It is not difficult to imagine the sort of life in which one would survive only on Acre, the remodeled bar-restaurant that used to be Charlie’s Ale House. The dining room provides the neighborhood-dining prereqs: It’s busy but you’re not going to have to go through the bullshit of waiting for a table; the servers (most of whom were retained from when the place was Charlie’s) are old hat and are really pleasant, too. Add in the fireplace and soothing Restoration-Hardwarereminiscent color scheme, and you’re an agoraphobe if you don’t feel comfortable here.
In this alternative universe in which you are eating here every night, the weekend rolls around, and you need something different: You need noise, you need lots of surprisingly loud lesbians, you need an awesome beer list and some food that didn’t come out of a Sysco truck. So you find yourself on the left side of Acre, in the Tap Room, nestled into the crowded bar or easing into a booth.
This balancing of two distinct environments is a pretty impressive achievement. You decide what atmosphere you’re looking for; Acre will deliver it. Unfortunately, you also have to lower your expectations.
The Tap Room is bar food that tries: basic macaroni and cheese with bacon, deviled eggs topped with oily smoked salmon, oysters fried so well it is feasible (but not easy) to get over the fact that what was listed on the menu as a po’ boy turns out to be a curious Jewish-New Orleans amalgam of oysters on rye bread.
If anything, the dining room tries too hard. The combination of figs, almonds and Manchego might have been more balanced if the figs were fresh or roasted rather than intensely wine-poached. Trout was moist and the serving generous, but salmon roe in the Israeli couscous felt like one ingredient too many. The chocolatepear tart for dessert? I avoided all the pieces of wine-poached pear in favor of the rich chocolate crust.
Here and there was an error in execution: lamb meatballs came in a preposterously good broth but were undercooked to the point of near-raw on the inside. And in the end, only one dish really nailed it: a medium-rare, tender skirt steak topped with brightorange, brightly hot mojo rojo on a bed of toothsome wheat berries. But it really nailed it.
And so, since most of the food can’t quite seem to find the sweet spot after dull but before odd, there remains a single justification for returning to Acre to do more than just drink. The menu changes so frequently, there’s a chance that down the line, the food won’t just match expectations; it’ll exceed them.
By Julia Kramer.
|Venue name:||Acre [Closed]||Contact:|
5308 N Clark St
|Cross street:||between Berwyn and Summerdale Aves|
|Opening hours:||Brunch (Sat, Sun), lunch (Fri), dinner|
|Transport:||El stop: Red to Berwyn. Bus: 22, 50, 92.|
|Price:||Average main course: $17|
|Do you own this business?|
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I'm not sure from where this review came but it is all kinds of wrong. For example, there are no fried oysters at Acre. It is a raw oyster bar. A fantastic raw oyster bar with a variety of flavorful types of fresh oysters. Also there is no bacon macaroni and cheese at Acre. There is a great green chilies white cheddar macaroni and cheese side dish. Also, as for beers, Acre is actually known for its stocking of micro brews and seasonally changing offerings. I'm also a bit surprised at the original reviewer's stereotyping of lesbians as "loud". Regardless, I'm wondering whether the original reviewer went to a different restaurant from Acre all together. Acre is a warm, gorgeous local establishment that focuses seasonally on offerings from local farmers and food producers.