The Good Stuff eatery down in the Loop is another one of those spots that you really should keep on your burger munching circuit. I sometimes feel that it is a bit overlooked as it is kind of hidden away in the shadow of the elevated railway one street away from the hustle and bustle of State Street.

I have been here before back in 2015 not long after it opened when I sampled one of their awesome Prez Obama Burgers (read more here “Good Stuff Eatery comes to the Loop in Chicago”).

I would have had another one of those Obama Burgers, but I had my eyes on a different prize, one still just as ‘close to home’

The “Michelle Melt”

This time I was focussed on the sandwich celebrating our last but not least First Lady Michelle Obama. I was I suppose collecting the set to complete the collection as it was.

Just like her husband, Michelle has her own special at the Good Stuff Eatery in Chicago called the “Michelle Melt”.

It is kind of a little bit healthier, however it is still one quite delicious beast in it’s own right.

Officially it is described as a “Free Range Turkey Burger” topped with “Caramelized Onions, Swiss Cheese, Ruby Tomato, Lettuce” on a “Wheat Bun with Southlawn Herb Garden Mayo”

I liked this sandwich a lot! I was worried that the Turkey might be dry, but it was not, it was juicy and tasted much lighter that a solid beef patty. The Caramelized onions were perfect in my mind, verging on amazing, the blank canvas of the turkey was an excellent partner that blended together with that Garden mayo featuring parsley, cilantro, garlic, lemon, dill, rosemary and thyme.

It is a pretty healthy option and it does taste good too, they mix both aims together well. The mayo features herbs that are grown in the South Lawn White House Garden. I tell you this it was really tasty and I will probably try to replicate that this summer when we start grilling in earnest in the back garden

If you want to, you can find recipes for both the Turkey Burger (on ABC network) and for the Garden Mayo (on the Rachel Ray show) online. That was a great find as I always had wondered how to make a decent Turkey burger!

I feel torn now though as I loved both the Michelle Melt and the Prez Obama Burger. What is a glutton to do? Answers on a postcard please

Nashville Hot Chicken

I know this was a bit greedy, but I really had to try the Nashville Hot Chicken sandwich that they had recently added to the menu. They bill it as “Fried Chicken Breast, Ted’s Bread and Butter Pickles on a Brioche Bun, drizzled with spicy pepper oil” but despite all of those spicy sounding things, I didn’t find it to be that hot.

True Nashville Hot Chicken will burn your face off, this was just a spicy chicken sandwich. In some ways that was quite a good thing as it is nice to be able to actually eat the sandwich, as opposed to feeling like a competitor in spicy food challenge.

I liked the chicken, and I liked the brioche bun, but the I like the other burger sandwiches on the menu much more and maybe I would prefer to travel to Nashville for a Hot Chicken sandwich

Good Stuff Eatery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Good Stuff Eatery in Chicago is located in the Loop at 22 S. Wabash Avenue, Chicago, IL 60603

I like it a lot and not just because I am a fan of Top Chef Alumni Spike Mendelsohn!

Check them out on Facebook and on Twitter

 

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The Pleasant House pub at 2119 South Halsted Street in Pilsen was on my must visit list on my latest trip back to Chicago. I was a great fan of the Pleasant House bakery in Bridgeport and when I read last year in the Chicago Tribune that the husband and wife team behind that place Art and Chelsea Jackson were relocating to Pilsen and opening a pub, well I just had to visit to find out more.

To get to the pub it is almost the same trip, I rode the Orange line from the Loop to Halsted, I just jumped on the train that says Midway. Once at the station walk out back towards the city to Halstead Street, turn left and walk over the river past the Helicopter ride place, and about 5-10 mins later you will see the pub. It was pretty easy to find!

Royal Pie Menu

I have been a great proponent of the Royal Pies baked by the Pleasant House bakery, I used to buy them all the time when I was resident in this great City of Chicago. The last time I had the chance to write about them was back in 2012 when I declared on this blog that it was the “Best Food Hunt trip so far and the Best English Pie I have eaten in Chicago at Pleasant House Bakery – Very Pleasant Indeed!”

