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North Side Review: Crust

By Laura Oppenheimer in Food on May 31, 2007 3:45PM

2007_5_crust.jpgNow that Crust has been open exactly one week, we find ourselves strangely late to the reviewers table, as in, you can read others' opinions here, here, here and here. As you probably know by now, Crust is the midwest's only certified organic restaurant, and only the fourth in the country. In order to receive this designation, 95 percent of all ingredients used (measured in volume? in weight?) must be organic. As we sat at the bar, sipping two deliciously fruity cocktails while waiting for our table, Chicagoist wondered if an all-organic restaurant is held to a different standard than a more conventional (heh) one. Do we have higher — or lower — standards for a restaurant that bills itself as offering more than delicious food, a restaurant that sells a good feeling on a plate? And as we finished our meal, we couldn't stop wondering.

While we waited for our table, even though it seemed there were a bevy of open tables, we ordered two cocktails from the bar — a watermelon margarita and a blackberry mint julep. The watermelon margarita may very well be the perfect drink for the summer — light and refreshing, while still packing a significant punch. The bar also offers organic beer and wine, in addition to their signature infused vodkas.

For dinner we ordered a caesar salad to start and then two flatbreads (contrary to what Chicagoist, you, and everyone else in the known world thought, Crust serves no pizza, only flatbread). Flatbread is, apparently, "pizza's big brother, worldly and without boundaries...." We picked the herb and cheese flatbread while our date opted for the basil and tomato. The salad was decent, but nothing special. We have eaten plenty of caesar salads in our day worse than the one we had at Crust, but we also have had better. The lettuce was crisp and fresh, and the parmesan cheese was expertly shaved on top, but the dressing wasn't anything special.

The flatbreads came out shortly after the salad, and again, we were slightly underwhelmed. The herb and cheese flatbread was seriously under seasoned; with the exception of 4 plump, roasted cloves of garlic, we didn't taste anything besides the cheese and crust. The basil and tomato pizza was better, packing more flavor than its basic counterpart. Still, we found ourselves asking the server to bring over red pepper flakes and other condiments with the hopes we could liven it up. The crust itself wasn't bad at all, having a nice yeasty flavor and good chew to it. Perhaps we made a mistake in not ordering one of the more adventurous flatbreads like the one topped with clams. We hope it was a mistake in ordering, and not endemic of a larger problem in the kitchen.

At the end of the day, Crust is a pizza place. Should we be expecting all that much from a pizza joint? When it is organic and has been receiving this much hype, Chicagoist thinks so. Or, maybe our standards might just be too high.

Crust is located at 2056 W. Division St. Phone: 773-235-5511. Sun-Wed: 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Thu-Sat: 11-1 a.m.