Come for the… romantic French ambiance.
Stay for the… smokey violet smash and charred broccoli.
I’ve been wanting to go to Maude’s Liquor Bar for a while now. If you’re familiar with Brendan Sodikoff, his restaurants don’t disappoint. He’s behind Au Cheval (often chosen as Chicago’s best burger), Doughnut Vault (my absolute fave “craft” doughnut, if you will), Green Street Smoked Meats (country meets Chicago that’s as delicious as the South), and the list goes on! As I write this it’s midnight and I’m getting hungry just thinking about Green Street’s pulled pork!
Anyway. Back to Maude’s.
Maude’s is located in the West Loop on Randolph Street, a fitting place as it’s surrounded by some of the best grub (slash fine dining) in the city. It’s almost hidden, with no windows, and at night you could almost walk right by the black painted entrance. Don’t.
Walking into Maude’s is like walking into a romantic French farmhouse. It’s intimate but rustic with subway tile lining the bar and an array of chandeliers casting some seriously soft shadows. We sat at the bar and chatted up the friendly bartender, but you can’t go wrong choosing a cozy table for two.
The Delicious Drinks
The cocktail menu has lots of choices, I tried a handful (ha!) but my favorites were The Aviation and Smokey Violet Smash. The Aviation is a gin-based drink with a hint of lemon and touch of creme di violette. I imagine this is what wealthy Parisians used to drink on their balconies while can-can dancers took shots of absinthe below.
Yep, it tastes like French Royalty.
The Smokey Violet Smash is a fun and delicious mixture of citrus, mint, and lavender, served over those fantastic mini ice cubes that everyone loves. It’s not too fruity and the alcohol is balanced perfectly with a splash of scotch adding the smokey flavor. If there’s only one thing you get this would be my choice.
The Fabulous Food
I went to Maude’s for the drink (re: liquor bar) but of course had to try some of their food. We didn’t do a full meal but ordered a few plates to nibble on. Starting we had the cheese plate, served with herbs and a French baguette. Although it’s super easy to please me when serving cheese, Maude’s plate gives you ample amounts and the baguette has the perfect toasty-ness with a fresh, doughy inside. We also tried the charred broccoli – it was shocking how delicious it was! I love a good veggie, and it may have been how well the crunch paired with the smooth and creamy ricotta gnocchi, but this broccoli is next level. The grilled asparagus with lemon was wonderful as well, and despite mainly ordering savory dishes no flavor was repeated. I was blown away by how much I loved each individual dish. I was sure the food would be good, but was pleasantly surprised by how they prepared such simple ingredients so well making a fabulous impression.
Maude’s is a perfect place to grab drinks, but if you’re hungry order a few plates because when it comes to French Bistro they know exactly what they’re doing!
Maude’s Liquor Bar
840 West Randolph Street