Check-in from the road

May 12, 2011

A quiet moment here in Road Warrior-land, so I’ll update you and y’mama ‘n ’em on assorted meals while I’ve been on the road.

Chicago. Well, I didn’t go anywhere I said I’d go, except the Cards-Cubs game (and yes, that order is indicative of my loyalties), but still had some great food, because as far as I have been able to determine, it’s pretty hard to have much other than good food in Chicago. Got there Monday, did a little shopping (well, I did make the American Girl trip, and No. 1 Grandchild now has a Bitty Baby, or will have when I get it up to her next weekend), and commenced looking for an early lunch spot, as we’d been up since oh-early-thirty and the yogurt-and-granola parfait at the airport and worn thin.

We wound up at Askenaz Deli, just off Rush on, I think, Elm. Or maybe it was Oak. One of those tree streets. Boss had a Reuben, and an impressive looking Reuben it was; he finished it off and said it was marvelous. I had a cheese blintz, some tuna salad and some rice pudding. Excellent stuff. I really kinda wish I’d have tried the pastrami, but, well, I didn’t. Next trip, maybe.

The rice pudding was the rice pudding of your dreams. Creamy. Smooth. Cinnamony. None of those nasty raisins (I’m cool with raisins, but they belong in neither rice pudding nor bread pudding, thankyouverymuch). I’d go back there for the rice pudding alone, never mind there were TONS of other things I wanted to try. And their bagels looked absolutely heavenly.

Dinner. There was a group of 12, and we were wanting to go to Hugo’s Frog Bar, but we couldn’t get a reservation until 9:45. Figured that was too late to put down a big dinner, so we opted for Rosebud Steakhouse, down from the Drake Hotel on Walton. And I mean, seriously, can you get a BAD steak in Chicago? I’m thinking not, or at least you’d have to work at it.

I was looking at the petite filet (8 ounces is “petite,” when it’s all beef and you’re going to eat the whole thing?) but that was still more than I wanted. And the guy next to me said, “Hey, does anyone want to split this bone-in ribeye with me?” Dude was listed at 24 ounces. So I opted in on some of that, secure in the knowledge he’d eat two-thirds and leave me a third, which would be about right.

The other cool thing about Chicago steakhouses is that they serve those family-size sides and you pass them around the table. We got broccoli, which broccoli; mac and cheese, which was mac and cheese, albeit GOOD mac and cheese. We got bacon and cheese mashed potatos, which were pretty wonderful, grilled asparagus, which was pretty wonderful; and the star of the show….truffled parmesan tater tots!

Honey. Those things, just plain old supermarket frozen counter tots, but with truffles shaved over them and parmagiano grated over them, were TO DIE FOR. They’re worth buying a piece of a truffle for, or at least investing in some of that uber-pricy truffle salt.

The steak was marvelous. I love a rib-eye; it has so much more flavor than a filet. It was tender and toothsome, cooked perfectly medium rare, great crust with a little bite to it on the outside. Everything a steak should be, and so often is not. It was, perhaps, not the best steak I’ve ever had, but certainly in my top 10.

Next day…h’mm….lunch at the Tavern on Rush, a good salad, nothing to exult about but good. Rock shrimp and hearts of palm with mixed greens, in a balsamic viniagrette. I never think about putting hearts of palm in a salad, which is a shame, because I love them.  They’re great, by the way, tossed with some grilled or roasted asparagus and some blanched and shocked fresh peas in a salad. I’m just saying. Dinner was at Wrigley, dogs and nachos and beer, with which there is NOTHING wrong at the ballpark.

Then the next morning I got up and got my longed-for breakfast at the Original Pancake House, across the street from our hotel, which I’d been staring out my window at and lusting for since I got there. I had the corned beef hash with over-easy eggs, and it was a thing of beauty, and lasted me until I got to Atlanta that afternoon without forcing me to resort to airport food for lunch.

Well, I did have an Almond Joy. That doesn’t count.

Last night in Atlanta, an interesting dinner at Einsteins, midtown Atlanta on Juniper. Three houses, hooked together, we didn’t go inside because it was a nice night and there were lots of tables outside. Five-dollar Pinnacle martinis for Happy Hour (nothin’ wrong with THAT). An interesting menu of small plates, as well as several soups and salads and a half-dozen entrees. Two of us shared a basket of house-made potato chips and four small plates and left a lot of food. Chips came with a blue cheese sauce that was different from any I’d ever sampled; picture a roux, add milk and make a bechamel, then add blue cheese. Really good. Could have been a little “bluer.”

We had a sampler of andouille and tasso; a shrimp-and-crab cake with sriracha tartar sauce; creamed corn hushpuppies; and shrimp and grits. I was less than impressed with the andouille and tasso, which is weird, because I usually love andouille and tasso. The shrimp and grits were marvelous; some sausage in with the grits that was to die for. Shrimp and crab cake was good, but they’d over-sriracha’ed the tartar sauce a bit. The creamed corn huspuppies, I can’t figure out how they did them but they had a creamy cheesy center surrounded by corn and then were battered and fried and they were Marvelous, do you hear me?

Tonight it’s out to Turner Field to watch the Braves and Nationals — probably more ballpark food, which is OK — and then back to the conference tomorrow, home Saturday. I’ll catch you and y’mama ‘n ’em up next time I have a minute.

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One Response to “Check-in from the road”

  1. Len Cleavelin Says:

    …just off Rush on, I think, Elm. Or maybe it was Oak. One of those tree streets.

    yelp.com says the Ashkenaz Deli is on Cedar (12 E. Cedar, between Rush St. and State St.):

    http://www.yelp.com/biz/ashkenaz-jewish-style-deli-chicago

    The place doesn’t ring a bell for me. Did it look like it’s been there a while? The map@yelp.com suggests it’s two blocks south of Division Street and one block north of Bellevue (where my favorite Chicago breakfast spot, the Original Pancake House, was located). I’m surprised I never stumbled across it if it was there back in the early 80s.

    I’ll have to see if I can interest Karen in going to lunch there when I’m up for the Bill Maher concert in July. 🙂 Trouble is that she lives out in the northwest ‘burbs (where the wind gods, sea serpents, and the legend “There be monsters here” are found on my Chicagoland mental map; it won’t be the most convenient side trip for us…

    The Askenaz Deli is almost directly behind the OPH, near as I could tell.


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