“Food like Mom would make, if she was gettin’ paid!”
They say every cloud has a silver lining. So what do they say about a silver cloud? Great food. Located at the corner of Damen and Wabansia is a classic Chicago supper club known as the Silver Cloud Bar & Grill, not to be confused with Silver Palm further south in River West. While other restaurants and bars in Bucktown and Wicker Park may be flashier or more well known, the Silver Cloud is hard to beat for a fantastic selection of comfort food and an atmosphere extremely conducive for a bit of chat, plenty of alcohol consumption and digestion. Even considering Stanley’s Kitchen & Tap and the Four Moon Tavern, I can’t think of a better place for a grilled cheese sandwich (with Campbell’s tomato soup) along with several Kalamazoo Ambers… (go Bell’s!)
Don’t let Silver Cloud’s humble façade with its red ceramic tile, glass blocks surrounding small rectangular windows, and black awnings fool you. Inside the Silver Cloud you’ll find a mellow, subtly funky vibe evoked from dim lighting, cloth checked drapes, local artwork hanging from beige walls, and black linoleum. As you step in, the hostess will seat you either in one of the red-leather booths under an ornate, silver-painted ceiling in the front room (smoking) or at one of the small black low-rider tables with their votive candles, paper placemats and tasseled red lights in the back (non-smoking). “Why not enjoy a nice, ripe cigar?” (after 10:00 p.m. so the sign says) at the long wooden bar with orange beveled glass and mirrored backdrop that runs along the north wall if you’re waiting for someone or are there just for drinks. Seating is also available through the wood and glass side door in Silver Cloud’s sidewalk café with black wrought-iron railings, foliage and mural of a hefty, Wisconsin-like beauty eating potatoes.
“If you don’t like it here, you may have to up the Valium prescription.”– Shecky’s Bar, Club & Lounge Guide 2002
The kitchen juts out of the northwest corner in back, and pumps out some of the best comfort food in the city. Start off with the Frito Pie (Fritos with chili & cheese) or goat cheese with spicy marinara. Then move on to the highly acclaimed chicken pot pie, meatloaf, New England crab cakes, macaroni & cheese, or beef stroganoff (all priced under $10), or the sweet potato casserole, blackened catfish, shepherd’s pie, lemon garlic chicken, marinated pork chops, tuna steaks, fillet of salmon, pot roast, or New York Strip Steak (all priced under $15). All entr?es are served with complimentary soup and salad. Tuna melts, jerk chicken sandwiches, Sloppy Joes (served with tater tots ala Grizzly’s Lodge), and catfish po’ boys are also available. S’mores, Rice Krispy treats, and root beer floats make for a tough dessert decision. Silver Cloud even offers a “Hangover Menu” highlighted by eggs Florentine, biscuits & gravy, spinach and feta omelets, eggs Benedict, and mimosas for brunch until 4:00 p.m. on the weekends. I like to think of Silver Cloud’s selections as a true slice of Americana. All of this can be washed down with something from the separate drinks menu. Choose from an impressive list of brewskies or from a whole page of martinis, including the following stand-outs:
- “Tiki Tini” – papaya, pineapple juice, champagne, and vodka
- “Mango Tango” – mango, gin and tonic
- “Dirty Martini” – served with blue cheese-stuffed olives
- “Hemingway’s Sidecar”
- “Green Hornet” – Ketel Citroen, blue curacao, melon liqueur and papaya-pineapple nectar served with a green glowstick in a hurricane glass
- “S’mores” – features a graham-cracker crust and marshmallows.
“I had a chicken pot pie, perhaps the best I’ve had since I used to eat under the tree at the Walnut Room in Marshall Field’s when I was a kid. The crust was flaky and buttery, the vegetables were fresh, and the chicken was tender and wonderful.”– Girl Moxie (2001)
Silver Cloud attracts a fairly laid-back crowd of funky Bucktown types; if you want pretension and to wear black head over to the Northside Café instead. That combined with the food makes for a relaxed atmosphere where the only thing you’ll have to worry about is what to order for dessert. No wonder Silver Cloud was the 2001 “Audience Winner” and “Editorial Nominee” for Best Comfort Food in Citysearch: Chicago’s annual poll, was elected into the Table for One Hall of Fame on the former www.diningsolo.com website, and was featured briefly in High Fidelity. If you like Silver Cloud, you might also like their sister bars, Raven’s (Lincoln Park) and Sheffield’s (Lakeview), both under the same ownership. For more information, check out the Silver Cloud Bar & Grill website. Northside, eat your heart out!