I think that I have pretty much tried all of their offerings over the intervening years, my favourite was, and still is, their Steak and Ale pie which is as they say a ‘Royally Rich’ pie. If I was forced to choose a second fave then it would be the Chicken Balti just because the Curry filled pie is fast becoming a classic back in England and the Pleasant House people have made a particularly tasty version.

I once traded in a handful of bottles of Henderson’s Relish, a classic British condiment from Sheffield, for a couple of platefuls of pies for myself and my mother on one trip. I am not sure who got the best deal? I like to think that it was us.

I was pretty tempted to have another one on this visit, just for old times sake, but I had other ideas to fill up my belly!

After all it was a Friday and that can mean just one thing – “Fish and Chip Friday!”

Fish and Chips

Once I knew that I was going to be in Chicago on a Friday, I had it in my mind to seek out the Pub for Fish and Chips, a dish that they only serve on Friday.

Fortuitous? or perfect timing? either way it was a stoke of luck and of genius on this MyFoodHunt’s behalf.

They serve a really excellent plate of Fish and Chips here at the Pleasant House pub, it did remind me of home, and it was an equal of many of my favorite places to eat this meal back in Blighty.

The chips are good and much better than the sort of ‘fries’ you get in the states, I really liked them and they are probably some of the best ‘chips’ I have had, however they are just not quite ‘chip shop chips’ but a really jolly good effort.

The Star, just as it should be, is the battered fish, I loved the crispy and crunchy batter, at first it looks a bit more brown than perfectly golden, but that is probably due to the beer that they add to the mix.

Once you cut inside you are treated to some lovely juicy white fish, sweet and meaty are my overriding memories. It was actually almost spot on and they should be jolly proud of how good it is.

So how good are the Fish and Chips at the Pleasant House pub? well, they are only one of two, that I have found, that I would tell you to seek out in the states to get a true taste of British Fish and chips. That might tell you something, so please make the effort to try them out!

Draft Beers on Tap

They certainly were keeping up the tradition of a true British pub with a pretty eclectic beer list up on the chalkboard and on the pumps on the bar. I found contenders from Scotland, Wales and from Manchester amongst the beers vying for my attention, all worthy companions for my meal.

As I read through the list I just had to message my cousin Caroline when I saw a beer from Robinson’s brewery in Stockport Manchester (her home town), she messaged back to remind me that they still deliver the beer around the town on horse drawn dray’s. Wow! that is quite something in this day and age and a great tradition. It is just like the sort of traditional values that the people at Pleasant House are trying to keep alive and celebrate with their work here in Chicago. I love this kind of stuff!

I also saw two beers from Brains Brewery in Wales which brought back happy memories of trips to Cardiff and Swansea back in my college days when I shared a house with three rugby and beer loving Welsh students.

If I still lived in Chicago I would be over at the Pleasant House Pub at least once a week I reckon, just for the beer alone!

My Beer and some Pumps

I ended up drinking one of the beers from the Pleasant peoples own brewery Whiner. It was the “Et La Tete” which I chose because firstly it was a local beer and secondly because it was a Kolsch which is one of my favoured easy drinking styles.

I didn’t realise that this particular version is an ‘apple kolsch’ but that was something I learned through my friend ‘Mr Google’ after the event. It made a lot of sense though as I found it to be a crisp and refreshing drink, I didn’t really notice the apples, but then again my brain and taste buds were focussed on those excellent Fish and Chips 😉

They have some really great food on offer at the Pleasant House pub, on Friday as I have shown you can treat yourself with some amazing Fish and Chip. If you fancy a proper pie then they have all of their Royal Pies on offer, and you really cannot go wrong which ever one you choose.

If you just fancy a snack then I would suggest that you try one of their ‘Scotch Eggs’ which is a true British snack classic, often misunderstood and maligned, yet such a perfect handheld treat. If you have never had one, then you really must and if you have one here you will be in safe hands for your first try. Trust me, I have eaten a lot in my lifetime and the lovely people in the Pleasant House world know what they are doing 🙂

_______________________

The Pleasant House Pub say on the website that

“Pleasant House Pub welcomes you to join us at our new public house. Our menu features specialty beer and cocktails, savory meat and veg Royal Pies, delicious British-inspired food, locally roasted coffee, and homemade pastries. We’re also known for dabbling in fun, so you’ll find plenty of that, too. Whether it’s 10 a.m. or midnight, we hope you make yourself at home. Drink, eat, work, hang out.

