learned fans refer to it) on The Food Network (watch the Depot feature on YouTube).

The Depot's draw is classic diner fare done well, prepared by a five-star chef who used to work in places like The Signature Room in the Hancock building downtown. The restaurant is humble in size and appearance; the 5 booths were occupied when we arrived, so we sat on stools at the bar. Our server, a friendly and enthusiastic kid in his late teens, seemed to genuinely enjoy his job, which is always refreshing to see. Travis had the pot roast sandwich, which was topped with fried onions and served with gravy-laden fries, slaw, and pickle.

I had the open-faced turkey sandwich (as featured on the show), accompanied by gravy-laden mashed potatoes, cranberry relish, slaw, and pickle.

For dessert we shared (and very much enjoyed) five freshly fried donut holes, rolled in cinnamon sugar, dusted with powdered sugar, and served with a mocha dipping sauce and a dollop of whipped cream.

The entrees served up at the diner certainly aren't gourmet, but they're not trying to be. This is standard diner fare, with no pretense of being anything else. Accordingly, the prices on most menu items are reasonable. (Though I don't know why anyone would pay over $3 for a wedge of melon.) From the way the food tastes, you can tell tell the ingredients are fresh and the dishes are prepared by someone who knows what he's doing. (However, please do not be misled by the lady in the feature who declares the food here "the best thing I'd ever eaten." She clearly needs to get out more and diversify her palate.)

Given the not-so-healthy factor (i.e. gravy-laden, fried), we won't be visiting the Depot too often, but it's nice to know it's nearby. We'll be sure to visit with my in-laws the next time they're in town. And, in the meantime, when my sweet tooth calls, those donuts would answer nicely.

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