Food lovers and Northsiders are well acquainted with Slims. The sunny restaurant on Hamilton avenue pulls in a lot of street cred for its fresh ingredients and excellent pork belly.
I'd never eaten at Slims until last night (and technically, I guess I still haven't). The cost of the prix fixe menu was too much for a weeknight meal out, and whenever a special occasion rolled around, for some reason Slims was forgotten. When Slims announced its new Tues-Thurs concept, Vout, I knew I was out of excuses. Vout serves a considerably less expensive ala carte Cuban and Puerto Rican menu. Orders are placed at the counter, water is self-serve, and as always, it's BYOB.
On the Tuesday night that we went, most tables were occupied with an order number and a bottle of wine. The restaurant staff directed us to pick any table we liked and help ourselves to a pitcher of water.
"We'll help you to take care of your own needs."
Sounds good to me. We ordered dinner, sat back with a couple of bottles of beer, and waited. Next to us, a table was celebrating someone's birthday. Light streamed in through the shades covering the front windows. Baskets of fresh produce lined the window sill. The atmosphere was relaxing, and waiting for our food felt like no time at all.
Alex ordered the special, chicken on a biscuit, a rich gooey dish punctuated with green peas and peppery bacon on top. Mine was the vegetarian entree, enchiladas mole, consisting of a large tortilla drowned in a thick smokey-spicy sauce, mushrooms, beans, and topped off with a sweet relish of mangos. We ordered a pair of sides, a corn pudding that we were warned was sweet, and the Fufu, a mixture of smokey potatoes and mashed plantains.
The food was good, but that's not what was amazing to me. I was expecting good food. What was really wonderful was that the whole thing cost less than $20. I'm sure I've spent more than that at a meal at TGI Fridays (I know, I'm cringing at the comparison too). And what took us so long to try out Vout? The more we ate and drank, the more ridiculous it seemed. Why haven't we been here before?
I'll admit that I liked Alex's dinner better than mine. His biscuit was spiked with lemon, making the whole thing ridiculously mouth-watering. My enchilada mole was good, but I wanted a little more sweetness to play off the spice and chocolatey richness of the mole. Extra sauce is offered on the menu for a dollar - I think I'd order more of the black bean and mango salsa next time. Our sides were good, and the corn pudding was as sweet as promised.
I still want to come back on the weekend for the full Slims treatment. My Tuesday night dinner has instilled in me even more faith in Slims. Until then, I plan on returning often for a weeknight meal at Vout.
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