Archive for April, 2012

#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!


Butcher and the Burger


2012
04.09
Butcher & The Burger

Butcher & The Burger

I stopped into Butcher & The Burger as my friends had tried the place for lunch and absolutely loved it! Pre-gaming before Whirlyball, Butcher & Burger was filled with Friday night hungry diners enjoying some BYOB while waiting for their food. In line I got a good view of the menu which made me hungrier with each passing second!

What did I try?

The thing about Butcher & The Burger is that you’ll have an array of options at your disposal and they’ll never get it wrong since the burger clerk punches your order into a neat machine.

Patty:  Natural & Local House Blend Beef

Spices: Chicago Steakhouse

Bun: Split Top Egg Butter

Extras: Goat Cheese, Wasabi Mayo, Bacon

Add fries and root beer and you’ve got yourself a classic Chicago meal. The dizzying array of choices gives you maximum control on what you get on your burger as opposed to some other places where you’ll get a whole bunch of stuff and pick stuff off one by one.

How was it?

Firstly, the fries come out super crisp and weren’t dried out. I don’t know what they do, but every place in Chicago should take a lesson from Butcher & Burger and cook fries with this texture. Some garlic and lemon juice would have been welcome, but the fries were awesome!

The burger was a test in discipline, could you go your entire meal resisting the urge to shove the whole burger in your mouth and consume in three bites?  While it was difficult, the civilized side of me refrained.  I had a seat by the cooking area and was very happy to eat quality ingredients put together to seduce your taste buds all made to order and served on a cute wooden chopping board.

Butcher & Burger will give most places a run for their money with latitude to customize your boiga and crisp crisp fries as their best qualities. Had I been hungrier I would have tried the chorizo chili but I will save that for next time!