Archive for the ‘Grand’ Category

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

Jake Melnicks Sign

I found myself at Jake Melnicks ‘Corner Bar’ looking for¬†a ‘beer and a bite’. It was cold outside and I did not want to wander the streets hunting too long for food so I just took a chance and heading inside to see what they could do for me.

Bit of the menu

Jake Melnicks Slider Menu

I really did not know what I wanted to eat, all I knew was that I didn’t want a burger or a steak, I just wanted something to mop up the beer that I was about to be supping. I had heard that they were pretty good with the BBQ dishes here at the tap so when my eyes alighted upon the Trio of Pork Sliders on the menu I figured I had found my meal.

The menu was promising BBQ Pork three ways with sliders containing that pork done in three styles; Carolina, Kansas City, and Georgia Style. A little taste of each, yes that was what I needed. I ordered this and a glass of the excellent locally produced Metropolitan Krankshaft and settled in to watch the random game of sport on the television above me at the bar. Going well so far and I had not even eaten anything yet.

A Trio of Sliders at Jake Melnicks

Trio of Sliders at Jake Melnicks

I enjoyed this little, or rather not so little, plate of sliders. I can tell you that these are closer to standard size than slider size!

Am I complaining? Hell no!

BBQ style

The Carolina style slider was quite interesting as it was on point with the pulled pork mixed with a vinegar based sauce.¬†It¬†was a little tartar and thinner than some other pulled pork that is smothered in BBQ sauce but I kind of like that ‘lighter’ offering. The Kansas City style was pretty much on point with the meat mixed with a¬†thick tomato- and molasses-based sauce. I do like this style of BBQ even though it can be quite messy and a style to plan your napkin availability as you¬†work your way through a sandwich of it. I had never had ‘Georgia’ style before and I am still not quite sure what it is, it was quite meaty though and very enjoyable. The only problem when you get three sliders like this is that it can all get a little muddled and after a few beers there is a tendency to forget what the difference were. OK so that is basically an excuse to say that I forgot to take proper notes. Lets be more honest and say that I was too busy enjoying my sliders and my beer. Good Job Jake Melnick!

Chicken Wings at Jake Melnicks

I had heard that this was the place that I should have been eating wings. Inside the bar there are loads of trophies claiming that they are big winners when it comes to their wings. Another time maybe.

This place is kind of part way between the Grand and the Chicago stop on the Red Line and looks like a really good corner bar to hang out in

Jake Melnick's Corner Tap on Urbanspoon

 

Eggsperience

Eggsperience was one of the first places that I ever had breakfast at in Chicago. I was staying in a hotel just near to the Grand El stop on the Red line while I looked for my first apartment in the City. Over the years I came back here pretty often, sometimes sitting up at the counter, sometimes in a booth. Each time I was sustained with a decent breakfast that kept me going for the day and also that kept me coming back.

This branch that I like to go to is at 35 West Ontario Street in River North

This is how they describe themselves on their website

Eggsperience Pancakes & Caf√© in Chicago¬†is a bright restaurant in the heart of Chicago‚Äôs River North neighborhood. We‚Äôre sure you‚Äôll find dishes in the Eggperience selection to please any appetite ‚ÄĒ like our hearty Corned Beef Hash & Eggs breakfast, our Butcher‚Äôs Choice Eggsquisite Benedict , our lunchtime Cajun Avocado Burger, or a bowl of Piping Hot Soup.”

When you walk in they are supposed to always say “Welcome to Eggsperience” which actually is not as annoying as you might think as¬†you kind of feel that they probably mean it.

Bacon and Scrambled Eggs at Eggsperience

On this visit, just for old time’s sake, I ordered up a simple plate of thick cut bacon and eggs any style (I went for scrambled). It also came with a side of hash browns which just looked like shredded potatoes to me) or as they¬†described them “Fresh cut Idaho potatoes done just right.”

I like the bacon here, it is thick and crispy, smoked full of flavour and is almost close to being candied. Could be some of the best breakfast bacon I have tasted for a while at one of these breakfast diners.

I also have to note that this is one of the few places that can actually provide a decent cup of tea! You get an actual pot of tea as opposed to a cup of hot water and a tea bag. I really did appreciate that as I managed to drain about three big mugs of tasty English Breakfast tea from that pot as I ate my breakfast.

In the past I have also sampled a few other dishes here on an ‘Eggsperience’ that I would happily recommend. My favourite of the bunch is the Tommy Boy’s Skillet which will keep you going all day and maybe even the next day too! This is one of their ‘Super Skillets’ which is a great big cast iron skillet filled with “Diced potatoes layered with fresh ingredients and a melting of jack and Cheddar cheeses. Topped with two Grade AA fresh eggs your way, served with your choice of toast or pancakes”. For the Tommy Boy the menu says “We layer this hearty skillet with bacon, sausage and ham for the meat lovers”. I can concur that it is hearty and confirm that I am¬†a Meat Lover.

