BLOCK PARTY: A taste of Chicago history lives on in the confines of 3322 S. Morgan St.

Dave Samber is such a preternaturally exuberant guy that it is hard to imagine, even as the economy batters businesses, that he doesn't face each day with a smile and a new idea.<br>
<br>
One of his latest was to serve shark at last year's <a class="taxInlineTagLink" id="EVFES0000157" title="Taste of Chicago" href="/topic/lifestyle-leisure/dining-drinking/taste-of-chicago-EVFES0000157.topic">Taste of Chicago</a>. That sounded risky."But people just loved it," he says.<br>
<br>
So maybe Samber awoke today with the notion of adding to his repertoire as chef/owner of the Polo Cafe at 3322 S. Morgan St. In the heart of Bridgeport and housed in what was once the city's oldest confectionery, the restaurant is as charming as you'll find, with a simple fish-pasta-beef menu (extraordinary lamb chops but no shark), given inventive twists and served by a staff that aims to please. Samber opened the place in 1985, after tiring of the real estate business and the North Side. It's relatively tiny, just a few booths and tables and a handsome mural featuring the many local guys who made good: Mayors Edward Kelly, Martin Kennelly, <a class="taxInlineTagLink" id="PEHST002288" title="Richard J. Daley" href="/topic/politics/richard-j.-daley-PEHST002288.topic">Richard J. Daley</a>, <a class="taxInlineTagLink" id="PEPLT005870" title="Michael Bilandic" href="/topic/politics/government/michael-bilandic-PEPLT005870.topic">Michael Bilandic</a> and <a class="taxInlineTagLink" id="PEPLT007475" title="Richard M. Daley" href="/topic/politics/government/richard-m.-daley-PEPLT007475.topic">Richard M. Daley</a>.<br>
<br>
Maybe his new idea involves something for the room next door. Created from what was once a Lithuanian movie house, the Old Eagle Private Room is a striking space that features a lovely organ, a stage and an increasing number of private and public events, such as book signings (Mary Pat Kelly and her "Galway Bay" the most recent) and concerts.<br>
<br>
Samber's latest big idea, long brewing, has manifested itself in the transformation of the building's upper floors into the Bridgeport Bed and Breakfast.<br>
<br>
We sent a youngster, high school junior Cordelia Meserow, down to get her take, and here it is:<br>
<br>
"It contains several suites including the Sox Suite, complete with a 'Field of Dreams' motif [in the form of cornstalks artfully painted on the walls]. In the Mayor's Suite, Samber has created a kind of understated splendor that the mayor of the city would no doubt find very comfortable and any ordinary person would find quite charming. But most charming of all is the amount of empathy Samber exhibited in creating the space. While picking every piece of furniture in the suite, Samber was constantly putting himself in the mayor's shoes and trying to imagine what he would like, right down to the headboard of the bed, which contains four carved ovals representing the stars in the city's official flag." (Those stars, if you are among the majority of Chicagoans who don't know, signify Ft. Dearborn, the <a class="taxInlineTagLink" id="EVHST000060" title="Great Chicago Fire (1871)" href="/topic/disasters-accidents/fires/great-chicago-fire-%281871%29-EVHST000060.topic">Great Chicago Fire</a>, World's Columbian Exposition and the Century of Progress.)<br>
<br>
Other suites reflect Samber's deep affection for his adopted neighborhood. They include the 11th Ward Suite, with photos of locals whose success stopped short of City Hall's fifth floor, and the Hardscrabble Suite, with intimate and lovely views of the neighborhood.<br>
<br>
Business at the bed and breakfast has been pretty good. Many foreign tourists, never fearful of getting off the beaten paths, have checked in. If your summer vacation trip to Aruba fell apart along with your bank account, maybe you should too.<br>
<br>
<i>--Rick Kogan</i>
chi-sidewalks-042609

( Photo for the Tribune by Charles Osgood / April 26, 2009 )

Dave Samber is such a preternaturally exuberant guy that it is hard to imagine, even as the economy batters businesses, that he doesn't face each day with a smile and a new idea.

One of his latest was to serve shark at last year's Taste of Chicago. That sounded risky."But people just loved it," he says.

So maybe Samber awoke today with the notion of adding to his repertoire as chef/owner of the Polo Cafe at 3322 S. Morgan St. In the heart of Bridgeport and housed in what was once the city's oldest confectionery, the restaurant is as charming as you'll find, with a simple fish-pasta-beef menu (extraordinary lamb chops but no shark), given inventive twists and served by a staff that aims to please. Samber opened the place in 1985, after tiring of the real estate business and the North Side. It's relatively tiny, just a few booths and tables and a handsome mural featuring the many local guys who made good: Mayors Edward Kelly, Martin Kennelly, Richard J. Daley, Michael Bilandic and Richard M. Daley.

Maybe his new idea involves something for the room next door. Created from what was once a Lithuanian movie house, the Old Eagle Private Room is a striking space that features a lovely organ, a stage and an increasing number of private and public events, such as book signings (Mary Pat Kelly and her "Galway Bay" the most recent) and concerts.

Samber's latest big idea, long brewing, has manifested itself in the transformation of the building's upper floors into the Bridgeport Bed and Breakfast.

We sent a youngster, high school junior Cordelia Meserow, down to get her take, and here it is:

"It contains several suites including the Sox Suite, complete with a 'Field of Dreams' motif [in the form of cornstalks artfully painted on the walls]. In the Mayor's Suite, Samber has created a kind of understated splendor that the mayor of the city would no doubt find very comfortable and any ordinary person would find quite charming. But most charming of all is the amount of empathy Samber exhibited in creating the space. While picking every piece of furniture in the suite, Samber was constantly putting himself in the mayor's shoes and trying to imagine what he would like, right down to the headboard of the bed, which contains four carved ovals representing the stars in the city's official flag." (Those stars, if you are among the majority of Chicagoans who don't know, signify Ft. Dearborn, the Great Chicago Fire, World's Columbian Exposition and the Century of Progress.)

Other suites reflect Samber's deep affection for his adopted neighborhood. They include the 11th Ward Suite, with photos of locals whose success stopped short of City Hall's fifth floor, and the Hardscrabble Suite, with intimate and lovely views of the neighborhood.

Business at the bed and breakfast has been pretty good. Many foreign tourists, never fearful of getting off the beaten paths, have checked in. If your summer vacation trip to Aruba fell apart along with your bank account, maybe you should too.

--Rick Kogan

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