Tell Your Friends, Tell Your Wife: Meg's Cafe
Glencoe locals love to recommend Meg's Cafe. Fresh ingredients and a skilled kitchen ensure it lives up to the hype.
People love to think of themselves as having excellent taste. One of our favorite past times is making recommendations. Entire websites are based on the idea of ranking things. Taking that to its logical extension, the rankers themselves are often ranked by users of a site, a good ranking providing the ultimate proof of refined taste - or at least a thorough appreciation of what's popular.
People can be particularly passionate about local favorites. Wondering where to eat in Glencoe, I put the question to a few friends who had spent time out here growing up. The strongest recommendation I received was for Meg's Cafe. "They have the chicken pot pie of chicken pot pies," my friend told me. As a longtime fan of the flaky and delicious comfort food, my mission was clear.
Unable to find hours or a menu for Meg's Cafe, I called the store. While I was on the line, I asked after the famed pot pie. "My friend says you have an amazing chicken pot pie," I started. Before I could even finish my sentence, the woman on the phone told me I had the right place. "You're going to love it," she said.
I was beginning to wonder if this apparently epic chicken pot pie could live up to expectations.
We went to find out. We found Meg's Cafe, the restaurant arm of An Apple A Day Catering in a charming converted storefront in downtown Glencoe. The space itself was cozy, and still had great classic touches like a pressed tin ceiling. Taking a seat among a clientele that was 90% lunching ladies, we got into the menu.
We started with the soup and salad. The soup, a butternut squash served in a bowl, $5, was thick, hot and hearty, a hint of diced onion throughout. The salad, $10, was enormous and could have served as an entree on it's own. Billed as a Thai chicken salad, the ingredients - tomato, asparagus, a barely seasoned chicken - didn't bear that out. The dressing stole the show here, however, and we asked for extra servings of the thick, brown slow pouring balsamic, having fallen for it's sesame and peanut flavors.
Next, we had a vegetarian sandwich with a small side salad, $8. The sandwich was served on a ciabatta bun. On the bread, an herb cream cheese was slathered liberally, and the sandwich was stacked with cucumber, lettuce and tomato. The lightly toasted bun, crisp vegetables and cream cheese made for an extremely satisfying lunch meal.
Finally, we came to the chicken pot pie. Absent from the lunch menu, it has to be ordered, through your server, from the deli case. Asked if we wanted the $3 mini pot pie or the $10 pot pie, we went with the larger option.
We weren't here to mess around.
The chicken pot pie came. It sat, about eight inches in diameter, on a plate, whole and waiting to be pierced. The flaky golden crust gave way to steam inside, and the usual suspects to be found in a chicken pot pie: carrots, peas, celery and, of course, chicken.
I can't quite bring myself to rhapsodize about it, though it was the best chicken pot pie I remember ever having had. The crust was perfect, with just the right amount of gooey give, and the gravy was delicious: a bit salty, though not overpowering.
Thinking about the meal later, I realized that the pot pie exemplified what made Meg's such a great recommendation. All restaurants strive to use the best ingredients it can and prepare them skillfully. Meg's Cafe just happens to do a particularly good job doing exactly that. The menu is interesting and somewhat imaginative, and the kitchen is skilled.
A few days ago, I ran into the friend who suggested I try Meg's. "How did you like that chicken pot pie?" he asked. "It was really good," I told him. "Great recommendation." In my head, I ranked him as a friend who knew what he was talking about, especially when it came to chicken pot pies.