I don’t think that you can go too far wrong at Eggsperience. Worth coming too just for the bacon and that pot of Tea!

Eggsperience on Urbanspoon

M Burger Sign in Chicago

M Burger in Chicago is a simple yet effective local burger chain with Five joints scattered around the city. The first one opened only 5 years ago in 2010 and over the few years that I lived in Chicago I think I have eaten in them all. It was only recently though now on one of my trips back since I moved away that I thought to put pen to paper or rather fingers to keyboard to add it to the blog.

If you want a little taste of the history of how it came to be, there is a pretty interesting article on BurgerBusiness.com called ‘The Tru story of M Burger’ that tells the story. It is well worth a read.

Burger Menu at M Burger

If you walk in to M Burger without ‘the knowledge’ then you will find yourself choosing from their basic¬†Menu perhaps a Cheeseburger or an Old Fashioned, but if you have inside information you may be about to order from their ‘not so’ secret menu. What is on that menu? I hear you ask. If you head to their website you can click on the burger to find out, but just to whet your appetite I may throw down a few.

M Burger wrapper

The “Barnyard Burger” looks to be the one for me ‘Lettuce, Pickles, Onions, Sauce, Burger Patty, Chicken Breast, Bacon and American Cheese’. Another choice might be the “Chicken Mikey” which is described as ‘The Most Secret Secret Menu Item – Chicken Breast with lettuce, pickle, onion, ketchup and mayo’

But if I was to go totally out of the bun so to speak I might order “Roman Style” which is any burger with two grilled cheese sandwiches instead of burger buns as your top and bottom. Sounds like one to order secretly and to be eaten in the corner on your own

I found a pretty good run down on the secret menu with some good pictures of the sandwiches on Thrillist well worth checking out!

The Old Fashioned Burger

Old Fashioned Burger at M Burger

The Old Fashioned Burger at M Burger, is well, as described a nod back to the classic ‘old fashioned’ toppings of ketchup, mayo, lettuce, pickle, tomato and onion and American cheese. I know that you can choose from that secret menu, but in all honesty this is one of my favourites from the menu. I even like the pickle on this burger!

The first one I ever ate at was the one in River North where I just had a cheeseburger, after that I tried the one just off the Magnificent Mile opposite the Allerton Hotel and it was the last one I ate at too just a week or so back as I was staying at that Hotel.

I wonder what impact Shake Shack will have on the joints as it has opened in relatively close proximity right in the midst of the M Burger empire. It is also ironic as it was Shake Shack that provided that first spark and thought that led to M Burger being born at the back of Tru. Interesting.

Anyhow to summarize they serve pretty good burgers at a good price and well worth a visit.

Check out M Burger out on Facebook and on Twitter 

 

M Burger on UrbanspoonM Burger on Urbanspoon

M Burger on UrbanspoonM Burger on Urbanspoon

Yolk in Streeterville

I have walked past this particular branch of Yolk located at 355 E. Ohio Street on the corner of Grand & McClurg in Streeterville on many occasion on my way back and forth towards Navy Pier but until this day I had never walked in. I had been to one of their other sites over in River North before and I always enjoy their simple take on that wonderful meal that starts our day; breakfast.

On this trip back to my expat hometown I was staying just around the corner at the Allerton so it was much easier to stroll over for my morning eggs. Even though the outside temperatures had dipped well below freezing, inside I was to receive a warm welcoming plate of food.

Two Eggs and Meat

Eggs and Baccn

I do love a nice American style plate of breakfast and today I took it simply with scrambled eggs, breakfast potatoes and some excellent crispy American bacon strips. The meal also came with a choice of breads and I went for the toasted English muffin, and to drink a pot of tea for whih I have to give a special mention. All too often over here in the States it is so hard to get a good cup of tea, but here at this particular  Yolk I received a really good pot full of scalding and warming tea, so good that I had three cups full.

Officially my choice from the menu was called “Two eggs and Meat” which was a choice of “Two eggs any style with your choice of hickory smoked bacon, sausage links, low-fat turkey, sausage, canadian bacon or hickory- smoked ham steak.”.

I had the hickory smoked bacon which was really good and almost candy like with a decent smoky taste. I kind of came here just for that bacon but everything else on the plate also made me happy as well. The scrambled eggs were soft, creamy, and filled half of that big white plate. The chunky fried red potatoes were also plentiful, and I even ate most of them as well mainly as I was glad that they still resembled actual potatoes too.

