Well my home’s in the delta, Way out on that farmer’s road. Now you know I’m living in Chicago, And people, I sure do hate to go. -Muddy Waters, My Home is in the Delta That lyric from Waters is a bit of an idle threat. It was recorded in 1963 at Chicago’s Tel Mar recording studios for one of the greatest records of all time, “Folksinger”. But, Muddy stayed in Chicagoland, dying in his Westmont, Illinois home in 1983. Advertisements
Elvis died early, but, he made the most of his short life. He wore glittery jumpsuits, hung out with Nixon, had a private jet with a state of the art eight track player and his own super-estate, aka Graceland. Culinarily speaking, he totally didn’t GAF. I mean the guy’s favorite sandwich was reportedly peanut butter, bacon and banana on white bread, maybe, sometimes deep fried.
If the dudes from “American Pickers,” Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz, opened a burger joint, it would probably look a lot like Flip Burger in West Town. The dining room behind the kitchen is a junk collector’s paradise, featuring a vintage Coke machine, a communal table ringed with reclaimed tulip-style diner stools and a vintage parking meter. “I’m like a ‘Sanford and Son’ garbage collector. I like to go through the back roads in Indiana, finding stuff in small shops and old barns,” owner Felipe Caro said.
The only thing I find more suspect and unnecessary than a new steakhouse is a new burger franchise. I mean, I get it. Everyone loves pizza, tacos, sushi and, yeah, burgers. There can never be enough of these major food groups. And that might be true if you’re making something unique or top-notch, but the proliferation of a particular food concept is often marked by a glut of mediocre players riding a trend
Cult films, cheap (or expensive) whiskey and punk rock can sustain a person for a very long time. For many years, Delilah’s, the legendary Lincoln Park dive bar that built its reputation on purveying that exact combination, was a clubhouse of mine. But as you know, dear reader, I spend more time in restaurants than punk bars these days. But wouldn’t it be wickedly delightful if I could find a restaurant with quality food and the dark, divey comforts of Delilah’s? I thought I’d found just the thing at The Loyalist, one of two new restaurants from culinary power couple John Shields and Karen Urie Shields (Charlie Trotter’s, Alinea). And if I needed a sign, the restaurant’s website said in its very best nod to Nirvana, “Come as you are.” So I did
“I was not prepared for the response.” That’s Hogsalt Inc. founder Brendan Sodikoff—the man behind Gilt Bar, Maude’s Liquor Bar, High Five Ramen, Green Street Smoked Meats, Bavette’s and Au Cheval—talking about his newest venture, Small Cheval. In its first week of operation, the burger-centric offshoot of Au Cheval is teeming with long lines. It seems like an odd statement coming from a guy whose career has been built on lines. After all, if Sodikoff opens a restaurant and there’s no line, does it even exist
Before the artist boom and major gentrification, and before Kristoffer’s Cafe served up its transcendent slices of tres leches cake, Simone’s served its first PBR and Nightwood cooked up its first batch of crispy pig ears, the Garcia family settled in Pilsen.
It doesn’t sound nearly as noble as “death by chocolate,” but if you wanted to commit suicide by carbohydrates, there is no better place than Au Cheval, a new gourmet diner in Chicago’s West Loop. In fact if you like food, like really like food (and this is an important distinction), there are few better places in Chicago. (The diner’s name is roughly translated from the French as “on horseback.”)
When’s the last time you ordered a Whopper, medium-rare? Despite what Burger King says, there are some things you can’t have your way. But you do expect some extra care from a “Mom and Pop” burger spot. Upholding that ideal, is Butcher & The Burger, a new joint in Lincoln Park.
I’m just sitting here watching the wheels going round and round. I really love to watch them roll. —John Lennon