I had this place on my "want to go" list for a long time before I moved away from Chicago, so I was very excited to visit it on my latest trip back. The menu and decor are old-school eastern European, down to the stained glass of Vlad the Impaler, and prices are reasonable for a nice night out (apps ~$10ish, entrees $20-27, a nice 3-course deal for $33). It's an overused descriptor, but if this isn't a "hidden gem" for Chicago gourmands, I don't what else could be. Definitely a stellar spot for a romantic date or a special occasion.
The food met all expectations, and was clearly prepared with equal parts skill and love. The stuffed cabbages and meatball soup were highlights for us, and we also enjoyed the vegetable goulash and fried cheese. The complimentary bread also tasted house-made, and was best saved for sopping up leftover sauces and oils to savor every bit of each dish.
What really set this place apart was the theatrics and atmosphere though (see the included video). The owner is an active part of running the restaurant and made sure we were entertained and well taken care of. There was a violinist playing songs upon request, and overall service was attentive and on-point with what I expect from fine-dining establishments in Chicago.