For this week’s restaurant review I will be talking about a popular spot right in the heart of downtown Oak Park. Lake Street Kitchen + Bar opened in late 2011 and I was so excited because it was one of the first restaurants in Oak Park to have a “downtown Chicago” vibe. The restaurant took over the space formerly occupied by Cosi so decided to keep the existing wood stone oven as their centerpiece. Lake Street’s menu features their signature flatbreads as well as sandwiches, salads, small plates, and cheese + charcuterie.
My first visit to Lake Street was shortly after they opened and I decided to order one of their flatbreads. I ordered the Arugula + Garlic Flatbread and it arrived completely burnt! I don’t mind a little blackening from the baking process, but the bottom of my flatbread was completely black. The flavor of the flatbread itself was a miss too. For a dish to be called their signature item, I was certainly not impressed. I decided to give them another chance though since they had just opened and were probably still working out a few kinks. However, when I went back a few months later I ordered the BLT + Avocado Sandwich which again was a huge miss for me. The flavors were very bland and I thought it was way overpriced for the quality of the food. After going back another time and still not enjoying our food, Kevin and I pretty much gave up on this establishment which was really sad considering I had such high hopes for it.
Fast forward a couple of years later and we have recently gone back to Lake Street and I am happy to report it is much improved. We’ve tried several of their flatbreads including a seasonal version with Butternut Squash, Prosciutto, and Arugula as well as the Sausage + Pepper with Smoked Mozzarella. The flatbreads are much better than the first time I ordered one and are actually very good. I would especially recommend the Butternut Squash Flatbread.
We have also tried a couple of their salads. The Kitchen Sink Salad has Romaine, Corn, Tomatoes, Black Beans, Carrots, Red Pepper, Onion, Radishes, Blue Cheese, Bacon, Avocado, Tortilla Strips, and is tossed in a Citrus Vinaigrette. This is my favorite salad on their menu and has so many delicious flavors going on.
The Beet + Goat Cheese Salad with Mixed Greens, Roasted Beets, Goat Cheese, Celery Root, and Almonds is also another favorite.
Kevin really likes their Beef + Cheddar Panini with Roast Beef, Cheddar, Giardiniera, Horseradish Sauce, Tomato, and Onion. Unfortunately, I do not have any pictures of their sandwiches. You get your choice of Asian Slaw or Potato Chips with your sandwich.
Overall, my opinion of Lake Street Kitchen has changed from completely writing it off to enjoying a few of their menu items. I don’t think this will ever become my favorite restaurant in Oak Park, but it is one I don’t mind going to every one in a while. My one complaint still is the service is very slow. It can be very hard to track down your waiter when you need something. I went back and forth about writing a review, but I want to be honest on here and I can’t always love every restaurant I try.
Lake Street Kitchen + Bar is located at 1101 Lake St. in Oak Park, IL