O’Shaughnessy’s Public House

Pack up your forks and run to O’Shaughnessy’s Public House located at 4557 North Ravenswood Avenue, Chicago, IL 60640.

This is no ordinary Irish Pub! Sure, walking in, you might imagine you’re on “a bit of the old sod” but after taking a look at the menu you will notice that they serve a better than average Irish fare. You can enjoy traditional Irish favorites such as Shepherd’s Pie, Bangers & Mash, corned beef style panini’s and or stray from the traditional menu and sample their blackened cod or layered BLT salmon sandwiches. Perhaps the best thing they have to offer is their wait staff. We had a four year old in our party and Chuy (his nickname for Jesus) was absolutely charming. He greeted out little one with crayons and a coloring placemat but had a special way of engaging with little ones that made our entire meal a pleasure!

We started our meal with orders of curry fries and hummus with fresh vegetables. Fans of Gene and Jude’s fries will love these spuds. They have that great greasy flavor that die hard french fry lovers crave and they were topped with a rich brown, slightly sweet curry gravy. The hummus was wonderful! I was very impressed by the texture. They served a coarse ground chickpea hummus with only a hint of garlic and seasonings so the fresh taste really shined through. The vegetables were a wonderful side to this thick dip and accompanied with toasted wedges of pita bread.
I enjoyed a blackened cod sandwich which was served with a smoked jalapeno mayo, lettuce and tomato on a crisp roll. The fish was cooked perfectly and the mayo plus the blackening spices created a whole spicy, salty, party in my mouth. Skip the tomato, the texture just didn’t accent well with the fish.
While I have enjoyed many shepherd’s pie in my day, this one was different. It had the same slightly sweet, rich brown gravy along with the minced meat and vegetables topped with the traditional mashed potatoes. For those who like delicate tastes, you’d love this blend. There were no overpowering spices of any kind. We also tried the BLT/salmon sandwich named “The Sullivan”. The sandwich was layered with thick sliced bacon, on toasted bread, served with lettuce, tomato, warm mayo and mildly smoked, thinly sliced salmon. Yum!

Of course, no Irish Pub experience would be complete without sampling a few pints. The Guinness was cold, served with the terrific head that is expected of a good Guinness however, it was the draft Smithwick’s that was the real surprise. Again, the temperature of the ale was perfect….cold …but it’s the first time I have ever received a Smithwick’s topped with foam like a traditional Guinness. Ahh…Slainte’ ! Sports fans will love the abundance of TV’s and if you are looking for a place to host a private party, they have a beautiful back room with a private bar and enough seating for a crowd or overflow from their usual patrons.
The next time you are in The Ravenwood’s area, stop by O’ Shaughnessy’s Public House for a pint and a good meal and enjoy eating well in the Ravenswood area.
4 out of five forks.

Breakfast at Merle’s: 4642 N Francisco Ave. 2 out of 5 forks.

Just steps form the Brown Lines''s Francisco stop Merle's is well located for a quick bite.

Breakfast at Merles, a neighborhood Sunday morning out.  Just steps off of the  Brown Line’s Francisco stop at 4642 N Francisco Ave Merles sits in a perfect location for a quick cup of coffee before work or a bagged sandwich.  My companion and I however choose to visit on a bright Sunday morning to relax over breakfast.  My attention was immediately attracted to the special of  “pumpkin pancakes and choice of meat” My companion choose the French toast and ham.

Merle’s itself is the quintessential neighborhood restaurant.  Small– there are less than ten tables– it is brightly painted and has an active take-out counter featuring ready-made sandwiches, soups, quiches and yummy looking lemon, pumpkin and raspberry bars. When our orders arrived they were well plated and garnished with fresh fruit.

The link sausage that came with my order was well spiced and plump. However, although cooked, it had been sitting long enough to go near cold. The pumpkin pancakes were well worth the trip, closer to buckwheat than buttermilk in texture with clear pumpkin and nutmeg tastes makes it  a seasonal hit. Clearly chef and owner Jeff Scoughton has been experimenting in the kitchen and this one paid off.  My companion’s French toast was made with a baguette and looked fluffy with a smooth custardy center, begging to be dipped in the real maple syrup supplied.

Merle's received 2 out of 5 forks

Merle's received 2 out of 5 forks

The total bill for breakfast plus a chicken noodle soup to go was $23.00. The food served on site with the exception of the cool sausage was excellent.  Upon returning home the chicken soup takeout was heated in a microwave for lunch.  Despite having a great homemade look and firm noodles,  the soup also had a strong bitter taste and was consumed no further than the first spoon full.

Merle’s rating 2 forks.

Los Nopales; 4544 N. Western; 5/5 Forks!

Los Nopales receives 4/5 forks from reviewer Karen Klich

Los Nopales receives 5/5 forks from reviewer Karen Klich. Credit: Los Nopales

Pack up your forks and run to experience the wonderful flavors of Mexico at Los Nopales, 4544 N. Western Ave. From the moment we entered the restaurant, we were charmed by our server who obviously had a passion for peppers. Her descriptions and depth of knowledge about the ingredients in each dish left me wanting to order everything on the menu. Our meal experience began with corn chips served with two wonderful salsas, my favorite being the green salsa. The green salsa was a mixture of avocado, cilantro garlic and peppers and was so amazing that I asked if were available for purchase. Yes! I ordered the tilapia topped with dried, sweet, slightly spicy red peppers that were almost shredded and complimented with a garlic butter sauce. The fish was moist, flaked perfectly and the combination of the peppers and butter sauce was heaven. Perhaps one of the biggest surprises was the side dish of sautéed verdolagas with grilled corn, and sliced baby mushrooms.

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Both the fish and greens were the perfect companion to moist white rice served on the side infused with the wonderful garlic and butter sauce served over the fish. This dish was Rick Bayless quality at a bargain price.

Los Nopales received a 5/5 forks from The Bulldog reviewer. "we were charmed by our server who obviously had a passion for peppers"

Los Nopales received a 5/5 forks from The Bulldog reviewer. "We were charmed by our server who obviously had a passion for peppers"

We also tried one of the combination plates which included carne asada and camarones al Mojo de Ajo (griddled shrimp). It was so refreshing to receive shrimp so large (8-12 count per pound) that were butter flied , grilled and basted with a garlic sauce and sprinkled with chili powder. The steak arrived, cooked perfectly and marinated ever so delicately that the steak flavor really shown through. Being in a restaurant named after a cactus, I couldn’t help but order a side of cactus salad which consisted of sliced cactus mixed with slivers of red onion, diced tomatoes, hints of cilantro and avocado topped with crumbled cheese. Delicious! The restaurant serves generous portions and has a B.Y.O.B. policy with a nominal cork fee charge. The restaurant offers specials every day. Before leaving, one patron suggested that we try the tortilla soup, for it was the best he’d ever had. I cannot wait to go back and enjoy the experience all over again! This was truly “eating well around Welles Park!”   (Rating 5 out of 5 forks!)