Archive for the ‘Montrose’ Category

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

Real Kitchen

I have blogged about Real Kitchen and the gourmet ready meals that they prepare fresh daily before but I really felt that I had to share the really good sandwiches that we got there for lunch today.

Blink and you may miss the small board listing the daily sandwiches, but for reference it’s on the far left straight opposite the door.

Pork Belly ReubenPork Belly

The first of these great sandwiches was the Pork Belly Reuben. Apart from the crispy skinned, tender pork belly, it was filled with Pickled Cabbage, a lot of Swiss Cheese, and 1000 Island Dressing for a mere $6.50. You can see the fantastic piece of belly falling out of the sandwich slice above and also all of that gooey swiss cheese oozing out and all over the bread crust. It was just lovely, the pickled cabbage cut through some of the potential richness.

Philly Cheesesteak

The second sandwich was a “Philly Cheese Steak” which came with with Pickled Banana Peppers and Sriracha Mayo. Now usually I would be quite rude about any sandwich calling itself a Philly Cheesesteak when it is nothing like a Cheesesteak, but you know I am going to let Real Kitchen off this time. I knew it was not a true cheesesteak when I picked it off the board so I was not expecting one. What I actually ended up getting was a crusty half baguette with a juicy and spicy cheese and beef filling. In places there was quite a bit of a heat kick from the pickled banana peppers, especially if you didnt get a bite with enough of everything else in it to tame them. It was a good job that there was plenty of iced water available to cool down my tongue. It was a pretty decent plate of lunch and a bargain price at only $6.50.

Real Kitchen is located at 1433 West Montrose on the cross roads with N Clark Street. You can walk there along W Montrose from the Montrose Brown El stop (about 10 mins) or ride the 78 east to Wilson and alight just across the road, or ride the same bus west to Harlem from the Wilson Red Line stop and get off at the same intersection.

You can see what the daily options at Real Kitchen are via there website  http://www.realkitchenchicago.com/index.html and also through Facebook and Twitter. They change some of the options on a daily basis so it’s never boring.

Real Kitchen on Urbanspoon

 

I am a big fan of ‘First Slice’, which is a self-funded charity to feed the needy and homeless and have often frequented their cafe just next to the Brown Line up at the Francisco stop in North Manor although thinking about it that seems a bit daft as I have another one of their cafes right around the corner  in the LillStreet Art Centre in Ravenswood  http://www.lillstreet.com/. This is literally 5 minutes walk away from my house and yet I have not been in there. Shocking really. Not only is it a great cause but the food is great too. So this lunchtime I headed over there for a bite to eat.

Looking up at the Menu board my eyes were drawn to the ‘Duck Confit and Mozzarella’ sandwich, and not just because it was hand written in chalk and stood out from the other menu listings. No it was something else that triggered my interest, a somewhat subliminal message from my brain? what was it? I did not really know why but somehow I just knew I had to have that sandwich.

I am on a roll, this was another really excellent sandwich. The duck confit plenty of it, tender and soft and it was really moreish. I was worried that it might have been a little bit on the rich side but mixed with the other fillings not at all. There was a really great mix of mushroom and onion, both marinated or grilled in something that elevated and took them to the next level. There was a smear of some sort of sweet sauce made with red peppers and also some really nice melted mozzarella cheese toasted onto the panini bread. To add to all that it came with the house salad which I have had before, lots of nice herb leaves and rocket dressed with a tangy vinegratte, and topped with thinly sliced apples and thinly sliced radish. An absolute winner all around.

As I walked back home I remembered where I had seen that sandwich before, it was in the November 2012 edition of Chicago Magazine in their “50 best sandwiches” article. When I got back I flicked back through the pages to see their thoughts, they described it thus “…a wonderland of blistery mozzarella, mushrooms, grilled red onions, and sun-dried tomato spread – overflows with hunks and slivers of duck confit. Ethereal and glorious”. That seems about right to me. Different words but the same thoughts.

First Slice Cafe is located at 4401 N Ravenswood Ave, in sight and a brief walk from the Montrose Brown line station. It is in the LillStreet Art Centre and next to or rather practically within the adjoining shop. You can sit amongst the paint spotted and clay splattered artists sipping their teas and coffees and just relax with some damn good food.

The First Slice website at http://firstslice.org/ tells you all about the organisation, their history, locations, and menu. Well worth a visit.

First Slice Cafe on Urbanspoon

Late night at Jeri’s Grill, I was in dire need of some sort of breakfast type food, more specifically I really had my mind set on some pork chops. Every morning my bus passes by Jeri’s and I look across at the same window shown above wishing that I was in there having some eggs on toast and a nice cup of tea. Sadly I stay on that bus and ride it onwards, but at the weekend I can have breakfast whenever I want!

Inside Jeri’s it was quite quiet, but then again looking up at the clock there was a reason why…it was 2.30am in the morning, although the clocks had gone back so really only 1.30am.  Surprisingly as I walked in the early morning rush was starting, a bedraggled group of misfits crawling in from numerous bars on their way home, looking for something to soak up the alcohol.

In my case that was a plate of pork chops, with two fried eggs and some house potatoes. Even in a somewhat inebriated state I can confidently claim that the chops were juicy and tasty, the eggs cooked just as I like, perfectly runny, and I even enjoyed the potatoes too. Late night, midday or at breakfast time Jeri’s Grill has never let me down. I am hungry again just thinking about it.

