There is something I really love about antique, vintage bars and restaurants. I love the idea of a speak-easy or a homey space that brings you to another decade, specifically around the 1920s and 1930s. There are a number of places that pull this off without looking like a thrift store. Old Town Social is one of these places.
I've been here a few times, mainly to get drinks at night when it's a yuppie, sports bar scene. During dinner (I mean around 6pm), however, this is the perfect place to sit down with a glass of wine (or fancy, reworked vintage-style cocktails--or beer) and some charcuterie. In a city where almost every sports bar is serving up the spiciest wings, the biggest burgers, and the crispiest fries, you can come to Old Town Social and take your time eating a modest-sized (or generous) portion of fine food. The food is approachable but the menu is eclectic. Their concept for the menu is "unpretentious and blue collar."
You can take a seat at the bar, the main room with the hightop tables, or in their parlor. Juxtaposing the vintage atmosphere are large, flat-screen televisions broadcasting the latest sports games. So you can be as fancy as you want, but still catch the Bulls game while you're eating your charcuterie.
We ordered the selection of five meats: the coppa, which is the pork shoulder, is almost always out every single time we come here. I'd suggest coming in for lunch or an early dinner (like 5pm) if you'd like to sample this. We got the pork rillettes, the finnocchiona (fennel and anise pork salame), summer sausage (smoked beef and pork), chorizo, and branschwieger (smoked pork liverwurst). The very last was my absolute favorite, but that's because I like liver and I like smoked meat. They do spread a copious amount of the pate on the crostini but you can always scrape some off so it's not too overpowering. The pork rillettes have a more smokey flavor than the ones I had at Paris Club, and it's also more uniformed and less "shredded" in texture.
We got the Marisa sheep's milk cheese from Carr Valley, WI. Having been to the Dells early this year I can appreciate a good Wisconsin cheese. It's a bit sharp but the nuttiness rounds it all out. It was definitely a good choice to have with such rich charcuterie choices.
We weren't in the mood for a really heavy, decadent dessert, and Old Town Social doesn't really serve any. Their dessert menu consists of doughnuts and select Black Dog gelato. We decided to go with the cinnamon sugar doughnuts, served with a coffee-rum sabayon. It. Was. Phenomenal. Spencer and I had been wanting to go to the Doughnut Vault but having always been sold out every time we had wanted to go, having these warm doughnuts definitely hit the spot.
The dinner was an all-around success, just like every visit to this place. Old Town Social serves a "soul" brunch on weekends. This brunch includes pecan praline pancakes, a BLT benedict, and bananas foster french toast. YUM?! Definitely come here for a late night snack as well, from 10pm until close. This menu has everything on the cheese and charcuterie menu, as well as a couple of soups and salads to choose from.
What are you waiting for? The parlor is ready for you and your fine, sophisticated self.