photo: courtesy of Cafe Matou
Since opening Cafe Matou in 1997, Paris-trained chef Charlie Socher (formerly of Ambria) has gained a reputation for whipping up the finest French cuisine north of the six corners. And that location is an important one: Tucked away on a less-than-gourmand stretch of Milwaukee Avenue, Matou brings "cuisine bourgeoisie" to the neighborhood.
The cafe occupies two storefronts and boasts high ceilings, exposed brick walls, wrought-iron chandeliers and work by local artists, a backdrop for traditional bistro fare that takes on flavor-enhancing twists. The menu, which changes daily, may include cream of butternut squash with fresh tarragon, roast quail wrapped in bacon and stuffed with garlic croutons and Gruyere and hazelnut meringue layered with burnt caramel, chantilly and fresh strawberries.
Prix-fixe dinners, offered Tuesday-Thursday and Sunday every week, cost $23 per person; the what-a-deal meal includes three courses and coffee. Groups of four or more can step up the tasting with a $50-per-person Chef’s Dinner, a lavish meal involving family-style dishes and plenty of samples from the kitchen (reserve 48-hours in advance).
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: Jennifer Berg