There's no shortage of delightful Euro imports in Lincoln Square. Every block in the neighborhood lands you steps from a stein of Spaten or a freshly baked baguette. But on any given summer night at Cafe Selmarie, you can relax on its sprawling patio and watch locals learn to tango or families picnic on the pedestrian mall. It just doesn't get any more Euro than that.
Part bakery, part restaurant, Selmarie has been dishing up homemade pastries and rich bistro-inspired fare since 1983. Straddling the line between comfort food and gourmet cuisine, its menu features everything from macaroni and cheese to braised lamb shank. The roasted farm-raised Amish chicken ($18) comes with creamy white corn polenta, roasted shallots and wild mushrooms. Its simple, fresh ingredients highlight the chicken's juiciness and make for a satisfying but not over-indulgent meal. Selmarie also serves a fairly basic breakfast of eggs, pancakes and French toast and a sandwich-heavy lunch menu with prices from $7-$9.
Diners can't help but walk by the bakery case stocked with white chocolate raspberry cheesecakes, chocolate hazelnut butter cream tortes, sugar cookies and fruit-filled pies. Any pastry pairs perfectly with a cup of tea, Intelligentsia coffee or a glass of wine from the extensive list. On Wednesday nights, score half-price bottles with any entree purchase.
The frolicking families that bring so much spirit to Selmarie's outdoor area in the summer can often overwhelm its interior during colder months. Still, the spacious room's neutral walls, original artwork, tall ceilings and white orb lanterns have a calming effect. Or, maybe that's the sugar coma settling in.
Average cost: <$10
Centerstage Reviewer: Beth Dugan