Double-Date Night usually means trying a restaurant that we’ve never been to, regardless of what the menu looks like. If people have said good things, then we’re going to give it a go and see what happens. And that’s exactly what we did this past weekend when we visited Galit Restaurant in Chicago.
Galit Chicago is a Middle Eastern restaurant in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago. It is owned and operated by Andres Clavero and James Beard Award-winning chef Zachary Engel.
Their website states “The menu focuses on a seasonal localized approach to dishes of the Middle East and Israel’s immigrant cuisines, alongside a unique and forward-thinking beverage program.”
So yeah… right up my alley.
As you can tell, I was a bit skeptical going into dinner, but we had recently gone to Aba Chicago, which has sort of a similar style to it, I feel. So I figured that if I enjoyed the food at Aba more than I was expecting, then the same could probably be said about Galit…. and that was partially right.
I’ll be honest, which I always try to be on this site, I didn’t love the food at Galit. There were a couple dishes that I thought were pretty good, some I thought were just OK, and some that I just flat out didn’t care for… but, I did go out of my comfort zone and left the ordering up to the rest of the table, and tried pretty much everything that hit my plate.
So with that said, let’s talk a little bit about the restaurant itself and then I’ll dive into what we ordered and how I thought everything tasted.
Galit – The Restaurant
The restaurant itself is nice. It has a huge open kitchen, with a handful of seats that belly up to it like a bar, so you can see everything that’s going on at all times, so that was kind of cool, even though my back was to it from where I was sitting.
On the other side of the restaurant is the bar that runs the same length as the kitchen does opposite to it. The rest of the dining area is setup for table seating, and I will say, I thought that the table area was a little crowded. And I get that it’s a popular restaurant and they are trying to maximize the space, but if you’re looking for a more intimate setting like Owen & Engine, or something like that, this is not the place to go. However, if you’re a fan of eavesdropping on the table next to you, then this is definitely a good place for that… although it is pretty loud in general, so you’ll really have to tune your ears to get all the juicy gossip from the table next to you.
I definitely think the woman at the table next to us was super bored with her husband(?) and was just listening to our super interesting conversations about my picky eating habits, but hey, if you want want to listen to me talk about Antifoodie, then by all means, feel free.
Outside of the loudness and the feeling of being slightly cramped, the restaurant is nice, and I wouldn’t really call those other things complaints, more of observations I noticed compared to some other places we’ve eaten.
Our overall service was great, our server was always nearby to answer any questions we had, and the runners always explained the food thoroughly when it arrived at the table.
Now let’s talk about the food.
Galit – Hummus and More!
Alright, now let’s get to the meat and potatoes of Galit – the food.
The menu is broken down into three different sections – Hummus, Salatin and (mostly) Over Coal. I’m not sure if the menu changes often, but during our visit there were four different Hummus options, five offerings as part of the Salatin (you got all of them), and 15 options Over Coal. Our server recommended that for a group of four we should try a couple different hummus’, the Salatin, and six to seven of the Over Coal options. But I’m not going to lie, I think six to seven of the Over Coal options is a little overkill, but I guess it depends on how hungry you are and if you’re a huge fan of this type of food.
Since I’m extremely picky when it comes to my food, Nick and I decided to just sit back and let the ladies order everything they wanted, and we’d just try whatever was brought to the table. If we didn’t do it that way I’m not sure I would have tried everything that I did, so it was definitely the better option.
And they actually ask you to put in the entire order at one time, instead of just ordering a few things to start and then ordering more as you go, which I thought was a bit strange, since other places we’ve been with small plates encourage you to eat a few things and then order more. It almost puts too much pressure on you to make sure you order enough food for the table so that you’re not hungry. At least at somewhere like Aba, if you ordered 4 things and were still hungry you could just order a couple more, but at Galit they made you feel like you HAD to put in everything up front and that was it, if you were hungry afterwards you had to go Takito Street next door for some tacos (which we did, but just for drinks).
I’ll admit, it was a little off-putting to have them tell us that right from the jump, although she did make it sound like it was a suggestion “we ask that you put in your full order up front”, so I guess we could have ordered more if we were still hungry, but it seemed like they wouldn’t have liked that… oh well, it is what it is. Their restaurant, their rules.
For the sake of this article though, I’m going to run down everything in the order that it came out… they do space out the courses for you even though they ask you to put in your full order up front, so it’s not like the hummus is going to come while you’re in the middle of your main entree. So that’s good.
Anyways, speaking of hummus.
We ordered two different types of hummus, the Tehina, which is sumac, Nana mint, and way too much olive oil, and the Bubbe’s Brisket which has smokey cinnamon, tomatoes, and braised carrots (pictured at top). Now, I’m not a huge fan of hummus, but the brisket one sounded good, so I had to give it a try.
