Hehe, I agree that i was a bit uptight during company arranged meals, but I’m a fairly new employee and figure to keep a low profile in such situations til I better know the lay of the land…..
I do regret not at least TRYING the wine and ouzo….a small sip wouldn’t have hurt a bit.
…And by all means, try to loosen up a bit, if you can, the next time you go to Greek Town. Cheap wine and Ouzo are both part of the experience, yell Oppaaahhh!! when they light the cheese (kassari, by the way), and order lamb ( or calamari)! Its a wonderful thing!
You should definitely plan another trip when eating can be a higher priority than work. Stay an extra day or go a day early or something. It’s hard in an unfamiliar city when you are rushed and don’t know exactly where to go.
I am going to Chicago for Valentine’s Day weekend. My wife is thinking of it as a romantic trip. I am just looking to find as many good meals as possible (as Homer Simpson once said, "I discovered a meal between breakfast and brunch"). We already have reservations at Greek Islands for the 13th and a newer place called Keefer’s on Valentine’s Day (has anyone here ever been?). I figure that should take care of the sit down places. The rest of the time, I plan on finding a good Chicago dog, a good pizza, an Italian beef, etc. At least you got to try some of the things on your list. And now you have a good excuse to go back.
Today was departure day, and between the start time of the training being moved up to to accomodate flight departure times and the fact that I had to pack up my stuff and get it to the car, I didn’t have time for breakfast. Ah well, Lou Mitchell’s and Ceres will remain high on my list when I return to Chicago.
So by lunch, I was plenty hungry, and determined to find the Gold Coast location in Union Station (about a block away). My coworker also wanted to get ahold of a real Chicago hot dog or two, so off we went. I had gotten colder and windier over the course of the morning, so the 1 block walk all but froze us — I will be better prepared for the intense wintery cold of Chicago if I come here this time of year again.
We found the ‘food court’ easily, but it wasn’t like your typical huge dining area surrounded at the perimter by food establishments, but rather these were somewhat scattered through a wide area with very little sit down space. A little persistence brough us to the Gold Coat location. My coworker ordered a double char god chicago style, and I ordered a char cheddar dog, a char polish, and a small order of cheese fries…..yeah, I was hungry. The order o cheddar fries turned out to be enormous, barely fitting into a box that would normally hold a 9" sub sandwich or so. I split these with my coworker, and these were absolutely tastey but messy (I think these would be better if they were cooked a little more well down, and the cheese tended to soften the fires out a bit, but would love some input back on this). The dogs were great too…..I noted they were better at the quad-split ends where the charring was more pronounced, producing more intense flavor. Of the two, the polish was the better, but the cheddar dog was no slouch. My coworker pronounced that this was by far the best lunch we had had in Chicago, and I heartily agreed.
I was looking forward to the dog stop the least, and it had turned out to be the best…….I’ll be sure to try some of the other dog locations on my next visit, as I understand Gold Coast isn’t even the best Chicago has to offer. Still, my boss ( a native chicagoan now living in Cincinnati) was quite jealous that we had gone to Gold Coast, claiming this as one of her favorite Chicago lunches.
I did not get another meal in Chicago, as we got out of training at about 3pm and were detrmined to escape the rush hour traffic as early as possible. So ends my Chicago trip in the Roadfood sense…..next meal? the dollar menu at a McDonald’s somewhere in Indiana 🙂 argh! We didn’t even stop to pick up a deep dish pizza to go…..
Wednesday Report: part 2 – Dinner
Dinner (decided upon by my company) was had in a section of town mostly to the west of the Sear’s Tower called Greektown. While I don’t know too much about the area in general, I can attest that I saw a number of different Greek restaurants (or at the very least, restaurants with greek-sounding names) while on the way to the restaurant selected by my hosts, Robitys. I was told this was pronounced row-bee-teas. Several in the group had been to this place before, and were excited about being there.
I was struck early on at the way they served wine – in little glasses that I’d have called juice glasses in any other setting. I don’t drink, but most other people in attendance had some dry red wine as a starter. Our waiter (I saw only male wait staff during my entire time there) also brough out baskets of thickly sliced sesame-seeded bread, which I though was quite good. On the other hand, given that this was a greek place, I was expecting some sort of olive oil based accompaniment but we were served your basic butter and margarine instead. Odd.
