Cafe Matou

★★★★☆
Bucktown hidden gem serves up satisfying, traditional French fare in a cozy setting.
  • 1846 N Milwaukee Ave

    Chicago, IL 60647

    Map & Directions
  • 773-384-8911

Food

Food
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We moved to Chicago from NY in 2006, and have settled into Cafe Matou as our favorite bistro in the city. It's a 20 minute drive for us from Gold Coast, but worth it. Charlie is fabulous at matching ingredients, creating new combinations, and always has the perfectly complimentary sauces. The menu has enough variety to be interesting, but small enough so that everything is fresh. And James always comes up with a perfect matching, reasonably priced, wine. Service is bistro service - not perfect, but fine and knowledgable. Over 20 visits in last two years, never disappointed.

2
★★★★★

We moved to Chicago from NY in 2006, and have settled into Cafe Matou as our favorite bistro in the city. It's a 20 minute drive for us from Gold Coast, but worth it. Charlie is fabulous at matching ingredients, creating new combinations, and always has the perfectly complimentary sauces. The menu has enough variety to be interesting, but small enough so that everything is fresh. And James always comes up with a perfect matching, reasonably priced, wine. Service is bistro service - not perfect, but fine and knowledgable. Over 20 visits in last two years, never disappointed.

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Cafe Matou is a charming little spot in Chicago. The food we ordered was delicately prepared and thoughtfully executed. The dishes, however, did not dazzle. The shrimp an crab beignet with saffron sauce that evening was refined and balanced in flavor, but lacked expression and depth. The entrees we ordered included a walleye with spaghetti squash and a very bland sauce- once again, a dish that was fresh and serviceable, but NOTHING EXTRAORDINARY. The chicken stuffed with chanterelles was only slightly better, but was by no means tantalizing. For desert we had a very rich chocolate cake that was loaded with walnuts- too rich and not enough balance or flavor. The best thing, by far, in terms of taste, though, was the corn cake desert which came with a creme fraiche (I think) and caramel sauce. This was indeed very tasty and stole the show that evening. If food is fresh or presented well, or both, that is indeed a good thing- but that doesn't make a great meal... there has to be a keen use of flavor and balance to creat a truly memorable dish- in this respect, cafe matou did not entirely succeed that evening.

1
★★★☆☆

Cafe Matou is a charming little spot in Chicago. The food we ordered was delicately prepared and thoughtfully executed. The dishes, however, did not dazzle. The shrimp an crab beignet with saffron sauce that evening was refined and balanced in flavor, but lacked expression and depth. The entrees we ordered included a walleye with spaghetti squash and a very bland sauce- once again, a dish that was fresh and serviceable, but NOTHING EXTRAORDINARY. The chicken stuffed with chanterelles was only slightly better, but was by no means tantalizing. For desert we had a very rich chocolate cake that was loaded with walnuts- too rich and not enough balance or flavor. The best thing, by far, in terms of taste, though, was the corn cake desert which came with a creme fraiche (I think) and caramel sauce. This was indeed very tasty and stole the show that evening. If food is fresh or presented well, or both, that is indeed a good thing- but that doesn't make a great meal... there has to be a keen use of flavor and balance to creat a truly memorable dish- in this respect, cafe matou did not entirely succeed that evening.

Pros: Fresh ingredients, reasonably balanced flavors

Cons: Fell short of excellence.

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This romantic French spot has a personalized wine list and friendly knowledgeable staff. My husband and I both have high standards for service, and the staff at Cafe Matou are friendly professionals who accommodated both the wine snob and the novice at my table. It is so nice to go to a restaurant where the staff has tasted all the food and most of the wine! The food is so delicious it actually occurred to me to order another entree for dessert. We have been several times and feel like it is a great date night and wonderful place to take friends. We love the Cellar Raid, which is an awesome deal; it happens the fourth Wednesday of every month, 17-dollar bottles of wine! We love this place and recommend it to anyone, make a reservation for sure.

