The General in Logan Square is a corporal
The General and Mercantile in Logan Square bills itself as providing Southern comfort food along with tacos.
On a recent outing with a dining companion, I was underwhelmed.
First, since this was a last minute outing and a Saturday, I tried to call to see if reservations would be necessary for 5 p.m. I called fifteen times. On the 16th try, someone answered the phone. This did nothing for my confidence.
I was told the place gets pretty packed and maybe they could fit us in at the bar. I made the reservation.
Upon my arrival, there were seven people in the restaurant. I really hate it when places lie to me about their crowds.
Our waiter was annoying. We told him three times we just wanted to read the menu. Ordering cocktails was the only way to get rid of him.
We decided on two appetizers, the guacamole, and ceviche. We split the chimichurri skirt steak with a side of mac and cheese with the optional pulled pork.
The guac was good, but nothing to write home about. Same with the ceviche.
The skirt steak was perfectly medium rare. However, they sliced it before letting it rest. A bloody pool of meat juices in the mashed potatoes is not very appetizing. The dish was average.
There were two exceptions to this rather pedestrian fare. The mac and cheese with pulled pork was exceptional. The mac was perfectly cooked, the cheese had the right taste and fatty texture. And, hey, what doesn’t go well with pulled pork?
The other exception was the Centennial, a cocktail, pictured above. The Centennial is a milk punch cocktail. It is milk, rum, Cognac, Bourbon, pineapple, and baking spices.
I did a little research on milk punch. The cocktail, though clear, is made with milk and booze. Its proper term is clarified milk punch. The cocktail dates back to the 18th Century. Most alcohols were rather harsh and barrel aged alcohol had very high levels of tannins.
Someone came up with the idea of using science to tame the harshness. Hot milk was curdled with citrus or another acid. A combination of alcoholic beverages was added. The concoction was set aside for a day or two. The milk solids absorbed the harshness and tannins, sinking to the bottom, leaving a clear smooth tasting beverage. The cocktail was strained and bottled. The clarification did not affect the proof of the alcohol.
The Centennial at The General was very good and possibly lethal if you had two or three.
Overall, The General is average in a neighborhood known for good to great restaurants. The trouble getting through on the phone and the disingenuous response about their crowds was disturbing. I’ve had better-prepared food in diners. Of course the mac and cheese and cocktail were exceptions.
The General turned out to be a corporal.