Archive for the ‘Lake’ 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

 

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

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

Sugar Bliss Cupcakes

I like the odd cupcake on occasion, but sometimes it is hard to decide which one to get, and I often wish that I could manage to eat more than one so that I could try a few different flavours. Luckily for me while alighting from the Elevated Rail tracks at Madison and Wabash I stumbled upon The Sugar Bliss Cake Boutique where mini-cupcakes are a speciality. They do big ones too, but lets just use editorial discretion to gloss over that for the purposes of this tale.

Sugar Bliss Cakes

There is a different selection on each day, and you can get a list off their website, but I did note that there were a number of other flavours available in the trays that were not listed. So I expect you can just ride your luck and see what they have.

We got a box of 6 at $1.50, but as it was towards the end of the day, they slipped in another two just to fill the box up. Which was a good idea to stop them rattling about in there, as they had to survive the El Train home without getting jostled, squashed, or eaten.

Sugar Bliss selection

So what I ‘think’ we got was two ‘Orange Creamsickles’, two ‘Vanilla Vanilla’, two ‘Chocolate Hazelnet’, one ‘Chocolate Peanut Butter’, and one ‘Chocolate Milk Chocolate’. Rows 1 and 4 above were the Orange, and Vanilla cakes, Row 2 is the Chocolate Milk (top) and Peanut butter (bottom), Row 3 was the Hazelnut (Gosh that was a bit complicated I feel that I needed to provide some sort of map and key to diagram that all out).

From personal experience or from well qualified hearsay I can confim that they are all very tasty bites.

My favorite and first choice was the ‘Orange Creamsicle’ which is a ‘Madagascar bourbon vanilla cake with orange vanilla zest buttercream’. Crikey how good does that sound? I also liked the Vanilla Vanilla which is almost the same only it is a ‘Madagascar bourbon vanilla cake with creamy vanilla buttercream’. Almost as good.

The Chocolate Hazelnut is a ‘Dark chocolate cake with chocolate hazelnut buttercream‘ and the Chocolate Peanut Butter is a ‘Dark chocolate cake with peanut butter buttercream‘. I did not eat either of those, but I am led to believe that they were both very good indeed.

The others that I sampled were the ‘Chocolate Milk Chocolate’ which was a mix of milk and dark chocolate, more specifically described as ‘Dark chocolate cake with milk chocolate buttercream

Lets face it, it’s cake, so if you like cake you are going to like all of these.

Sugar Bliss Loop Location

Sugar Bliss has two locations, one in the Loop at 115 North Wabash, and one in River North at 509 North Orleans. You can get all of their details online at http://www.sugarblisscakes.com/ where you can also order online.

The Loop location is right beneath the Elevated line on the other side of the road from the Marshall Fields building. So its in between the  ‘Madison and Wabash’, and ‘Randolph and Wabash’ stops on the Pink, Green, Orange and Brown lines, you could also ride down or up on the Red line and exit at ‘Lake’ at walk across, or the Blue at ‘Washington’.

Sugar Bliss Cake Boutique 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