Westmont—The 300 block of east Ogden Avenue has become a magnet for foodies in the western suburbs and beyond. A few months ago the giant Standard Market opened and immediately staked its claim as perhaps the preeminent high-end food market for miles around. On May 1 the market owners officially opened Bakersfield, a new restaurant across the street from the market that soon should be be one of the most popular eateries in the area, especially for connoisseurs of beef, atmosphere, and fine service.

Bakersfield is a 7,500 square foot restaurant that advertises that it is both casual and sophisticated, an unlikely but accurate description. Bakersfield seats 175 in the main restaurant, with room for 48 diners on the patio and 23 more at the bar. Male customers can leave their coats and ties at home and still feel they will be eating in an atmosphere of some elegance. Patrons can relax on a patio that features a fireplace, fire pit, and common table. Diners can watch food preparation from the bar-height Chef’s Table looking into an open kitchen animated by what looks like a dozen chefs. The main dining area is highlighted by a floor-to-ceiling enclosed wine room. At the preview opening in late April the menu wasn’t fully in play, but the beef fillet was superb and a rack of four seasoned tacos as an appetizer was outstanding. Now that Bakersfield is formally open, the menu will offer a variety of dishes, especially seafood nibbles, meal-sized salads, and sandwiches along with assorted entrees in the steak, chicken, and pasta categories. If there is room for desert, the Fried Oreos are highly recommended. Either I caught the restaurant personnel on a good day or Bakersfield offers the friendliest and most efficient service any diner could require. That begins with the valet parkers (valet parking is complimentary), and continues with the hostesses, barmen, and wait staff. The restaurant was jammed the night I attended but the staff was agreeable and cooperative to the max. The classy service left as vivid a memory as the quality food.

If there is a criticism, it’s the bland name. “Bakersfield” doesn’t sizzle as the title for an “A list” restaurant, and for that matter “Standard Market” is pretty bland, too. But what’s in a name? It’s the quality that counts. Bakersfield is located at 330 East Ogden Avenue. It is open every day of the week, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday through Sunday and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. For reservations call 630 568 3615. To check out the menu in advance, visit Contact Dan @ Visit Dan on Facebook: Become a Friend!!! *******************************
Standard Market

Westmont—Standard Market is too modest. There is nothing standard about this grocery emporium, which might be the most high-end place to purchase foodstuffs in the metropolitan area. Standard Market opened on November 4 at 333 East Ogden Avenue in Westmont in the western suburbs. The store had an open house on March 24 and judging by the turnout, the operation will be a major success. Just ask the drivers weaving hopefully through the jammed parking lot trying to find a place for their autos.

Standard Market is housed in a massive building—covering 33,000 square feet—that resembles Harrods in London more than the traditional A&P style grocery store. The design is modern, spacious, well lit, and user friendly. The store sells the items a shopper might find in a typical supermarket but the Standard Market product line is definitely in the upper reaches of the price scale. The market may not entice economy shoppers who are looking to buy a box of cornflakes and a couple of flashlight batteries. This is an outlet for what the management might call “discriminating shoppers”--people who value quality and selection ahead of the price tag. The store does have its share of exotic items (Moroccan baby octopus anyone?). But basically it offers items familiar in a conventional bakery, butcher shop, produce store, or convenience store, just more upscale and fresher. The selection may be the biggest lure for shoppers. There is a huge variety of fresh fish available. The liquor department sells more than 500 wines, some under $10 a bottle, and 150 beers. And to supplement the wine list, there is a department with an array of 150 types of cheeses. Standard Market has its own bakery, where all its bakery products are prepared on site, including more than 35 varieties of bread. Customers can observe pastry chefs doing their thing behind large glass windows. The products in the huge meat department will be a magnet for people of the green persuasion. The meat and poultry are free range and additive free. The beef is prime, down to the hamburger meat. And the people behind the counter are exceptionally knowledgeable about what they are selling. In addition, the store features a pasta department, a dairy department, and stations to get soups and pizza. There is no designated kosher food section, but kosher products are scattered throughout the store.

The carryout service will be a huge attraction. The Standard Market delicatessen sells packaged meals of fried chicken, rotisserie check, ribs, and the like, which should go over big during the warm weather picnic season. A customer can walk in and purchase a full shopping bag containing a selection (changed daily) of prepared eatables, from the entrée to the sides. Standard Market operates the Standard Grill, a 140-seat restaurant (with outdoor patio on weather-friendly days) that serves food from the same high quality ingredients available at the bakery and meat departments. And to cater to the going-to-work crowd, a coffee bar opens at 7 p.m., an hour before the rest of the store opens. Standard Market should be a considerable economic adornment to the area. The store employs 240 workers, every one I encountered being super friendly and courteous. The management anticipates that the store will have a positive ripple effect on the immediate commercial environment, with the large traffic flow broadening the customer base for nearby retail operations. The store could take its place as one of the biggest tourist attractions in the western suburbs.

Contact Dan:                 March 2012

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