Jerry's at Corner Cooks Review - A Chicago Restaurant You Should Know

Eating at Jerry's at Corner Cooks

My friend Judy and I have lunch from time to time.  “We are going to a restaurant you will love”, she said when we were planning lunch and so I was introduced to Jerry’s at Corner Cooks.  After a delightful lunch, we agreed that a dinner there would be perfect for the “Chicago Restaurant You Should Know” column in Chicago Splash Magazine.  So, on a lovely summer evening Judy, Nate, Barbara and Leon went forth to explore Jerry’s at Corner Cooks dinner offerings.

Ready for a private event

Passing the outdoor tables placed among pots filled with robust herbs, we were seated indoors in an intimate space with room for 45 people.  There is, however, much more happening here than meets the eye. The facility houses a cooking school, offers catering and a take-out menu, and arrangements for private events, two of which were taking place that evening.   The open kitchen is flexible and efficient serving the restaurant and the area for private parties simultaneously.  The full service bar, which serves wine and mixed drinks, is welcoming and energizing.  Nate, an architect, noted that the décor is understated, simple and appropriate for the space. He also observed that the bar is a focus of the room, and being small the “people watching” part of a bar, always interesting, happens quickly here.

The bar is the focus of the restaurant

There is a low-key atmosphere with an understated sophistication in its décor and the food preparation.  Jerry’s theory (from the menu) is: “Sharing is fun.  So. Order in bunches.  Menus should change. Not just seasonally but whimsically.  Welcome to Jerry’s.”

"Jerry's, not just another pretty place" and tulip cup with antique forks

We really liked the comfort Jerry’s gave to sharing because it’s something we enjoy, and as owner, Betsy Simson noted, she and her friends enjoy sharing and we agree with her opinion that eating is more fun when shared.  To help sharing happen, each table contains a silver tulip cup filled with antique forks. They are there because, as Betsy tells it – “I wanted to have a collection of forks on the tables. I am an antique collector so I started searching and found a collection of 11 silver tulip containers, which were marked $35.  I thought that meant $35 each which was too pricey but they were $35 for the set. We polished them up and they were in perfect shape. The forks were collected from house sales and antique malls to alleys in France. Jerry’s takes its name after Betsy’s father. He saw the restaurant opening with a cheering crowd, electronically, because he lives far away and can’t travel.

Ed Huelke,manager, Betsy Simson,owner and Larry Smith,executive chef

Jerry’s opened in January 2008 and has been delighting patrons. Women have been known to come for lunch and find it so enjoyable, they return in the evening with their husbands.  Executive Chef, Larry Smith began Corner Cooks about a year ago bringing with him experience from many places including; Le Pouchon, La Tour at the Park Hyatt Hotel, the Ritz Carleton and 11 years as a chef instructor at Kendall College before it moved from Evanston, He currently heads a team of skilled individuals with varied backgrounds.  Ed Huelke (Boss Man) points out that menu items at Jerry’s vary greatly so almost anyone can find great food at an acceptable price. It is hoped patrons will come back repeatedly to try all the new creations on a constantly changing menu.

Our group enjoyed sharing three starters:

Crispy vegetable spring rolls with pineapple sweet n sour

Crispy vegetable spring rolls with pineapple sweet n sour received comments from Nate that the rolls were “Very tasty, crispy, had a great sauce and lots of veggies”.   Barbara, “ooh, is that good and a bit spicy”.  Judy. “The rolls are very crispy”.

Quesadilla of the season

Quesadilla of the season was vegetarian with beans and corn and cheese and received rave reviews from Barbara, “They are delicious, mellow and rich”. Leon thought there was “a nice mixture of beans and corn” and Judy said, “I don’t like meat in them, but these are really good.”

Beet salad with Parmesan Reggiano, walnuts and balsamic vinaigrette

Beet salad with Parmesan Reggiano, walnuts and balsamic vinaigrette was a complete surprise to Nate who said, “It is shockingly good for someone who has never had beets or a beet salad before.  It’s amazingly good”.  Judy said, “I just love this salad.  It is my favorite and I get it whenever I am here”.  Leon commented, “I love the blend of flavors and especially the subtle use of cheese”.  Barbara thought, “The beets were cut to the perfect size and they were succulent and tender and a real treat”.

Go to town:

Servers, Manuel and Bernadette, helped us choose our main courses.

Bernadett and Manuel

Judy selected the “Sea bass in ginger broth with sweet chili and ginger fried rice”.  She noted, “I’m not a ginger fan, but I really like this.  The ginger flavor of the sauce is great and the rice is very good”.

Sea bass in ginger broth with sweet chili and ginger fried rice

Nate had the (Special) “8 oz skirt steak marinated in basil oil with arugula and tomato salad and sherry vinaigrette”.  He thought the composition of the plate was “very architectural” and he thought each item on his plate was “delicious and probably the best dish”.

8 oz skirt steak marinated in basil oil with arugula and tomato salad and sherry vinaigrette

Barbara ordered the “Asian grilled salmon with Szechwan veggies” and thought it was “mellow, flavorful and so pleasant to eat that one bite follow the next”.

Asian grilled salmon with Szechwan veggies

Leon’s  “Lamb chops with cucumber Tsatsiki and rosemary potatoes” were “cooked to perfection and the potatoes were tasty.  The Tsatsiki sauce compliments the lamb and brings out its flavor”.  Leon thought the lamb was the best dish.

Lamb chops with cucumber Tsatsiki and rosemary potatoes

Finish with a sweet:

“Big Bad Brownie w/big dollop ice cream” was Nate, the chocolate lovers’ choice and it looked fantastic.

Big Bad Brownie w/big dollop ice cream

Judy loves Crème brulee and ordered the “Crème brulee on a silver spoon” which she and we thought was wonderful.  It was so good she was licking her silver spoon.

Creme brulee on a silver spoon

Barbara and Leon agreed on the “New York cheesecake w/raspberry sauce (and blueberries)” and everyone agreed that this was the clear winner in the dessert category. It was outstanding with a delicious sauce over a cheesecake that was creamy and light, flavorful and rich but not too sweet, a real feat.

New York cheesecake w/raspberry sauce (and blueberries)

We all agreed that the portions were just the right size and the range of food types and flavors was really impressive.  The quality of the food at Jerry’s is comparable to going downtown but it’s so much easier from the North Shore

Jerry’s at Corner Cooks
505 Chestnut Street
Winnetka, IL

Lunch: Tuesday through Friday 11:30am-2pm/Dinner: Tuesday through Friday 5pm-9pm
Saturday 5pm-10pm or later

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