One. Six One, located on Taylor just down the street from the University of Illinois at Chicago, “officially” opened its doors Saturday night. Although food has been served there since June, the restaurant now has its liquor license, which inspired an opening night celebration where we sampled a variety of items on the menu.
All and all, this place struck me as odd. The staff and the owner were gracious and obviously excited about the restaurant, but their contagious enthusiasm is not enough to keep them on the map.
The dining room itself feels like a converted storefront — almost like a suburban-style restaurant transplanted to the city. The movie “Chocolat” was projected on a large screen on the wall, and Johnny Depp certainly makes any meal more appealing. But it was distracting to have a movie playing — all while a musician jammed away on an electric keyboard in the lounge area that sported yet another video screen, which displayed pictures of the food.
The food itself was solid, but it didn’t shine. Our first course was the wild duck gumbo — a spicy starter not for the faint of heart — followed an heirloom beet and apple salad. The most interesting part of the salad was the beet puree that garnished the plate, which was flavored with burnt orange. For our entrees we tried basted sapphire uha and the braised kobe short rib. The short rib was the stronger dish — the meat tender and juicy. We topped off our meal with white chocolate bread pudding, and although it managed to satisfy as something sweet, it was nothing to write home about.
Service was friendly, but far from attentive. Our water glasses went empty more often than not, and the dishes weren’t delivered to the table at a consistent pace. Dessert arrived while we were still eating our main dishes, and we had to ask our waitress to take dessert away and save it for later. I made the mistake of leaving my fork on one of my plates, and I had to snag one from the empty table next to us when I wasn’t brought another.
Still, with the most expensive entree on the menu topping out at $16, I could easily see One. Six One becoming a popular date spot for the college students in the area. The portions aren’t huge by any stretch, so its not a place to go and pig out. Rather, it’s a place that could lend a sense of occasion. Ultimately, One. Six One gives students a convenient place to eat that’s more swank than the dining hall or Al’s Italian Beef.
One. Six One
1259 W Taylor
Chicago IL 60607
This was a media event and we dined free-of-charge.