The French Dip at the SideDoor doesn't come with any sides, and it's $18 - one of the pricier French Dips I've had, and once you add a side, it might be the most expensive I've had. Two beers and a bowl of chili as a side (who needs veggies?) led to this being a $63 meal for basically a sandwich/soup/two drink meal - it's up there on the price scale for sure, for a sandwich.
But, for that price, you get an excellent French Dip. The bread, baked daily in Wicker Park at the Red Hen Bakery, was just perfect. Fresh, slightly crusty, but not too much, and flavorful. The bartender gave me the choice of how well done I wanted the prime rib, which I thought was key. I prefer meat that is more done in my French Dip than I would typically order for a steak. I went with medium, and that was perfect - a bit of pink, and a bit of crusty goodness, giving the texture of the beef a good balance. If anything, I could have had a bit more beef, but it wasn't lacking by all means.
The au jus was just wonderful, though the portion wasn't enough. So I asked for extra, and the bartender brought more with no hesitation. Just the right amount of sodium, and just the right consistency. There's a small margin between too watery and too soupy for au jus and many restaurants just can't get it right, but this au jus had a bold beefy, oniony flavor and was in that consistency margin of au jus perfection. They also include creamed horseradish, and while I typically prefer raw/dry horseradish, I really didn't have any complaints.
I've had probably hundreds of French Dips all over North America in my time traveling, but I must say that this ranks in the top 5. Well done, SideDoor.
The Beef: 5
The Bread: 5
The Portion: 4
The Au Jus: 5
Near French Dip Perfection!