Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Italian Beef Crawl 2014!


2014
10.05
Italian Beef Crawl 2014 is HERE!

Italian Beef Crawl 2014 is HERE!

Italian Beef Crawl 2014 is upon us.  What is Italian Beef Crawl?  It is a tour de force of beer and beef stretching across the city on a magical 8 hour tour. Included with this year’s invitation:

1 t-shirt to commemorate Italian Beef Crawl 2014

1/2 a beef sandwich at 4 beef restaurants

Beer at every bar on the beef crawl

Beer on the bus

Bus transportation from 12pm-8pm

Voting scorecards for the beefs of the day

Without further ado, here are the selected locales for this year’s beef crawl!

ROUTE

12:00pm-1:00pm: Five Star Bar – $2 PBR

1:30pm:                   Johnny’s Beef

1:45pm-3:15pm:    Phil’s Sports Bar

3:30pm:                 Mr. Beef & Pizza

3:45pm-5:15pm:   O’Malley’s Pub $12 Domestic Buckets

5:30pm:                  Marco’s Beef & Pizza

5:45pm-7:15pm:   The Question Mark $1.75 Domestic Drafts

7:45pm:                  Jay’s Beef (North Ave)

8:00pm:                 Two Way Lounge

COST

Please bring $55 to cover the cost of Italian Beef 2014.  We’ll meet on October 18th and get this show on the road.

Please note this post is not an open invite – if you have registered for Italian Beef Crawl through Brion Coughlin, Kurt Magnuski, or An Phan, you are good to go.

May the beef be with you!

#77 – Pig Roast at Frontier


2012
09.27
Pig Roast @FrontierChicago

Pig Roast @FrontierChicago

Roasted pig is a fine delicacy taken to great heights at Frontier – recently, I was fortunate enough to feast on the beast on a fine autumn afternoon.  Entering Frontier in the early afternoon we were the first people in the bar but there was roasted pig waiting for us.

Caesar Salad

Caesar Salad

Start off with a caesar salad with your leafy greens except add in one small twist: add fried thingermerbobbers filled with cheese.  I couldn’t tell you what these things were but they were a perfect replacement for crouton and were stuffed with pure deliciousness.  We housed this salad with great ease.

Mixed Vegetables

Mixed Vegetables

Next up was a mixed vegetable bowl cooked in lots of oil and/or butter.  Being polite, I took one giant serving spoonful and dabbed some on my plate.  The buttery deliciousness of these veggies became apparent quite quickly and the food glistened and left a fine buttery trail on my plate.

Johnnycakes

Johnnycakes

Next up were Johnnycakes.  What are Johnnycakes (besides tricky crossword puzzle clues)?  Never having a Johnnycake before they looked like mini-pancakes which confused me since it definitely was not brunch. The cornmeal flatbread was just what the doctor ordered and it was hard to resist engulfing the johnnycake one-bite one kill style.

Mac n' Cheese

Mac n' Cheese

Macaroni and cheese is a tried and tested recipe that we’ve all learned how to make by reading the directions on the box.  At Frontier, they serve up a golden crusted mac n cheese served on cast iron and the cheesy deliciousness can’t be denied.  The combination of appetizers and craft beer was making for the perfect afternoon.

Pork Belly

Pork Belly

While watching the carving, I never knew how much oil and grease could flow out of a freshly roasted pig. The first plate off the pig was the pork tenderloin, which was soft tender and chock full of flavor.  Luckily my dining companions were all-in on the pig and we feasted vociferously as pork tenderloin, pork shoulder, pork leg, pork ribs, pork jowl, pork tongue and pork cheek were all rolled out. My favorite was the pork belly and ten of us barely put a dent in the giant amounts of roasted pig.

In summary, if ever you and a group of friends are looking for a fun dining experience, take a stab at the pig roast at Frontier.  It will be a feast for the ages if you can finish an entire roasted pig and your taste buds will thank you for it.


#75 – Crawfish Boil at Toon’s


2012
04.22
Toon's Crawfish Banner

Toon's Crawfish Banner

We’re talking crawfish boil here.  Just two months ago I had my first crawfish ever in Las Vegas and have been craving crawfish ever since.  In Vegas, they fly in their crawfish daily from the south.  When I visited California in March, lo and behold they had several crawfish restaurants serving boiled crawfish and boiled shrimp all day every day.  The search for Chicago crawfish boil revealed that only a few places have crawfish boils and you certainly can’t find any places serving up crawfish daily!

After hearing that Toon’s had regular crawfish boils, I made sure to find them on Facebook and find out when the next crawfish boil was.  Discovering the next crawfish boil would feature 700 pounds of crawfish, it was a no brainer to pop an event invite and round up some good company to go eat crawfish!

How to Have a Successful Crawfish Boil at Toons

1. Get there early – Arriving early to a crawfish boil make sure you get a nice seat at the best TVs and that you will be in striking distance of the crawfish right when they come out of giant vats boiling in the back.  Getting to the boil early also means that you will have a prime opportunity to drink more and secure seating for you and your closest friends.  Don’t be surprised if a stranger decides to sit by you – seating gets tight (and that’s not a bad thing)!

2. It’s all about the plastic tray – While there are paper baskets to carry your crawfish, arriving early also means first crack at the giants trays used for crawfish. You might be able to double down with two paper baskets to drag back your crawfish, but I think it’s more fun to load up a giant tray with steaming hot crawfish.

3. Bring $25 cash. For the price of $25 cash you will get a bracelet along with a drink ticket for your included serving of selected beer.  The bracelet entitles you to ALL YOU CAN EAT crawfish from when they start serving until they flat run out of crawfish.  You will definitely get your money’s worth if you obey rules 1, 2, & 3.

