Chicago >Restaurants >
French >Cafe Matou
1846 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL | Directions 6064741.915017 -87.684765
Neighborhoods: North Side, Bucktown
Chicago's best French bistro/cafe. – We moved to Chicago from NY in 2006, and have settled into Cafe Matou as our favorite bistro in the city. It's a 20 minute drive for us from Gold Coast, but worth it. Charlie is fabulous at matching ingredients, creating new combinations, and always has the perfectly complimentary sauces. The menu has enough variety to be interesting, but small enough so that everything is fresh. And James always comes up with a perfect matching, reasonably priced, wine. Service is bistro service - not perfect, but fine and knowledgable. Over 20 visits in last two years, never disappointed.
Cafe Matou- good fresh ingredients used with care, but not with great flair – Cafe Matou is a charming little spot in Chicago. The food we ordered was delicately prepared and thoughtfully executed. The dishes, however, did not dazzle. The shrimp an crab beignet with saffron sauce that evening was refined and balanced in flavor, but lacked expression and depth. The entrees we ordered included a walleye with spaghetti squash and a very bland sauce- once again, a dish that was fresh and serviceable, but NOTHING EXTRAORDINARY. The chicken stuffed with chanterelles was only slightly better, but was by no means tantalizing. For desert we had a very rich chocolate cake that was loaded with walnuts- too rich and not enough balance or flavor. The best thing, by far, in terms of taste, though, was the corn cake desert which came with a creme fraiche (I think) and caramel sauce. This was indeed very tasty and stole the show that evening. If food is fresh or presented well, or both, that is indeed a good thing- but that doesn't make a great meal... there has to be a keen use of flavor and balance to creat a truly memorable dish- in this respect, cafe matou did not entirely succeed that evening.
Easily the best french food in Chicago. – This romantic French spot has a personalized wine list and friendly knowledgeable staff. My husband and I both have high standards for service, and the staff at Cafe Matou are friendly professionals who accommodated both the wine snob and the novice at my table. It is so nice to go to a restaurant where the staff has tasted all the food and most of the wine! The food is so delicious it actually occurred to me to order another entree for dessert. We have been several times and feel like it is a great date night and wonderful place to take friends. We love the Cellar Raid, which is an awesome deal; it happens the fourth Wednesday of every month, 17-dollar bottles of wine! We love this place and recommend it to anyone, make a reservation for sure.
Slow, rude and unexceptional – Waited at the bar for 10+ minutes, with only two other people there, for the bartender or wait staff to take my order. Found out after I ate and left that they had a promotion going---was never offered it or made aware. Wait staff was sullen and slow and unhelpful. The food was OK---probably would have better things to say about it if the rest of my dining experience had been better. Frankly stated, there are far better places for French food, far better places for service and even far better places for a wine-bar experience. Never again.
Nice hidden spot – Good, simple, authentic French fare, albeit a little too French almost. Apparently the Lavender porkchop is excellent but I have yet to try it. Good selection on the fish dishes as well, and fairly flavorful. I will have to come back and explore this menu.
Excellent service, food, and atmosphere – I recently visited Cafe Matou with my fiance and sister, who was visiting out of town. I had never had French food before, so I wasn't sure what to expect. It was one of the best dining experiences I have ever had.
We were greeted by the host as soon as we came in, and were invited to wait at the bar until our table was ready. The bar tender was friendly and chatty with us. When we were seated, our waiter was friendly and helpful. We ordered mussels and pate appetizers. I wasn't sure if I would like pate, but it was delicious.
When we ordered, we were not made to feel stupid because we couldn't pronounce dishes in French! We just ordered in English. The menu changes daily, but I got a wonderful stuffed chicken breast, my sister had roasted duck, which she said was the best duck she ever had, and my fiance had fish, which was also great.
The bar tender, overhearing that I only like sweet fruity drinks, created a raspberry martini with a sugar rim just for me. We joked with her that she should name the drink after me, because it was perfect and exactly what I was craving. After such a great dinner, we had to have dessert, which was also among the best I've ever had... and I LOVE sweets!
Considering all that we ordered, and the drinks we had, the bill was very reasonable. ($160 for 3 people, including the bar tab.)
Overall it was an outstanding experience and I can't wait to go back.
TERRIBLE SERVICE-RUDE MANAGER – Not only did our party have to deal with table issues, longest wait ever to have drinks served the wait staff and manager were terrible! Rude beyond belief! Audaciously rude! While the food was delicious the experience left only a bad taste in our mouth. Awful considering the expense! One should enjoy paying such a large amount for a completely enjoyable experience instead of feeling stuck in a situation and only hoping the staff isn't spitting in your food!! Definitely NOT the place to RISK an important occasion ending only in disappointment!
Wine Lovers Restaurant – If you love French Wine, this is the place for you. James' wine list includes great crus from Bordeaux and Burgundy, amazing, obscure finds from the Loire and the South, along with a number of well-chosen American wines that are crafted in the French way. You will not find any over-extracted Zinfandels or boutique wines at Cafe Matou. And if you want something special, ask what they have in the cellar. An impressive, well thought out list with prices that should make other restaurants ashamed of themselves.
Wow! – Went with a group of friends and the food was very good. I believe we had a party of about 10 and everyones dish was very good. I had the chicken and this is one of the best chicken I've ever had. Very nice ambience and comfortable.
Bucktown hidden gem serves up satisfying, traditional French fare in a cozy setting. – The Scene
A quiet, charming find on a gritty stretch of Milwaukee Avenue. Step through tied curtains from the front bar into the main dining room, where welcoming green leather chairs, hardwood floors and exposed brick set a relaxed, comfortable tone. Service is efficient, unhurried, and genuinely French, complete with charming accent.
Matou offers simple presentations of timeless country French fare on an ever-changing menu. Creamy, flavorful pâtés of the day (chicken liver and country pork terrine on one visit) are served with cornichons and dijon mustard, and just beg to be smeared on crusty bread. A plate of grilled asparagus, portabello mushroom, tomatoes and blue cheese dripping in olive oil is heavenly; escargots come doused in a lovely sauce of white wine, garlic, ham and parsley. Entrees shine: grilled mahi mahi with peppercorn butter sauce, poached salmon with a rich saffron cream sauce, grilled flank steak with light bordelaise. Banana and chocolate bread pudding with caramel sauce makes a lovely dessert.
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