Posts Tagged ‘bacon’

The Belmont Cafe in Belmont

One of the first places I ever ate in Chicago was at Clarkes on Belmont near to the Belmont El Stop (read more here).  I had come up here looking for an apartment and their was an agency just along the road that I had spotted when checking out the area. That place was great it was open pretty much 24 hrs and I had stopped in many a time when in need of some kind of late night sustenance after a few beers, and also late weekend mornings when my head hurt little and I just needed some eggs to help my body sort itself out. It was with that sort of food comfort in mind that I had headed up to Belmont only to find that the place I once relied on had been replaced with The Belmont. Well it seemed to be just the same sort of place so I stopped in to look for some sort of breakfast.

Breakfast Sandwiches at The Belmont Cafe

For a moment or two I contemplated ordering The Classic which was a bagel with eggs, cheese, and a choice of either ham, hickory smoked bacon, or sausage from the Breakfast Sandwich section of the menu as it did sound pretty good. I didn’t really want any bread though and I had in my mind something with breakfast potatoes. I knew that I would probably find what I needed in the basic Eggs section of the menu so looked through the menu to find what I desired.

Eggs Menu in Belmont Cafe

Now this was more like it! I ordered the Eggs any style (I had scrambled) with a side of bacon and a large glass of fresh orange juice. I almost had the NY Steak and Eggs but to be honest that was $13 and the Basic Eggs was just $5. Also I really wanted some bacon!

Eggs any Style at the Belmont Cafe

Side of Bacon at the Belmont Cafe

Now this was just what I wanted and just what I remembered. The Scrambled eggs are more like a broken up omelette, but they are light and fluffy and not at all greasy, love them like this. The house potatoes seem to vary so much from place to place, sometimes with peppers, sometimes packed with onion, happily I was to find that the ones served at the Belmont were nice and simple with just a little bit of grilled onion in amongst the crispy cubes.

The side of Hickory Smoked bacon was awesome. It was nice and crisp, and still meaty, it was packed with smoky and salty flavour. Love it so much. It was a perfect accompaniment to my plate of eggs. I have to order this every time I have breakfast eggs!

Bill at Belmont

 

I really enjoyed this breakfast plate at the Belmont. To be honest it was better that all that I had at Clarkes and the place seemed to be more relaxed and more casual. I’ll come back here again.

Belmont Cafe Sign

 

The Belmont Café at 930 W Belmont Ave is within sight of the Belmont CTA stop where the red and brown lines split. It is literally a couple of minutes walk from the station.

It is located between Wilton Ave & Clark St

The Belmont Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Publican Quality Meats sign

Publican Quality Meats is in the Fulton Market district of Chicago and is easily accessible from the Pink Line via Morgan or Clinton El stop stations. It is part of Paul Kahan’s notable empire, and is right across the road from The Publican Resturant. Not only is it a purveyor of quality meats and associated meat related deli products, but it also houses a small cafe area selling freshly made sandwiches. The seating inside is limited and communal in nature. We ended up sharing a table with two guys from Indiana who stop in about once a month. You really have to be a dedicated soul if you make that much effort to come here as this place is not in the middle of the lunchtime footfall traffic. I thought that we had done well taking three different trains to get here. Even so it was packed out, so a lot of people are going out of their way to come here. We arrived at about ten to twelve and we got the last two seats, but people were coming and going all the time and I didn’t see too many people having to wait for long.

‘But what about the food?” I hear you wonder

Sandwich Menu

Checking out the sandwich menu I was almost tempted to get the PB&L as this was listed in Chicago Magazines top 50 sandwiches edition. On the menu it is listed as lamb and pork belly sausage, feta, cilantro and piperade on a franks n’ dawgs lobster roll for $10. Chicago magazine had a great line describing it thus; “It’s like the quarteback on a team packed with future Hall-of- Famers.” I kind of like that analogy. The only thing that stopped me getting this sandwich is that I thought that it was basically a hot dog, and a Frank ‘n’ Dawgs style dog at that, and I was in Frank ‘n’ Dawgs already once this week so needed something slightly different.

