UPDATE: 9/29/10 – Boston Blackie’s has closed down its Naperville location; however, continues to operate in Chicago.
I’ve never participated in the famed running of the bulls in Pampalona, Spain but tonight my family and I got a taste of what it might be like as we weathered the crowded confusion of opening night at Naperville’s newest restaurant, Boston Blackie’s (Rt. 59 just north of Ogden). Granted, anyone who ventures to a new restaurant on opening night should probably be required to sign an assumption of risk waiver. For those of us who decide to bring along our young family… well, assumption of risk and mental duress is implied. Nonetheless, we were up for the challenge tonight and, in the end, experienced signs of great promise for Boston Blackie’s once they hit their stride in terms of operations and service.
I must confess, I used to eat at the well-known Grand Avenue Boston Blackie’s periodically when I used to work in the other downtown. Though they have other menu items, Blackie’s is perhaps best known for their burgers. Their Naperville installment is no exception, but also includes an expanded menu to cater to the suburban dinner crowd.
When we arrived, we crowded into the small waiting area just inside the door in front of the hostess station. There is not a great deal of room to stand and almost no seating other than the large bar area just a few steps away. In my mind, this will be a problem for the Naperville Blackie’s once the cold weather sets in. Chaos would be the best word I could use to describe the scene as my wife and I worked diligently to keep the boys occupied, at first having them sit on the floor against a wall partition eating a small box of raisins until finally graduating to a small stone fireplace seating area (which holds about five adults) for some coloring. Others were being asked to move back outside to wait as the area was too crowded. Nonetheless, the staff was working very hard and we all took the situation in stride as confusion is to be expected.
There are large flat screen TVs in just about every direction you look, which is great to keep track of the big or not-so-big game. The combination of the dining area and bar seemed a bit smaller than I had expected when I observed the construction taking place but it should ultimately be about right. Be sure to check out the cool twin oscillating ceiling fan in the dining area. The space is mainly booths and tables with a number of high tops in the bar. Blackie’s also offers a full take-out menu as well.
Our eletronic coaster finally sent us a flashing jolt just a few minutes over our quoted wait time. We were ushered to our booth with booster seats in tow for our two little men-in-training. Before I even had a chance to sit down, our waitress arrived and was already asking for drink orders even before we were settled. The drinks arrived in large old-fashioned glass Coca-Cola glasses which were great for my wife and I, but not so great for our three year-old. Our apologetic waitress was more than happy to bring us a kids cup.
Onto the real reason we were there…. dinner. Blackie’s cuisine is definitively American. In addition to a number of burgers offered, there are also steaks, broaster chicken, chicken sandwiches, salads, a couple of seafood offerings and Carson’s ribs. Anyone who has dined at the Grand Avenue location will see a big difference in the menu.
Be sure not to consult your physician first, but you have to try the Frings, which is a combination of fresh onion straws in mini fryer basket surrounded by our choice of steak fries or house chips (go for the house chips). We all shared an order of Frings with our dinner.
With it’s inexpensive kids menu, Blackie’s will be a big hit with the family crowd. My oldest had a grilled cheese with house chips and my youngest a standard bowl of pasta, no butter no sauce.
My wife had the Mushroom Burger and I opted for the Boston Blackie’s Burger. The Boston Blackie’s Burger comes with a pile of grilled onions and the most flavorful and perfectly cooked hickory smoked bacon I’ve had in a long time. Unfortunately, the onions were a bit tough a chewy.
The burger itself was a delicious half-pound of fresh beef seared tight with juices. While I prefer chargrilled burgers, such the heavenly aroma and taste of Paradise Pup in Des Plaines, the Blackie’s burger has great flavor for what I believe is a burger fried on a grill. My wife, the official resident cheeseburger afficiando, thoroughly enjoyed the burger and is also a fan of the Grand Avenue Blackie’s.
In fairness to Blackie’s, despite rough service, we will return in a couple of weeks for a check-up. One big postive is there seemed to be at least two layers of staff checking up on our table and covering our waitress which enabled us to get our food despite a slammed kitchen, albeit incomplete and a little less than warm. Nothing but trouble can follow when everyone recieves their food except for the three year-old clamoring for his bowl of pasta, no butter no sauce. Nonetheless, I am confident service will continue to improve.
All in all, I’m pleased to report our check was under $40 for consistently high quality food and we will definitely be back just as soon as our arteries clear. Of course, Blackie’s offers plenty of healthier alternatives. Regardless of your craving, I would definitely recommend trying the new Naperville Blackie’s… perhaps once the opening week jitters have diminished.
Check out their website at www.bostonblackies.com