2
★★★★★

This romantic French spot has a personalized wine list and friendly knowledgeable staff. My husband and I both have high standards for service, and the staff at Cafe Matou are friendly professionals who accommodated both the wine snob and the novice at my table. It is so nice to go to a restaurant where the staff has tasted all the food and most of the wine! The food is so delicious it actually occurred to me to order another entree for dessert. We have been several times and feel like it is a great date night and wonderful place to take friends. We love the Cellar Raid, which is an awesome deal; it happens the fourth Wednesday of every month, 17-dollar bottles of wine! We love this place and recommend it to anyone, make a reservation for sure.

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Yeah, that's really what I have to say about this place...hope it's appropriate. No, really though, this is probably my favorite place to go on a date, the food is usually good to excellent, the prix fixe is a very good deal, and it's a nice atmosphere on a relatively quiet stretch of Milwaukee (not sure what Matou that guy went to, but this is in Bucktown/Wicker Park, it's not exactly a hot corner...) I'm not going to lie, the servers are not the nicest bunch of charmers I've ever met, but they're usually just fine. Also, the service is occasionally slooooow. HOWEVER. I will give Matou the crown for best French bistro style Prix Fixe, a nice crown to have, no? The food really is good, and for what you get, it's a good deal. TIP! Call ahead...sometimes they have these wine-tasting-tour dinner things, and if you're not into spending $50 on your dinner that night, you might get a nasty surprise! I think it's only once a month though, usually when I go I spend about $30 or $35 with wine and I'm well satisfied.

4
★★★★☆

Yeah, that's really what I have to say about this place...hope it's appropriate. No, really though, this is probably my favorite place to go on a date, the food is usually good to excellent, the prix fixe is a very good deal, and it's a nice atmosphere on a relatively quiet stretch of Milwaukee (not sure what Matou that guy went to, but this is in Bucktown/Wicker Park, it's not exactly a hot corner...) I'm not going to lie, the servers are not the nicest bunch of charmers I've ever met, but they're usually just fine. Also, the service is occasionally slooooow. HOWEVER. I will give Matou the crown for best French bistro style Prix Fixe, a nice crown to have, no? The food really is good, and for what you get, it's a good deal. TIP! Call ahead...sometimes they have these wine-tasting-tour dinner things, and if you're not into spending $50 on your dinner that night, you might get a nasty surprise! I think it's only once a month though, usually when I go I spend about $30 or $35 with wine and I'm well satisfied.

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Oh thank the heaven for Cafe Matou! It is hidden and I wouldn't have found if I didn't go jogging that morning. There were a group of elderly ladies heading a direction I thought was strange and unsafe.
Let to know it lead me to a location I was able to sit down and relax and appreciate the finer things in life.

5
★★★★★

Oh thank the heaven for Cafe Matou! It is hidden and I wouldn't have found if I didn't go jogging that morning. There were a group of elderly ladies heading a direction I thought was strange and unsafe.
Let to know it lead me to a location I was able to sit down and relax and appreciate the finer things in life.

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Waited at the bar for 10+ minutes, with only two other people there, for the bartender or wait staff to take my order. Found out after I ate and left that they had a promotion going---was never offered it or made aware. Wait staff was sullen and slow and unhelpful. The food was OK---probably would have better things to say about it if the rest of my dining experience had been better. Frankly stated, there are far better places for French food, far better places for service and even far better places for a wine-bar experience. Never again.

1
★★☆☆☆

Waited at the bar for 10+ minutes, with only two other people there, for the bartender or wait staff to take my order. Found out after I ate and left that they had a promotion going---was never offered it or made aware. Wait staff was sullen and slow and unhelpful. The food was OK---probably would have better things to say about it if the rest of my dining experience had been better. Frankly stated, there are far better places for French food, far better places for service and even far better places for a wine-bar experience. Never again.