Most of those who had been there before were clamoring for something called ‘saganaki’, which sounded japanese to me, but of course wasn’t (found some references to it later on the net, such as http://graphics.stanford.edu/~tolis/recipes/saganaki.html). This was more or less presented exactly as shown in the referenced picture, plain and unadorned, with the big ‘sell’ being that the waiter pours some kind of liquor on top of it and then lights (flames) it at tableside. It tasted a lot like an asiago with a mozzerrela texture albeit a lot saltier. I have to admit it was pretty good, but kinda of expensive for the small amount of cheese provided for the price.
The dozen and a half or so employees of my company ordered a variety of dishes, and some sharing around the table, but since I’m a new employee I stuck to my chicken kebab and rice, which was unfortunate because both were overcooked and dry. I saw a lot of lamb being ordered, and wished I had been a bit more adventurous and ordered some of that.
Deserts were great. Several people ordered baklava, and since I don’t like nuts I ordered a custard and honey concoction served on filo that was excellent. Almost everyone at the table had a small serving of ouzo, served in cognac-style glasses, which everyone toasted with. Being a non drinker mostly, I toasted with my water glass. Later, mine was the only credit card that didn’t work, and this was blamed by all assembled on my not partaking in the ouzo :-).
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)
TJ, you’ve done well. I’ll be in NYC during the week of Easter for 5 days. This is strictly an eating vacation and I look forward to reaching out to Roadfooders for their favorite places during the last week of March. I hope you enjoyed the food in my home town, "Sweet Home Chicago."
Only have limited break time between presentations today, and will be leaving immediately afterwards for Cincinnati, expecting arrival home very very late tonight. Visits managed: Luke’s for an Italian Beef, Greektown for Greek food, and Gold Coast for dogs and cheese fries. More details later. Would loved to have done much, much more but many meals unfortunately arranged by the organization….
Waiting for a beef report….you gotta fit that in if nothing else!
Report update delayed:
I planed to update this last night, but there was too much planned activity. I will try to update it with the remainder of the trip sometime Friday.
Looks like I won’t get to go to Malnatis…..*sob*
Glenn, Chicago has indeed a large variety of EUROPEAN ethnic foods. In fact I would probably agree that of all the major cities in the USA Chicago has the most Slavic and Balkan foods available. But in the same light L A would certainly show the vast amount of Asian, Pacific Island and to a certain extent Latin American influences. SFC is really focused on the Asian origins, Miami on the Carribean.etc etc I haven’t quite figured out how NYC fits this concept. It has vast amounts of ethnic diversity. Based on the literature it would seem to say that Italian and Jewish food are the ones that New Yorkers identify with…. but I would accept the word of the residents over my supposition.
This focus of food in an area certainly doesn’t mean that the little Korean place located beside the Czech bakery in Owosso Michigan is any less good than one found in Korea-town in West L A .[:p]
Having never been to Detroit’s Greektown, I can’t fairly compare it to Chicago’s. I have been to Greek restaurants in several different parts of the country, and Chicago has the best that I have found. The places are frequented by most local Greeks, so while it may not be as good as Yia-Yia makes, it is authentic and very good.
One of the things I really like most about the Chicago dining scene, is the great diversity and quality of ethnic restaurants. I belonged to an ethnic dining club that met every month at a different ethnicity’s restaurant. With the popularity of the club (50-60 of us per event), the menu was set up in advance by the restaurant owner by his suggestions and served family style. We wound up usually with 3-4 different appetizers, 3-4 different entrees, a soup, and dessert, for about $20-25 which included tax and tip. The group ran for over 4 years without repeating a cuisine.
I have to say that I am really emjoying this thread also. I can’t wait for your first encounter with an I-beef.
Actually, the best Greek food I ever had was in Detroit’s Greektown. Of course coming from an ex New Yorker that should mean a lot. I once went to a Greek Restaurant in Huntington Long Island with a doctor friend of mine. I told the waitress about Greektown in Detroit and she replied in astonishment "there are Greek people in Detroit??" Typical New Yorker.[;)]
Those scenescapes are actually all Chicago scenes, representing the 1893 World Columbian Exposition, held in Chicago.
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