The Soup Spoon Café’s motto is “friends don’t let friends eat at chain restaurants.” There is nothing evil about chain restaurants — I enjoy tasty meals at chain restaurants all the time. However, one has to admire the spirit of independent restaurateurs, especially during these economically challenging times. The Soup Spoon’s motto speaks to the part of me that wants to support and report on locally owned and operated restaurants.
The restaurant is open for breakfast and lunch every day, and for dinner Wednesday through Friday. It also provides catering services. We visited on a Wednesday evening for dinner. It was hard to decide what to order, as so many things on the menu looked good. There are items to please both the meat eater and vegetarian alike.
We had to start with soup, of course. Seafood Chowder and French Onion Soup are on the menu daily, joined by four different soup-of-the-day selections. The Seafood Chowder is $1.50 when added to an entrée, and it was loaded with potato cubes, clams and shrimp, in that order. The flavor was both light and creamy, with a little kick of spice. It was superb, and I would have been satisfied with that alone for dinner. One person in my group ordered a cup of the special Cayenne Bacon Soup for $2.99. The server explained the soup was very cheesy and spicy. I enjoyed the heat and smoky bacon flavor, but my dinner buddy thought it was a bit too heavy and spicy.
I ordered Gus’ Greek Wrap for $7.99, which included grilled chicken, spicy feta cheese spread, romaine, tomato and cucumber (hold the red onions) in a sun-dried tomato wrap. Fresh and crunchy house-made coleslaw and a pickle were served on the side. The cool cucumber chunks balanced the spicy feta spread, and it was very good. The wrap was grilled lightly, making the outer shell crispy, which I really liked.
One of my dinner partners ordered the Shrimp “Voodoo” Pasta for $8.99. Linguini was tossed with gulf shrimp, sautéed with bell peppers and onions in a Cajun tarragon-sherry sauce. It was a savory blend of olive oil, herbs and lots of shrimp, with just enough linguini. The combination was very good. Two in our party split the Pesto Chicken Quesadilla for $7.99. Grilled chicken breast, bell peppers, pesto and provolone cheese (hold the onions) were sandwiched inside a grilled sun-dried tomato wrap and garnished with a small salad. The pesto was a bit too oily, but the flavor was really good, and they polished it off.
We also ordered iced tea and lemonade (pink!). There was no problem with a special request for a Mango Coconut French Soda, even though it was not on the menu. The whipped cream on top of the French soda got rave reviews!
We did not order dessert, but the server highly recommended the Bread Pudding. I will have to try that on another visit, along with a cup of locally roasted Rudy Baggs coffee.
Our server was friendly and very efficient. She refilled the iced tea and pink lemonade without being asked, and was very accommodating with the special drink request.
The atmosphere is very laid back and casual at The Soup Spoon Café. The large arched windows let in plenty of daylight and provide a view to bustling Michigan Avenue. The inside of the restaurant is warm with mustard yellow and dark red painted barn wood walls, hung with artwork. A jazz program on the radio made for interesting background music.
The prices are reasonable considering the quantity and quality of food served. Sandwiches, entrées and “big” salads are priced from $5.99 to $8.99. Most soups are $2.99 for a cup, but you can add a cup of soup to any entrée or salad for only $1.50.
Get there early for lunch; tables fill up fast. In addition, the daily soup specials are posted on Twitter (@SoupSpoonCafe) so you can plan ahead!
1419 E. Michigan Ave.