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Mystery Diner

Talley's Kitchen + Bar offers hearty cooking in cozy atmosphere

CLARENDON HILLS – On one of the coldest nights of the new year, my dining companion and I were looking for a hearty meal at a place we had never visited before.

Talley's Kitchen + Bar was that new place, and it delivered.

We found parking on the street around the corner from the restaurant, and a few minutes later we had menus in our hands, thanks to an online reservation we made a few minutes earlier. We were happy we had that reservation, because the cozy dining room was humming and more diners continued arriving after us.

With both us famished, my companion and I each ordered an appetizer to share. The filet bites and baked goat cheese both sounded interesting, but we picked the baked french onion soup and the pork wings.

The pork wings – bone-in pork shanks – were an ample portion, crispy outside, perfectly cooked on the inside and doused in a sweet and spicy sauce that struck a nice balance between the two flavors. The soup was warm and flavorful, the croutons inside leading a symphony of flavor.

The wine selection was robust and the specialty cocktails interesting, but I decided to try a beverage from a local brewery instead. It was served at the perfect temperature and in the proper glass for the style – something not every restaurant gets right.

When it came time to choose our entrees, making a decision proved to be a challenge. I put down my menu convinced I was going to pick the Asian tacos or the gnocchi caprese, but when our server came around, I blurted out "Panko chicken" instead. The thinly-pounded chicken breast was coated in panko bread crumbs, pan seared and served with a white wine sauce. The crisp texture of the chicken was offset nicely by the creamy chive mashed potatoes, which were my favorite part of the dish.

My companion was considering ordering one of the flatbreads, which seemed to be a popular choice as they were being delivered to nearly every table around us. The short rib grilled cheese was also in contention, but the signature TKB burger won the day. It was ordered well done and cooked to order, and the patty maintained a nice flavor that harmonized with the white cheddar, caramelized onions and garlic mayo served with it.

Though our appetizers and entrees were delectable, my companion and I somehow managed to save portions of our meals so we could order dessert. As soon as we saw the dessert menu, there was just one choice to be made – the chocolate chip cookie skillet. Served under a mountain of vanilla ice cream with chocolate and caramel drizzles on top, the cookie was warm, slightly crisp, and entirely delicious.

Even though the dining room was busy the night we dined, our service was top notch. When we had questions about menu items that might have conflicted with some dietary restrictions, our server came back in a jiffy with an answer. Our water glasses were never empty, and we never felt rushed to get out the door so Talley's could turn over our table.

The menu, service and intimate setting made for a memorable dining experience, one my companion and I can't wait to try again.

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If you go

WHAT: Talley's Kitchen + Bar

WHERE: 31 S. Prospect Ave., Clarendon Hills

HOURS: 4 to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 4 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 4 to 8 p.m. Sunday

INFO: 630-908-7295, talleyskitchenbar.com

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