Archive for the ‘Adams and Wabash’ Category

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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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

Good Stuff Eatery Good Stuff Eatery by the Loop Lie

Good Stuff Eatery has finally opened it’s doors just under the rails of the Loop in Chicago this February. There has been much prolonged anticipation heightened late last year following Spike Mendelsohn’s victory at the 2014 Hamburger Hop in Chicago at the nearby Millenium Park during Chicago Gourmet Week. That win did make me stand up and take notice more for the category in which the victory had come where the burger was voted; the burger winning the vote of the judges panel that included former People’s Choice winner Jeff Mauro, and Top Chef and Bravo darling Carla Hall (Hootie Hoo!)

Getting excited

chef spike tweet

Last week as I packed my bags for a trip over to the Windy City I was getting excited for the prospect of visiting Good Stuff Eatery. I had found it on the map and worked out my nearest El Stops in the Loop from which to alight to track it down. I had planned to jump off the Brown line at Madison and Wabash, but in the end I rode the red line down to Monroe and walked across one block. I think that it was pretty much the same distance.

Winner of Gourmet Hamburger Hop 2014

As I noted earlier Spike had won that award for the Best burger at the Hamburger Hop in 2014, and so unsurprisingly they were advertising that in the window as you walked in. I was keen to sample of these winning burgers as I missed the 2014 Hop so that part of my order was already fixed in my mind as I walked in through the door to join the lengthy yet patient line of punters waiting to munch.

The Prez Obama Burger

Prez Obama Burger at Good Stuff Eatery

The Hamburger Hop winning effort was the famed Good Stuff Eatery staple the “Prez Obama Burger”. This is essentially a Farmhouse burger topped with “Applewood Bacon, Onion Marmalade, Roquefort Cheese & Delicious Horseradish Mayo Sauce”. I knew that I could not pass up the chance to try one of these bad boys. Even though I was initially perhaps a little uncertain about that Horseradish mayo I had nothing to fear, as it was a light and constrained flavour component to the sandwich. I liked the burger meat which was solid and moist, and the cheese, marmalade and that mayo sauce all made for a kind of really grown up savoury taste. I am not sure that it will be everyone’s cup of tea, but I for one kind of liked that flavour combination.

This burger first appeared back during that 2008 election in Washington DC at the original branch of Good Stuff when it was created as part of a fun ‘burger election’ competition. Back then the Obama burger beat the McCain Burger somewhat easily a reported 4:1.

If that result had been reversed and the election gone the other way I wonder if we would be eating that McCain burger in a Good Stuff Eatery in Arizona?  Probably not as Spike was a Top Chef Chicago Alumni so this is a good fit for him to be opening one of his restaurants here in the Windy City. That isn’t the only Chicago connection though, I heard that his sister, who we got to meet through “Life After Top Chef” had attended NorthWestern University.

The Prez Obama is not the only White House inspired sandwich on the menu. You can also get your hands or it that lips on the ‘Michelle Melt’ created for the First Lady. This is a Free Range Turkey Burger topped with Caramelized Onions, Swiss Cheese, Ruby Tomato, and Lettuce served on a freshly baked wheat bun with southlawn herb garden mayo (featuring herbs grown in the White House garden). Sounds tasty and mostly healthy.

The ‘Farmhouse Cheese’ Burger

Good Stuff Cheeseburger

Now perhaps, it may have been a little greedy but I really did not think that I could travel all this way just to eat one burger so had to try a Good Stuff Staple Cheeseburger. This is know as the ‘Farmhouse Cheese’ on the menu. In detail it is one of their Handcrafted Burgers which they describe thus “Our Farmhouse Burgers are topped with Farm Fresh Ruby Red Tomatoes, Thinly sliced onion, Crisp Lettuce & Pickles” ‘served on a sweet, buttery soft, freshly baked Pennsylvania Dutch Bun with a loving spoonful of Good Stuff sauce’

If I am totally honest I liked this burger sandwich more than the Prez Obama burger. It was packed with crunchy fresh salad and I even enjoyed the crunchy green pickles which I usually just fish out and discard. I really liked the plentiful runny Dairy Fresh American cheese which was complemented with that Good Stuff sauce (a mix of mayo, ketchup, molasses, rice vinegar and sea salt). Tangy, lightly sweet and tasty.

More Burgers on the Menu

Good Stuff Eatery Menu

All in all I really enjoyed the burgers that I ate at Good Stuff Eatery. It was really busy and the line was out of the door on the lunch time that I walked in. It is early days and they are still in training so I kind of felt that there was more to come.

tweet about burger

Good Stuff Eatery in Chicago is located within sight of the overhead Loop track at 22 South Wabash Ave, Chicago IL 60603.