Publican BLT

I had a look around the table to see what the other people had ordered and one of the guys next to us had got the BLT sandwich. He seemed very pleased with himself, telling me that it was the best bacon that he had eaten, and told us that it was $3 a slice over the road at Publican. It looked so good that I was sold on getting one for myself.

The sandwich is made from some really solid PQM bacon, it is not crispy or crunchy, but it is a really solid bite. Somewhere between caramalised and a jerky texture. It also has some thickly cut slices of tomato, some fresh crunchy lettuce and a light lemony aioli. The bread was a thinly sliced sourdough, which was a little hard and crunchy, but for once this worked really well with this sandwich. At $9 pretty good value as by all accounts there was at least $5 worth of PQM bacon in it. Apart from the bacon, the other star turn was the lemon aioli, it was not too strong and just gave a light hint of creamy lemon to every other mouthful. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Publican Pork Belly Sandwich Pork Belly Half Slice

The other sandwich that we got was the Pork Belly Sandwich, so good and popular that it sold out during the time we were there. I would say that almost every other sandwich that passed by us on the way to other tables was one of the Pork Belly 0nes. This sandwich was comprised of braised pork belly, romesco verde, watercress, apple, mint and yogurt on a ciabatta, all for just $10. The star of this morsel was the braised pork belly, which was thick, very well seasoned and  full of flavour. There was a lovely bit of luscious pork fat that was crisped to perfection. The apple, mint, and yoghurt gave an almost tzatziki like taste. The romesco verde gave the sandwich a nice spicy kick. Last but by no means least was the bread. When it said it was a ciabatta I was worried that it might be a bit hard, but it wasn’t at all, it was a lovely piece of bread and the perfect vessel to present the pork belly and all it’s tasty friends.

Publican Quality Meats

I could carry on and tell you in great detail about the displays of great meats and charcuterie, but I feel I need to leave you hanging just a little bit. if you are not near enough to make your own journey here to see for yourself, you can get a good idea if you check it all out on their website; http://publicanqualitymeats.com

Everyone was very friendly both customers and staff alike, the service was excellent, our waitress well informed about the product, and appeared proud and delighted to be working there.

Definately a destination sandwich spot.

Publican Quality Meats on Urbanspoon

That shop is Spencer’s Jolly Posh Foods shop and it is full of all those necessities from back home and perhaps things that you dont really need but that you want as soon as you see them. Sadly you have to time your visit as it is only open on certain days. But trust me if you need or rather crave something they probably have it.

I hope that you don’t judge me too harshly in terms of the gourmet contents of my basket on this shopping trip.

So my first items into the basket was some English Cheddar from Coombe Farm and a tin of Heinz Spaghetti. A strange selection you may feel and perhaps you will think it even stranger when you see what I do with them.

This is my favourite comfort food a dish invented one family christmas when we could not decide between cheese on toast or spaghetti on toast and yes I am pretty sure we were about 13yrs old at the time. If you get the right cheese and bread and the spaghetti sauce melting into the sandwich you have a taste sensation on your hands. It is so easy to eat far too much of this sandwich.  As Marco Pierre White pointed out ‘if it speaks to you then it speaks to me’

 

Another thing I just had to add to the basket was some English crisps and not the classic Walkers crisps kind, no the ones that even some of my Ex Pat friends will turn their noses up at. Both of these have been staples in the playground, as a breakfast at college, and even now a much sought after erm can I say delicacy? Probably not.

So Wotsits these are pretty much cheesy puffs the sort that turn your fingers orange with colouring. Monster Munch now these are a beast all of themselves, my personal choice is the pickled onion flavour, which to be fair is probably as disgusting as it sounds, the flavouring generally burns the roof of your mouth but despite that I cannot get enough of them. I remember these as “The Biggest Snack Pennies Can Buy”.

