Where to Eat Before the Theatre? Jameson’s Charhouse in Skokie

To eat, or not to eat; that is the question.

Northlight Theatre at North Shore Center for the Performing Arts have always packed them in, but if you want to park once for dinner (or lunch) and a show, your options are few. The nearby Doubletree Suites Hotel has been a revolving door for restaurants.

Boston Blackies is gone, but Jameson’s Charhouse is open and the menu is large and accommodating. You might not have a lot of options as to where to dine before the show, but you will have plenty of choices once you get there.

Feeling the need for garlic? Look no further than the Shrimp de Jonghe ($12.95), four fat shrimp baked in seriously garlicky butter with herbed breadcrumbs on top. Not shy on cholesterol, that’s for sure, but you’ll be mopping up the sauce with whatever you can find. Happily, there’s a fresh loaf of ciabatta brought to your table, so that’s a good possibility for a butter sponge.

Crab Cakes ($12.95) were meh, with too much filler and not enough crustacean. A little more of the Honey-Chipotle Sauce would have been helpful, too.

The crispy, golden Onion Strings ($6.95) were a problem in that they were highly addictive, especially dipped in the ranch dressing. It was about then that I unbuttoned my pants a bit (note to self: wear something with a stretchy waistband for the next review).

Entrees were all decent, with some glimmers of yumminess. All came with a choice of soup (New England Clam Chowder or Chicken Noodle, neither anything to write home about) or salad (the Greek dressing was quite tasty and the lettuce crisp and fresh).

If meat is your calling, the Beef Cheeseburger ($9.50) satisfied, thick and juicy and served on a sturdy bun. The accompanying steak fries were serviceable.

Steaks at the Charhouse are all Black Angus Beef, aged for at least 3 weeks and are served with choice of potato and a fresh veggie (grilled asparagus). The 8-oz. New York Strip ($18.95) was closer to medium than medium rare, and once we scraped off the funky Parmesan crust (a mistake for an additional $1.95), pretty decent. I didn’t feel like jumping up on the table and singing its praises, but it satisfied the red meat craving.

Both the Breast of Chicken Marsala ($10.95) and the daily special of Greek-Style Halibut with creamy lemon sauce were tender and moist, but the sauces tasted like they had been thickened with cornstarch and had a uniform, slightly gelatinous consistency.

We did love the North Shore Club ($9.95), smoked turkey piled sky-high with bacon, avocado, lettuce, tomato and chipotle mayo on toasted whole wheat bread. It was quite a happy mouthful.

Desserts are a “verbal” here, the standard chocolate cake/carrot cake/ice cream/key lime pie selections rattled off by the waiter. Yet the Key Lime Pie ($5.95), a tart in truth, proved a welcome relief with its super buttery graham cracker crust and real key lime flavor. The only quibble was the spray can whipped cream. Come on! It takes just a minute to whip fresh cream, and it’s well worth it.

Paired with a cup of strong LaVazza coffee, the Chocolate Mousse Cake ($5.95), was rich but not overly so, with layers of chocolate cake alternated with an airy chocolate mousse filling, all covered with ganache icing.

Service was spotty; the restaurant was busy at first but even as the meal wore on, the waiter seemed occupied elsewhere. But the prices were reasonable (especially at lunch) and there’s the whole proximity to Northlight thing, a huge plus.

So to dine or not to dine? I’ll see you there before the next show.

Jameson’s Charhouse