Best Of MenuPages Reviews: Hyde Parkers Weigh In On Chant

We may not do reviews at MenuPages, but our legions of users are all over that. Here are five of interest.

Around a month ago, we covered the opening of Chant in Hyde Park, a moderately fancy pan-Asian spot with small plates and whatnot from the people who brought you Noodles Etc (in fact, it replaced the Noodles on 53rd Street, which was the skeezier one anyway). The menu contains items like lobster rangoon, shiitake-tofu lumpia and Asian pear-watercress salad, each of which is $6 or less. But none of this means anything if the clientele’s not on board.

So what does the University of Chicago community think of Chant? Well, fully three of the five reviews we’ve received in the past few weeks have come from University IPs, so at least the students are engaged. The first review came in on 11/14, with the title “eh”:

The food was subparand expensive. Some of the fuax-asian decorations were nice…but not 20$ a person nice.

Cutting to the chase, we guess, but getting there a little too fast to proofread! Ten days later, a more positive assessment hit the wires:

We didn’t dine at the restaurant, so can’t speak on that experience, but we definitely enjoyed trying this new Hyde Park spot’s menu. It’s a little expensive for the portions you get, but the peking duck rolls, for instance, are quite delicious, and the pumpkin-coconut soup was very nice too. The staff were all very nice when I picked up the food,
so we’re looking forward to trying a meal at the restaurant and maybe trying a few drinks at that good looking bar as well…

We hope these people did pick-up rather than delivery, because otherwise their reference to the bar doesn’t make any sense (except as a shill). So far, there’s agreement on the pleasant decor and the high prices, if not on the ultimate value.

Meanwhile, there’s a been a flurry of reviews in the past two days. First, a U-of-Cer took to numbering his or her points:

Great addition to Hyde Park! It’s what the neighborhood needs – a fun place for a young crowd to hang out in. I felt like I went out without having to leave Hyde Park! Great ambiance and vibe.
The place does have some major shortcomings.
1. Food is not much better than Noodles etc. but is more expensive. 2. It’s a small restaurant and Hyde Parkers love it. Therefore, it’s very difficult to get seating during prime time. A 30 - 40 minute wait is not worth it. They do take reservations so I suggest making them ahead of time.
3. Service depends on who you get.So with this restaurant, I think Hyde Park rebuilding is on the right track. We need more such places but with good, affordable food and service.

This seems pretty balanced. The next review, less so:

This place was a GREAT experience! We could never find another place like it in the Hyde Park area! We will definitely be back!

Ugh, this review is so bland we almost didn’t put it on the site. But oh well, we did it anyway. And finally, this morning, we got a typically verbose student’s rantings:

The space is gorgeous and should become a Friday night date spot BUT I’m not sure if people will go back for seconds unless they improve the food.

I asked the waiter what was in the Tofu vegan Claypot and he said vegetables and tofu. What came was 4 huge chunks of tofu that looked ike someone had just broken some off a grocery package and dumped it in very hot broth (which I think was chicken – not vegan, but not 100% sure) with cellophane noodles. The “vegetables” consisted of bok choy, a few limp flavorless scallion ends and rehydrated mushrooms that were so “chewy” as to be inedible.

To their credit, the waiter replaced my order with a vegetarian thai dish and charged me only for it. The vegetables on that were nicely done but the portion was on the small side and the oil used left an icky coating on my tongue – must have been one of the cheaper oils like rapeseed, cottonseed or coconut – definitely NOT sesame or corn oil.

The crispy mussel appetizer was nicely presented and was rather rich – nice for two people but elaborate enough to make that it really slowed down our order. My friend had the lemongrass roasted chicken which she devoured and said was great.

The staff was super nice but if you’re going for vegetarian or thai you’d be better served by any of the four other thai restaurants in the area which are all cheaper but unfortunately all BYO while Chant has a full liquor license.

Maybe the trick is knowing what to order, but how bad is that?

So reading through this, the lesson that we learn is it’s better not to be a vegetarian. But we already knew that!

We are expecting further plaudits and denunciations on Chant, since its audience is profoundly captive. As long as people think they’re not being outright swindled, Chant will probably slide by on its atmosphere and liquor license. Which is maybe how it was meant to be.

Chant [MenuPages]
Chant [Official Site]

[Photo: why was this popular?]


Best Of MenuPages Reviews: Hyde Parkers Weigh In On Chant