Pros: parking---an unbusy so getting a table is not hard

Cons: sullen staff, unexceptional food

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Good, simple, authentic French fare, albeit a little too French almost. Apparently the Lavender porkchop is excellent but I have yet to try it. Good selection on the fish dishes as well, and fairly flavorful. I will have to come back and explore this menu.

2
★★★★★

Good, simple, authentic French fare, albeit a little too French almost. Apparently the Lavender porkchop is excellent but I have yet to try it. Good selection on the fish dishes as well, and fairly flavorful. I will have to come back and explore this menu.

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I recently visited Cafe Matou with my fiance and sister, who was visiting out of town. I had never had French food before, so I wasn't sure what to expect. It was one of the best dining experiences I have ever had.
We were greeted by the host as soon as we came in, and were invited to wait at the bar until our table was ready. The bar tender was friendly and chatty with us. When we were seated, our waiter was friendly and helpful. We ordered mussels and pate appetizers. I wasn't sure if I would like pate, but it was delicious.
When we ordered, we were not made to feel stupid because we couldn't pronounce dishes in French! We just ordered in English. The menu changes daily, but I got a wonderful stuffed chicken breast, my sister had roasted duck, which she said was the best duck she ever had, and my fiance had fish, which was also great.
The bar tender, overhearing that I only like sweet fruity drinks, created a raspberry martini with a sugar rim just for me. We joked with her that she should name the drink after me, because it was perfect and exactly what I was craving. After such a great dinner, we had to have dessert, which was also among the best I've ever had... and I LOVE sweets!
Considering all that we ordered, and the drinks we had, the bill was very reasonable. ($160 for 3 people, including the bar tab.)
Overall it was an outstanding experience and I can't wait to go back.

2
★★★★★

I recently visited Cafe Matou with my fiance and sister, who was visiting out of town. I had never had French food before, so I wasn't sure what to expect. It was one of the best dining experiences I have ever had.
We were greeted by the host as soon as we came in, and were invited to wait at the bar until our table was ready. The bar tender was friendly and chatty with us. When we were seated, our waiter was friendly and helpful. We ordered mussels and pate appetizers. I wasn't sure if I would like pate, but it was delicious.
When we ordered, we were not made to feel stupid because we couldn't pronounce dishes in French! We just ordered in English. The menu changes daily, but I got a wonderful stuffed chicken breast, my sister had roasted duck, which she said was the best duck she ever had, and my fiance had fish, which was also great.
The bar tender, overhearing that I only like sweet fruity drinks, created a raspberry martini with a sugar rim just for me. We joked with her that she should name the drink after me, because it was perfect and exactly what I was craving. After such a great dinner, we had to have dessert, which was also among the best I've ever had... and I LOVE sweets!
Considering all that we ordered, and the drinks we had, the bill was very reasonable. ($160 for 3 people, including the bar tab.)
Overall it was an outstanding experience and I can't wait to go back.

Pros: Friendly, personal service, great food

Cons: noisy motorcycles/cars outside while the windows were open. nothing they can do about that though.

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Not only did our party have to deal with table issues, longest wait ever to have drinks served the wait staff and manager were terrible! Rude beyond belief! Audaciously rude! While the food was delicious the experience left only a bad taste in our mouth. Awful considering the expense! One should enjoy paying such a large amount for a completely enjoyable experience instead of feeling stuck in a situation and only hoping the staff isn't spitting in your food!! Definitely NOT the place to RISK an important occasion ending only in disappointment!

1
★★☆☆☆

Not only did our party have to deal with table issues, longest wait ever to have drinks served the wait staff and manager were terrible! Rude beyond belief! Audaciously rude! While the food was delicious the experience left only a bad taste in our mouth. Awful considering the expense! One should enjoy paying such a large amount for a completely enjoyable experience instead of feeling stuck in a situation and only hoping the staff isn't spitting in your food!! Definitely NOT the place to RISK an important occasion ending only in disappointment!

