When I think of what $60 buys today, the following come to mind: one tank of regular unleaded gasoline for my Saab; one bag of groceries (cloth reusable bag, not plastic bag); one re-stocking of household cleaning supplies, shampoo, toothpaste, etc.; three bags of dog food. In other words, the mundane, the necessary. What does not come to mind is a generous four-course dinner for two including adult beverages.
Mango Bistro, on the corner of Mango and Dearborn streets in Englewood, is where we thoroughly enjoyed just such a meal for a total of $59.39 (not including tip) – one appetizer to share, two cups of soup, two entrée crepes, one dessert crepe, one bottle of beer, and two-for-one house wine because it was happy hour.
Mango Bistro’s website (mangobistro.com) tells you the bistro is “hard to miss” because of its “inviting and colorful look that makes you want to stop the first time you pass by.” I’m pretty skilled at missing those hard-to-miss places, but I found it with no problem. The exterior colors are, not surprisingly, mango-like oranges and greens. The metal roof-covered front porch adds to the building’s charm.
The evening was perfect for outdoor dining, and we were given the choice of any two-top available outside. We selected one en plein air rather than beneath the porch roof – we wanted a little space apart from others. It was by no means crowded, but there were lots of diners and they kept coming. The patio filled up with families and women friends, groups and couples all out to enjoy the gorgeous evening.
With a breeze lightly blowing as the sun settled down for the night, we perused the menu. The Tropical Shrimp Platter ($9.95) was listed as a new addition to the appetizer and small bite offerings, and we agreed that the pineapple coconut cream cheese and house specialty grilled pineapple bread made this sound very interesting. Add nine medium-sized cold shrimp, Mandarin orange dipping sauce and flatbread and there was more than enough to share. Though there was more bread than shrimp, there was plenty of the sweet housemade cream cheese and we ate every bite. The orange dipping sauce was delicious with the shrimp and the pineapple bread.
When you order a French crepe or a grilled wrap, you have the option of adding a cup of soup for $2.50. It was an easy choice for us since there were only two soups offered: lobster bisque and “du jour,” which happened to be black bean and rice. The color of the bisque nearly matched the restaurant’s exterior. It was creamy, buttery and showed a trace of sherry. The bean and rice soup was full of beans and served with a dollop of sour cream on top – very satisfying in flavor and texture.
The people-watching is stellar if you’re sitting outside. As we enjoyed our soup, a multitude of classic cars cruised by. We later discovered there had been a car show just up the road. Motorcyclists drove by, an occasional bicyclist rolled by, and lots of people were out walking their dogs up and down Dearborn Street. Nobody was in a rush, which made the evening that much more relaxing.
When our crepes were delivered to the table, I was stunned by their size. You either need a big appetite, or be prepared to take some home. The Black & Blue Crepe ($12.95) was stuffed with seasoned beef, crumbled bleu cheese, bacon, tomato and red onion, and was drizzled with a creamy horseradish sauce and more bleu cheese crumbles. The tender beef strips were nicely complemented by the smoky bacon flavor, but as my dining companion stated, “You’ve got to like horseradish to fully enjoy this.” The horseradish wasn’t overpowering – just very present.
I chose the Chicken á la Brie Crepe ($12.95) and it was a divine creation. The juicy grilled chicken breast meshed deliciously with the thin slices of creamy, nutty Brie, nicely accompanied by organic baby arugula and tart green apple slices. Unlike the Black & Bleu Crepe, this comes “naked” but is served with a side of raspberry sauce. I tried the thick sauce only once and found it to overwhelm the delicate flavors of crepe’s contents.
Both crepes were served with a small salad on the plate. The lettuce mixture was crisp and fresh with a light vinaigrette dressing.
During dinner, the Los Rumberos Trio began playing outside on the patio. David, Jo and Max served up the perfect background music for this casual establishment, and we could still easily carry on our conversation. We enjoyed their combination of flamenco and rumba while we surveyed the dessert choices – all of them tempting.
We passed over the “Out of This World Carrot Cake,” coconut cream cie and mixed berry tart in favor of yet another crepe – the Alegria Sweet Crepe ($5.95). The combination of caramelized apples, cinnamon, walnuts, caramel and whipped cream was more than either one of us dare pass up. After we ordered, I told to my date that I hoped it wasn’t as huge as the dinner crepes just as another massive crepe was set in front of us. Oh well. Covered in pecan bits, drizzled with caramel sauce and three dollops of whipped cream on the plate, we dug into the crepe with reckless abandon, devouringthe whole thing.
Mango Bistro serves breakfast and lunch Monday through Saturday, and offers dinner only on Fridays and Saturdays. It’s worth the wait for the weekend, when you can partake of happy hour from 4:00 to 6:30 pm and enjoy live music. Afterwards, I suggest a stroll down Dearborn Street toward the water. On the way to the small park at the end of the street, there’s some interesting window shopping and quaint architecture to take in. My visit to Mango Bistro, followed by a lovely stroll, was one of the most relaxing Saturday evenings I’ve enjoyed in quite some time.