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DISH: SAVOR Punch Bowl Social; Dining Out for Life
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2018-04-23

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When you operate a space that's almost 30,000 square foot, you better have a lot happening.

Fortunately, Punch Bowl Social Chicago ( 310 N. Green St.; www.punchbowlsocial.com/location/chicago ) has so much going on that you could conceivably stay there all day—in a place that can accommodate more than 1,000 people. ( By the way, it's part of a nationwide chain, and there's another location in Schaumburg. )

For example, there are several bowling lanes, an arcade ( with pinball machines, video games and Skee-Ball ), two karaoke rooms, virtual-reality stations, bocci, billiards, board games, marbles, shuffleboard, and even Giant Jenga and Giant Scrabble. ( Unfortunately, the Skee-Ball game wasn't working, and several of the Scrabble tiles were missing magnets—which works against a game that's played on a wall. I'm hopeful that all will be working the next time I go there. ) There's even a Shinola bike in one corner that people can pedal to charge their cellphones, although I don't know how many people will do that.

However, this is a food column, so it would behoove me to let you good readers know about the culinary fare. Well, the menu is chock full of so many intriguing-sounding dishes ( which the server termed "organic casual food" ) that it's legitimately an indecisive person's nightmare. ( Also, all of the menu items can be ordered anywhere—not just in the main dining area. )

For those who want salads or soups, there are items such as the superfood grain bowl ( packed with farro, quinoa, kale and the like ) and Cuban black-bean citrus soup. Plates made for sharing include the lobster-bacon fries ( a huge plate of sinful indulgence ), It's Nacho Mama's ( ditto ) and Hugh's Pimiento Cheese ( Pullman toast with "tender belly" bacon marmalade ).

The selections continue with sandwiches like a decent take on the Cubano; the Knockoff Burger, which is like an upscale Big Mac; and an "Impossible" burger ( which more and more restaurants are featuring ), a meatless concoction. Main dishes include the OMFG GF Southern Fried Chicken ( yes, that's the name ), beer-braised brats and Spaghetti, Meet Ball... or Not. Sides range from Brussels sprout slaw to three-bean quinoa salad to house-cut fries.

And THEN there are the "big-baller platters," meant to serve three or four people. For example, the Maine Squeeze ( $70 ) consists of four lobster rolls, along with kettle chips, creme fraiche and bread-and-butter pickles.

Oh, but let's not forget the actual punch-bowl drinks ( e.g., Lord Stanley's Cup ), old-school cocktails and even adult milkshakes.

There's even weekday breakfast ( in addition to weekend brunch ), with mushroom biscuits and gravy, and ricotta-cheese pancakes.

If you can't find something fun to do or eat at Punch Bowl Social, it's your own fault.

Dining Out for Life

The annual event known as Dining Out for Life Chicago will take place Thursday, April 26.

This year, up to 75 local restaurants ( including Big Chicks, Urban Belly, Honey Butter Fried Chicken, The Dearborn and others ) will donate all or a portion of their proceeds to HIV/AIDS-service organization TPAN ( Test Positive Aware Network ). The event returns to Chicago after a three-year absence.

Dining Out For Life started in 1991 and is now an international fundraising event raising awareness and over $4.2 million in vital funds and for those affected by and vulnerable to HIV/AIDS. See https://www.diningoutforlife.com/chicago.

Note: Restaurant profiles/events are based on invitations arranged from restaurants and/or firms.


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