I would say that the brisket itself was the best part of it. I didn’t care for the tomatoes at the bottom of the dish, and like I said, I’m not a huge fan of hummus itself, so that didn’t really do anything for me. The rest of the table seemed to really enjoy all of it though and the bread was really good. However, I think the consensus was that the bread at Aba was a little bit better. The two restaurants have different types of bread, but the charred-ness of the bread at Galit was a little overpowering, but it wasn’t bad bread. We ate multiple servings of it with the hummus, so it couldn’t have been terrible.
While we were enjoying the hummus course our salatin showed up. The salatin is basically just tiny bowls spreads to put on the pita bread. And honestly, I don’t even know if I tried any of them outside of the pumpkin one (which I did kind of enjoy)… I’m not going to list them all out here, you can check out the Galit Menu if you want to see what they were, and here’s a couple pictures of them so you can see. But none of the other ones really interested me, I was just ready for the main food…
As we were finishing up the hummus that was still on the table, and the salatin, our entree plates started to appear. I believe we ended up with five entrees, so I guess that’s kind of close to the six to seven they recommend…
I don’t remember what order they came out in, but we’re just going to start with the Potatoes. The potatoes are made with shawarma spices, confit, curried leeks, tehina & za’atar. And they weren’t too bad. I mostly stuck to eating just the potatoes and they tasted like potatoes… I’m sure they were probably a little better if you had some of the sauce on them, but they literally just tasted like small roasted potatoes to me. And that’s not a bad thing by any means, it meant I could actually fill up on something without having to worry if I was going to still be hungry when we left the restaurant.
Next up we got two orders of falafel which came with funky mango, labneh andPersian pickled turnips. Again, I did not eat anything other than the falafel and they were fine. I’m not sure if it’s just because I don’t eat this stuff with any of the sauce, but falafel always just tastes like nothing to me. Just a try ball of whatever falafel is made of…. I don’t really know what else to say about them… they were fine, they were brown on the outside and green on the inside and there were three of them per plate for $12 each (I have no idea what falafel costs, but I actually didn’t think the prices were too bad on most things).
Now it was time to eat some meat.
The Lamb Chop, which is the most expensive thing on the menu at $32, seemed a bit light for that price, but it tasted delicious. This and the chicken were probably my favorite dishes that we ordered. The lamb chop comes with sweet potato, herby tahina, hyssop brown butter, and tiny mustards. It was very good, very flavorful and cooked perfectly. Like I said, my only complaint was that it was pretty small on the plate. Someone could definitely order this for themselves as their entree and still have room for everything else the table ordered. This would be one of the dishes I would recommend though if you decide to check out Galit.
The other dish I would recommend would be the Chicken Thigh. The chicken thigh has a crispy skin, shiitakes, pine(nuts), Bulgarian feta.
Naturally I didn’t eat any of that other stuff, but the chicken itself was delicious. I don’t really know what else to say about it. Everyone at the table that was eating it seemed to enjoy it, I would say it was again, a bit small, but it was half the price of the lamb chop, so that’s not really a complaint about the price, more of I just wish we had more of it. So again, definitely recommend the chicken thigh as one of your “Over Coal” options.
And our final larger dish was the Halloumi, which is a type of cheese, that is then fried and it was served with Jerusalem artichokes, aji dulce chilies, kohlrabi and pecans.
Can you guess which part of this I ate?
If you guessed just the cheese, you’d be correct! And normally I don’t venture out of my cheese bubble, but when something is fried I usually have to give it a try, and I was pleasantly surprised, it was very good. In my mind I figured it would taste like fried mozzarella, because I’m mozzarella sticks’ #1 fan, and I wasn’t disappointed. The flavors were kind of similar enough that I really enjoyed it. So I would add this to the recommendation list as well.
Now that our meal was over, it was time to give one of the desserts a try.
We opted for the “If Elvis Went to Israel” which is chocolate, almonds, halva, and banana. It was just ok. I don’t know what everything is, so forgive me when I just call things by what they look like.
The chocolate mousse was not as sweet as I would have liked, but I did enjoy whatever the peanut butter-type flavored thing was on the bottom of the bowl. And the chunks of stuff were ok as well. I’m not a fan of banana, but the rest of the table seemed to think those were ok, but overall I think we were a little disappointed in the dessert.
So that’s it, Galit Chicago in the books.
Not quite as good as Aba, but not bad. I’m sure someone with a little more sophisticated taste, or someone that really loves Middle Eastern food, might like it a lot more than I did, but I found stuff to eat, some of it was delicious, some of it not so good, and I don’t think anyone left hungry… or at least nobody ordered tacos from Takito next door.
Did we miss something we should have tried? Let me know in the comments so that other readers can be sure to check out some of the dishes we may have missed.