The toasted muffin was an added bonus and went well with one of those pots of free marmalade. All in all a very successful start to my morning and for $8.99 not too bad value either.

Other menu options I ate in my mind

Yolk allstar breakfast menu

I would have had this Yolk All-Star Breakfast and the only thing that stopped me from ordering this instead was that it didn’t come with an English Muffin. I wasn’t in the mood for pancakes, French toast, crepes, or a half waffle. If I had been then I might suggest that this was better value ‘volume wise’ than my actual choice of “Two Eggs and Meat”

Build -A -Scrambler Option

Yoll Scrambler Menu

I have ordered this ‘Build-A-Scrambler’ plate before at other Yolks in the city and it is huge. So huge that I didn’t order it today as I wanted to be able to eat again at some point. My choice of the three ingredients is usually the Chorizo, Jack Cheese, and Mushrooms. I kind of like that combination.¬† Spicy, Salty, Crunchy, Meaty, Cheesy and a Bit plate of Eggs. Awesome!

I should have had this….

Chicken and Waffles at Yolk

I think on reflection I should have taken a leap of faith and ordered the Chicken ‘n’ Waffles as it now sounds so good reading that section of the menu. What’s not to like? Bacon “affle? Chicken? Sausage Gravy? Maple Syrup? all sounds good to me! adding a fried egg for just another 75cents? How could one not? Perhaps this was a dish for a late breakfast or a brunch? and perhaps next time it will be the plate in front of me when I dine at Yolk!

Yolk on Urbanspoon

Burkes Bacon BarBurkes Bacon Bar

Burke’s Bacon Bar is on North Rush Street attached to the James Hotel and next to David Burkes Primehouse. It is¬†just a short walk away from the Grand red line CTA station.¬†I read about its opening in…. well everywhere to be honest and as I quite like David Burke, and bacon, I was keen to find out some more and see what it was all about. According to their website Burkes Bacon Bar is “An innovative sandwich concept by David Burke“,¬†described as¬†‘a grab-and-go style sandwich shop specializing in palm-sized, bacon-centric sandwiches dubbed ‚Äúhandwiches.‚ÄĚ.

The blurb tells us that¬†“Chef Burke sources several varieties of artisanal bacon” including¬†Benton’s Tennessee Bacon (dry cured and smoked with hickory), Dreymiller & Kray Matilda Cured Bacon¬†(Goose Island Matilda Beer Bacon smoked with Apple wood), and Niman Ranch Pepper Bacon (an All natural bacon from Niman Ranch that is made using celery juice instead of nitrites or nitrates for curing.)

That all sound good, I just hope it is really tasty and that the ‘handwiches’ are good. So what did they have on offer?

Handwiches Sign

Inside it was pretty small, basically a ‘hole in the wall’ type of establishment. I wasn’t quite sure what I was expecting, a bar selling bacon sliders, or at least a few seats perhaps, but no it was just a serving hatch outside through which your food was dispatched to you, and a counter inside where you ordered somewhat in the style of a very small subway that only serves bacon. You could then sit on the small wall outside around the plant pots if you had nowhere else to go.

BBB menu Bacon Box

After chatting to the lad behind the counter, it turned out that a box of three was about the equivalent to one big sandwich so the best deal seemed to be to get a selection box of handwiches for $11. Once we established that we were going to pick three handwiches, it was pretty easy to filter out the options that best matched my personal taste bias.

I was drawn straight away to the Angry Reuben, and the Beef N Cheddar handwiches, then I took a punt on the new special, a Bacon and Egg handwich.

Egg and Bacon Handwich

The Egg and Bacon Handwich is essentially a Baguette filled with Benton bacon, curried egg salad, and Romaine lettuce. In reality it is a very big pile of messy but yummy egg salad on top of some crispy bacon. It was a good sandwich, perhaps the egg is overwhelming. I didn’t read the menu properly and I had been hoping for some sort of fried egg situation on top of my bacon. I still liked it though but not sure that I would choose this combination again. I needed more of a higher bacon to egg ratio to satisfy my bacon needs.

Beef N Cheddar Handwich

The Beef ‘N’ Cheddar handwich was my sort of sandwich, filled with braised beef, steak sauce mayo, matilda bacon, cheddar cheese, and crispy onions, it was really quite excellent. The braised beef was juicy and packed with flavor, and the crisp slice of matilda bacon on top was the kicker. In all honesty I could have just eaten a big pile of this bacon on it’s own. If I came here again I might not bother getting a selection box and opt instead to great a great big full sized version of this Beef N Cheddar sandwich. It would be Top marks for this one (if of course I was giving marks out which as you know I don’t)

Angry Reuben

The Angry Reuben was so “Angry” it would not sit still long enough to have it’s photo taken properly.¬†Served in a marbled rye this handwich was filled with smoking goose meatery beef pastrami, spicy bacon kraut, and swiss cheese. I didn’t really think about why it was called ‘Angry’ until I started to eat it and then I realized they meant really spicy. The meat in this one was good, and the flavor was nice as well, just¬†a little bit too much heat for me to taste the meat properly. Luckily I ate this one last so it didn’t interfere with my tasting of the other two handwiches in the box.

