I hadn't been to the Elmhurst area just west of Chicago for dinner for quite sometime. There have always been a number of wonderful dining options in Elmhurst, but this particular evening I wanted to try something new. Sitting in my hotel room, I found a place that I wasn't overly familiar with on Urbanspoon - The Standard - and it appeared that it was just down York Road in the Elmhurst City Centre, Elmhurst's downtown restaurant, shopping and entertainment district.
The Standard is owned by Steve Syregelas and opened in May of 2007. Their concept is to take classic American food and offer a fresh and modern approach. The food is all made with the freshest ingredients and made from scratch each day. I likened it to higher end comfort food. They also have a full service bar where they make a large assortment of specialty drinks and martini's using fresh fruits and seasonal ingredients.
The Standard is actually just off York Road on Schiller on the ground floor of a public parking garage (see map). I was able to find a parking spot on the street just across from the front of the restaurant. I went in and was greeted by the bartender, Christopher, who was also wearing the hat of host for that evening. The bar area looked rather interesting with a backlit wall showcasing their various bottles of liquor. No one was seated at the bar and I asked Christopher if I could sit there. He said, "Absolutely! I could use some company!"
The dining room was also rather interesting. It's sort of a stylish and modern take on a classic American diner. The dining room was designed by SYRE Design, which, I'm guessing, is probably connected to owner Steve Syregelas. The key component of the dining room are the large modern light fixtures hanging from the ceiling. While the restaurant was not bright, it certainly wasn't so dark that you could read a menu.
Christopher sat a dinner menu down in front of me and I began to go through what they had to offer. He came back a moment later and asked me if I wanted anything to drink. They had three beers on tap - the Goose Island 312 Urban Wheat beer (which is one of the very few wheat beers that I like); another beer that while I can't remember what it was, I wasn't interested in getting it; and a beer whose spigot I didn't recognize. I asked Christopher what the other beer was and he said, "Oh, that's the Magic Hat 9. It's out of the Magic Hat Brewery in Vermont."
I wasn't familiar with it and I asked what kind of beer it was. He told me that it was a pale ale. I immediately signed up for that. And I'm glad I did. It wasn't as forward or as heavy as some pale ales can be. It was a very smooth drinking beer. It turns out that it's been available in Illinois for quite some time, but I wasn't familiar with it. I'm certainly familiar with it now.
Looking through the menu, I found The Standard to have a wide variety of interesting salads, sandwiches, appetizers and specialty entrees. They also had a handful of steaks and seafood dishes to choose from. A waiter came over to talk to Christopher and Christopher said, "Hey, what's the special tonight? Maybe this gentleman would like to hear about it."
The waiter proceeded to tell me about a chicken entree where they take a grilled chicken breast and add ham and Swiss cheese and some other ingredients. It sounded like their version of a chicken cordon bleu. It was tempting and I kept that in the back of my mind.
On their web site, the picture of their burger looks fantastic and they had a handful of different variations to choose from. All the burgers are 1/2 pound patties and cooked over a wood-fired grill. Their Classic cheeseburger had American cheese with all the garden fixing's. The Backyard burger had cheddar cheese with bacon and barbecue sauce. And they had a Maytag burger featuring Maytag blue cheese and caramelized onions with lettuce, tomato and pickles. I almost pulled the trigger on that.
But I had been on the road for a while and every now and then I get to a point that I need a good comfort food dinner. The Standard's specialty entrees featured a roasted turkey dinner with cranberry/orange sauce along with apple stuffing, smashed potatoes and homemade gravy. They also had a meat loaf dinner that caught my eye. For fish, they had a sesame encrusted sushi grade ahi tuna with Thai peanut sauce, baby bok choy and rice. And they also had a wonderful sounding Steak Diane - beef filet medallions in a mushroom madiera sauce and their smashed potatoes. I was having a hard time trying to figure out what I wanted.
I had narrowed my choices down to the Maytag burger and the meat loaf served with a mushroom bordelaise sauce and topped with onion straws and served over a bed of smashed potatoes. Christopher came over and asked if I was ready to order. I told him that I was torn between the Maytag burger ("Just had one of those earlier," he said), and the meat loaf. He said, "Oooo... That is a tough choice. Our meat loaf is very good."
I did a mental coin flip in my head and it came up meat loaf. He said, "Either way, I don't think you'll go wrong."
Less than 10 minutes after I ordered, a waitress brought out my meat loaf and sat it down in front of me at the bar. It featured three medium sized slabs of meat loaf that appeared to be slightly grilled, then placed on the smashed potatoes, then topped with a liberal amount of the mushroom bordelaise sauce. I was expecting onion straws on top of the meat loaf, but I was instead served with what appeared to be two small homemade onion rings. Fresh parsley was then sprinkled over the top. The presentation for a meat loaf dish was very nice.
The meat loaf was firm, yet easy to cut with a fork. Along with the mushroom sauce, it tasted very good. The herbs and seasonings that were in the meat loaf added to the taste sensation of the sauce and the meat together.
The smashed potatoes were, well, smashed potatoes. They were fine, but nothing outstanding. Actually, I wish I would have gotten more than just two of the onion rings as they were delicious. The batter was fresh and flavorful, and the onions cooked inside had a great sweet taste to them. Surprisingly, I didn't find the onion rings anywhere on the menu, not even for an appetizer or a side. I thought they were excellent.
For a first time dining experience at The Standard, I was very impressed. The menu was very interesting, the meat loaf entree was very good, and Christopher's service was excellent. They weren't overly busy that evening so I was able to get his full attention when I needed it, but nonetheless it was exemplary. As I said, Elmhurst has a number of good to very good dining establishments and I'm glad that I was able to try The Standard on this particular evening. Next time - the Maytag burger!
(Update - I didn't get the chance to make it back to get a Maytag burger. The Standard closed in May of 2013.)