Archive for the ‘Fullerton’ Category

Etno Grill etno grill from the brown line

I very rarely have the time to go back to many of the places that I have written about on the El Stop Project, which is a little bit sad in some ways as there are some really great places that I could easily eat at every day. The Etno Grill is one of those places. I was on the Brown Line just before Christmas and a little lad was looking out of the window and shouted out “I can see a cow”. His mum began to chide him for being silly “There are no cows out there dear”. I was about to pipe up and tell her that it was the cow on top of Etno Grill that he had seen, but then she remembered . You see everyone sees that Cow as they ride past, but I wonder how many have sought it out to find out what lays beneath? I hope that it is lots of you.

Spicy Balkan Spicy Balkan Cross Section

I have had the hamburgers and the pork sandwiches here on a number of occasions and if you have been here I probably don’t need to tell you that they are excellent. If you have not then I am telling you now. Today though I was finally getting my hands or was it my mouth on one of their “Spicy Balkan” sandwiches. This is one of the sandwiches on their ‘build your own’ menu described as a “Pleska Patty (ground beef & pork) stuffed w/asiago cheese, bacon, onion & crushed red pepper”. I did not add to much to mine, I just had some of the Etno Spread, which is a mix of feta, sour cream, and chili peppers, some ‘spring mix’ salad leaves, and some red onion. I did not want to detract from the flavour of the patty, so was quite frugal with my selections. The patty is really delightful, there are small bacon chunks, and flecks of pepper throughout, it is mildy spicy, but the addition of the etno sauce also gave it an added kick. The addition of the crispy salad and onion was also borderline genius (can I really say that seeing as how it was my selection? probably not, but I just did) giving a nice fresh crisp bite to contrast the patty and also to help cool from the hit of spice that you get with each bite.

I am really glad that I took the time to try the Spicy Balkan, and If it was not for the fact that I really like their burgers, I would get this again, but if you have not tried it then I most certainly recommend it.

Thinking about it while I was sitting there eating my sandwich, I wish that I had been able to make Bourdain’s itinary when he did his recent ‘Layover’ program to Chicago as I would have sent him here. Maybe that would be too far fetched but how about you?

If you have not tried Etno Grill then I emplore you to do so, as soon as possible. You can read all about them on their website at http://etnogrill.com/ you can also follow them on Twitter and Facebook, and I believe that you can even get their burgers delivered or even better get them to cater your office.

The i compute cafe

It does not seem so long ago that you could find a proper internet cafe on almost every corner. Nowadays everyone seems to have their own laptop, tablet, or pad and just lounge around on sofas in coffee shops. Who needs to print out something or even scan it? How old school or retro is that these days? Well today I found myself in that strange position “You mean you expect me to print this out, fill it in and then scan it back to you?” I don’t even own a printer or a scanner anymore. So that began the search for a good old fashioned internet cafe.

iCompute Cafe on Lincoln Avenue came up on the search list, but I still had to phone just to check that I could print AND scan, ‘I know actually speaking to someone on a phone!’ not even texting or emailing or IM. This could be way too sociable.

inside Icompute

Phew look at that! all the computer booths are empty so I don’t have to be too sociable after all 🙂

I only really needed to get in and out and it was just $3 for 30 minutes and a couple of dollars for my printing and scanning.

bites not bytes

But hey hold on, this is a cafe so can I get more than a byte? perhaps a bite to eat?

Yes there was a small selection of muffins, scones, and brownies, all of which looked freshly baked and quite appetising.

Cheese and Chive Scone

I got a cheese and chive scone which was really and quite surprisingly very tasty indeed. It was a light and fluffy scone with a well seasoned cheese and chive fillings Really quite unexpected but quite welcome. The Coffee and Tea were good too, I had a raspberry tea, the coffee was the locally ground Bridgport Cafe.

