Earlier this month, Mr. Baseball and I went to visit his home town of Chicago. Well, the north suburbs to be exact (as my mom the Southsider White Sox fan always points out). Bob Chinn’s Crab House in Wheeling is a favorite of the Baseball family, and I was definitely down to try it when they mentioned Mai Tais.
There really aren’t any tiki-ish design details to speak of, besides the basket lamps. (I spotted a bunch of these decorating the ceilings at LA’s Bahooka last weekend.)
Bob Chinn’s feels less like a restaurant and more like a warehouse full of tables. I’d thought the first room was really big, and then they led us through another giant room, and then another!
The hosts are all on headsets and they herd you into lines depending on your party size. Apparently, there’s a wait on most nights, in spite of the fact that the restaurant can seat more than 600 people!
I’m susceptible to the power of suggestion, so, of course, I had to order that Mai Tai. Their version was very tart and was served up in this 27-ounce plastic tiki mug (a bit Party City-esque, but nobody’s perfect). When she brought my drink over, our waitress gave me a slip of paper and said that after you collect six or so of these Mai Tai receipts, you get your very own Bob Chinn’s fisherman jacket…Ok, then!
I was kind of overwhelmed with the menu (lobster can be served five ways, shrimp has at least eight preparations, etc.) so I put my fate in the hands of our server, who suggested the grouper. The control freak side of me regretted that order immediately, but I ended up being really pleased with it. The fish was so flavorful and the potatoes were perfect.
When she carded me for my cocktail (which happens pretty much everywhere), our server noticed that it was just a few days until my birthday. So at the end of our meal, this dessert—Bob’s Slice of Paradise—landed on our table. It’s a sweet potato pie (made with a purple variety from Okinawa) with a macadamia nut crust. It was definitely different—the texture was more like Bob’s Slice of Baby Food.
On our way out, we spotted Bob Chinn himself, sitting at a table and digging into a plate of crabs. Mr. Baseball cajoled me into saying hi, which turned into a photo op and trash talk about LA restaurants, he especially had some words for Gladstone’s. That Bob Chinn is a feisty one. And check it out, he’s wearing the aforementioned fisherman jacket. Snazzy!
Bob Chinn’s Crabhouse
393 S. Milwaukee Ave.
Wheeling, IL 60090