I’ve never been to France, but I have been to Cafe-Marie Jeanne. Holy Shit.
This Cafe is somewhere I’ve always dreamed of going to. The food feels french, and it feels really honest. they do things simple and right. Fresh baked bread, killer fresh seafood, cured seafood, smoked seafood, Steak Tartar, Fucking Calf Brains. I’m all in.
Cafe Marie-Jeanne feels like a cafe. They do service all day and they have a ton of rotating specials. We enjoyed both plancha’d and raw razor clams, fresh uni, as well as some beautiful oysters. Everything tasted fresh, and well taken care of.
I think the best way to describe the food is soft and agressive, let me explain. The flavors are oldies, at least for me, even down to a savory omelette and a very classic spring risotto. We’re talking heavy dishes acompanied with light dishes, Pomme Aligot and seasonal veggies.The food is super french and incredibly delicious.
The menu feels like the Chef just put what he wanted on the menu, and I think that’s exactly what Mike Simmons did. Everything on the menu feels less lets make people happy, and more, lets cook what we like and people will be happy.
My favorite thing we got was the assortment of cured, pickled and smoked cured, pickled, fish. It’s served on an old caviar tin. They have one hell of a selection. When we were there we had everything from smoked salmon to creamed herring. The creamed herring is reason enough to head over.
This restaurant is doing things right. We’re talking fresh bread, awesome produce, solid cooking, and great service (thanks, P.k.). It’s also really unpretentious. They even have a little pantry service, so if you’re in a rush and just need eggs and some cream you can swing in and grab some.
I think this speaks a lot for how the restaurant feels about the neighborhood. They want you to pop in and say hi. Grab a coffee and then get some groceries on your way out. The whole thing just reeks of community to me.
The restaurant is located right in between of Humboldt Park and west town in Chicago. It sits surrounded by three decent bars ( one of which is the infamous California Clipper). For anyone who isn’t familiar with Humboldt park or Chicago, Humboldt a little rough. Good for Cafe-Marie Jeanne for opening in a place that is a little bit of a gamble.
I love this place, and I will go out of my way to go back. Between the food and the vibe it’s not quiet like any other places in Chicago.