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Frunchroom in Portage Park

Frunchroom in Portage Park
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  • Frunchroom in Portage Park

    Post #1 - April 19th, 2018, 5:15 pm
    Post #1 - April 19th, 2018, 5:15 pm Post #1 - April 19th, 2018, 5:15 pm
    The restaurant deprived neighborhood of Portage Park has a new eatery to add the the otherwise slim pickins in the area. Frunchroom has opened its doors next door to Community Tavern (common owners). Alerted by the ever vigilant Louisa Chu (via Instagram), I made my first visit this afternoon. Considering they have only been open two days, they are running like a well oiled machine, serving a steady stream of customers.

    Frunchroom is a small storefront serving house cured meats and fish, among other things. It's fast casual style, where you order at the counter and are given a number. Food is then brought out to your table, and your dirty dishes are cleared away for you.

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    Most everything there is made in house, and judging by the small sample I tried for lunch, is pretty good.

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    I was torn between getting a lox & bagel sandwich, or the "spicy sausage". The person who took my order steered me toward the sausage, served with onions, mustard and giardinara.

    Frunchroom Spicy Sausage
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    The sausage itself was pretty good, although not all that spicy...even with the giardinara. It kind of tasted like a brat, with a healthy dose of nutmeg in the mix. I liked it, but next time, I'm going to lean toward the fish side of the menu, which has quite a few interesting looking selections. Also, the bowl of porcini and shitake mushroom soup that the woman at the next table was eating looked and smelled great!

    For dessert, I got a little individual Orange Basque Cake. Simple and not too sweet, although a little on the dry side.

    Frunchroom Orange Basque Cake
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    I'm happy that this place, open only for breakfast and lunch, has come to the neighborhood. I can see a few more trips in my near future to work my way through the menu.

    Frunchroom
    4042 N. Milwaukee
    Chicago, IL 60630
    (773) 853-2160
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #2 - April 22nd, 2018, 8:00 am
    Post #2 - April 22nd, 2018, 8:00 am Post #2 - April 22nd, 2018, 8:00 am
    stevez wrote:Frunchroom is a small storefront serving house cured meats and fish, among other things. It's fast casual style, where you order at the counter and are given a number. Food is then brought out to your table, and your dirty dishes are cleared away for you.


    Steve, given the smallness, did you get the sense that there were enough tables and that one could linger with a friend for a while in comfort? Does the eating area feel "warm" or strictly utilitarian? The place is enough out of my way (and there are so few other options in the immediate environs) that I wouldn't want to go all the way there only to find it wasn't a place one could relax over lunch. The food sounds good.
    Pithy quote here.
  • Post #3 - April 22nd, 2018, 8:28 am
    Post #3 - April 22nd, 2018, 8:28 am Post #3 - April 22nd, 2018, 8:28 am
    riddlemay wrote:Steve, given the smallness, did you get the sense that there were enough tables and that one could linger with a friend for a while in comfort? Does the eating area feel "warm" or strictly utilitarian? The place is enough out of my way (and there are so few other options in the immediate environs) that I wouldn't want to go all the way there only to find it wasn't a place one could relax over lunch. The food sounds good.


    Don't go there expecting to hang out. It's pretty small and there aren't that many tables. I'd say it's more of an "eat and get out" type of place. Get your stuff to go and take it somewhere else, if you want to while away the hours contemplating your lunch.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #4 - April 22nd, 2018, 8:05 pm
    Post #4 - April 22nd, 2018, 8:05 pm Post #4 - April 22nd, 2018, 8:05 pm
    Got it. Thanks.
    Pithy quote here.
  • Post #5 - June 9th, 2018, 6:02 pm
    Post #5 - June 9th, 2018, 6:02 pm Post #5 - June 9th, 2018, 6:02 pm
    I feel lucky for 2 reasons:

    1) the place we planned to go for lunch yesterday didn't open until 1:30 (yes, this is truly a wtf? decision. They might as well open at 5).
    2) I remembered Steve's post when deciding where to go instead.

