Elephant & Castle is the latest restaurant to grace Glenview’s “The Glen” shopping center after many of the other restaurants in the area have been forced out due to high leases (or at least that’s what I’m assuming is happening).
The Glen area of Glenview is a row of shops, restaurants, and a movie theater, topped by condos and surrounded by upscale, modern, townhomes and McMansions. Just outside of the central shopping area is a beautiful park with a large pond, a huge recreational center (where I happen to play volleyball in the winter), as well as multiple schools and corporate businesses.
It’s a great location for a lot of things, but unfortunately restaurants seem to be leaving by the truck load… and I’m not sure what the future holds for the other restaurants that currently reside there.
Yardhouse seems to be the only original restaurant that is still able to maintain the steady flow of customers needed to remain profitable (I’m assuming), and remain ahead of their lease. Or maybe the owners of The Glen are just worried that if the Yardhouse leaves, they’ll really have nothing else driving people to the area. It’s always packed on the weekends, and it’s a huge space, so I’ve gotta imagine they are doing ok… but who knows.
Other restaurants that have seemingly been in The Glen forever have closed up shop recently and left the area. Places like Bravo and RA Sushi, which always seemed to be crowd favorites, suddenly closed their doors and moved out. Again, both of those were bigger spaces, and I’m just assuming that they couldn’t cover whatever the rent increases were from the landlords… but that’s purely speculation on my part, maybe they just weren’t doing very well overall. Although I know plenty of people who would state that one of their favorite restaurants in the area was Bravo… so that one still surprises me.
Anyways, with all of that said, Elephant & Castle has moved in to the space previously occupied by State & Main, which I have written about previously, and absolutely loved. And Elephant & Castle actually shares a parent company with State & Main, so it sounds like State & Main maybe just wasn’t doing as well in the area as they expected so they decided to rebrand and give one of their other properties a go at the space.
So with The Glen being super close, and Elephant & Castle being something new to try, we decided to head over there as a large group and see what it was all about. I actually thought I had been to the one in Chicago before, just for drinks, but my wife informed me that I was mistaken, and that was something else that was two words with an “and” between them…
Elephant & Castle – The Space
Funny enough, having been to State & Main twice, we never actually sat inside, and I never personally went inside the restaurant at all, so I can’t compare the interiors to one another, and I have no idea what may have changed. However, I can tell you that the ambiance and the interior of Elephant & Castle was great.
It’s not a super huge space, and the bar area takes up a lot of the interior real estate, but my favorite part of the entire restaurant is the fact that the dining tables are not right on top of one another. At Yardhouse I feel like they jam so many tables so close together, that I’m always bumping into other people as I’m trying to get up to use the bathroom or pick up a toy that my kid dropped. But at Elephant & Castle I felt like there was plenty of room between the tables which made for a much better experience. I didn’t feel like I was constantly eavesdropping on the people next to me, when the kids decided they wanted to walk around the table to see their aunt and uncle, I didn’t feel like an asshole having to maneuver them through a maze of tables without accidentally bumping someone trying to enjoy their meal… it was just a great experience from a personal space standpoint.
I also read a bunch of Yelp reviews complaining that it’s an English-style pub, yet they were playing American classic rock bands on the speakers. This was absolutely not a problem for me, and I think it’s dumb to complain about such a stupid thing. The only thing that would have made the music better was if they were playing 90’s hip-hop, but I’m sure the Yelp reviews would be terrible if Biggie and 2Pac were blasting over the speakers of an English-style pub…
And speaking of it being an English-style Pub, with British pub inspired food, they also serve American classics, poutine, and other food that isn’t inherently British, so the music was totally fine, and perfectly enjoyable. And it’s not like it was super loud anyways, so I wouldn’t even bother reading reviews from people that complained about the music.
The Food – British Pub Food with American Classics
I decided that on this visit I was going to try more of the food that was ordered across the table, but I was still going to just get the cheeseburger for myself, so don’t worry, this review will include my thoughts on more than just the burger, but there’s a reason I wanted to get the burger here and I’ll explain in a minute.
Oh, I also will not be commenting on the alcohol offerings here as I’ve decided to give up alcohol for the next couple months to see if it helps with my IBS, but it seemed like everyone that got drinks in our group enjoyed their alcoholic beverages, so take that as you will.
In regards to food, when I go out with my wife’s family there’s always plenty of it to go around, starting with appetizers.
For the table we decided to order 2 orders of the fried calamari, 2 orders of the traditional poutine, and 1 order of the pretzel bites, all of which I’m able to eat as part of my low FODMAP-type diet, so that was good.
Let’s start off with the stuff that’s hard to get wrong, the fried calamari and the pretzel bites, both of which were delicious. The pretzel bites came with a side of warm bacon & beer cheese dip, which perfectly complimented the salted pretzel bites. This was also a favorite with the kids, especially the cheese, which they seemed to dip everything in to as the night went on.
The calamari was pretty good as well. It’s breaded with onion & red pepper, so I didn’t dive in too deep, since onions and I don’t get along, but the little taste I had was good. It also comes with warm garlic tomato sauce with freshly grated parmigiano reggiano. I tried to stay away from the sauce since, like onions, garlic and tomatoes can put me out of commission the following day… but I probably could have dug in, because I’m sure the poutine gravy wasn’t lacking in garlic and/or onions, and I went to town on that.
