Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Chicago: Part the Second

or Meat, Meat, and More Meat

by Xani

On the last episode of Xani Does Chicago, we discussed More Cupcakes and their fabulous sweet treats. But, that was just the tip of the iceberg, folks. Indeed, having never been to Chicago before, but hearing about its culinary offerings, I did lots and LOTS of research before my trip. I even made a chart and (a first for me) a customized Google Map to record the locations of all the places I had reservations/wanted to go. Observe:

View Larger Map

So you can see, we had a lot of ground to cover. And, in the interest of time as we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, I'm going to give a brief rundown of my experience with Chicago burgers, steaks, and hot dogs.

First, burgers. We met up with EP's friend Alex at Kuma's Corner on our first night in town, and braved their infamous wait (we spent 90 minutes getting jostled by punks and hipsters before we were seated) to try their infamous burgers. To quote my cousin, motherocker , the place is very "rawk," they were pumping speed metal over the stereo and showing The Protector on a flat screen above the bar. When we finally sat down, the menu had a list of burgers named after various rock bands.

I opted for the Kuma burger (bacon, cheddar, fried egg), Alex got the Lair of the Minataur (Caramelized Onions, Pancetta, Brie, Bourbon Soaked Pears), and Mike got the Neurosis (cheddar, swiss, sauteed mushrooms, caramelized onions and horseradish mayo). I think all burgers got a thumbs up, although Alex mentioned that his toppings were unevenly distributed and it was tough to get a bite with all flavors present. I enjoyed my burger and its cheesy, bacon-y, eggy goodness, but, although it was perfectly medium rare, I felt the burger itself could have used more seasoning. But, overall, I give my Kuma burger a solid 7.5 out of 10 burgers. Minus points for the crazy wait and under-seasoned burger, plus points for a super-cool vibe, wild toppings and delicious pretzel rolls as burger buns.

The next meat-based adventure was the following night at David Burke's Primehouse, a posh steak house located in the James Hotel. The Primehouse is cozy, clubby, and crowded, even on a Wednesday night. Also, the whole place smelled like truffles from the moment we walked in, which I took as a VERY good sign. We were seated in a corner booth (we're so money) and then the barrage of delicious food and drink began!

Kick ASS Dirty Grey Goose Martini with Blue Cheese-stuffed olives

Cheesy Popovers (no boring dinner rolls here)

Lobster Bisque with Lobster Spring Roll

Table-side Caesar Salad made to order, with (the always elusive) white anchovies

35 Day Aged Kansas City bone-in sirloin, 20 oz (AKA Best. Steak. Ever) For more info on David Burke's beef suppliers and their very own Black Angus stud (named Prime), go here

Potato-Truffle Ravioli with Brown Butter

Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta

Blooming Jasmine tea

Trio of sorbets

This meal was... fantastic. Every bite was excellent and the steak was one of the best I have ever had, ever (and I have had some damn good steaks!). Clearly the BCD family needs to switch from wet-aging our beef (which we have been doing regularly for a couple of years now) to dry-aging, because it makes for the Best Steak Ever!

Our final meat-meal was one I had been really looking forward to-- hot dogs at Hot Dougs (The Encased Meat Emporium and Sausage Superstore)! Many, many people had told me I absolutely had to hit up Doug's, even though the place has weird hours and notoriously long waits. We showed up on Friday afternoon and saw a line of people standing in the cold, waiting to get into hot dog heaven!

When we finally made it inside, we had developed a strategy. Order 4 different dogs to share, and an order of duck fat fries (only available on Friday and Saturdays-- which is why I PLANNED for us to eat there on Friday! I'm so smart).

So, what you see above are: The Dog (Chicago-Style Hot Dog with all the trimmings),The Elvis (Polish Sausage: Smoked and savory - just like the King), both on Doug's regular menu, and a couple specials: The Atomic Bomb (Spicy Pork Sausage with Sweet Chipotle Mustard and Finnish Lappi Cheese), and a beef tenderloin dog that is no longer on the menu so I don't have the details anymore! As I recall it had a chimichurri sauce on it, as well as some cheese.

The dogs were INSANELY good. The Chicago-style and Polish were perfectly executed classics, but the special dogs were just killer. Especially the Atomic-- it was SUPER-spicy with tons of great flavor. The duck fat fries were also excellent but this meal was all about the awesome dogs (which we were barely able to finish between the two of us). Totally worth the wait!

As you can see, we ate EXTREMELY well in Chicago, and the posts just keep comin'... well, one more post, at least. Not to mention another fabulous BCD Thanksgiving is just days away... stay tuned, and Happy Thanksgiving everyone!


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