The shtick: The diner of your dreams.
The vibe: Though weekends can be bonkers at One-Off Hospitality’s (Publican, Big Star, etc) year-old diner, the scene during our weekday morning meal was lowkey as it gets. We snagged a Damen Avenue–facing counter seat and watched as downtown office-workers shuffled through the Blue Line’s turnstiles and multitasking Wicker Park moms pushed strollers while chatting on iPhones.
Inside, filtered sunlight and easy-listening throwback tunes filled the room (which was pretty sparsely populated with diners). If there’s a better spot to ease into a Wednesday, we’re not sure where it is. 10 out of 10
The food: If the regular, all-day menu’s offerings of foods such as chicken-fried chicken and stuffed chile relleno sound like breakfast to you, then have them slap a fried egg on it ($1) and call it your meal. If not, look to the specials board like we did.
An amaranth crepe ($11) with apple butter, granola, lemon crema, and fresh raspberries sounded like the antidote to the savory portion of our order. Sadly, the kitchen was out of apple butter, so we instead received blueberry jam. Even more sadly, the crepe itself was dry and dense—a far cry from the tender specimen we craved. The tangy, yogurtlike crema was delightful, but not enough to save this underperformer.
Another special, the smoked brisket hash ($13), totally redeemed the meal. Tucked beneath a blanket of fried eggs, tender chunks of meat (which we’d have liked much more of) mingled with crisp potatoes and spicy aioli. A fine specimen of Texas toast was the perfect vessel for yolk-absorption. And the whole thing became even tastier with a dollop of housemade chile sauce—a smoky, garlicky, pasty concoction enriched with almonds. 7 out of 10
The drinks: Adorably ugly brown mugs (set on doilies, no less!) deliver a mighty strong house blend coffee, compliments of Dark Matter. We know from past visits that the cocktails are also killer. 9 out of 10
The service: Easygoing and warm. No harried diner waitresses here. Our server appeared at all the right times, and the whole crew seemed happy to be at work. 10 out of 10
Overall: Even after a few imperfect forkfuls, it’s tough not to be enamored with the whole experience at Dove’s. 9 out of 10
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