Whatever you do, always do it f’ the sen.”

Sounds good to me!

Check them out also on Facebook and on Twitter

More Food Menu Pics

 

The Draft Beer List (on that day) 

 

Shake Shack at the Chicago Athletic Association hotel on Michigan Avenue near Millenium Park in the Loop was a Godsend on my recent visit back to Chicago. I had flown in to O Hare and made my way down the Blue Line to my hotel at the Club Quarters over on West Adams Street by about 9pm and I was in dire need of some food. It was getting late and a quick search on Yelp was showing me that places were closing fast downtown.

It was pretty cold out there, well below freezing, somewhere around 20F and I didn’t want to waste a meal, so when I saw that there was a Shake Shack that I had not been too nearby that was open until 11pm? well I had my hat, scarf, and gloves on and I was out the door to MyFoodHunt it down.

It was a bit hidden behind the doors keeping the cold out from the hotel, but inside it was a pretty impressive location that they describe pretty well on the Shake Shack website as;

“Knockout! The CAA Shack is located on the ground floor of the gorgeously, painstakingly restored Chicago Athletic Association boutique hotel across from Millenium Park. Where else can you chow down on burgers and crinkle cuts surrounded by stained glass, soaring ceilings, detailed millwork, and marble staircases?”

Lets move on and talk about some food though!

The Smoke Shack with Cheese Fries

I always seem to order the same thing at Shake Shack (well I have only been twice) and that was the Smoke Shack burger with a side of Cheese Fries.

This time I went for the Double, so I had the “Cheeseburger with all-natural smoked Niman Ranch bacon, chopped cherry pepper and Shack Sauce” for $9.69.

Those crinkle cut cheese fries were another $3.99, and add to that the beer I ordered and there was not much change out of a twenty dollar bill! OMG! was it or is it worth that cash outlay?

I kind of think that it is.

Smoke Shack burger

There is something kind of magnificent about this somewhat overpriced burger sandwich. The meat patty on it’s own is pretty rustic, crumbly, moist, juicy and really quite chowable. Covered in molten cheese it takes on a whole new personality and becomes something that you kind of struggle not to gobble down like a mad man on a competitive burger eating mission.

That crispy thick sliced bacon is a demon addition, and the spicy cubed tomato relish packed with heat is just more genius added to the bun, you have to pause and breathe in between bites otherwise the moment passes to quickly and you could find that you have scoffed a classic meal without pause for thought. Please be restrained 🙂

I loved this burger just as much as the last time I ate ‘exactly the same meal’ when I was last in Chicago over at the River North location (read more here) and I felt no guilt that I had chosen to do so once again, as I knew in my heart that it was a great decision on both occasions. Lets be honest, if it ain’t broke, why fix it?

Menu (well a bit of it)

CAA Shack in Daylight

The CAA Shack is located on the ground floor of the Chicago Athletic Association boutique hotel

is located across from Millenium Park at 12 S Michigan Ave in Chicago, IL 60603

Shake Shack Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Belmont Cafe in Belmont

One of the first places I ever ate in Chicago was at Clarkes on Belmont near to the Belmont El Stop (read more here).  I had come up here looking for an apartment and their was an agency just along the road that I had spotted when checking out the area. That place was great it was open pretty much 24 hrs and I had stopped in many a time when in need of some kind of late night sustenance after a few beers, and also late weekend mornings when my head hurt little and I just needed some eggs to help my body sort itself out. It was with that sort of food comfort in mind that I had headed up to Belmont only to find that the place I once relied on had been replaced with The Belmont. Well it seemed to be just the same sort of place so I stopped in to look for some sort of breakfast.

Breakfast Sandwiches at The Belmont Cafe

For a moment or two I contemplated ordering The Classic which was a bagel with eggs, cheese, and a choice of either ham, hickory smoked bacon, or sausage from the Breakfast Sandwich section of the menu as it did sound pretty good. I didn’t really want any bread though and I had in my mind something with breakfast potatoes. I knew that I would probably find what I needed in the basic Eggs section of the menu so looked through the menu to find what I desired.

