Item Purchased: Roast Pork Special w/2 Sides
Location Purchased: Valois Cafeteria / 1518 East 53rd St. / Chicago, IL
Price: $5.95 + tax
Purchased on: 03/2908
Review: I’ve come to realize that there are two types of people. There are those who can’t help but be drawn into a place like Valois and those who turn their noses up and stay far away. To those that turn up their noses, I say good riddance. In addition to being over 86 years old, being considered an institution and having a , Valois also has some fantastic, no-frills, belly stuffing food that won’t take much out of your pocket in return. It might just put a few pounds on you though.
The quintessential comfort food old-style cafeteria, even after its 2001 remodeling, Valois is an unassuming storefront in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood. With a clear glass lunch counter that displays almost all of your options in real time and a friendly, yet sternly efficient waitstaff tempered by the long lines that form here on the weekends, the airy cafeteria caters to hungry folks from all walks of life. There is no soundtrack but that which the clank of dishes and patrons conversations provide, and the formica tables are never in the same formation twice. During the busy breakfast hours, customers sit where there is room, which sometimes leads to complete strangers dining together. This, in turn, leads to conversations and meetings that are, often times, richer than the gravy on your plate.
Speaking of the gravy on my plate, it was fatty, heart-stopping and delicious. The roast pork was falling off the fat (which I eagerly scooped up onto my fork alongside the meat) and though I was given a steak knife with which to cut it, I barely needed it. The mashed potatoes were thick and creamy and the corn was boiled to the perfect crisp consistency. I was happily picking my teeth for the rest of the afternoon, recalling the full and vibrant flavor of the entire meal. My only complaint is that the cornbread wasn’t as moist as I would have preferred it to be, but the remainder of my gravy quickly mended that little stitch.
For little more than pocket change, you can walk into Valois on an empty stomach and leave feeling like it’s post-Thanksgiving all over again. The food, value and atmosphere make this a place I never pass up when I find myself in Hyde Park.
Just make sure you have that change on you. Valois doesn’t deal in plastic.
With their prices, there really is no reason to.
Now, of course, I probably should eat nothing but green salads next week.
Rating: 4.5 / 5