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Ettinger’s: Save room for dessert

April 2012

Leave your cares at home, bring friends and loved ones and a big appetite, and you’re sure to be rewarded at Ettinger’s Deli and Bar, on Newman in LaSalle.

In a former auto-parts shop amid strip malls, garages and fast-food restaurants, what must have been an industrial space has morphed into a spacious dining area on two levels, with a fully licensed bar. The rich walnut stained tables and chairs are balanced by a wall of picture windows, flooding the front area with natural light. Prints of charming vintage antique-car advertisements adorn the walls.

Two welcome features for ladies are a small hook on the undersides of the tables, to hang your purse, and, equally important, pristine bathrooms.

Ettinger’s menu is vast and imaginative, featuring an old-style delicatessen menu including kosher-style and vegetarian dishes and house specialties. There are hamburgers, French fries, smoked meat, salads, surf’n’turf, sandwiches, and a “Junior” version of these adult classics for the kiddies, who are made to feel welcome.

The food, including a special spice mix found on the tables, is prepared on the premises—the smoked meat is smoked upstairs and hamburgers are made on the spot, which is why it takes about 15 minutes for it to arrive.

“Nothing here is frozen,” our waitress, Krystal, assured us. The affordably priced dishes have a personal touch, as lowly condiments that one never thinks twice about achieve star status with Ettinger’s name on the menu: This includes Ettinger’s mustard, Ettinger’s mayo, (spicy and regular, featuring Ettinger’s special spice blend—both delicious), Ettinger’s traditional coleslaw (a little on the sweet side but with a clean home-made taste), barbecue sauce, poutine sauce and marinara (can’t stop eating it once you start) and meat sauce.

My companions were delighted with their choices of the turkey sandwich (made with real roast turkey and accompanied by a fresh garden salad featuring various greens), Classic Luxenburger, and LaSalle Burger, served with caramelized onions, while I think my Saul’s Original Home-Made Smoked Meat Sandwich was one of the best I have ever tasted.

The French fries were curly, but not greasy.

Though we all chose meat dishes, vegetarians would not be at a loss here, as the menu features breaded calamari, beer-battered mushrooms, home-cured gravlax, fish and chips, red pepper and lentil soup and a vegetarian burger with all the traditional accoutrements.

If there is a downside, it is that the portions are truly man-size—not your average man, but perhaps a truck driver or a weight lifter. This is great if you are a hungry man, but for us ladies, there was simply no room for dessert, which was a shame.

The dessert/drinks menu has all the nostalgic treats you read about in Archie comics: old-fashioned sundaes made with two scoops of French vanilla, triple chocolate or strawberries and cream premium ice cream, hot fudge, caramel or strawberry sauce, topped with whipped cream, nuts and a cherry … need I go on?

Besides apple pie and chocolate cake, there are old-fashioned milkshakes and ice-cream floats.

For more sophisticated palates, other offerings include Ettinger’s Grand Marnier cheesecake, cappuccino, latte and sparkling water, all of which, alas, will have to be revisited.

9100 Newman. 514-408-9100,



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