Saturday, April 24, 2010

Chicago with the Snobs, Day 2

Day 2, pretty much all about the food. And beer. But mostly food, at least at first.

This started with lunch at Rick Bayless' Frontera Grill, reservations for eight at the 11:30 opening--prompting Brit Peter to cry, "Who eats lunch at 11:30?" as though we were mad. The photo is of my "light entree", Cazuela de Pato: "slow-cooked Gunthorp duck carnitas with ancho chile, lentils, slab bacon and grilled pineapple. Crispy onions." Others at the table had barbacoa goat enchiladas or the daily special of lamb slow-cooked in some incredible sauce, or . . . these being served after the small plates and appetizers, primary among them the "Trio, Trio, Trio: a sampling of Ceviche Fronterizo, Ceviche Yucateco and Coctel de Atun Tropical.

Well-stuffed with incredible food, we pottered off to the El, and a brisk walk (to those not plagued with battered knees) to the Map Room, one of Chicago's best multi-tap taverns. I had remembered the Map Room as dark, smoky and packed but yesterday reflected the non-smoking rules, with lots of light and air and a truly fine selection of beers from around the Midwest. (More photos here.) Eventually, a somewhat rash decision was made to move on for food and a visit to Hopleaf. Certain members of the party elected to skip the food and arrange seating at Hopleaf for the other six. We will speak of this treachery no more.

The half dozen heroes cabbed over to Mr. Beef, which turned out to be closed (apparently not uncommon). Fortunately, Portillo's was close by and we were able to fall on Italian beef sandwiches (hot peppers and crusty rolls) and real Chicago hot dogs.

Another cab ride over to Hopleaf, which was packed, crowded, stuffy and offered primarily Belgian beers we could find anywhere civilized. No place to sit or even stand comfortably and very little I found interesting on offer. Ryan, Steve and I peeled off for what turned out to be a longish bus and train ride to the Clark Street Ale House, where we lucked into a table and a much more appealing list of regional beers. The pub was crowded and loud, but vastly more comfortable. Other Snobs eventually wandered in later, more beer and fun ensued and we got ready to push off to bed. Amazingly enough, most of the group elected to head out to the Billy Goat Tavern for cheezborgers (cue Belushi skit). I tottered back to the hotel on my own, spent entirely too much time waiting on the El platform and just barely made it to my room without embarrassing myself.

Time now to clean up and get ready to stand in line for lunch at Hot Doug's. I believe there is a pizza in my future sometime after that.


MLS said...

mmm, salivating... hope there was a nap in there somewhere!

Andi Shechter said...

We've seen tv shows with Rick Bayless and even acquired one of his cookbooks because he seems to have the sort of taste we like. Your lunch looks outRAgeously good and it's good to confirm that he CAN in fact cook. Actually everything everyone ate sounds and looks fanTAStic Jeff. Whine...whimper....slobber...drool.
What were the ceviches? What was in there? (slobber) oh sorry, was that your slleve?
Btw, i have a thing for hedgehogs. We should discuss maybe. i don't have any, but they've become my "totem" animal. Nocturnal, prickly and cute?

Erlangernick said...

Heck, if I'd a' known *Lew* was going...would have a hard time with poofy $30 "Mexican" entrees though, regardless of how beloved the name behind the restaurant is.

Jeff Frane said...

Andi, I don't remember exactly what was in the ceviches, in fact wasn't entirely clear at the time because my Spanish was inadequate to the task. I believe the one on the far right was mostly shrimp; the middle was tuna and mango; and the ceviche on the far lest was some kind of white fish I didn't recognize. My favorite was the tuna, but others leaned toward the shrimp. All were superb.

fellene said...

Glad you got the Beefs in. One of my high school buddies was Cheryl Portillo, whose dad was the hot dog king. Da Beefs are what I miss most.

Joel said...

Ceviche: The seafood was langostino (menu says shrimp) and squid. White was something I can't recall (menu says blue marlin but I don't remember the guy saying that). I too liked the tuna/mango best.

(Current menu at beautiful phot of the tuna there, but probably not for long.)