Easy walking from both the Madison and Wabash, and Adams and Wabash Brown Line stops. You can follow on them on Twitter @chefspike

Good Stuff Eatery on Urbanspoon

Popcorn

Under normal circumstances I would not dream of including a review of somewhere that sells Popcorn in the El Stop Food Hunt Project, but somehow I find that I can easily justify talking of my experiences with Garrett’s Popcorn. It has been as much a part of my food encounters in Chicago as my flirtations with Italian Beef and Chicago Style Hot Dogs.

Garretts Loop

The first encounter was during an Open Top Bus Trip around the city,  I believe that this is almost always the best way to learn about a new place and get orientated with it;s major sites and locations. On the trip I went on there was a voucher for a free sample sized bag at Garrett’s, and the rest has been history.

On that occasion the sample was of a mix of caramel crisp and the cheese flavoured popcorn. The caramel crisp was a winner, I did not like and still do not like the cheese flavoured one, it is right up there with those damn pickles as something I actively will avoid.

Cheese PopcornCaramel Crisp Corn

Since then the sampling of Garrett’s Popcorn has coincided with visits from my Mother to the city, so about 3 bags a year. But today I actually went in and bought my first bag with my own money. It was a small bag of the Cashew Caramel Crisp. I like this one the most, sweet, crispy, crunchy, nutty, sticks in your teeth and makes you fat. Excellent!

Garretts BagsGarretts Popcorn

I love the generous sized bag sizes in the place. In my mind the small bag is actually equivalent to a Jumbo bag. I could never even contemplate getting a bag bigger, except for on that brief moment when the last piece of popcorn has been consumed and all the Garrett shops are shut.

garretts near TJ Garretts Plymouth Street

There are quite a few Garrett popcorn chops in Chicago and over the last few years I have frequented all of them, albeit only on those rare occasions that I mentioned before. I was slightly perturbed though on a recent visit to New York city to find a branch close to Madison Square Gardens. Some things should not be allowed to travel out of state. My fave stores to take visitors from out of town to are the one at Navy Pier, just because I love an excuse to go down to the pier, and the ones in the Loop as they are easy to get to from any of the lines.

For Navy Pier 600 East Grand Avenue, get off at either the Chicago Red or Chicago Brown line stops and catch a bus over to Navy Pier.  For the shop at 26 West Randolph Street get off at the Lake Stop, For the shop at  27 West Jackson Boulevard go to the Jackson-Blue, or the Jackson Red stop. On Michigan Avenue just get off at Grand or Chicago and look for a long line.

Garrett Popcorn Shops on Urbanspoon Garrett Popcorn Shops (West Jackson) on Urbanspoon Garrett Popcorn on Urbanspoon

This unprepossessing shop front entrance belies what lies beyond. This was a total surprise of a place in the middle of a somewhat grotty section of the loop. Just a few steps away from the Adams and Wabash CTA el station is Max’s take out. Once you step inside the door you are greeted with a friendly smile and a slightly run down but homely interior. A whole load of classic hot dog posters line one wall, and the other wall is covered by a mural of the cityscape, pretty impressive and a nice surprise when all I was expecting was just another run of the mill hot dog place.

Carrying on my new theme of not just trying the basic hot dogs of the menu, I searched the board for something slightly different. Bingo, my eyes alight upon a small side board describing a Pastrami Burger. This was listed as a double cheesburger, with mozzarella cheese, lettuce, tomato and mustard topped with pastrami for $5.99. I ordered and sat down on one of their classic stools covered with a vienna beef hotdog picture. I really want this stool.

About five minutes later my order was ready, once unwrapped I was feeling quite happy, it certainly looked pretty enticing. Once I bit in to it, it was like “Oh my good lord”. It was ridiculously tasty, every mouthful worked. First there was the soft moist egg bun, then the cheese, mustard, and mayo was all melted in with the mozzarella to create a mild mustardy cheesy sauce that oozed into the bun and onto the burger. The romain lettuce was fresh and thinly sliced, lying just above a topping of thinly cut pastrami on top of a double cheese covered stack of burgers. The whole thing went down in about five bites and my waistline did not even groan in protest, in fact I think my stomach might have shrunk slightly in the hope that I would feed it with another one of these burgers.

I don’t want to big this place up too much, but it was a total surprise and a very pleasant one. As I munched and looked around at the other happy diners, I could tell that they knew that what they had found here was a little gem in the loop and maybe I should not tell anyone. Too late.

