Monday, January 2, 2012

Birchwood Kitchen

Location: 2211 W North Avenue
Cost: About $10 per person

My old roommate, Steve Bacalar, was back in town from dental school the other week and wanted to get some lunch. This time Steve took the burden of picking a place off of my shoulders. He mentioned a few places including Birchwood Kitchen, which my friend Amy had recently recommended, so we went there. Our buddies Ricky, Vadim, and Matt were also able to join us.

Birchwood Kitchen has a pretty regular order at the counter setup. You take a number and then wait for your food. There's not a ton of seating, and if we hadn't gone to lunch on a work day I think we would've had to deal with a crowd. I'd bet brunch can build up a pretty decent line.

The girl behind the counter was very helpful with our orders. The food came out reasonably quickly. Also, even though we didn't have a designated waiter and you're responsible for your own drink refills, the employees behind the counter kept ensuring we had plenty to wet our whistles.

Cost wise things were fair. Sandwiches were anywhere between $6 and $9. Plus, if you want to add soup to that it's an extra $2.50. The portions were large enough where I was able to bring home half of my sandwich and feel very full.

The Food
It was cold out so Ricky, Matt, and I all got some soup. Matt and I tried the Mushroom Soup while Ricky got the Split Pea. The mushroom soup was rich and had a nice, earthy flavor, but it was a little too thin. The split pea was thick and piping hot. I wish I'd gotten it instead of the mushroom.

The Mushroom Soup

 The Split Pea Soup

Next Matt got a Salad with Pickled Beets and a vinaigrette (and wished he'd gotten a sandwich), Ricky got a Prosciutto Sandwich, Vadim got the Gruyere and Salami Sandwich, Bacalar got the Grilled White Cheddar Sandwich, and I got the Curried Duck Sandwich with Cauliflower. I tried a little bit of everyone's except for Steve's cause he was sick. All of the sandwiches were great. The prosciutto sandwich had a nice meat to bread ratio and was pretty straightforward. The Gruyere and Salami had a spicy kick from the meat with a melty, gooey, heaping helping of cheese. The caramelized onions added a nice sweetness too. The duck had a nice, mild curry dry rub that let the bird shine through. The cauliflower gave a nice textural crunch to each bite. My one gripe was that the bread was a bit dense and dry.

The Grilled White Cheddar Sandwich

The Prosciutto Sandwich

The Pickled Beet Salad

The Curried Duck Sandwich

 The Gruyere and Salami Sandwich

Note: We just so happened to be eating next to the Hungry Hound's son and father in law. They said that they go there all the time and that consistency is one of their greatest strengths.

It's always a good sign when you leave a place dying to get back and try the rest of the menu. We had some fantastic sandwiches, and I really want to get my hands on some brunch items the next time I hit up Birchwood Kitchen. To make matters more interesting, they change up the menu seasonally. Besides a few small tweaks, the meal was spot on. I'm giving them 4.5 out of 5 Pearls.

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