We were tempted to see if Folklore (in Wicker Park) could hold its ground against sister restaurant Tango Sur (in Lakeview), considering the two have the same owner. A bit skeptical that it wasn't BYOB (like Tango Sur), we headed to this Division street restaurant last night for a dinner with an out of town friend. I'm happy to report that our overall experience was positive. However, I will definitely continue to view Folklore as the little sibling of Tango Sur (I'll elaborate more below), as there were just a few ways it fell short (all smaller things that can certainly be made up through experience).
Stunning on the Inside & Out: The interior is inviting with bare light fixtures, and stripped brick walls, exposing the character of the building. Tables were also available outdoors nestled within large planters sporting ferns and flowers. We choose to eat indoors, given that the dusky night still offered an 80+ degree temperature. Both seating areas, however, were rustic and welcoming.
When it comes to "sibling rivalry" between Tango Sur & Folklore, looks like Tango Sur wins. Breakdown of my reasoning is to follow. Tango Sur obviously is more experienced when it comes to the small details, which often make a large difference to a foodie like myself.
Example One: I'm openly admitting if I may be having a blonde moment, and if this is Argentine culture that I'm not aware of--I apologize--but we received salads with our main course, with absolutely no dressing on them. There was olive oil and vinegar at the table, along with salt and pepper of course, but that isn't any way to enjoy a salad! Culturally pertinent or not, put some dressing on the lettuce, tomatoes, and onion slices that this dish was comprised of. Noted, the focus should be on the meat at a venue such as this, but I'm just noting my objective overall review.
Example Two: Others may disagree with my thoughts on this one, but since the bare lighting accessories on the ceiling were so gorgeous and simplistic, why not light them up a tad more? With a single flame at our table, (not to mention the 4 glasses of red wine I was swimming in) there were moments when I felt as though I was nearly groping for my food. Small detail, but still something relevant to point out from a customer standpoint.
Example Three: Doug said that he wanted his steak medium rare. Let's just say that after holding it up to our single flame to double check the color, it was extremely rare. To add, it wasn't even warm when it initially came out. Although the waiter and staff, who alleviated the issue immediately, were apologetic, it unfortunately took the explanation and request of my boyfriend to NOT have the cook simply re-heat the current piece of steak on his plate, but to use a new piece meat (best practices at a steak house it seems). After discussing with the wait staff, they re-made the dish, and it was perfectly done. Recovery is very important, but knowing how to cook meats perfectly the first time around is also equally important from my point of view (especially at an Argentine Grill known for red meat dishes). Yes, I'm being tough on them, but please know that I will go back for another visit.
From a more uplifting standpoint, everything that I tried was absolutely wonderful. Yes, I wasn't in a red meat mood (lame I know) but I must say that generally speaking, the portions and pricing at Folklore are excellent. I tried a salmon dish, and started with prosciutto cantaloupe. It was a "DIY" (do it yourself) dish when consuming it was concerned (I actually had to cut up the cantaloupe and tear pieces of the prosciutto off to combine the ingredients together), however, I didn't mind. It was a perfect fresh summer dish that I was able to share with all members at my table. Another perk was that there was absolutely delicious $5.00 wine available (Australian) that was the perfect match for my meal. Plus, who needs BYOB if the wine prices are so reasonable?
I don't mean to project negative reviews of this restaurant. What can I say, I'm a type A individual with high restaurant standards. Needless to say, we will for sure go back in the future as I expressed earlier. I will certainly be a repeat customer. There just so happened to be extremely high expectations upon my initial visit. That having been said, I would definitely recommend that, if in the neighborhood, you make your way to pay this cozy place a visit.
Address: 2100 W. Division St.
(Between Hoyne & Damen)