Shelby Campbell's creativity goes beyond bar fare

  • Server Samantha Lump delivers sandwiches to Brien Buelow of Bartlett, left, and Jim Olesky of Schaumburg at Shelby Campbell's Almost Famous in Elk Grove Village.

      Server Samantha Lump delivers sandwiches to Brien Buelow of Bartlett, left, and Jim Olesky of Schaumburg at Shelby Campbell's Almost Famous in Elk Grove Village. Bill Zars | Staff Photographer

  • American nachos at Shelby Campbell's Almost Famous substitute potato chips for the usual tortilla wedges. Piled on top are melted cheeses, ground beef, diced tomatoes, onions and sliced jalapeños.

      American nachos at Shelby Campbell's Almost Famous substitute potato chips for the usual tortilla wedges. Piled on top are melted cheeses, ground beef, diced tomatoes, onions and sliced jalapeños. Bill Zars | Staff Photographer

  • The bar at Shelby Campbell's Almost Famous in Elk Grove Village serves up beer, food and the chance to play pool.

      The bar at Shelby Campbell's Almost Famous in Elk Grove Village serves up beer, food and the chance to play pool. Bill Zars | Staff Photographer

  • Cosmos and mai tais complement the beer list at Shelby Campbell's Almost Famous.

      Cosmos and mai tais complement the beer list at Shelby Campbell's Almost Famous. Bill Zars | Staff Photographer

 
By Lisa Friedman Miner
Updated 6/22/2011 3:21 PM

The walls of Shelby Campbell's Almost Famous chronicle the namesake's rather colorful life.

Posters tout Campbell for Chicago mayor and pit him against 1920s boxing great Gene Tunney. Blown-up memos, meanwhile, document a failed patent attempt and an ill-advised advertising pitch -- "Eat at Shelby Campbell's or the dog gets it." Also on the wall is a report card, dated 1911, urging young Shelby "to do more thinking."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Somebody, however, was doing a lot of thinking when they created this new bar/restaurant in Elk Grove Village.

Shelby, you see, is a figment of the owners' imaginations.

Motif: Mementos from Shelby's "life" -- chock full of near-misses with fame and fortune -- cover the walls. Take time to check them out; they're both fun and imaginative.

The bar area is quite large. Seating is available along the bar, at high-topped tables surrounding it and at booths ringing the windows. If you want to get a bit farther away, there's a separate bar area that looks promising for after-work gatherings and a quieter dining room where families might be more comfortable.

Shelby Campbell's has three pool tables, Golden Tee, a couple other video games and lots of TV screens positioned so you can watch the game no matter where you sit.

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An outdoor patio with umbrella-topped tables is now open for summer.

Crowd: Located in an industrial area, the bar brings in a sizable blue-collar crowd as well as co-workers gathering for after-work drinks.

Service: Our waiter came across as friendly and attentive, with staff members in general stopping by frequently to clear empty plates and glasses.

Liquid consumption: Shelby Campbell's has 33 beers on tap, others sold by the bottle and a selection of reasonably priced wines available by the glass. A namesake mai tai has proved popular with patrons as well, but the margarita -- on special the night we visited -- was rather bland and disappointing.

Food: The menu covers all the bases. For starters, you can go with wings, sliders or American nachos -- a top seller that starts with potato chips and then piles on melted cheese, ground beef, sliced jalapeños, tomatoes and onions. We opted instead for the goat cheese and artichoke dip. The creamy, cheese-topped dip was served with veggies and crispy wontons, nice alternatives to the usual pita or tortilla chips.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Lunch and dinner options run the gamut, with steak, roasted chicken, sandwiches, wraps, salads and burgers. Cheese lovers will find much to like with the pizza, which boasted a crisp crust and a ton of mozzarella.

Among the house specialties are fish tacos. Corn tortillas held generous strips of blackened tilapia served with shredded cabbage, avocado wedges and spicy tequila sauce. The combo packed delightful flavors and textures.

Music: A digital jukebox allows patrons to pick the music, with Saturday nights devoted to deejays and karaoke.

Parking: There is a free lot.

Overall: The fictional Campbell's brushes with history provide a fun backdrop for patrons seeking cold beer and a solid meal.