Addella's on Oak brings flavorful, health-conscious fare to Franklin Park
When I first entered Addella’s on Oak, it was early on a Saturday evening and the place was sparsely populated. Taking another step in, I heard “Water No Get Enemy” by Fela Kuti, the great Afrobeat maestro, playing on the house stereo as I looked over an appealing room with a wooden floor, amusing cassette tape-patterned wallpaper, colorful hand-painted tables and politically tinged, vibrant local art.
“What a cool bar,” I thought.
I haven’t been hanging out in bars much since the pandemic hit, but I slid my mask down for a quick one when my server informed me that my food order would soon be ready. As I’d find out in a few minutes, and as befits a hip place run by industry veterans — Addella’s is a collaboration between married partners Victoria Hink (former owner of the Angry Baker) and Karrio Ballard (former co-owner of Barrel on High) — the food served here surpasses the grub put out by most local taverns.
In general, Addella’s serves a tempting mix of comforting and health-minded dishes that often exhibit southern influences. While I stuck to the main menu, many offerings containing meat and cheese reappear in plant-based guise on a supplemental all-vegan menu.
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The highly recommended Bourbon BBQ Brisket Biscuit doesn't have a vegan doppelganger, but it’s an excellent deal. Belying its $3 slider price, the deceptively hefty snack is a house-made biscuit packed with pot roast-like beef flattered by a semi-sweet, mayo-free slaw.
The mild but satisfying Joe Dip appetizer ($8, served with tortilla chips) with tangy sloppy joe meat, shredded cheddar, sour cream, scallions and guacamole hit many of the same notes as seven-layer dip. While I’d prefer it were spicier, what’s not to like?
Among other starters, although my serving of Gumbo ($4) was bereft of the menu-mentioned chicken and shrimp, it was a rich, good-tasting and sizable cup of soup appreciably thickened with okra.
Sandwiches, which come with a house side, form the heart of the menu. Addella’s Double ($13) — a towering but inhalable and photogenic cheeseburger with two seared patties, a toasted glossy potato roll and loads of fresh fixings — was a highlight.
It goes well with any side, including: the onion-kissed Shhh Puppies (a likable, crisp-yet-smooth version of hush puppies); juicy, acidic, chili-spiked, tender and pleasantly bitter Collard Greens; and sweet-yet-zippy black beans that tasted like they'd been doused with salsa.
I also enjoyed the Jalapeno Mac Brat ($12). The easy-to-love assembly was a toasted hoagie roll cradling a split-and-seared bratwurst topped with soothing macaroni-and-cheese and contrasting sliced jalapenos.
Two other sandwiches I sampled tasted good, too, but had issues with their proportions. A single-decker club sandwich (We Be Clubbin, $12) with crisp bacon and avocado had three-fourths of its fine grilled chicken on one-half of the sourdough toast. The smattering of roasted cauliflower, tzatziki, hummus and cabbage in the Cauliflower Gyro ($12) made the sandwich about two-thirds pita bread.
My issue with the Chicken Corn Caesar bowl ($12) — that the plentiful breast-meat cubes enlivened by blackening spices I received were a tad dry — was hardly a deal breaker when you consider this was an affordable, huge, healthful and flavorful entree. Essentially a hybrid of a Caesar and a taco salad, it’s romaine lettuce with an OK dressing, plus crushed tortilla chip “croutons,” black beans, roasted corn and red peppers, hot sauce, tomatoes, onions and cilantro.
The Make It Grain bowl ($13) with beets, quinoa, shaved Parmesan, kale, herbed chicken, roasted sweet potato cubes, shredded carrots, onions, romaine and a balsamic vinaigrette had comparable strong points. Like most items here, it was big, flavor-packed, included healthful ingredients and was a great deal. In other words, it’s the kind of food you’d probably hope for from a terrific new bar.
Addella's on Oak
1485 Oak St., Franklin Park