It is so hard to find a restaurant that still serves the full relish tray, so impressive to the under-twelve crowd, that harsh criticism seems to stick in one's craw. Ken's is the kind of restaurant that our parents took us to, and made us wear a tie. It is the kind of place that served a "businessman's lunch", with Manhattans aplenty. The food is mostly old-style and hearty, and the portions suited to that fabled businessman. Certainly the recipes have been lovingly handed down since the Eisenhower Administration. There are no surprises, and the familiarity is nostalgia-inducing. They are tolerant of children diners, and the waitstaff seems to have collective eons of experience. Prima-donna diners stay away; new-fangled notions of cuisine and atmosphere will not be tolerated. Is the food good? Yes. Is it comfortable? Yes. Is the service acceptable? Yes. Could Ken's be described as "hip","trendy" or in any way "nouveau"? Never, ever. The place is a museum of mid-century fine dining; they'll be griping about the smoking ban for decades. Wear vintage clothing and Brylcreem and you might have a total time-travel experience.
I'd say that no more than half of Americans have had the sublime pleasure of partaking in a homemade tortilla. And, you can credit that number to the Mexicans that call America home. Made-from-scratch tortillas are a thing of beauty; they're far, far superior to their factory-created counterparts, and based on the number of ingredients they take, it's a wonder why more cooks don't make them. Ahh, such is the convenience of our economy, though. We opt for what is fast and cheap, shunning that which is from the root. Lucky for us, a few places in town, including Huaraches Restaurant, serve only homemade tortillas. In fact, Huaraches makes more than just tortillas. Via an old-school, well-worn Mexican tortilla press, it pops out crude but perfectly shaped sopas, gorditas and huaraches flecked with black beans, which are my favorite. A real huarache is a traditional Mexican sandal (you'd know it if you saw it) made from a leather weave or sometimes the soles of tires, and the food version sort of looks like the shoe.
I would highly recommend this delightful restaurant to anyone living or working in close proximity. I went there for lunch on the last Tuesday of last June only because I happened to be in the area. What a treat! The place was clean and attractive enough. All tables were covered with nice linen. A flat-screen blared a Polish soap opera. An ethnic Chicago atmosphere. A young, sweet waitress greeted me and I ordered the salmon. She offered a choice of salad. I selected some sort of ‘slaw plate’ which had 3 different Polish slaws, each as good as the other. When she served my filet of salmon, I could see that it was in fact a swordfish steak (gotta lose a star), but it looked good. It was delicious! As to sauces, they only had BBQ sauce, so I asked for butter. I was amazed at how something as simple as melted butter on parsley potatoes and fish could taste so good. It was about $15 with tax and tip for a delectable, authentic meal. Will definitely go back!