Eggs Menu in Belmont Cafe

Now this was more like it! I ordered the Eggs any style (I had scrambled) with a side of bacon and a large glass of fresh orange juice. I almost had the NY Steak and Eggs but to be honest that was $13 and the Basic Eggs was just $5. Also I really wanted some bacon!

Eggs any Style at the Belmont Cafe

Side of Bacon at the Belmont Cafe

Now this was just what I wanted and just what I remembered. The Scrambled eggs are more like a broken up omelette, but they are light and fluffy and not at all greasy, love them like this. The house potatoes seem to vary so much from place to place, sometimes with peppers, sometimes packed with onion, happily I was to find that the ones served at the Belmont were nice and simple with just a little bit of grilled onion in amongst the crispy cubes.

The side of Hickory Smoked bacon was awesome. It was nice and crisp, and still meaty, it was packed with smoky and salty flavour. Love it so much. It was a perfect accompaniment to my plate of eggs. I have to order this every time I have breakfast eggs!

Bill at Belmont

 

I really enjoyed this breakfast plate at the Belmont. To be honest it was better that all that I had at Clarkes and the place seemed to be more relaxed and more casual. I’ll come back here again.

Belmont Cafe Sign

 

The Belmont Café at 930 W Belmont Ave is within sight of the Belmont CTA stop where the red and brown lines split. It is literally a couple of minutes walk from the station.

It is located between Wilton Ave & Clark St

The Belmont Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Luella Southern Kitchen

Luella’s Southern Kitchen is just the sort of place you need to find on a dreary day when you could do with a dose of Southern Soul and some homely food to warm your heart. Located on North Lincoln, it is well worth the 10 minute walk south from the Western El Stop in Lincoln Square. There are so many great places to eat in this neighbourhood you would need a good month to work you way (sensibly) through them all. Luckily for me this had been my home base for several years so I have been able to dine and drink my way along this strip over the years.

I have had my eye on Luella’s for some time, on my last visit back to Chicago I had chanced upon the place but sadly on the day it was closed and I did not get a chance to dine here. This trip though it was still on my mind and I had already reserved a spot on the myfoodhunt ‘places to dine without fail’ list. I was to be very glad that I had made that mental note to return.

The Chef / Owner at Luella’s is Darnell Reed and he was there in the kitchen, cooking up my food and serving up my gumbo when I visited which that made the trip even more enjoyable. The place and the food is largely inspired by his great grandmother Luella. You can read about the story of his inspiration and journey on the restaurant website so check that out here on the ‘meet the chef’ page.

Inside this is one of those places where you order up at the counter and they give you one of those flag / sign type things so they know which table you are sitting at. I am not really a fan of restaurants where you pay for your food before you eat, but I kind of like that I can just move table with my number if I find a better spot.

Gumbo, po-boys, shrimp and grits, chicken and dumplings, and oh so much more good stuff it was so hard to choose! I really wanted everything!

But there were two dishes that jumped out at me. The lady at the counter convinced me that I could eat both dishes so I gambled and decided to be greedy and ordered both!

What did I choose and eat?

Short Rib Mac N Cheese

Short Rib Mac n Cheese

First up was a bowl of the ‘Forever Braised Shortrib Mac and Cheese’ served in a ‘Mornay Sauce’, with ‘Buttered Bread Crumbs’ for $12

It is hard to describe just how good this was, now OK I am doubtful about the style of the pasta, but I let that slide, just as I let each silky mouthful slide into my mouth. It was not just that the pasta was cooked perfectly, and that the sauce was rich and creamy and oh so decadent, no, it was the Soft, tender and plentiful short rib that was the kicker. It had amazing flavour, the juices of the meat mixed into the cheese sauce adding a depth that is usually reserved for the deep end of the flavour pool.

I could easily have eaten the whole bowlful. oh hang on I did eat the whole bowlful! I suppose what I am saying is that you will be surprised how easily you can, and how much you will ‘need’ to keep on and on eating this bowl of mac and cheese. Definitely one to share, or maybe just one to order and keep for yourself.

