60 E Ohio
Chicago, IL 60611
Big Bowl is a yet another restaurant in the Lettuce Entertain You Enterprise Family of venues. Chicago is proudly served by several of the Lettuce Entertain You Enterprise (LEYE) outlets including 5 Big Bowl locations in the Chicago and Suburban areas. There are more outlets in Minnesota and Virginia.
Offering a substantial menu selection of Chinese and Thai food fair, Big Bowl strives to provide fresh, flavorful, scratch-made Asian cuisine from locally farmed produce, antibiotic and hormone free chicken and beef, fair trade products, and conscientious cooking and business practices.
The Ohio street location is warm and inviting. It is a medium sized venue with a cute bar and Asian inspired decor that isn't so traditional that you feel as if you are staring in a Kung Fu movie. The staff was knowledgeable, friendly, and attentive without being too intrusive into the dinner conversation. The kitchen service was prompt and accommodating to special dietary request.
We began our night with some bar offerings, as everyone should in my opinion. On offer was a seasonal sangria made fresh to order, ours was a light blended version of the darker wine drink made with white wine and fresh watermelon, delightfully refreshing.
Moving on to the menu, we decided to try the appetizers on the "to share" selection and went with the Thai Herb Calamari. These well cooked rings of fresh squid were lightly battered and fried, served with two dipping sauces. Very tasty and the ample portion was enough for two but was so tasty that we didn't let the server remove the dish without scrabbling for the last bits.
Big Bowl not only lived up to its name by giving us substantially large portions but the dishes were as good as promised with light, fresh flavors, well crafted and balanced symmetry, nicely seasoned, and made to order.
I selected the Kung Pao Noodle dish with chicken for my entrée while my dinner guest selected the Tofu Pad Thai, we both enjoyed them very much. All the ingredients were fresh and flavorful. The hand cut rice noodles in my dish were deliciously gelatinous with just the right balance of veg, meat, and spicy sauce. As I have new food allergies, the kitchen was not able to serve me this dish as per usual as the chicken is marinated in sesame oil, so a very well seasoned substitute was offered. Neither dish was smothered in excessive amounts of sauce or seasoning meant to mask freshness but rather allowed the bold flavors of excellent produce and proteins to shine.
We ended our meal with two choices from the dessert bar, blueberry cheesecake and chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwiches. The ice cream pressed between two yummy cookies was not some skimpy-on-the-flavor cheap vanilla type but rather a robust full-fat ice cream like the ones we all grew up eating but now have been diet-shamed from enjoying regularly, wonderful. The cookies were crisp and light, they were not too large to enjoy socially and cut in half for easier eating, gladly they presented the dish with two whole sandwiches, as one would not have been enough to share. The cheesecake was a rich plain cheesecake in a nicely proportioned size topped with a fresh blueberry compote and topped with fresh vanilla whipped cream. This items texture was very creamy and lightly sweetened. The richness of both of these treats was a great compliment and contrast to the lightness of the entrées.
Of note: Big Bowl's menu includes Group Share meals $21.99 per adults and $9.99 per child for groups of four or more. These include 3 salads and/or appetizers, 3 entrées, and for $2 more per person you can add a dessert sampler. This type of dinning is in a traditional Asian style of family dinning that inspires conversation and sharing. A great addition to any menu and much better than just another buffet.
Overall, this reviewer was impressed with the overall menu and ambiance and would recommend you stop in for a great dinning experience. Moderately priced, we two dined for a price tag of about $75 including drinks and dessert, well worth the price. Kudos to you Big Bowl.