Chicago >Food & Dining > Table Fifty-Two
52 W Elm St, Chicago, IL | Directions 6061041.903234 -87.630623
Tuesday To Saturday From 05:00 PM To 10:00 PM Sunday From 04:00 PM To 08:00 PM
Neighborhoods: Near North Side, Central
Chicken and waffles for brunch, fried green tomatoes, shrimp and grits - Art Smith's restaurant epitomizes Southern deliciousness.
Table 52 holds a very special place in my heart. The upstairs is lovely with such Southern charm and Art Smith is a wonderful chef and philanthropist. Big fan all around.
Southern-style indulgence at its finest. The complimentary goat cheese biscuits are reason enough to walk in the door. Go gangbusters and get the fried chicken. And DO NOT skip dessert.
How many restaurants think absolutely nothing of making patrons wait well past time reserved without offering so much as a coat hanger for their comfort? Not Table 52. Tasty, cozy and relatively inexpensive is its summary with service worth 4 stars alone.
We arrived a little before dinner to take in the cozy little scene and have a drink or 10 before stretching our abdominals and doing 3 sets or maybe 3 courses or something like that. The hosts absolutely freaked. Evidently, people don’t come to Table 52 prior to time appointed and this deviation from the norm was unsettling. Immediately, we were ushered out of the narrow hallway and into the bar area 70 inches away. We barely had time to order when another host came to apologize for the delay. Delay? We were 10 minutes early. They have been crazed all day the exquisitely appointed gentleman explained and in recompense, he would offer us the champagne he cradled in his hand for props. Cool we thought. We know how much champagne flights can cost. Well worth whatever delay we had to chew before the food. We sat and enjoyed our wine. All 3 sips.
T-minus 2 minutes before reservation time, we were seated. And so began the most unapologetic fest of gluttony ever recorded on a weeknight……since February……26th. The soup was a mushroom broth with actual mushrooms plentiful throughout and several kinds – not just one. And not cream. That’s easy. Add enough cream to a stool sample and it’ll taste great. The crab cake was a little small for $16 but had virtually no filler. Maybe that’s why it’s so big at other places. Breading has some volume. The pork chop and salmon entrée were good but not spectacular. The pork was overcooked despite a request for medium-rare. Hey, they asked. There is no reason to overcook pork these days as all meat is irradiated. But in kitchens ‘round the world, there still live chefs afraid of seeing a little raw in cuts of swine. A shame. But unlike cow, the snorting ungulate is more forgiving of a little extra heat. The salmon, however, is only forgiving on its edges. Inside, it had better be moist. And it was. But cooked salmon must usually depend on its accompanying sauces and here the dish was plain. But no matter.
It has become common for a fancy kitchen to spin on trashy dishes like mac and cheese or meatloaf. They almost always are the best things on the menu because, let’s be honest: how much improvement do they need? But with their M/C, Table 52 really struck some oil and didn’t even kill the penguins. It wasn’t too greasy or too heavy or too light. You definitely know you’ve been chowing after half a plate of it but the truffle-flavored cheeses seep into your taste buds where they evaporate into your bloodstream and make you high. One type of cheese is caramelized on the outside of the dish a la French Onion Soup. It peels off in strips that dissolve on your tongue like a gooey sacrament. Hellz, if communion tasted this good, I would have converted to Islam or Jehovah’s Judges or whatever the cannibalistic faith they wanted so long as I got to munch some Jesus every night.
And on this note our evening ended. Never mind that we had 12 layer cake. Never mind that we never got the round of champers we were promised. Nothing could take the taste of mac and cheese communion from our palates.
Disappointed Dinner, but nice ambience... – The place is beautiful! The service was great! The food was not good....I'm for real. My girlfriends and I ate lamb chops which were over cooked with a gaming taste. The shrimp and catfish were fishy. Our salad was just ok. The biscuits melted in my mouth..great job here. Overall, I would go back for the biscuits and the ambience.
Chef Art Smith, who cooked for Oprah herself, celebrates familiar family dining in this intimate cottage-esque space in the Gold Coast. – The Scene
The coach house for the Il Mulino mansion has a brilliant white fresh coat of paint which contrasts nicely with beech doors and chromed hardware. The single room is clad entirely in cream wainscoting, a handsome complement to a rust-colored tin ceiling. Massive copper lamps hang over a marble slab bar and a rustic pizza oven adds vintage flair. A dozen white linen topped-tables fill quickly with well-dressed, presumably local patrons.
The menu is very accessible--two pages of familiar and very familiar items, starting with complimentary piping hot biscuits, arriving tableside from a sizzling skillet. A napoleon of fried green tomatoes, bacon, goat cheese and tapanade is a rich starter. Local arugula is anointed with mustard dressing and dotted with grilled peaches--a near perfect salad. Entrees are big; one mammoth pork chop is ancho-rubbed and served with brussels sprout flakes and pickled plums. Seasonal buckle--recently blueberries baked with cross-hatched crust--wrap things up.
Hits: Art works magic with seasonal American ingredients, making things like unripe tomatoes and bacon seem very sexy.
Misses: The wine list leaves little for the patron looking to spend a minimum on wine and still get a decent bottle--an obnoxious fault considering significant markups on economy items like grits and potatoes.
