WHERE: 777 E. Butterfield Road, Lombard
HOURS: 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Sunday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday
DRESS CODE: Casual
INFO: www.trademarktavern.com, 630-472-0777
After looking at the brick exterior and gently sloping roof of the Trademark Tavern, first-time visitors might assume that what they'll find inside is a cramped, dark space unsuitable for claustrophobics.
On the contrary, the interior features a high-ceilinged main room with comfortable tables spaced generously, and a classic-style bar along one wall.
And with a name that features the word "tavern," one might expect standard pub fare, but the cooks here have quite a few tricks up their sleeves.
My dining companion and I chose initially to sit in the attractive outdoor seating area, since it was a warm spring evening. But as soon as the sun ducked below the horizon, the temperature dropped quickly and we asked to be re-seated inside.
We noticed right away that the appetizer menu had some interesting choices, such as Reuben rolls, bacon-wrapped Cajun shrimp, and lamb chop lollipops. We went with the lamb chops, and were rewarded with tasty morsels still on the bone, drizzled with a wonderful marinade, and served with a tangy chimichurri sauce on the side. The meat was tender and tasty on its own, but enhanced nicely by the sauce.
For the entree, my companion was a little more adventurous than I, opting for the cashew-encrusted tilapia, which comes with beurre blanc sauce, sautéed spinach and mashed potatoes. She had intended to save some of it for lunch the next day, but ended up finishing off the entire portion.
"It was juicy down to the last bite," she said.
I zeroed in on the chicken cordon bleu sandwich right away, and while a number of other items (sausage rigatoni pasta, pork tenderloin sandwich) tempted me to change my mind, I stuck to my guns. I exchanged the standard french fry side for tater tots, a substitution that I can heartily recommend – many restaurants serve undercooked or charbroiled tater tots, but these were perfect, and a good match for the tasty sandwich.
To finish things off, we tried the wonton of the week dessert. Each week, the chef whips up a new dessert concoction of fried wontons with various fillings. Ours were stuffed with a sort of orange cream that interwove a variety of delightful flavors.
Trademark Tavern has daily drink specials and a wide selection of wines, liquors and beer. Fans of the show "Mad Men" might want to try "The Don Draper Old Fashioned" cocktail.
The menu features many items with "TT" or "GF" indicators, which identify a dish as a "Trademark Favorite" or a "Gluten-Free Option."
Based on our experience, there's a good chance you'll find something on the menu you can make your own favorite.
The Mystery Diner is a newsroom employee at Suburban Life Media. The diner's identity is not revealed to the restaurant staff before or during the meal. Only positive dining experiences will result in published reviews.
(To view the Mystery Diner's photos taken at Trademark Tavern, go to
http://shawurl.com/lvf; visit its website at www.trademarktavern.com.)