Whatever you think you need, I implore you to order this, even if you think you have too much food coming,

You need to eat at least one bite, and when you do eat that bite, you will find the desire to eat more than one bite.

Chicken Gumbo

Gumbo at Luellas Southern Kitchen

Second up was a bowl of their Chicken Gumbo for $8 described on the menu as Chicken Gumbo, Dark Roux, Creole Seasoning, Andouille Sausage, Carolina Gold Rice”

I liked that this was served up table side. Darnell came out with a bowl partly filled with white rice and then he poured the gumbo sauce into the bowl as I watched. Not sure why but I guess that it stops the rice getting too soggy. This was one of the best Gumbo I have had outside of Louisiana, the sauce or gravy is kind of half way between a soup and a stew, rich, dark, and deep.

It is like a big hug of Creole in a bowl. There is plenty of sausage and chicken in there and with the submerged rice is quite filling. Having said that, even though it is a rich dish, when you get to the bottom of that bowl, your mouth and taste buds still desire more of that magical Southern tang.

Just like the Mac n Cheese, even though  my brain was telling me I really should stop eating, my mouth was taking no notice. It really is a good job that I didn’t order three dishes.

I really like Luella’s Southern Kitchen next time I am back in the city I will pop to Lincoln Square to dine again.

I will find it hard to resist eating the same dishes again,

but I really want to try a PoBoy, the Chicken and Dumplings, and the Shrimp and Grits.

Luella’s Southern Kitchen is located at 4909 N Lincoln.

It is 5-10 mins south of the Western CTA station and about 15 mins around the corner from the Montrose stop, both on the Brown Line

 

Luella's Southern Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monks Pub Chicago

Monks Pub in Chicago established in 1969 is as old as myself and that was reason enough to head over to the Loop to seek it out for a pint and a bit of food. The other reason being to meet up with an old friend who was working downtown and was recommending the place.

I was told that it had some of the best burgers in town, now that has to be a challenge in itself and certainly something worth checking out. The burger itself is described on their menu as a “Half-pound certified Angus beef patty flame-broiled & served on a brioche bun with lettuce, tomato & onion”. I love an Angus beef burger and I also love a brioche buns so this was all sounding really good straight away.

Apparently one of the burgers to eat here is ‘The Chili Beer Cheeseburger’ but there were so many other great sounding toppings listed that I really wanted to try, what should I choose? The Maple Bacon Brisket was a front runner for a while the combination of “Certified Angus and brisket blend patty, pretzel bun, Vermont maple syrup, cheddar cheese, bacon, and grilled onion” was really tempting me. Another burger combination that stood a chance of making it all the way to my plate was The Bison which was described as a “Ground bison patty, pretzel bun, cheddar cheese, whiskey charred onions, and garlic mayo”

I was floundering as I read down the burger section of the menu!

“What is a hungry man to do?”, “Too much choice!”

Then it hit me smack bang in the face when I saw that they have a  burger topped with a fried egg. “Oh yes, come to papa!”

The Egg

The Egg Burger at Monks

There are no surprised for guessing the prime component of ‘The Egg’! This is essentially a burger topped with ‘Bacon, cheddar cheese & a sunny-side up egg’. It cod have been called the bacon, cheese, and egg burger, but I have to a say that apart from the excellent meat pattie, the star of the show is that soft yolked fried egg that drapes itself over the top of the burger and that once bitten into released it’s yellow delight over the whole beast. I love a fried egg on a burger, a love affair that started many moons ago when I first met this combination at Meatheads out in the burbs. It has been an ongoing somewhat guilty pleasure ever since.

The Egg Burger on the plate at Monks

As well as that egg you were treated with a bountiful handful of crispy smoked bacon strips and a big slice of cheddar cheese. I like the way that they present the burger here at Monks by serving it as an open faced sandwich. This way you can keep as much of the simple green salad, red onion, and sliced tomato as you care to chomp on. For my part I was just keeping about half of the lettuce as I really wanted to get a much of that bacon, cheese, and egg in your mouth which each bite of the burger.

This is a really good combination, hold on when I said good I meant exceptional combination. I fear that if I come back to dine here at Monks I will never actually get to try any of the other burger combinations as my heart will have been given to this one… Perhaps? perhaps? perhaps?

