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Baby-on-Board Review: Panes Bread Cafe

By Elizabeth Shapiro in Food on Jun 6, 2007 5:00PM

Chicagoist doesn’t live with our mama. Since our June Cleaver impersonation is rather lacking, when we want to feed a home cooked meal to our family we trawl Chicago’s restaurants. Our favorite is Panes, a family-owned Lakeview original, nestled in between chains Chicago Pizza and Pompei on Sheffield and Wellington.

Panes Bread Cafe is known for its sandwiches, and the menu lists almost twenty original choices. Each starts with homemade bread, and many offer a Mexican spin. The chicken club ($4.95) combines grilled seasoned panes.jpgchicken with bacon, melted cheddar, and a hearty layer of avocado, all on bread that’s fresh and toasted perfectly. Another favorite of ours is their tortilla salad ($4.95): crispy lettuce topped with grilled chicken, tomatoes, avocados, farmer’s cheese, tortilla strips and honey mustard dressing. The flavors come together so deliciously that we often find ourselves desperately scraping the last bits off of our plate. Their specials, listed to the right of the register, include home made soups that are always the cure to what ails you… and maybe better then our own mama’s (sorry, mom!). The mashed potatoes ($2.95) definitely surpass our culinary efforts, and are a hidden must-have on this packed menu. There’s no specific children’s menu, but our new eater eagerly sneaks bites from our dishes.

Ask for a high chair; they keep them behind the counter. While Panes is a great place for an intimate family night out, the dining room is cozy, so leave your strollers at home. The door’s steps are a bit awkward to navigate with one anyway, although on a recent trip my child was helped in by none other then the owner herself-- she’s a mom as well.

Be warned: although the prices are on the low side, Panes only takes cash so dig through those couch cushions or make an ATM trip (there’s one near the adjacent Wellington Brown Line stop). Also, the bathrooms are down a flight of stairs, so go before you go.

For desert, salivate over their showcase of mousse, flan, cookies and other homemade treats. Our favorites are the chocolate truffles, on the top shelf (where they should be). One is made to taste like tequila with lime and even has salt crusting the top of its chocolate shell. It’s a lovely adult way to end a day of perfecting your farm animal noises and your abecedarian ditties. Go on. Have someone else's mama do the cooking. You deserve a night out at Panes.

Panes Bread Cafe is located at 3002 North Sheffield. They’re open from Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.