The seemingly doomed space that was recently home to Marigold and then Bull Horns Taco Bar may have finally found its sweet spot. Well-executed Indian food didn’t take off there; neither did weird faux Mexican food. But there’s always a place for comfort food, especially when it’s done well—and that’s exactly what Summerdale is offering.
Named for a tiny 20th-century neighborhood that lay just southeast of Rosehill Cemetery, Summerdale plays up its historical theme through old photos and a huge vintage-looking poster that declares, “Welcome to Andersonville.” Technically, the restaurant falls just east of the historic Summerdale’s eastern boundary of Ashland, but that’s no reason to give up a name that’s associated with one of the most infamous police corruption scandals in Chicago history (sadly, the restaurant does not play up the corrupt-cop theme). In 1959, a burglar named Richard Morrison was arrested and revealed that eight officers from the Summerdale police district had been helping him—even using squad cars to transport the stolen goods—for over a year. The case, which became known as the Summerdale Scandal, resulted in the conviction of all eight police officers and subsequent reforms to the police department.
- Julia Thiel
- Summerdale’s chalkboard wall
Back to the restaurant: Summerdale has a homey, retro feel, with a menu to match—which you can read on the chalkboards that dominate one wall of the space, if paper isn’t your style. The usual suspects are all present, including soups and salads, appetizers, sandwiches, and entrees like chicken pot pie, fish and chips, and mac ‘n’ cheese. The drinks menu follows suit, with classic cocktails and beer (some local) and a small selection of wine.
- Julia Thiel
- Thick-cut bologna sandwich
More notably, along with a fried chicken sandwich and “double napkin burger,” the sandwich section offers charred thick-cut beef bologna, served with chow-chow, lettuce, American cheese (the only real option for a bologna sandwich), mustard, and mayo. It’s kind of like a hot dog in the shape of a burger, and could redefine comfort food for me: it tastes like childhood on a fluffy, insubstantial bun. The house-made chips that come with it aren’t bad either.
An appetizer of buffalo wings is another solid classic; good-sized wings are served in a tangy, decently spicy sauce with blue cheese dip (a few more napkins would be welcome, though). But broccoli croquettes were bland, light on broccoli and heavy on filler. The cheesy sauce helped to redeem them, but next time I’d go with the more neighborhood-appropriate meatballs in Swedish gravy instead. (This is a menu for meat-eaters, with few vegetarian options.)
- Julia Thiel
- Mama’s beef stroganoff
My favorite dish was “Mama’s beef stroganoff,” a decadent pile of egg noodles, mushrooms, onions, and tender steak held together by a rich sour-cream sauce—and, judging from the flavor, plenty of butter. With apologies to my mom, this is better than what mama used to make.
Summerdale, 5413 N. Clark, 773-989-4300, summerdaleonclark.com