Toon's Crawfish Tray

Toon's Crawfish Tray

The crawfish came out at 1:30PM and the line was not too daunting as Toon’s kept serving up tray after tray of crawfish and every serving was more than generous.  To be honest, one tray would have made my money’s worth and I really enjoyed the corn and mushroom that came along with the delicious crawfish. My old roommate was annihilating his crawfish and @GourmetRambler made fun of me for eating slow also.

@GettinHanked and @atick7 arrived next but sat elsewhere in the bar to enjoy their crawfish. @leyla_a missed out on the mud bugs since she compares crawfish to cockroaches and ordered pulled turkey instead. @TheAW1 and his friend Norman arrived much later and @girlinacity got there by crawfish o’clock.  Whilst waiting for a batch of crawfish, I got a chance to check out the back operations to see where the crawfish were all coming from.

Danny Beck - Mastermind of Toon's Crawfish Boil

Danny Beck - Mastermind of Toon's Crawfish Boil

With 700 pounds of crawfish and a bush of blue crab cooking up it was great to be able to take a look at the hard work going in the back while everyone was inside drinking and waiting for the next batch.  There were three or four giant vats to cook up crawfish, jambalaya, and crab, and kids were playing with live crawfish in a shallow plastic pool.  Two people were eating on top of a dumpster, and Danny let me know there were 150 pounds of crawfish left and that all of the crawfish were flown in fresh from the bayou.

Are you ready for a bushel of blue crab?

Are you ready for a bushel of blue crab?

B.S. Brass Brand: some serious brass Dixieland

B.S. Brass Brand: some serious brass Dixieland

Danny also let me know that the band was about to play in an hour. When B.S. Brass Band took stage, I think this is where Toon’s elevated this from a feeding frenzy to an all out party.  The music was some straight up Dixieland jazz blasting out some ripe music. Given that I had been sitting by the juke all day, the new music was loud and I was loving every minute of it.  You can always tell it’s a great party when you run into people you just don’t expect, I ran into a kid from my high school who I hadn’t seen in ages and ran into @cpbelser outside.  @cpbelser let me know that Toon’s crawfish boil is the closest you’ll find to a real southern crawfish boil out in the city and I was happy that my first crawfish boil was in the right spot.

If you’ve got a hankering for crawfish boil, find out when the next crawfish boil is at Toon’s and head on over!


#36 Eat at Smoque, Fat Willy’s Rib Shack, Smoke Daddy


2012
03.04
Welcome to Smoke Daddy

Welcome to Smoke Daddy

Smoke Daddy serves up Wicked BBQ in Wicker Park and after seeing countless friends check in on foursquare, it was time for an investigation. On a Thursday night there was live Blues, a crowded but not stuffed dining area, and the opportunity to try some of Chicago’s best BBQ. I quickly ordered an Allagash White and counted my lucky stars that Smoke Daddy also serves up libations.

Inside, the red window neon light casts a reflection over the whole venue and you’ll find people chowing down on ribs, nachos, sandwiches, and all kinds of smoked goodness coming right out the kitchen. We decided to dive into the nachos with brisket.

Smoke Daddy Brisket Nachos

Smoke Daddy Brisket Nachos

As you can see, these nachos had nearly all real estate occupied by cheese, brisket, and BBQ sauce. There was a sweetness and smokiness to the meat and don’t dare bring these nachos to any party – they’ll be gone quicker than the time it takes to recite the alphabet backwards.

Smoke Daddy Platter

Smoke Daddy Platter

Food magically rained down on the table and I found myself staring at pulled pork, brisket served on white bread, corn bread, fries, and a side of cole slaw. Surprisingly I found the pulled pork better than the brisket but the platter was just too much to finish. The BBQ sauce tasted great and didn’t overwhelm and I had enough leftover for another day. With refreshing Allagash White, live music, and a tasty dosage of smoked BBQ, Smoke Daddy will be your new go to BBQ joint.


#74 – Ribs at Gale Street Inn


2012
03.03
Gale Street Inn

Gale Street Inn (Source: city-data.com)

Welcome to Gale Street Inn located across the street from the Jefferson Park bus terminal/CTA Blue Line/Metra stop. You’ll find this northwest side gem a convenient location whether you drive or take public transit. Gale Street has a parking lot in the back and we found it relatively packed for an idle Sunday post-Monster Truck JAM!

After walking in, we saw some Mardi Gras decorations and plastic beads being passed around and the Bulls game playing in the background. After checking out the menu we all decided on some ribs and the server came back several times to refill watch and made sure our glasses were never empty. Classic northwest side with no artifice, I felt right at home at Gale Street Inn

French Onion Soup at Gale Street Inn

French Onion Soup at Gale Street Inn

The soup was just the doctor ordered and I had been craving some oniony deliciousness. Savory with soaked bread and cheese I love French onion soup. We also destroyed a giant plate of calamari before I could snap a photo but it came with a giant hunk of lemon and some sauce to dip. Soon enough we were waiting on the ribs all delighting in the tastiness of our meal. At last the ribs came but first I needed a bite of the mash potatoes.

Gale Street Inn Mashed Potato

Gale Street Inn Mashed Potato

Garlicky, buttery, this rich mashed potato was whipped to perfection. You could probably live off a giant pot of these mashed potatoes for days if it came down to it and it was simple, down to earth yet otherworldly. YUM!

Gale Street Inn Ribs

Gale Street Inn Ribs

And there we have it at last: Gale Street Inn ribs!!! Just how tender were Gale Street Inn ribs?  When people say meat falls off the bone, sometimes you’ve got to just check for yourself. I did not use my knife at all and didn’t need to use my hands because your fork can take off all the meat off of the bones and clean your whole plate. If you ever find yourself by Jefferson Park Blue Line CTA, head on over to Gale Street Inn for the best ribs around town.