Map Room International Night and Bon Bon Sandwiches

October 19 2009 - 9:38 PM

The Map Room is well-known for its draft beers and extensive bottle list, but their International Night on Tuesdays deserves plenty of recognition of its own. Each week is a trip around the world, as a local restaurant is chosen to cater international food. To get food, you simply need to purchase two drinks and get your meal ticket stamped. Without a doubt, this is a giant step up from the "free wings" ploy of your average bar.

On this particular evening, the featured cuisine was Vietnamese, provided by Bon Bon Sandwiches. I'd been craving a banh mi sandwich for weeks but hadn't had time to trek to Argyle, so this was a welcome sight. If you are unfamiliar with the banh mi, it is the sublime lovechild of French and Asian influences, gestalt in sandwich form. Though there are many variations, the classic banh mi contains thinly sliced pork loaf, ham and pate layered on a baguette-like roll, topped with pickled carrots and daikon radish, a cucumber spear, cilantro and sliced jalapenos. Savory yet sweet and tangy, crunchy while soft, available for merely $3…you will rue all the times you ordered from Subway.

For International Night, Bon Bon served two types of banh mi: the standard ham and pork roll variety and one with grilled pork and a hint of lemongrass. This was accompanied by pickled radish, carrots and cilantro. The sandwiches were fresh and tasty, though I was struck by the gaping absence of peppery pate and mayo. This was paired with a mixed salad and a large cup of soup with tofu, lime and pho noodles. In the event that you aren't full after all this, second servings were doled out once everyone had been served.

Map Room's Beer of the Month for October is the Bear Republic Hop Head Rye. True to its name, this was a powerful IPA with lots of hops, delicious though overwhelming for the lighter flavors of Vietnamese cuisine. I also tried the Schneider Aventinus, a dark wheat doppelbock with a chocolate-y aroma and hints of raisin. With a wide selection of local craft beers, Belgian abbey ales and everything in between, Map Room has something for everyone.

The dinner service begins at 7 pm. We arrived just after 6 pm and there were still a few empty tables, but I would not arrive much later that that, unless you feel like standing around the bar all night.

Map Room
1949 N. Hoyne (and Armitage)
(773) 252-7636

Bon Bon Sandwiches
2333 W. North Ave
(773) 278-5800