Submitted by liz on Wed, 2014-11-12 11:42
Culled from: Drury, John. Dining in Chicago, New York: The John Day Company, 1931, pp. 71-73.
Note: The Newberry Library holds the personal papers of author John Drury.
Frogs' Legs, a la Julien
Have you ever eaten frogs' legs, the national weakness of France? They're a memorable delicacy once you've tasted them. But they are especially memorable if you've tasted them at Julien's, the oldest French restaurant in town. Julien's, it is said, made Chicago frogs' legs conscious. We believe it, considering the way "Ma" Julien cooks them, giving them that distinctive Julienesque touch which has been duplicated nowhere this side of Paris. We'll go further and say that she could even make a name for herself in Gay Paree, the home of frogs' legs.
It was from her late husband, Alex, that Mme. Julien learned the secret of preparing this highly delectable French viand in so distinctive a style. "Pa" Julien, it was, who first introduced frogs' legs into Chicago. That was thirteen years ago. After making a name for himself as chef in the old Lexington Hotel when it was in its prime, and later in the kitchens of the Hamilton Club, the exclusive Casino Club and the Blackstone Hotel, Alex Julien opened this little French restaurant on the second floor of his old red-brick home on Rush Street, in Tower Town, and featured frogs' legs.
Soon fashionable society on the Gold Coast nearby beat a path to his door — for Julien was an artist and they came to partake of his masterpiece, frogs' legs. But alas, the gods became jealous, and "Pa" Julien was removed from this earth a few years ago — but not before he had left the secrets of his culinary skill to his capable wife.
"Ma" Julien does all the cooking herself now and we defy you to point out any difference between her frogs' legs and those that were made by "Pa" Julien. The same challenge applies to those other two famed items of the Maison Julien — scallops and lettuce salad with Julien's original French dressing. Mme. Julien instills nothing less than magic into her salad dressing — a ghostly touch of garlic or something — which makes it an exquisite adventure in gastronomy. The story is told that an Armour agent once offered "Pa" Julien, who created this dressing, $15,000 for its recipe and that he refused, maintaining that its secret should never go out of his family.
Small wonder, then, that famous and wealthy people may be seen frequently — top-hats and ermines and all — at the Julien board, partaking of the frogs' legs or the delicious salad. "Ma" Julien says she doesn't know who they are half the time, adding regretfully that she's never kept a guest book. The former French consul, Antonin Barthelemy, came here often and his successor. Count Charles de Fontnouvelle is following his example. Here, also, come such gourmets of the town as County Judge Edmund K. Jarecki, Postmaster Arthur C. Leuder, Superior Court Judge Joseph B. David, and Scott Durant, the millionaire.
There is a friendly, home-like atmosphere about Julien's that you'll like. The tables are covered with white oil-cloth; paintings of the French countryside adorn the walls; "Papa" Joffre smiles down from a photograph; several "tin hats" from the late war hang above a door frame; the French tricolors and American stars and stripes decorate the bay-window and, last but not least, Mme. Julien's two grown daughters, Marie and Renee, serve you most charmingly and efficiently.
Since "Ma" Julien only serves at long tables in boarding-house fashion, and since there is only room for ninety-nine persons (and the chairs are always occupied), she asks you to call her up first — Delaware 0040 — and reserve a place. The frogs' legs and scallops, by the way, are only served on Tuesdays and Fridays — with the $1.50 and $2.00 dinners. You may also obtain these same dishes at the Saturday luncheon. A table d'hote luncheon is served each day between 11 A. M. and 2 P. M. for 65 cents and on Sundays for 85 cents. We highly recommend Julien's.
1009 Rush Street
Open for luncheon and dinner
Table d'hote only
Maitresse d' hotel: Madame Julien
1931 - 1931