 

I have not eaten a Pot Noodle since I was a student, and I think bought this pretty much for the bragging rights. I was really surprised to see a whole set of shelves of pot noodles in Chicago. I urge anyone nearby to go and try one and have a cook off with Mr Ramen. When I was a student there was no “Bombay Bad Boy” and if there had been I would not have dared to eat it, way too spicy, this was years before I started travelling and I was not even sure where Asia was back then, it was just where the hippy drop outs were heading (I wish I had gone with them now). The three flavours I remember well were; Beef & Tomato (brown), Sweet & Sour (light blue), Chicken & Mushroom (green) the colour refererring to the packaging not the food! The Pot Noodle is produce in Wales UK a classic advert http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JrNuT9sn0Gc depicts this.

 

So now I needed some drinks, and the first choice was one that I have not seen for ages and that was a can of Shandy Bass, this is basically a a carbonated soft drink that does conatin 0.5% alcohol, it is a Shandy which is a mix of beer and lemonade. in England when I   was a kid it was as cool as Top Deck Shandy or Lager and Lime to drink, did it make you look hard? Not really and perhaps giving us kids a taste of beer early on in our lives has some bearing on our pub culture. No different though from the French giving kids wine with water at lunch. My second choice was a bottle of Irn Bru, a drink I fell in love with while living in Scotland, it is a great hangover cure and best of all it is ‘made in Scotland from girders.

 

Jolly Spencer has a lot of English Chocolate, and the real stuff, not the stuff made by Hersheys over here that just tastes awful in comparison. In amongst those shelves was the bar that I always bring back for the girls at work on my trips back to the UK. That bar is the Twirl bar. The Twirl is a flake type chocolate bar covered in a wrapping of chocolate. The air between the layers gives you a greater chocolate to mouth ratio, terrific is the only way to describe it. It is that good, that on my last trip back to the UK I brought a whole case back to be shared between three people.

Apart from all the stuff I got at Jolly Spencer’s there is loads more, from tea, biscuits, jam, bread, bacon, sausage, and black pudding. You really need to go and check it out.

Located at 1405 W. Irving Park Rd but only open Wed – Fri: 11 am – 7 pm and Sat – Sun: 10 am – 5 pm.

Website: http://spencerfoods.com

It might not look much but in common with many of the Loop lunch spots it has to compete with the fumes of the packed traffic passing by and the rusty El line running overhead, so why waste time on the outside when you can save your energy inside working on creating some tasty morsels for the lunch crowd and the afterwork el stop food hunter.

The Menu board outside seemed to be pretty good value, it was even better when I got inside I found that you could mix and match the pierogi in batches of 3. So you could have 3 & 3 for $5.39 or 3&3&3 for $7.18 and so on. This was great as it meant I could try a couple of different flavours. There was a pretty good selection, meat, meat and spinach, kraut, kraut and mushrooms, mushrooms, potato, potatao and cheddar, potato and cheese, and even some weird fruit option which I totally bypassed.

I settled for what I thought would be a fair mix, three kraut and mushroom, and three potato and cheddar for $5.39. This came with sides of fried onion, crispy bacon pieces and sour cream. It was cooked to order and took about 5-10 minutes. Even though this place was supposed to close at 7pm they were still cooking and serving at 7.15pm when I was eating this tasty plateful. Now was I in some sort of Pierogi heaven? Well that might have been pushing it slightly, but it was definately worth stopping in, and I will probably come back again. The best of the two fillings was the cheddar and potato, and when mixed with the onion, bacon and sour cream both really worked and were a nice tasty treat. I will be most willing to try some more pierogi here or anywhere else I may stumble across them.

Pierogi Heaven is beneath the CTA brown line and is at the Blue Line Clark and Lake stop,located at 169 N Wells Street. Website: http://pierogiheaven.com/

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