When I first walked in to Green Street Smoked Meats, I remember telling owner Brendan Sodikoff to fuck off.
A vision of bro-bar bottle service is not the reverie chef Stephen Gillanders is trying to invoke with the name of his new Pilsen restaurant, S.K.Y.. Rather, the name is a sweet commemoration of his wife, Seon Kyung Yuk’s initials. But, it is hard for me not to hear S.K.Y. and think of the cerulean-colored Skyy vodka bottle, a 1990s-era talisman for things like blue-shirted consultants booty shaking to the former Fresh Prince of Bel Air’s #1 hit “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It”.
Sometimes it’s hard to tell if Beyoncé is being literal or figurative. For example it’s abundantly clear that she is not really riding an actual surfboard in “Drunk in Love”. Skittle candies are also not being eaten in “Blow”. However, in “Formation” when she says, “When he fuck me good, I take his ass to Red Lobster, ’cause I slay”, I think she really means she’s taking Jay Z to Red Lobster after sex.
Francis Lam, the great food writer, editor, and radio host, used to laugh at Avenues, the name of the defunct Peninsula hotel restaurant that launched the careers of Graham Elliot and Curtis Duffy. He told me he thought it sounded like a mall store or a jeans label. Maybe that’s why, despite Elliot and Duffy putting out some of the best American food of the era there, the dining room was rarely packed.
What happens when a whole bunch of people who worked at Publican Quality Meats, and also Zingerman’s, the famed Ann Arbor deli, open their own concern? They create something that is somehow twice is as good as PQM.
In 2005, Homaro Cantu ate a menu on the cover of Gourmet magazine and Ruth Reichl dubbed Alinea the best restaurant in America. John Mariani, allegedly pissed that his food reviewing rider demands weren’t met, ignored both Alinea and Moto and dubbed Ryan Poli’s Butter one of Esquire’s best restaurants in America. The Chicago food scene was king.
I felt like I’d walked into the secret love nest of Hugh Hefner and a crazy old bird lady. I know that sounds crazy. Like why would Hefner shack up with a bird lady? But, the dude loved quaaludes, so anything is possible. And even if he never did, Bellemore restaurant’s interior design looks like what would have happened if he had.
This website is what failure looks like. Which is to say, after 12 years of someone paying me to review restaurants, as of January 2018, no one is doing that anymore.
On the weekends, when the bankers flee to the ’burbs, filching swigs of liquor on the Metra, the LaSalle Street canyon goes dark. The corridor between Jackson Boulevard and Madison Street becomes a lonely hearts club, inhabited by scant hotel dwellers and a few stragglers purged from revelry at The Berghoff or Miller’s Pub. It’s precisely the kind of noir landscape you’d expect Batman might perch above on a skyscraper cornice, contemplating his existential doom.
If you want a great hangover cure, look no further than international breakfast foods. Down a French croque madame — a ham and gruyere-stuffed sandwich topped with an egg — after throwing a few back, and you’re golden the next morning. Kill a full Irish breakfast, including black pudding (which is not really pudding, but blood sausage), and you’re also probably going to feel better. And so it goes.