Monks pub is located at 205 West Lake Street, kind of on the corner of Lake and Wells. It is alongside the track of the elevated railway which rattles by overhead and the nearest stops are probably at Washington and Wells, or at Clark and Lake. It is close enough to see the train but a 5 minute walk to catch one. To be honest after eating on of the burgers, you will probably need that walk!

Monk's Pub Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Shake Shack in Chicago

Shake Shack in River North has been on my radar for ages, I really meant to come here on my last visit back to Chicago, but somehow I was distracted and didn’t make it. This time though it was to be my first meal off the plane, and as it was pretty close to my bed for the week at Hotel Felix, I was able to tick it off the list pretty quickly (within 30 mins after dropping my bags at reception to be exact).

This particular Shake Shack joint at Ohio & Rush opened in November 2014, and is one of two locations in the city area of Chicago, the second Shake Shack to open is on Michigan Avenue on the ground floor of the renovated historic Chicago Athletic Association Hotel at 12 S. Michigan just across from Millennium Park. That will have to wait for my next visit. I cant overdo these things.

SmokeShack on the Menu

 

smokeshack

Even before I walked in the door I knew that there was only one thing I wanted, and that was a bacon cheeseburger, so that meant that there was just one thing on the menu for me; the ‘SmokeShack’. This was described as a “Cheeseburger topped with all-natural applewood smoked bacon, chopped cherry pepper and ShackSauce” . I didn’t know what the cherry pepper was going to bring to the bun, and as I had never been to ShackShack before so didn’t know what their sauce was like. I did know that I like cheese, and I love smoked bacon, so I kind of figured I had made a sound choice.

SmokeShack Burger at Shake Shack with Cheese Fries

Shack Shack Burgers

I was really happy to be sitting in Shake Shack in River North finally dining on Danny Meyer’s concept burger. The burger was really good, a well made and well seasoned patty inside a nice soft fluffy bun, a potato bun I would have said. I loved the crispy smoked bacon, and the tangy melted cheese that combined with the spiciness of the cherry pepper. It was all making my mouth drool and my taste buds tingle at the same time. I was ‘loving’ it. There is something else though in this bun that really makes this a great burger and a little unique, and that is the sauce. I am not sure what is in the sauce, but it seems to be that it is something along the lines of mayo, mustard, ketchup and some element of pickle. Whatever it is, I liked it and would not mind having a jar or squeezy bottle filled with it at home

I had also ordered myself a portion of the ‘cheese fries’ which turned out to be a stack of crinkle cut fries topped with “our special blend of cheddar and American Cheese sauce”. They are kind of great as you start to work your way through them, but after a while I found them to be a bit too rich and I struggled to eat them all. That could have been the impending jet lag though and the fact that my body clock thought it was 4am.

All in all it was a pretty good introduction to the world of Shake Shack burger and one that I would be keen to try again. ‘If only there were not so many other meals and burgers to try out?’ As I mentioned at the top there is another location in Chicago to try over on Michigan Avenue, and now I find out that there is also another location, a third location in the Chicago area which is located at Westfield Old Orchard in Skokie. Perhaps I will head over there on my next trip home, that will be a good excuse to ride the Skokie Swift, the yellow line on the El.

To add to that in the ShakeShack world, next time I am in NYC I will try another one from the home of the original in Madison Square Park.

I have no idea why I did not in the three years I was living just outside that city? My bad (as they say, these days)

This particular Shake Shack is located at 66 E. Ohio Street, Chicago, IL 60611

You can check them out on Facebook and on Twitter

Shake Shack Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Did I mention that they also have Beer?

Shack Meister AleMy Shakemeister Ale

The ‘Shackmeister Ale’ is apparently brewed ‘exclusively’ for ShakeShack by Brooklyn Brewery. Well I wanted a beer, So I thought ‘when in Rome’ and ordered a pint or rather a 16oz on draught as they call it in this part of the world. They say on their website that “We brew Shackmeister Ale as a hearty pale ale with plenty of malts to match the rich, griddled beef in every Shackburger. A bright burst of hops unifies the finish and invites the drinker to take another bite and accompanying sip” #Awesome and true