RAGE Magazine March -- Gossip Grill Feature


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The latest successful venture in the ever-expanding empire of club owner/restaurateur Chris Shaw and business partners Stefan Chilcote and Matt Ramon (Urban Mo’s; Baja Betty’s, etc.), Gossip Grill recently opened in the former home of Café Eleven at University and Normal. Shaw’s timing and sensibilities hit yet another bull’s-eye with this new bar and eatery, targeting specifically omen but equally welcoming to men, a refreshing change from the deep rooted historical segregation within our community.

Whoops and hollers from a celebratory crowd on the patio spill into the parking lot as you approach. Just as Urban Mo’s, a full service outdoor bar to the right as you enter signals that this is first a place to hang out and have fun. Groups large and small enjoy lively conversations while quaffing beverages from a premium selection of beers, wines and spirits without the premium prices. At daily happy hour prices you can have the likes of Guinness Stout or a glass of Chardonnay for as little as two and a half bucks!

But just because the food seems incidental to liquid refreshment doesn’t mean it has to be boring. Chef Maryjo Testa, veteran of the Urban Kitchen group as well as Salad Style downtown, offers a well considered menu that leans more toward snacking—perfect in a bar setting—than to a formal dinner, and with an eye to comfort food. You can certainly enjoy a multi-course meal here, though, and have plenty of great choices. The relatively small menu is so well composed that omnivores don’t notice that half of the menu is non-meat.

The menu is cleverly divided into seven sections with double entendre headings. There are standouts from the “Foreplay” section of appetizers. Sampling Truffle Mac n’Cheese, macaroni shells baked in tasty, truffle-scented cheese sauce, prompted one diner to recall hiding, when growing up amidst complaining siblings, the comfort food-joys of casseroles at meatless Friday dinners. Shards of house-baked cracker bread accompany Roasted Garlic & Brie, with golden mounds of mellow roasted garlic adorning a ramekin of melted brie cheese.

The “Toss My Salad” section includes four entrée-sized items and house salad. A creamy Caesar Salad is offered with our without chicken. The Chop-Chop Steak puts slices of grilled Hangar Steak over a hearty salad of red potatoes, artichokes, olives, pepperoncini, and tomatoes. Soba Noodle & Chicken Salad is vibrantly colored and absolutely restorative, with shiitake mushrooms, carrots, snap peas, and peanuts all tossed with ginger-sesame dressing.

“Orgasmic Flat Bread” is the chef’s take on the classic Italian Pizzette, thin-crusted smaller pizzas, and a crowd pleasing favorite at “GG”. Here it’s long, rectangular house-baked cracker read, with various available toppings. The Margherita marries oregano and tomato sauce with a triple-cheese blend. If you simply MUST have meat you can add pepperoni for just a couple bucks. The Garlic Shrimp version is reminiscent of a “white pizza” with pesto and feta cheese dotted with garlicky shrimp and “cherry drop” tomatoes, with a sweet tang all their own.
“Sexy Steamy Panini” are stylish grilled sandwiches. Both Hangar Steak and Chicken are offered; and as with each category on the menu, there’s something for everyone. The Grilled Portobello Panini, with dried tomato, brie and artichokes, takes a back seat to no one.

If you’re really ready to get down and dirty, you’ll find “Between the Buns” your category of choice. It’s burger time, baby, and you can order a lean turkey, beef chuck or homemade veggie. While the turkey is presented with New York Cheddar, apple slaw and BBQ sauce, the beef is topped with blue cheese and red onion jam. With a little prodding, you can probably pick your patty and toppings, or just get it naked (so appropriate GG!) and add your own traditional condiments. The burgers come with cucumber salad. But for just two and a half you can get a side of hand-cut French fries, just like the great fries that Mo’s has been serving for decades.

Finally, if you’re just a girl who can’t say no, there’s “All the Way.” Two main course items are included. Flaming Cow Girl is a T-bone steak with a mound of fries, grilled asparagus and even house-made steak sauce! Grilled Scottish Salmon is an explosion of color and flavors with bright salmon resting on a Technicolor assortment of roasted vegetables including beets, spaghetti squash and celery root. All of it is drizzled with a sweet/tart citrus glaze. You can also go vegan and substitute seared tofu for the fish.

Apart from the two full entrees and just a few other items, everything on the menu is priced under ten dollars each, with some well below. So dining on a budget is easy here. For fun and food, join the party at Gossip Grill, and you’ll soon see what all the talk is about.

Source: Rage Monthly March Issue