It’s the time of year when people gather with friends or duck out to escape from the grind of the holidays. You want someplace that’s easy and reasonable with short lines. Andersonville has a new neighborhood spot you can try in order to avoid the seasonal madness: Acre Restaurant.
Acre has tractor seats on the wall mixed in with bucolic paintings and animal skulls, but the overall effect is slick and upscale. It’s comfortable, quiet, and you could take your pickier relations without making them feel too far out of their comfort zone or making them wait for trendier, cooler spots.
I dragged a friend away from our preferred neighborhood gathering spot (ahem, Hopleaf) to try Acre. The beer list here is well-rounded and satisfying, but not as extensive as Hopleaf and some items are definitely pricer. I immediately noticed a Golden Monkey Ale I had down the street was $1.50 more expensive here. We moaned over the drinks, then started with a mix of appetizers.
The baked feta had a salty, slightly spicy tang that made it interesting and the dish of olives served with it was a good compliment. After a little back and forth with the server, we managed to get more oregano crackers to balance out the amount of feta. The baby arugula salad was unremarkable despite the promise of passionfruit vinaigrette, and the deviled eggs were blah even though they were topped with yummy smoked trout.
We had a hard time settling on entrées, but eventually chose a few seafood plates for a cold winter’s night. The Pan roasted Scottish Salmon was nicely crisp on the outside, but not over-cooked. Flavor-wise, it was a little salty and overpowered the delicate sweet potato risotto that it was served over.
The rainbow trout was served with the skin-on. I normally don’t like that without breading, but it did keep the thinner portion of fish moist and ready-to-serve at the same time as the thicker salmon. Likewise, the trout was served over a bed of vegetables that didn’t quite work together. The braised escarole, tomato, and turnip over-powered the fish and sat like a lead balloon in my stomach for the rest of the night.
We moved on to dessert, which was a waiter-recommended apple and pear cobbler with vanilla ice cream. I was ready for a rich and creamy mix of hot and cold, but was rewarded with a thin, nearly flavorless crust, bland fruit and uninspired vanilla. Too bad.
I wanted Acre to be the Andersonville spot where I didn’t have to wait to grab a remarkable beer and decent dinner. If Hopleaf weren’t two blocks away it might work out, but it suffers in comparison despite being a pretty spot with better service. There’s nothing horribly wrong here, but average is a hard place to hang your hat. For now, my neighborhood spot is still down the street.
$50 per person.
5308 North Clark Street
Chicago, IL 60640