Located at 4357 N Western Ave, just on the corner with Montrose Ave, on the 78 Bus and a long walk from the Western and the Montrose CTA El stations

After what seems like the longest wait ever, The Big Cheese on Lincoln Avenue finally opened its doors. Was it really back in March that several sources reported that the space on the corner of Lincoln and W Cullom was being taken over by “The Big Cheese”? It really was, and in that time I have suffered waiting patiently and not so patiently waiting for someone to make me a grilled cheese sandwich. tweeting with fellow sufferers? “any news?” Then suddenly this last week there were lights on inside and some flitting figures moving behind the windows, and then just like no time had passed it was open, and I was in there, like a rat up a drain pipe!

It is early days and they are still finding their feet but it is all seeming promising. They had run out of menus so we were sharing a laminated menu, and there was also a chalk board displaying the cheese possibilities.  Although there were a number of interesting options such as “The Red Devil” or rather “El Diablo Rojo” a sandwich of Toluca style chorizo, Chihuaha cheese, and roasted jalapeno peppers. I had to try a basic classic sandwich ‘purely for quality control purposes’ you know.

The Classic American for $8.95 was a three cheese filled Texas Toast sandwich – Cheddar, White Cheddar, and American Cheese,with tomato and bacon. It was incredibly cheesy, almost too much melted cheese, and really hot too, I think that if a burglar entered my house forget any other weapon, I would like a hot grilled cheese sandwich available to fight them off with. Apart from all that gooey cheese embraced by two thick slices of Texas Toast, there was soft freshly chopped tomato, and some really good crispy slices of bacon. There were a few options for sides, including seasoned fries, but I took the recommendation of a bowl of basil tomato soup, it was quite nice, creamy with some croutons floating in it. Good, but I may try the fries on another occasion.

The Big Cheese is located at 4229 N Lincoln Avenue, check out their facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/bigcheeseonlincoln#!/bigcheeseonlincoln

The Big Cheese On Lincoln  on Urbanspoon

This was my second visit to the Golden Angel Pancake House and I may not have to eat for the rest of the week. Located at 4344 N. Lincoln Ave (Montrose), vaguely between the Montrose Brown and the Western Brown Line is the Golden Angel.

All I really wanted was a Pork Chop, so I thought that I would be safe having pork chops and eggs. That was my first incorrect decision, what could possibly go wrong. Well plate one arrived, two pork chops and pretty large ones at that.

This was closely followed by a plate of Fried Eggs and Potatoes, or was it fried potatoes and a couple of eggs? Either way this was plate two, count it, two. OK that is alright, just hang in there and remember that you don’t ‘have’ to eat it all (you can leave the apple sauce if you like).

But hey now what is this, plate three, a couple of slices of toast. Like that was something that I was going to be needing? Well actually I did eat a bit of it, just to dip into my egg yolks.

Well that was all a bit too much, I may need to wear my ever so slightly larger pants tommorrow and perhaps a little snooze may help as well. For the record the pork chops were very nice.

Golden Angel on Urbanspoon

The Real Kitchen tagline is “Food your mother would cook if she’d been to culinary school“. I am just putting that out there as I know my Mother reads this. I have had Real Kitchen on my radar for some time now, but this week it came up in conversation both with a work colleague who had newly moved into the neighbourhood and my upstairs neighbour, so I thought hold on I can’t be the last person in the district to visit the place. I had an abortive trip midweek in search of some gumbo, but they didn’t have any, so I decided to save my next trip for the weekend. The basic premise of the place is that they prepare an assortment of choices that you can take home to heat up at your leisure, they also are feted to make some jolly good sandwiches, so my mission this Saturday was to try both, a sandwich for lunch and something to eat for dinner as well.

From the sandwich board I was pulled towards trying the Pork Belly sandwich, this was accompanied with the fillings of Salsa Verde, Tortillas, Radishes, Queso Fresco, could be interesting. From the prepared meal selections I was drawn to the chicken pot pie always a good choice. What I do like about this place is that they have example plates of everything that they have prepared that day in the counter and they also advise you how to heat them up as well. The daily menu choices are also on their website which is updated daily, and if you are too lazy (or busy maybe) to turn up and make your selection they also deliver.

 

First to be consumed was the Pork Belly sandwich, the pork belly was really good, crispy, juicy, fatty, and moist. I am not sure about the other fillings, it all seemed to work as a flavour but I could not really pick them out as described. My other thought was that the bread was too hard and crunchy for this sandwich, don’t get me wrong it was a really nice crusty roll,but to complement the crispiness of the pork belly I would have liked a softer floury roll. Really good pork though and a damn fine sandwich, I am just being picky.

 

The Chicken pot pie was equally tasty filled with a creamy mix of chicken, carrots, peas, onion, and celery, there was a lemony taste, I am guessing lemon thyme, but really that is just a guess. The Pastry was very neat and tidy, and it was not just on top so you got a nice soft bit of pastry where the sauce was in contact.

Located in the strip mall on the corner of Montrose and Clark at 1433 W. Montrose Ave. Also on facebook, twitter and the web at http://realkitchenchicago.com/

Real Kitchen on Urbanspoon