The whole place was quiet, yet easy going, the people running it were nice and friendly and most importantly I got my random print and scan done (and a bonus scone!)

icompute cafe is located at 2461 N. Lincoln Ave about 10 minutes walk from the Fullerton El Stop and aboout 10 mins from the Diversey El stop. You can find them online at  http://icomputecafe.com/ and also follow them on twitter and facebook

I have to be honest I was really confused when I got over to the Wiener’s Circle. I thought that it was one of Chicago’s famous hot dog joints, but as you can see the sign outside proclaims that it is the “Home of the Char-Broiled Cheddarburger”

So what to do? I came here to eat a hot dog but the Char Broiled Cheeseburger is a self acclaimed speciality of the joint so I guess that is what I should be trying? Well that was what I did try. The guy in front of me was having both, perhaps I should have been splitting one of each with him, but I wasn’t sure that he was the kind of guy to be asking, having said that I did opt to take his lead on my toppings, cheese, mustard, and ketchup, good call.

So I was waiting watching the guys cook my burger on the charcoal grill, flames flashing as the fat dripped out onto the coals. Then I was pleasantly surprised when they checked how I wanted it cooking. Excellent that is the true test of a good place, even if they mess it up after that, at least they know what to do, good work guys!

It was really just about right, I know it is basic fare, but it is basic fare done really well. It is criminal that there is a McDonalds over the road. If it was me I would be in there dragging the fat kids over the road to get fatter on something worth being fat for.

After all that I still need to come back here to eat a hot dog, especially since they have some excellent signs to drool over.

Wiener’s circle is located at 2622 North Clark Street, check them out at this website for some interesting video clips http://www.wienercircle.net/about/

The Wiener's Circle on Urbanspoon

 

I quite like it when the local resturants put a stall outside their doors at the local festivals. At the Taste of Lincoln the Jade East Chinese Resturant had done just that. While I am not going to rave about them I am going to say that they had some nice snacks and they were really friendly and welcoming and they did their job which was to persuade me that maybe one day I would stop in and have a meal.

 

There was a simple selection geared up to the average American who likes the basic Chinese and that has no desire to know about any special dishes, “Chicken on a stick” yes please, “Dumplings with meat in them ?” thank you, “other stuff we have heard of?” yes thanks for that too, nothing scary, nothing expensive and stuff that they can munch easily. Slightly snobby yes, but remember I am eating this stuff too, and have no qualms, OK I like authentic and I mean really authentic, but just like I can eat a McDonalds on occasion I can eat Westernised Chinese food too, and I do love it when it is done well. I would be curious to see what they have to offer inside their resturant and if they have a secret menu with the good stuff on it.

 

As I said nothing scary here, the potstickers looked big and nicely seared, the other fried stuff looked , well fried, and the chicken on a stick was ‘chicken on a stick’.

For $7  you could get a plate of three selections from the menu, this seemed to be the best option so I went for the two different types of Potstickers (3 chicken and 3 pork) and the Teriyaki Chicken Skewers. We settled down to share this plate on the table alongside and the two ladies who were working the stall were very friendly and offered us some free crab rangoons and another skewer.

Cheerful and Friendly was my take home from this encounter, and the food was OK too, worth a late night order to fill a hole.

Located at 2511 N Lincoln with website http://jadeeastchinese.com/

Jade East on Urbanspoon

 

Prost sits beneath the CTA Train Line at 2566 N Lincoln Avenue just between Sheffield Ave and Wrightwood Ave. It is a German style beer hall that recently re-opened on May 31st 2012. I was just passing by heading up to the end of the Taste of Lincoln Avenue on my way to Etno Grill, when I was distracted by a menu sign listing the Kasekrainer Sausage, well when I say distracted it was a stopping me in my tracks moment. I had one of these during a recent trip back to England, where I was checking out an Austrian sausage shop in Bakewell Derbyshire,  and I was hooked on cheese filled bratwursts after that.

You can sit outside the bar on the benches and drink good beer as the el train rumbles by overhead, well when I say rumble I really mean screeches, crashes, and roars by. just concentrate on the drink as you will not be able to concentrate on much else. It’s a great spot to drink with someone that you don’t want to have much of a conversation with or a place to practice your sign language.

Back to the task in hand, namely eating some Wurst. The Kasekrainer sausage is a variant of the Kranjska klobasa which is known in Germany as the Krainer Wurst. This typically contains small chunks of  cheese, it is best to  grill these on a low to medium heat otherwise the outside is burned and the inside is still cold. You also can’t pierce them when you cook them because the cheese just oozes out. This one that we got from Prost was almost cooked just right, but I could see a few places where they had committed the cardinal sin of pricking it as you can see the emmental cheese escaping the casing  in some spots. The sausage is essentially a wurst filled with a combination of a veal and pork. It was served with Bavarian Cabbage, Red Cabbage, Two excellent Mustards (the whole grain was the best), and a couple of pieces of Rye Bread. I was not too keen on the cabbage, the big bits were verging on the hard as opposed to crunchy, but really to be fair I was only really interested in the sausage and that was the star of the plate.

