WOOD REVIEW

Style over substance. Not accommodating to people with allergies. Quite possibly the most over-hyped place in all of Chicago.

Nobody likes a bad review, not the establishment, nor the person writing it. To put it quite simply: it’s not fun for anyone.

But, this place needs to know how it treats its customers and the blatant disregard it has vis-à-vis food intolerances. Let me start with the beginning. The host was nice enough, showed me to a bar seat in this upscale, trendy place.

The prices were high, as were the expectations.

Photo from their website

I get a recommendation from our waiter to try the hamburger, so I ask for a burger with no cheese – as I’m pretty badly lactose intolerant, and warn them as such. Figure that it’s not too complicated to remember. The burger comes back with cheese on it.

This happens so often that I am barely phased by it anymore. Waiters will half-listen to your order and then give you something wrong. But, I understand that they can be busy and errors can occur, so it’s not a big deal. I kindly inform them that they made a mistake and thought that would be the end of it.

Then me and my girlfriend wait..and wait…and wait long enough for her dish to get cold at which point I tell her to start eating because there’s no point in eating soggy noodles. The burger FINALLY comes back after about 30 mins of waiting. Imagine that: 30 mins for one burger with no cheese and fries that cost extra. This is after already waiting 20 minutes for the original burger. If McDonalds gave out their burger in almost an hour, they would have been out of business the year they opened.

They finally come back and apologetically serve me my food once more. So I take a bite out of the second burger and lo and behold, it has cheese, again.

I open up the burger and realize the chef spent 30 minutes not making me a new one, but barely scraping off the cheese from the old one. (After I told them the effect eating cheese would have on me.) The patty was the same and had chunks of cheese cooked into it, fried twice-over. I immediately noticed on my first bite something wasn’t right and asked for the check, telling them I’ll be leaving. (Their “short-cut” caused me intestinal damage and digestive pain later that night.)

To top it off, they had the indecency to charge me for 2 orders of fries (1 of which I didn’t touch because it was the 1st order that they bungled up) and to not refund me my burger, which both times was again, and I can’t stress this enough, NOT what I ordered.

I hope nobody has to experience paying $40 to take one bite out of a burger that makes them vomit. I learned my lesson and felt compelled to warn anyone on the fence about this restaurant.

NEVER, NEVER, NEVER eat there.

Hard to digest, both experientially and physically – 0 stars 

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BIEN ME SABE REVIEW

VENEZUELAN DELICIOUSNESS

This Venezuelan cafe and restaurant is one I always come back to. One of my favorite restaurants in Chicago, it’s cooked simply, with powerful taste, leaving you with a full and satisfied stomach. I’ve only been to the original Ravenswood location and cannot speak for the smaller one in the Loop.

As with any ethnic cuisine, it’s worth sampling traditional menu items as to appreciate meals you wouldn’t be able to eat otherwise. Here’s a guide to the best dishes on the menu.

AREPAS

The main item on the menu that Bien Me Sabe boasts is “arepas”. An arepa is similar to a sandwich bread, though it’s made of corn. If you’re having trouble imagining it, think South American corn pita and that should do the trick. Since it’s made of corn, it’s entirely GF, which I never would have guessed with that hearty dough. Their arepas have the right balance of soft and crunch.

Often times, I’ve found, the fewer ingredients- the better. This is true with the arepa. If you add too much to it you cannot focus on the ingredients in front of you and notice each different taste. The perfect combo (after many attempts) seems to simply be bread, beef, avocado and a sauce that resembles a light garlic aioli [pictured above]. With just those 4 ingredients, you appreciate each bite immensively, each part complementing the other in flavor.

There are arepa options as well for people with food restrictions and specific diets.

  • BEST VEGETARIAN AREPA: Caribbean Arepa
  • BEST VEGAN AREPA: Tropical Vegan Arepa

OTHER ITEMS

One of my favorite things on the menu is tostones (fried plantains), a staple of Central/South American cuisine. They are easy to share and wets the appetite whistle just enough to be ready for the main course. These ones come with some sauces and toppings, so it looks like a min open-faced sandwich.

For any pescatarians there is a great traditional fish stew that looks just as colorful as it tastes [pictured below].

BEST SIDE : YUCCA FRIES BEST DRINK: PAPELÓN

There is no better word to describe these other than tasty. Not often do I get to order yucca fries at a restaurant, so I jumped on the chance to order these salty treats and was very pleased! They are perfectly crunchy, and the exact size for dipping in their light guasacaca sauce (a sort of avocado salsa). The papelón tastes like a thick lemonade, sweetened with what taste like sugar cane extract. Strong and sweet, which balances well with the salty fries.

But, what Bien Me Sabe boasts in taste, they lack in customer service. I went on a weekday and it was not busy. And they took my plate the second i took my last bite. I felt rushed and with barely any time to enjoy my experience while waiters hovered over my half-finished plate. (They even took a dish that wasn’t finished and brought my fork along with it- I had to find another one).

That being said, it is worth it just for the food, just be on your toes and don’t be surprised if you feel like you are eating fast. Take the time- this food deserves your full attention!

If you have any room left for dessert the Tres Leches is worth a try and the Quesillo is a traditionally Venezuelan Flan- if you want to stick to purely Venezuelan cuisine.

RECOMMENDATION:

  • Start off with Tostones + sauces
  • Build-your-own Arepa with Beef and Avocado
  • Papelón (Venezuelan Lemonade) to drink

Come hungry, leave satisfied! – ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Learn more here: https://bienmesabechicago.com