To go back to the tagline “An innovative sandwich concept by David Burke“,

I can just imagine the conversation, “you know bacon?”, “Yeh Bacon”, “and you know you like eating bacon sandwiches?”, “Yes I do, where are you going with this?”, “Well my friend I just had this genius idea that we could make them and THEN sell them to other people” Now that my friend is innovation at its finest. Sorry I just could not resist passing comment on that marketing tagline. I think it is a good idea anyway to sell just bacon sandwiches, there are 100’s of vans in the UK doing just that in laybys up and down the country, so why not here?

I do like the idea and the concept, but I am really quite a simple man, and all I really need from a bacon sandwich is the bacon and two slices of bread. I want the bacon to always be the star of the show. I would just sell one set of really good plain bacon sandwiches with a choice of brown or white bread and a dollop of brown sauce on the side. As for David Burke’s Hamwiches selection, well It was a lot of bacon related fun in a box.

Burke's Bacon Bar on Urbanspoon

Rock BottomWeber Grill

When you jump off the train at the Grand CTA station and come up above ground you will find yourself either right next to the Weber Grill or right next to the Rock Bottom brewery. These were the first two places that I ate at when I first arrived in Chicago hunting for a place to live. I was staying in the nearby Hampton Inn hotel and these were my first go to places. Over the next few years I was to return several times, but I had almost forgotten them until I alighted at the Grand Station recently looking for a snack

Rock Bottom Brewery Resturant

Rock Bottom¬†isn’t the sort of place that you come to when you reach that place in your life, no it is the sort of place you come too when you want a good beer and a nice safe plate of bar food. I try not to just get a burger, even though they are quite decent, as that is just too safe and easy. Even though the 2am Burger which is a all day breakfast type¬†variant topped with ‘hash-browns, American cheese, smoked bacon and a sunshiny fried egg’ is always very tempting.

I always seem to end up having one of their sandwiches either the Hickory Bacon Chicken sandwich which is basically “Grilled chicken topped with bacon, cheddar and bbq sauce, served on a soft burger bun.” or the Reuben Sandwich which is “Corned beef or turkey served on caraway rye with¬†Swiss cheese, Russian dressing and sauerkraut.”, although to be honest I usually end up pulling most of the sauerkraut out.

I also love that they do more than one type of Mac n Cheese, apart from the Classic, you can also have a Bacon, Chicken Mac ‘n’ Cheese, and a Blackened Shrimp Mac ‘n’ Cheese. Too tempting by half!

The other bonus about this place, and probably the reason I first walked in, is the good beer selection especially some of their craft beers. ¬†They do a type of kolsch, which is always a good choice. They describe it on the menu as being¬†‘golden, straw-colored ale is light in body with subtle fruit flavors and a crisp, floral hop finish.’¬†They also have the sport on the TV so you don’t have to worry about coming in on your own.

The one warning is that if you come in through the wrong door, then you end up being in the front restaurant which is a bit fancier, with white tablecloths etc. The first time I walked in, I nearly walked out again, until they directed me to the back room where the bar is.
Rock Bottom Brewery on Urbanspoon

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Weber Grill Resturant

On the other side of the road on the corner is the Weber Grill, this is a place I prefer to eat at on a free downtown lunchtime. It is better in the summer when you can sit comfortably out in the sidewalk covered seating area. I do like to sit inside where you can see the chefs grilling away especially for the smelt of charred meat, but it gets a bit warm in there.

They do a good special at lunchtime usually there is a variation of one of their house made burgers, the kettleburger. If they don’t have one that tickles my fancy then it would be the Wisconsin Burger which is topped with De Mill Cheddar Cheese, and Applewood Smokehouse Bacon, so basically a bacon cheese burger for $13.50. If it wasn’t a burger then the other good thing I ate here was off the $10 lunch menu which is The ‚ÄúSmokey Joe‚ÄĚ a bun filled with Brisket Burnt Ends, and their¬†own Hickory BBQ Sauce.

Weber Grill Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Both the Weber Grill and the Rock Bottom brewery are on the corners of Grand and State as you emerge from the underground red line Grand CTA station.