Pros: Food was delicious

Cons: Service was beyond TERRIBLE

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If you love French Wine, this is the place for you. James' wine list includes great crus from Bordeaux and Burgundy, amazing, obscure finds from the Loire and the South, along with a number of well-chosen American wines that are crafted in the French way. You will not find any over-extracted Zinfandels or boutique wines at Cafe Matou. And if you want something special, ask what they have in the cellar. An impressive, well thought out list with prices that should make other restaurants ashamed of themselves.

2
★★★★★

If you love French Wine, this is the place for you. James' wine list includes great crus from Bordeaux and Burgundy, amazing, obscure finds from the Loire and the South, along with a number of well-chosen American wines that are crafted in the French way. You will not find any over-extracted Zinfandels or boutique wines at Cafe Matou. And if you want something special, ask what they have in the cellar. An impressive, well thought out list with prices that should make other restaurants ashamed of themselves.

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Went with a group of friends and the food was very good. I believe we had a party of about 10 and everyones dish was very good. I had the chicken and this is one of the best chicken I've ever had. Very nice ambience and comfortable.

2
★★★★★

Went with a group of friends and the food was very good. I believe we had a party of about 10 and everyones dish was very good. I had the chicken and this is one of the best chicken I've ever had. Very nice ambience and comfortable.

Pros: Food is great, Comfortable

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The menu and the food were fanstastic. After Ambria this is the best french food I have had in Chicago.

2
★★★★★

The menu and the food were fanstastic. After Ambria this is the best french food I have had in Chicago.

Pros: Food

Cons: Neighborhood

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A wonderfull find in a city that offers great food. Immaginative food presentation as well as great ambiance

2
★★★★★

A wonderfull find in a city that offers great food. Immaginative food presentation as well as great ambiance

Pros: A great Find, easy parking, fabulious presentatio

Cons: none

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Great french bistro located along Milwakee avenue. Food is consistently good, strong wine list and the service is impeccable. Perhaps the best reason to visit here is that the staff are so knowledgeable about food and wine pairings - which can make for an easy and very enjoyable night out.

2
★★★★★

Great french bistro located along Milwakee avenue. Food is consistently good, strong wine list and the service is impeccable. Perhaps the best reason to visit here is that the staff are so knowledgeable about food and wine pairings - which can make for an easy and very enjoyable night out.

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I have never had a bad dining experience here. It has a warm, comfortable environment with exeptional food at reasonable prices. The staff is friendly and aim to please. And, they have the best waiter in the city of Chicago - Leon!

2
★★★★★

I have never had a bad dining experience here. It has a warm, comfortable environment with exeptional food at reasonable prices. The staff is friendly and aim to please. And, they have the best waiter in the city of Chicago - Leon!

Pros: food, atmosphere, service

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This place is an experience ! The chef takes pride in everything that leaves the kitchen. The service is great, the food has amazing presentation, flavor, and original tastes that you cannot get anywhere else. This is an extremely romantic place or can be a great place to come with a group of friends for a relaxing dinner and drinks.

2
★★★★★

This place is an experience ! The chef takes pride in everything that leaves the kitchen. The service is great, the food has amazing presentation, flavor, and original tastes that you cannot get anywhere else. This is an extremely romantic place or can be a great place to come with a group of friends for a relaxing dinner and drinks.

Pros: Great Service, Great atmosphere

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Not the worst French restaurant but not the best. Maybe it was an off night, but the food was so-so and our order got mixed up. For the same price, in the same neighborhood, I'd stick to Le Bouchon.

1
★★★☆☆

Not the worst French restaurant but not the best. Maybe it was an off night, but the food was so-so and our order got mixed up. For the same price, in the same neighborhood, I'd stick to Le Bouchon.

Editorial from

The Scene
A quiet, charming find on a gritty stretch of Milwaukee Avenue. Step through tied curtains from the front bar into the main dining room, where welcoming green leather chairs, hardwood floors and exposed brick set a…

 

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