Diners at Old Town Restaurant in downtown Lemont won't go home hungry.
Dinners for $12.95 or $13.95 come with a choice of two soups and two side dishes from a long list of options, including potatoes, dumplings, sauerkraut, beets and cucumbers. Meals also include a delicious dessert -- usually a choice of kolaczki or cobbler.
The entrée portions are ample and you will likely have a doggie bag to take home, especially if you partake of the bread basket.
Menus are handed out as a waitress brings of carafe of iced water to the table and a basket of hearty breads, including a dense black rye and an egg twist with raisins. Different entrée specials are featured every day. On a recent week night, specials included three types of fish (walleye, tilapia and salmon), Swedish meatballs and lamb shank.
We started with two appetizers: a selection of sausages with mustard dip (Lithuanian, Polish and German bratwurst for $5.50) and pierogis with sour cream (filled with meat, cheese, potato or sauerkraut for $6.50).
The cheese pierogis, which had just a hint of sweetness, were a big hit. The dough was just the right consistency, "not too doughy," said one diner. Of all the sausages, the mild bratwurst was the most popular. The smoky Polish and garlicky Lithuanian sausages were tasty, but a bit robust for those with more conservative palates.
The soups of the day--chicken noodle ("tastes like homemade") and creamy potato with bits of sausage and bacon--were a fine start to the meal.
Of the two specials we ordered, one nearly scored a perfect ten, but the other fell flat. A third entrée off the menu received a mixed reaction.
Salmon in a light, creamy lemon sauce ($12.95) was perfectly cooked. The only sour note was a side dish of undercooked sauerkraut that left a greasy taste.
The other special, Swedish meatballs with spaetzle ($12.95), was uninspired. "These are the oddest Swedish meatballs I ever ate," one diner remarked.
Indeed, the meat seemed to be the same used in the pierogis. Swedish meatballs and Polish pierogis probably should not be made from the same ground meat, in my opinion. The sauce and the spaetzle noodles were deemed good, and the side dish of grated beets was pleasing.
A third entrée, a quarter of a duck and a large portion of breaded pork tenderloin ($13.95), scored highs and lows. The duck skin, crisped to perfection, melted in the mouth. The duck lacked meat, though, and what meat there was on the leg and half-breast "tasted like an overcooked Thanksgiving turkey," one diner said.
The hit of this entrée was the delicious, lightly-breaded and seasoned pork, which could not have been cooked better. A side dish of sweet and sour sauerkraut ("perfect sweet and perfect sour") received raves too.
Dessert was cheese or strawberry kolaczki--both delicious--or peach coffeecake. While the coffeecake was tasty, a couple pieces of tooth-jarring, rock-hard nut shards were an unwelcome surprise.
Old Town, a spotless restaurant with a full bar and Polish Zywiec beer on tap, is charmingly decorated with carved woods and pretty ethnic decorations. The restaurant offers a number of wines, and a placard on the table makes wine suggestions for menu items.
All-you-can-eat days are pierogis on Tuesday ($12.50), stuffed cabbage on Wednesday ($12.50) and fried whitefish on Fridays ($11.95). The restaurant is open for lunch with entrees costing a couple dollars less than dinner.
Old Town Restaurant, 113 Stephen St., is well worth a visit for reasonably-priced, home-cooked food. Even if one part of your meal falters a bit, there is plenty of other food headed your way.