In a strip of Lincoln Avenue filled with late night bars, dance floors and well-established hang outs, Toasted Ox (formerly Lucille's) might get lost in the shuffle. But its nice décor, good drink selection and better-than-usual food should make a visit there worthwhile.
Though this Lincoln Park bar and restaurant doesn't do anything particularly extraordinary, it does do everything well. It offers a good range of salads and appetizers ($5.95-$10.95) that includes bruchetta, hummus and Swedish Pancakes — served with Nutella, thin-sliced bananas or strawberries, and whipped cream. As for entrees, it includes a light, but filling, roast beef and swiss panini with horseradish ($8.95) and a nicely made half-pound cheeseburger ($8.95). Try to avoid the spicy chicken sandwich with cheese and avocado ($8.95) though — unless you enjoy dry chicken breast and unripe avocados.
Visually, Toasted Ox is eye-catching. A small balcony with two tables in front has a nice view of busy Lincoln Avenue. Black and white portraits of century-old unknowns contrast framed posters of the Bulls and Michael Jordan. And a classy-looking mirrored bar takes up a good chunk of the room. Stained-glass light fixtures hang over a mood-lit counter where patrons can sip on house martinis, cosmopolitans and $5 domestic beers. The Ox does offer a good selection of imports for only a dollar or so more.
All in all, Toasted Ox is not exactly something you haven't seen before, but a worthy stop-over to fill your stomach and get a little buzz prior to a long night of partying. In other words, Toasted Ox might not be the place to get you toasted, but still a great place to start.
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: Kimber Solana