Max’s Take Out is located at 20 E Adams Street, in sight of the overhead line of the Loop El. They are on facebook and have a website at http://www.maxschicago.com/

Max's Take Out on Urbanspoon

I know that it’s crowded and I know that it is hot but I really enjoy it when it’s time for the Taste of Chicago. Although it is shorter this year only 5 days and there are less stalls but it is still good. There is the addition of ‘Pop Up’ resturants on each day where three different resturants are just there for one day, and the addition of a Chef du Jour as well. I went on this Thursday, but it runs through Fri, Sat, Sunday 16th July. The cost of food is using tickets which were $8 for 12 tickets.  So about $3.50 for most small plates. The Taste is in Grant Park and they have all sorts of food items for sale, see their website http://tasteofchicago2012.eventbrite.com/

But what did I munch my way through? (36 tickets worth)

 

On the day I went one of the Pop-out resturants was ‘Tre Kronor’ and their Tasting option was  swedish meatballs for 5 tickets. They came with a small pot of ligonberry jam as well and they were enough to tempt me up to try out their resturant proper on Foster Avenue some day.  Apparantly they are going to be on Diner’s Drive ins and Dive’s on  Monday, August 24 at 9 pm (CST) and that is good enough for me to be sampling.

Website: http://www.trekronorrestaurant.com/

Tre Kronor on Urbanspoon

 

Thursday’s Chef du Jour was Tony Mantuano from Spiaggia and he was offering a Grilled Chicken sandwich for 10 tickets. It did not look much on the plate but it was a very tasty sandwich, the roasted tomato, aruguala and burrata cheese blended well with the olive oil coated semolina bread. Not too dense or filling which is what you need at the taste. 

http://www.spiaggiarestaurant.com/tony

http://www.spiaggiarestaurant.com/

Spiaggia on Urbanspoon

 

Lao Sze Chuan were offering their House special dry ribs  for 5 tickets, although there seemed to be a lot of bone and on first inspection very little meat, this was deceptive as the crisp rib meat that was on them was salty and spicy, not too much, but enough to send me hunting for my first drink of the evening. Even once I had eaten the meat I was sucking the dry bits off the bone. Highly Recommended but leave some more for me.

View via website: http://www.tonygourmetgroup.com/

Taste of Chicago Selections:

Main Options: Dry Chili Chicken; Salt & Pepper Pork Rib; Crispy Shrimp in Lemon Sauce; Vegetable Fried Rice
Tasting Options: Dry Chili Chicken; Vegetarian Spring Roll

Lao Sze Chuan on Urbanspoon

 

I have had the Mustard fried catfish from BJ’s market at previous years ‘Tastes’ and I have to say it is one of my favorites and one that I was seeking out when I came here. You get a reasonable portion  for 5 tickets and it pairs nicely with their sweet honey mustard sauce. I also like that the mustard coating mixes well with the moist earthy tasting catfish, although this year the fish seemed less muddy in taste. Again these are very good.

Website: http://bjsmarket.com/

Taste of Chicago Selections:

Main Options: Mustard-Fried Catfish; BBQ Turkey Tips; Fish Taco; Sweet Potato Chips
Tasting Options: Mustard-Fried Catfish; Peach Cobbler

Bj's Market & Bakery on Urbanspoon

  

Another of my favorite Taste Options are the Potstickers from Star of Siam. These come with a sweet slightly spicy sauce and for 5 tickets you usually get about 5 potstickers, although on occasion I have been lucky enough to get six. I always drink the sauce out of the carton after I have eaten them as well, it really is that tasty. I spent some time watching the guy flipping the stickers while I ate too, It makes you hungry just watching, hopefully the drool will have dried up by now

Website: http://www.starofsiamchicago.com/

Taste of Chicago Selections:

Main options: Pot Stickers; Pad Thai Noodles; Grilled Chicken Satay; Shrimp and Vegetable Tempura
Tasting Options: Pot Stickers; Pad Thai Noodles

Star of Siam on Urbanspoon

 

I also had to have a bit of sausage and since I was down to my last 6 tickets I went to Bobaks stall and got one of their Mini Maxwell Street Polish with grilled onions for 5 tickets. With a bit of mustard on the side it was just about right to finish off this particular visit to the taste.

Taste of Chicago Selections:

Main options: Maxwell Polish Sausage; Beer Bratwurst Sausage; All Natural Chipotle Chicken Sausage; Ultimate Sausage Sampler Platter
Tasting options: Mini Maxwell Street Polish Sausage; Mini Chipotle Chicken Sausage

Bobaks website is at http://www.bobak.com/, you can follow on twitter and facebook from there too.

Bobak's Sausage Company on Urbanspoon

As for getting to the taste by the El Line

You can pretty much get off at any of the Loop Stops to walk to the Taste although the closest are probably Madison and Wabash, or Adams and Wabash