I had arranged with my coworker to meet in the hotel lobby at 7:30am in order to trek the 8 blocks or so to Lou Mitchells, but he rang me up just before I headed downstairs and let me know he had overslept and that i was on my own. I hadbn’t slept well, and my stomache was in a bit of turmoil, but i decided that I’d probably be better after the long walk to LM’s
I Wasn’t….there is another thread titled ‘Roadfood Hell’ on this forum, and so there I was, too queasy to eat, standing right outside what I had been told was one of the quintessential Chicago breakfasts, reading the impressive and legthy list of omelettes off the menu posted on the window. What can I tell you — any other day, and I would have been fine. With a great sigh, I trekked back toward the Tower, stopping only at Union Station to attempt to locate Gold Coast dogs. OK, OK, it was really so I could warm back up 🙂 To extend my own personal hell, my stomache was all fine and dandy (albeit empty) by the time I sat down for the 9:00am training session. Argh!
By lunch we were both quite hungry (coworker had skipped breakfast as well) as we headed over to Luke’s (on Jackson) just a half block from the Sear’s Tower. Luke’s has two window facings, spaced equally, advertising Pizza on one and Italian Beef on the other. Not suprisingly, though the pizza on display looked quite edible, it was the line for the Italian Beef sandwiches that was out to the door. Call it a 20 to 1 ratio of beef customers versus pizza customers.
We both bought the same base sandwich, although my coworker’s was topped with sweet peppers and was not dipped, while mine was dipped with gaurdinera (sp?) on the side. (side note: Lou Mitchell’s listed guardinera (spelled with a J) as an available omlette ingredient. and earlier poster on this thread said his father had used guardinera on everything, and it seems that he was not alone) I though the sandwich texture was good, and the beef very very tender, much better than the panned italian beef that had been included at the buffet on Monday night…but was still unimpressed. There just wasn’t much overall flavor, and I don’t know if this was just that day or always. Then again, I know that the guardinera contributes flavor to the sandwich and that I used it only sparingly (tried it, didn’t care for it much) deprived the sandwich of some taste. However, It really was a "different" sadwich that any other I had had before, with perhaps the closest likeness being a good french dip sandwich. I also suspect I would have liked it better had I not dipped it, but I’ll have to test that some other time. Oh…and the fries were pretty good, but I was learning that even small orders of fries at any place in Chicago were enormous by any other measure. More on that later.
Another thing I liked about this place was all the artwork…sculptures of slices of pizza and etc that were rife throughout the joint. Some might call them kitschy or tacky, I found them to be interesting and well placed and just right for the feel of this lunch only establishment.
I do vow to get to at least one other Italian Beef place the next time I am up in Chicago, preferably Mr Beef. I’ll give guardinera another chance as well. Our company’s headquarters is in Chicago, so I see this as fairly likely at some future point.
(I’ll edit in how dinner went a bit later, out of break time)