If you assume that you cannot persuade the driver to pause on the bridge to let you climb down to the bar, you will need to alight at one of the nearest Transit Stations which are at Fullerton (Brown Line, Purple Line, Red Line) and Diversey (Brown Line, Purple Line)

Prost! on Urbanspoon

This weekend walking through the Taste of Lincoln, Chizakaya and my paths crossed once more.  Last weekend I tried their Japodog and it’s true just as their sign states, they had me at bacon. This time I took the opportunity to try the two dishes that I missed out on last time, the Pork belly slider and the Octopus beignets

 

The Pork Belly Slider comes in a soft light Bao which is a perfectly made bun. The pork belly was not too fatty and also not too crisp, just about right. All of the accompanying filling went well together and made a really tasty if somewhat different flavour. Worth getting, and one of their less scary options on their menu.

These Octopus Beignets were something that I just had to try but I had no idea what to expect. I have had the sweet beignets in New Orleans that are all covered in white sugar. In contrast these are covered in nori and some sort of pickled vegetables. They were cooked fresh and you got a good sized sample for your money. They were very hot in temperature to bite into, but they were good. The filling was creamy almost cheese like but still not spicy and the pieces of octopus were a little chewy but not totally rubbery. I might eat these again but I would prefer to share them, six was too many, maybe three as little appetizers would be better.

Chizakaya on Urbanspoon

One of my first blog posts was after a visit to the Etno Grill, when I was advised to return to try one of their burgers. I have since been back twice and have taken that advice, I am just noting that so that you don’t think I scoffed down these two burgers at one visit. But to be honest they are so damn tasty that you probably could be tempted to attempt to do just that.

On these two visits

I went for one of the house specials

The ‘Etno’ burger –  described by themselves as  “features the Q7 Ranch grass fed beef. The pure taste of the beef is cooked to a perfect medium rare and topped with grilled veggies, crispy prosciutto, hungarian pepper, and our made-in-house Etno spread that really sets off the flavor combination. All the toppings are held together by a generous portion of asiago cheese.”

I noted “Etno burger, etno spread – of feta, sour cream and chilli pepper” – seems a weak description in hindsight.

Man alive this was truly awesome, my appalling photograph on my phone camera does it no justice what so ever. All I can say is that imagine a vision, a smell, an aroma, a tang, a bite, that stirs the juices,  an uncontrollable flow of saliva on the tongue, and that it pretty much what this burger does, be warned, or beat me senseless in the street (gently) when you find that we each have our own tastes and you disagree.

I also have sampled one of the weekly specials

The Cajun Burger-

Again I am totally stealing the description off their website “This loaded up masterpiece is dripping with spices, hot peppers, and our spicy ajvar. Sure it’s cold inside, but after eating this deluxe burger you’ll forget about the weather. The chefs at Etno Village Grill decided to coat the grass fed Q7 Ranch beef with Cajun blackening spice, top it with roasted red peppers and spicy sport peppers, hold it together with pepperjack, slather our brioche buns with spicy ajvar (roasted eggplant, red peppers, garlic, and secret spices), and put some fresh spring mix on top.”

My description or ‘take on it’  (that I typed into my phone discreetly)  was, “good bread to meat ratio, spicy sauce- undefinable to my palate, great juicy burger, pepper nice, green bits stuck in my teeth, but goddamit tasty, tasty, tasty! note to self need more napkins”

All I can say about this place, is that I would love to work here, but that would be a total drain on profit for obvious reasons, and I really want to go to the Q7 Ranch, and not just beacause I want to play ‘City Slickers’, I think that if the meat tastes this good then they must have a great set-up and those animals must be in an awesome environment. I bet that they have a magnificent farm shop too!

Etno Village Grill is at 2580 N. Lincoln Ave., on the corners of Sheffield and Wrightwood.

website: http://etnovillagegrill.com

Q7 ranch website: http://q7ranch.com/

Etno Village Grill on Urbanspoon