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Katie Davis

@PopCultureCuisine

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This Little Piggy Took a Train Ride!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010 @ 09:03 AM

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Back in Chicago for this week’s restaurant; and I think by now you all know I have a special love for Chicago and will likely go back at any chance I can get, not only to visit the places I know and love, but also to find new gems to experience for the first time.  This next spot is the later, and it is definitely a gem…or priceless antique to be sure.  This week’s PCC review is of Chicago’s rustic hot spot, The Silver Palm.  This hot spot that feels like a classic beatnik local hangout with the mood to match is truly a must see, and I am so glad Adam stumbled upon it while watching Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations” on The Travel Channel; and like he often does, he insisted we go there! :).  Lucky for him, we learned about this place only weeks before going back up north for the holidays, and we already had a weekend stop-over planned on our ‘ol stomping grounds.  Well, he was on to something, because these “little piggies” definitely made me go “Wee, wee, wee”  (That will make sense soon.  I recommend watching Anthony down below explain). 😉

No Reservations Chicago [Video].  (2009).  Retrieved March 9, 2010, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jL9mx8haGFo

Well, after watching that clip the first time, I was very intrigued, and for a couple of reasons.  One, I had never heard of this place while living there.  Two, it is LITERALLY an old train car that you are dining in (I mean cool!); and Three, the food looked amazing on TV, so holding with the bottom line of PCC, I had to check it out for myself and see if it was just a little creative television and lens work.

So, the day after New Year’s, a big group of us ventured to out into the bitter Chicago cold to see if Anthony was telling the truth.  Well, it is definitely a real train car, a 1947 dining car from an original train to be exact.  You can read about the bio of the train here.  Opened in 2003, the Silver Palm is adjacent to the Matchbox (same owners), a bar whose name is very fitting and quite popular in the River West section of Chicago.  But back to the restaurant,…the train car itself is attached to a two story brick building that holds another bar and small seating area at the front; and as you move to the back, into the car itself, this is the view…

train car Image source:http://www.thesilverpalmrestaurant.com/AboutUs.html

After reading up on this spot, we thought making a reservation was likely going to be our best option, due to the size (notice from above :)), it being the weekend, and seeing as it had just been featured on a very popular show, we knew it would be buzzing with other foodies.  Also, we were meeting a few friends there (Aaron, Cassie, and her boyfriend Eric), which made it more imperative to make a reservation; and it is a good thing that we did, because this place was packed!!!  And so much so (which is the funniest part), that we couldn’t even all sit together!  Although we knew it was literally a train car, we had not taken into account that it was just that…A TRAIN CAR!!!…meaning small stationary tables that only can seat four to a table.  This is not good news for you larger parties/families out there; and needless to say, we had to split our party.  It all worked out, however, because they just sat us across from one another.  The boys on one side; and I was able to catch up with my girlfriend from college at the other table (Hey Cassie! ;)).

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If I’m being honest, Adam was looking forward to this spot a lot more than I was.  Don’t get me wrong, I was excited to check it out, but he was REALLY excited to try the infamous “Three Little Piggies” sandwich he saw Anthony Bourdain devour.  I, on the other hand, was more excited to get together with our friends and dine in a train car parked on the city streets of Chicago.  I mean…cool!!!

I know…I know, right about now you are all probably wondering if this is the same girl who has raved about dish after crazy dish on here.  However (and I feel bad admitting to this), we happened to visit this spot the same day we had eaten Giordano’s, and the day after eating at Lucky’s Sandwich Co., so needless to say I was already feeling a bit stuffed!  I had the best intentions of ordering something decadent, but my stomach just was not going to have it.  So, I went with one of my standard fall-back orders, the French onion soup with a side of roasted veggies.  I know…boring, but hey….it was all I could handle.

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The soup was not out of this world, but still tasty.  It’s hard to impress me with French-onion, but it’s a bit like pizza…even when it’s not that good, it’s still good and I’ll always have some :).  The veggies, on the other hand, outta this world good!  I realize that is something very difficult to say about something as simple as vegetables, but these carrots, parsnips, and potatoes were all caramelized in their own sweetness and salted to perfection.  Ummm…yummy!

Adam, as I mentioned earlier, had his heart set on that “Three Little Piggies,” sandwich.  In fact, all of the guys did.  However, Adam and Aaron had a hard time making up their mind, because the minute they saw the menu, there was one other item that they both wanted, a favorite of theirs….the duck sandwich (fried in duck fat no less ;)).  Their solution, they decided to order both and split the “Piggies” and Duck Club Sandwich.  In their minds…the best of both worlds…Pig and Duck…perfect 🙂  (That is the “Three Little Piggies” below).

Three Little Piggies Image source:http://www.thesilverpalmrestaurant.com/AboutUs.html

Unfortunately I don’t have a pic of the duck club sandwich to show you (it did look really good), but if that “Piggy” above does not entice you to want to take a bite, I don’t know what does; and the boys certainly seemed to enjoy it!

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Of course, being the loving husband that he is ;), he was nice enough to share a bite of his half of the sandwich with me; and I will also contest, it was pretty dang good!  If we are ever lucky enough to visit the The Silver Palm again and I am not uber stuffed, I hope to order that lovely heart attack on a plate for myself . 🙂

Following dinner we were able to hang out in the lovely bar area up front and then moved down to the Matchbox (and definitely a deserving name.  The door even bumped into bar-stool it was so small! :))  It was just such a fun and laid back environment, accompanied by a never ending loop of Fleetwood Mac (I love them!) and one bottle of wine too many, that we did not want to leave.  Heck even another friend, BJ, met us later and joined in on the fun!

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Being so freaking cold that night in Chicago and not wanting to venture out anywhere else, this place turned out to be the perfect spot to hole up, enjoy one another’s company, some wine, and our last night in Chicago.  Like almost every restaurant featured on Pop Culture Cuisine, The Silver Palm is no different in that it has a signature dish, which 9 times out of 10, is the main reason why we visit.  In this instance that dish was the “Three Little Piggies” Sandwich, and in all of our opinions (all us had at least a bite) it was a real winner and tasted delicious.  The ambiance was unique, original, and oh so cool.  I mean seriously…eating in a train dining car parked on the streets of Chicago is pretty unreal.  The only draw-backs were actually as a result of this place being an actual dining car.  It was very cramped and on a cold winter night, the lack of insulation made it really cold.  Additionally, we really enjoyed talking with our waitress throughout the entire night and she was very attentive.

This restaurant and its kitchen are very narrow, which made the food service very slow.  Remember…, think train car, which does not leave tons and tons of space for easy or quick preparation.  But, although it was very slow getting the food, no one seemed to mind.  We were all enjoying the experience and conversation so much it did not seem to bother anyone.  Just know, if you are hoping to grab a “quick bite,” this is not the spot.  Finally, the cost of everything was pretty reasonable, especially considering we were dining in downtown Chicago.  Entrees range from $12-25 and sandwiches from $7-12; and I felt a lot of dishes seemed more high-end than just regular ol’ diner sandwiches, so I’d say they are worth a bit more.  The only bad spot (and this is Adam speaking ;)) was that there were no free re-fills on Diet Coke; and he had to pay for a bunch!  That all being said…, I give The Silver Palm 4 Little Piggies.

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