    Happily, we ended up having a great lunch at Frunchroom. Everything we had was enjoyable and most of it was downright excellent. There were just 2 of us and we wanted to try a lot so we ordered a bunch and brought some items home. Items pictured are in the order in which they were served. Descriptions are directly from their menu . . .

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    Chicken Parm with Taleggio | salsa verde, roasted tomato, pickled peppers
    A really great take on what can often be a perfunctory item. Based on its exceptional moistness and the way it broke apart, I'm pretty sure the chicken meat was thigh. The build here was great - with a lively salsa verde, zingy roasted tomato and pungent taleggio. The outstanding bread was also well-considered, with genuine flavor and a bite-through that didn't send the sandwich's innards squirting out all over the place.

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    Grandma Terry’s Meatballs | red sauce, parm, garlic bread
    Excellent flavor on the balls themselves and the sauce. I also really enjoyed the texture of the meatballs, which had a nicely developed exterior crust and a tender interior.

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    House Ham & Butterkäse | deli mustard, pickles, choucroute
    Another delicious sandwich that combined great ingredients with thoughtful construction and execution. And those hand-cut fries were excellent, too.

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    Fish Platter | cured sable, trout salad, pastrami-smoked salmon, house pickles
    We put together our own trio of cold fish items. Here, from left to right are the cured sable, trout salad and pastrami-smoked salmon. All three were delicious and I thought the quality of the actual fish used was notable (at least on the meaty sable and unctuous salmon, it was hard to tell with the trout). The glorious variety of house-made pickles were just out of this world and again, the bread was exceptional.

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    Lox
    We'd actually ordered this instead of the trout salad we were served. And before we could even mention it, this was brought out for us. Since we were obviously going to eat the trout salad, we insisted they charge us for this but they wouldn't. This was probably my favorite of all the fish we tasted. I just loved the rich, delectable flavor of the salmon and its fatty, velvety texture.

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    Charcuterie | chicken liver mousse, pork terrine, house bread, house pickles
    I really loved the mousse, which struck a perfect balance between savory and sweet, with an addicting flavor. Its creamy texture was flawless. I wasn't as wowed by the terrine. It had nice flavor but I thought the texture was a bit watery and it was two-toned in color -- mostly pinkish but with a pronounced blotch that wasn't (not clearly visible in my picture). I don't believe this was intentional. I'm not sure what it was that created this issue.

    But all in all this was an exceptional lunch, and I only wish we'd had room to order and try more items. A burger went by us that looked great, and breakfast sandwiches, only available until 11, look sensational, based on their descriptions. We were told that Frunchroom might be shifting soon from being open for breakfast and lunch to lunch and dinner instead, as the morning traffic isn't what they'd hoped for. But breakfast sandwiches will still be available at weekend brunch.

    This is Real Food, crafted from scratch by earnest people who give a shit and who also have great palates. This is the kind of food that just gets me excited. And it's the kind of food that's getting harder and harder to find in this world. Frunchroom is a place to treasure . . . and to frequent!

    =R=
    There's a horse loose in a hospital -- JM

    I am not interested in how I would evaluate the Springbank in a blind tasting. Every spirit has its story, and I include it in my evaluation, just as I do with human beings. --Thad Vogler

    I'll be the tastiest pork cutlet bowl ever --Yuri Katsuki

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #6 - June 9th, 2018, 9:05 pm
    Post #6 - June 9th, 2018, 9:05 pm Post #6 - June 9th, 2018, 9:05 pm
    We had a very nice lunch at Frunchroom about a month ago, the burger + fries and the chicken parm sandwich. I ordered the pickled shrimp (which per a quick search, appears to be off the current menu), thinking it would be a simple side for my sandwich, and was almost embarrassed that it was thoughtfully and beautifully plated with typical charcuterie accoutrements. Almost. As we were sitting at the counter, drinking our byob beers and watching the street, we noticed the National Veterans Art Museum across the street. We highly recommend visiting this (free entry, donations accepted) special place. Both of them.

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