What's all the hype about? – Myself and seven guests luckily got a table for lunch on a Saturday afternoon. A warm, friendly greeting awaited as we entered the beautiful, fresh looking dining room. The menu featured many down-home favorites, familiar food that insures satisfaction, even without a gourmet slant. The goat cheese biscuits were enjoyed by everyone as was the crabcake. I had the jambalaya which tasted no more special than any other place I have had it. The macaroni and cheese was good but not exceed expectations, especially since was made with penne--why not call it Three-cheese Penne? The hummingbird cake was liked by all and solicited the most oohs and ahhs of anything. Service was terrific and accomodating. The commanding prices were out of line with the food and ingrediants. We did not feel the wow factor, other than $700+ lunch bill ($80 was wine).
I've had better hospitality at Burger King – I'm not one to write reviews, but I was so disappointed in this place I feel compelled to share - I just wish the maitre d' could read this because in other reviews it seems that rudeness is not uncommon at Table Fifty-two. Unfortunately, the last member of our party arrived almost 15 minutes late, which prompted our initial greeting to be an admonishment about making sure we were finished in order to seat the next reservation. In a place this expensive, I'd have hoped have met with a bit more class instead of open arrogance (they could have told their servers to make sure to help us move the experience along rapidly). The food was not extraordinary as expected - the fish was dry and the flavors were often over-powering (the cheese grits and fried green tomatoes were lost in strong flavors). Best food of the night were the pork chops and the honeyed sweet potatoes. The macaroni side dish wasn't macaroni -- it was cheesy penne pasta -- but was enjoyed by all. If this is Southern comfort food, I didn't see anything here that would have come right from Grandma's kitchen. Maybe I was turned off by the poor greeting, but I eat out 5 days a week as a road warrior and I just didn't enjoy my meal the way I was looking forward to. I'd just have to agree that this is one place that did not live up to the hype.
Wanted to love it BUT... – This restaurant did not live up to all the hype. I made reservations 3 months in advance and was looking forward to being blown away . The Staff was friendly and professional . The restaurant is extremely small but decorated in a lovely manner . My husband and I were extremely disappointed with the food as well as the wine list . We ordered the fried chicken because it was the night's special and the waiter told us it was not to be missed . It was the most bland and dry fried chicken I have ever eaten . The mash potatoes were a disappointment. The Mac and cheese was ok but how can anyone mess up mac and cheese. We had the corn bread and Art's famous biscuit along with several other appetizers, and nothing was extraordinary . The wine selection was limited and expensive. The best part of our meal was the dessert. We had the Hummingbird Cake which was very good . I don't believe the wait for reservations to dine at this restaurant is worth the trouble . The hype this place has is strictly because Art use to work for Oprah and because she hyped it on her show . Save yourself some time and money and just order the Hummingbird Cake from the Allen Brother's website which also has allot of Art's dishes for sale too . There are too many wonderful restaurants in Chicago were you can have a savory meal without having to wait months to get in .
Not worth a two month wait! – It took two months to get into this restaurant?not worth that long of a wait. The food was excellent......different but very good. The wine list was pretty terrible; I would guess they did that to keep people from sitting around and drinking bottles and bottles of wine (which would take to long for their liking). Because of how small the restaurant is, they try to get you in and out as quick as possible, not many people feel like being rushed when they are out to eat with their family. The restaurant is small but decorated beautifully. Overall I would say it is a good restaurant with great atmosphere and I would go back, but not if I had to wait two months.
They Kicked Out My Party of 6 – So I first heard about the place on Oprah. She recommended the pistacchio encrusted chicken, as it was her "favorite thing in the world." So I made reservations WAY in advance, and I took my Dad out for his birthday, along with my Mom, my aunt & uncle, and my good friend. Staff was nice, initially. We enjoyed the novelty of it all. I found the goat cheese biscuits were too salty, but my friend loved them. I enjoyed the unlimited Fiji water refills. However, when it came time to eat my pistacchio chicken, I was disappointed. I really enjoyed the texture of the pistacchio crust, and the chicken was moist, but it was not very seasoned. I should add that Oprah's personal chef Art Smith was NOT there that afternoon. My mother had the same dish and she was not impressed as well. My aunt chose a shrimp salad which she did not like. I could tell that my friend liked her pulled pork sandwich, but it was nothing out of the ordinary for her, although she really did enjoy her time at Table 52. The two winning dishes of the night were my Dad's and my uncle's. My Dad chose the pork chop, and my uncle chose the sea bass. They both really enjoyed their meals. I'm happy at least my Dad liked it a lot. We then decided to have coffee and dessert. My friend and I shared this amazing chocolate concoction. I forget what it's called, but it was amazing. My aunt and uncle ordered some sort of fruit tart- which was very good, too. I forget what my parents ordered. The coffee was ok. It was light, I usually like mine stronger. All in all, it was ok, except at the end, the hostess came up to us and said, "Just to let you know, there IS another party of 6 with reservations, and they are waiting." Luckily we were getting ready to leave, but as I thought more about it, I became somewhat indignant. SO WHAT? That's not OUR problem. I just paid you a good amount of money. If I want to take some leisure time getting to the door, that is my right. It was overpriced and ok.
Overpriced Southern Comfort Food – There was a 2 month wait for reservations, so we expected the food to be great ... we were wrong. The food was mediocre at best. I loved the decor, it was like sitting in a friends home. The tables are a little too close together for comfort making it very difficult to have a private conversation. The complimentary biscuits were great and leave you wanting more. Our waiter was good, but it was obvious that he was reciting from a script and was not at all knowledgeable of southern cuisine. One downside is that you have to order your entire meal at once, so there is no room to change your mind if you eat your appetizer and salad, and then decide that you want different sides with your dinner entree .... apparently the chef doesn't like to take orders piece by piece. The wine list is disappointingly limited and so is the bar.
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