Ok, so the poutine… it was good, for sure, but seeing as how this is the same parent company as State & Main, I was definitely disappointed with the poutine at Elephant & Castle vs. the previous restaurant. And I know it’s just the same super large parent company, but I though the poutine here was pretty pathetic in comparison. State & Main’s poutine was more akin to the poutine I had in Montreal last year.
The picture above has both the poutine from Elephant & Castle on the left and State & Main on the right… now you tell me which one looks like it tastes better? If you said the one on the left, we can’t be friends.
It just looks like someone put a handful of fries on a small plate (it definitely wasn’t large), put a small ladle of gravy on it, put some cheese curds on top and threw it in the microwave…
Now, Elephant & Castle does offer a couple other versions of poutine, outside of the traditional, but I’m not sure if their presentation, or taste, is any better. The Works Poutine comes with the traditional cheese and gravy, plus bacon, tomato, sour cream and green onions. And the Butter Chicken Poutine comes with simmered chicken in a curried tomato cream sauce, cheese curds, cilantro and spiced yogurt.
I definitely would not eat the Buttered Chicken one, especially after tasting the curried buttered chicken that my brother in-law got, but The Works does sound pretty good, for the most part.
Overall though I was pretty disappointed with the poutine offering, especially since I know State & Main had such amazing poutine… And yes, I know it’s a different restaurant, but why wouldn’t they still offer something that is leaps and bounds better than what they are currently offering, when they clearly could? Just seems stupid to me…
Entrees – Burgers, Curried Chicken, Cheesesteak, Sausage
On to the entrees.
Surprise surprise, I ordered a cheeseburger with only cheese… I mean, what else were you expecting…
The Standard Burger comes with a house made burger sauce, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle and American cheese. I ordered it totally plain with just the cheese, and they brought the burger sauce on the side… or at least I think that was the burger sauce. I tried it and had to move it off the plate. Definitely not something I would put on my burger, let alone anything else. I have no clue what it’s made of, but even my wife didn’t really care for it when she tasted it. So if you’re sensitive when it comes to weird sauces directly on your food, definitely ask for the sauce on the side.
As for the burger itself, it wasn’t bad at all, but I was a little disappointed, but only because I keep making the comparison to State & Main.
The burger at E&C is a 7 oz. grilled burger, which was ok, but I wasn’t super impressed. Whereas the S&M burger is 2-4 oz griddle patties and it was one of the best burgers I’ve had in a long time.
I know it’s not fair to compare the burgers because they are two different restaurants, but it is what it is. The E&C burger was good, I ate the entire thing, but it wasn’t anything to really write home about.
As for the other dishes on the table, my wife got the London Cheesesteak that comes with mushrooms, onions & peppers, sautéed in a rich HP peppercorn gravy in a toasted baguette with melted Swiss cheese. I don’t think she got mushrooms on it, and she asked for light onions.
Once I was done with my burger I gave my wife’s cheesesteak a try. I avoided all the onions and just tried the meat and the cheese, and it was pretty good. It’s definitely something I would order on my own if we were to go back, but of course I’d have to get just plain meat and cheese, but I’m sure it would still be pretty delicious.
So after trying my wife’s dish, and hearing my mother in-law and brother in-law complain about how spicy their Manta’s Butter Chicken was, I had to at least try it… even though spicy food doesn’t do good things to me.
The Butter Chicken is served in a curried tomato cream sauce topped with chopped cilantro and spiced yogurt, served with basmati rice and grilled garlic naan bread. So basically everything in this dish would do bad things to my stomach, but I had to try just a little bit myself.
And yup, I would not order this for myself…
It is definitely very spicy and very creamy. It didn’t taste terrible, but those things combined would break my toilet at home, and there’s no way I want to put my body through that, so it’s a pass from me.
Honestly I don’t even think my brother in-law or mother in-law could finish their whole dish, it was just a little too much for everyone. But, if spicy and creamy is your thing, then you may really enjoy the butter chicken.
I also think they might have been expecting something a little different when they ordered it. Since it’s basically a bowl of curry with chunks of chicken swimming in it that you dip the naan in… so keep that in mind when ordering (see photo at top).
Lastly, in regards to food, my father in-law order the bangers and mash and the sausage was too spicy for him. But I would take that with a grain of salt, as pretty much anything outside of salt is a bit too spicy for him. And my sister in-law seemed to love her Chicken Pot Pie, which I did not try.
Since three of us were celebrating birthdays this weekend, we ended up getting three different desserts. We got the brownie, the bread pudding and I believe the apple crumble (or something along those lines). I only ended up eating the brownie, but even that was a little disappointing.
It came out and it looked absolutely amazing. It’s 2 huge brownies with vanilla ice cream sandwiched between them with chocolate sauce and whipped cream on the sides. I mean, what could be better than that?
Well the brownie itself was rock hard, which kind of ruined the whole thing for me. I was expecting the brownie to be soft and easy to cut down through to the ice cream, but it was a chore just to get a spoonful out of the thing. It did taste pretty good, but I wouldn’t order it again unless I knew that the brownie was going to be warm and moist… I wasn’t looking for a chocolate brick for dessert.
So overall the food wasn’t terrible, but I don’t think that anyone was impressed. I think it actually made us more sad about State & Main leaving because we all really liked the food that they had on their menu.
Sadly, I don’t know that we’ll be coming back to Elephant & Castle any time in the near future, however, if they have the same patio setup as State & Main did, it’s a great way to sit outside when Yardhouse is super crowded… just beware of the sun at 5PM during the early summer, it’s a bitch.