Comments: The Berghoff Café has been run by the same family in downtown Chicago for more than 110 years. Isn't it time they produced a cookbook?
The recipes represent the full range of Berghoff Café food. The book starts with a chapter on bar snacks, followed by soups, sandwiches, salads, side dishes, a chapter featuring the café's daily specials, one with its relatively new pizzas, and desserts from "yesterday and today." There is a lot more useful information on food and food history than we were expecting from a restaurant cookbook (to tell the truth, we weren't expecting much or any useful information, just a bunch of recipes mixed in with a little nostalgia, so we were delighted with the scope of this book).
Carlyn Berghoff, great-granddaughter of patriarch Herman Berghoff, says the café food is built on three principles that work in the restaurant and at home: reuse, recycle, and reinvent. They use and reuse basic ingredients, so potatoes become Mashed Potatoes, Lyonnaise Potatoes, Hash Browns, Potato Salad, Oven-Roasted Potatoes, Potato Pancakes, Potato Soup, French Fries, and Smoked Sausage and Potato Pizza. They recycle by putting leftovers to good use, so Herb-Roasted Turkey Breast stars in the Turkey Reuben, Turkey Okra and Rice Soup, and more.
And they reinvent, because many dishes from the 1890s don't exactly fit today's lifestyle. Many of the original recipes have been updated to require less time and have fewer calories, and there are also selections from today's café menu and current customer favorites.
Most of us do not have access to Berghoff beer and some other Berghoff-specific ingredients listed in some of the recipes. For some of the Berghoff breads, there are recipes to make the requisite Berghoff ingredients, but for some others, you'll have to make do with ingredients that are available locally.