When I was in undergraduate school and in graduate school, I always hung out with the foreigners, much to the chagrin of many in my class. I got invitations to dinner and believe me when I say that my classmates knew how to get down with the get-down in the kitchen. I got to travel to the Caribbean, to Africa, to India, and to the Middle East when they went home, many thanks to their invitations. I should clarify that being of Caribbean and African stock, my fellow Caribbean and African classmates were not foreign to me the way the Indians, Arabs, Iranians, Iraqis, and other Middle Eastern were. And while I did my share of travelling to Africa with my fellow classmates, I never got a chance to go to Algeria. Well, I got a chance to compensate for that loss with a wonderful visit to an Algerian restaurant in Chicago’s Lincoln Park.
For some Algerian delicacies, we went to Icosium Kafe at 5200 N. Clark Street in the midst of usual Friday evening chaos on the block where everything is constantly in motion and parking is at a premium. Tucked away in what looks like a little corner, Icosium Kafe is a small restaurant and coffee-house that specializes in crepes. Oh happy day. Seven of us met to partake of the menu of crepes, to interject our usual brand of humour, and to see if it was possible to walk a straight line after so much belly stuffing. And par for the course, we accomplished to do all that. As mentioned, Icosium Kafe is small and intimate, but it is also loaded with atmosphere. We seven — ranging from Jewish, to Mennonite, to Serbian, to Colombian, to Polish, to Caribbean — felt right at home squeezed into our little spot and up to our usual antics.
To get things started, we began with a round of rooibus tea, which is a red tea based out of South Africa around Western Cape. Goes to show that there is apparently a lot of love in Africa such that Northern Africans can appreciate the sweet, nutty taste of rooibus tea that they would include it on their menus. It was a nice touch, if I may say so. We also had cups of sweet potato purée soup. If I had disposable income, I’d be on an airplane to Algeria, typing this journal up from an altitude of 35,000 feet, so that I could indulge in eating that soup. If I had a few slices of pumpkin bread to go along with it, I would have been in heaven. It was the kind of soup that was so delicious that if someone were to serve it up to you, you’d probably make all sorts of promises that you’d eventually break without compunction. Wait a minute. I don’t have to go to Algeria for more of the soup. I can simply go back to Icosium Kafe. Cue sad trombone.
When it came down to the main meal, we placed our fair share orders of savoury crepes that we could all share family style. There was no need in being individualistic with such good food and because we operate in the mode of being a community, sharing is what it’s all about. We ended up feasting on the following:
- Cheka Chouka Crepe — crepe filled with goat cheese, arugula, caramelized onions, fresh Roma tomatoes, pine nuts, roasted garlic, and baby spinach
- Crepe De Roma — crepe filled with capers, baby mozzarella cheese, fresh roma tomatoes, Portobello mushrooms, fresh basil, baby spinach, and lamb sausage
- Crepe De Paris — crepe filled with green applies, escargot, roasted garlic, and brie
- Chicago Crepe — crepe filled with avocados, Muenster cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, sunflower seeds, fresh cilantro, scallions, organic mixed greens, and chicken
- Carthage Crepe — crepe filled with scallions, feta cheese, fresh Roma tomatoes, fresh basil, and organic mixed greens
- Greek Crepe — crepe filled with cured olives, feta cheese, fresh Roma tomatoes, toasted almonds, fresh cilantro, roasted garlic, baby spinach, and salmon
If I had to give a definition of satisfaction, getting our fill of the crepes would be it. Some may differ, but I would have to recommend that they go to Icosium Kafe and discover the true meaning of the word. After a moment of letting the food go down, cracking up on work, trying to get one of the foodies to become a stand-up comedian, and breaking down the real meaning of enjoying ice cream, we were ready for dessert.
The desserts were, of course, stuffed crepes with all sorts of yummy goodies for the tummies. And because you’re hankering to know what all we had, I shall indulge you with a description of the greatness that we ate with all the rapture of individuals taking full advantage of life.
- Bananas and Nutella — crepe filled with bananas and melted nutella, which is a hazelnut paste
- Crepe Aziz — crepe filled with fresh strawberries, kiwi, and nutella
- Crepe D’Amour — crepe stuffed full of fresh raspberries with dark chocolate
- Crepe Buena — crepe with fresh mango, ginger chutney, sunflower seeds, and raisins
- Crepe De Limone — crepe with fresh lemon juice, white sugar, and lemon zest
- Jamming with Jam Crepes — crepe filled with fresh raspberry, apricot, strawberry, orange marmalade, and lingonberry
Along with the dessert crepes, we had ice cream. Hmmmm. Naughty-naughty. Our crepes came with a dollop of chocolate, vanilla, pistachio, green tea sherbet, strawberry, and rainbow. Well, I can say that I appreciate ice cream, especially after having it served up with such appetizing crepes. And we had this production line activity going, taking a bite of a crepe and passing the plate clockwise to the next person. All while we were doing this, we kept singing
Pass the Dutchie on the left hand side
Pass the Dutchie on the left hand side
It a gonna burn, give me music make me jump and prance
It a go done, give me the music make me rock in the dance
You know the food has to be good when you’re singing at the dining table.
And so our success continues. Icosium Kafe was definitely a gem of a restaurant and the food was absolutely outstanding. If I had to change anything, it would be into a pair of pants with an elastic waistband. The food isn’t necessarily pricey, but if you eat the way we foodies eat, it may bring about a wince when the bill comes. Yet again, this is one of those restaurants where you go with a group of friends for the real experience. While it may be small and intimate, it’s still not intimate where you can sit in the corner licking your date’s fingers. If you find yourself doing that, may I recommend ice cream until you get home?