Posts Tagged ‘Food in Chicago’

Rock Bottom Brewery on West Grand Street was my first port of call on my latest trip back to my adopted home town of Chicago

I just hit town and I was looking for a bar to watch a bit of sport on TV and hopefully catch the Cubs game. I was staying up at the Felix Hotel which is a pretty good base in River North. It lies between Grand and Chicago el stops and has a very comfortable location pretty close to the action on Clark Street.

Anyway I was venturing out and just needed somewhere near, and somewhere easy and with beer.  I knew that Rock Bottom was near and right next to the Grand Stop on the Red Line, and I could walk there in about 5 mins, so I headed over 🙂

I got myself a pint (eventually several) of their Stadstrasse Kolsch beer, Kolsch is a beer that is very close to my heart as I first tasted it when I was working at the University of Cologne, or Koln as they say back in the days before the Euro took over. Then I learned to love this   and ever since I have enjoyed the US style version that takes advantage of that same or similar hop.

Anyway I digress, it was in the section called “Crisp & Refreshing”, which was well named,  as it was indeed both, and it was described as “A light and crisp ale brewed to be crushed by you”. I think that means supped quite vigorously, our perhaps ‘pounded’ as I have heard it said over here 🙂

Then I started to think about food, I had only been off the plane for a couple of hours, my brain was hurting and my stomach had no idea what was going on, so I was not that hungry.

I had eaten here before at Rock Bottom Brewery when I was Chicago native and had a really filling and great big sandwich, tonight though that was just not going to happen

It seemed like a good idea to just maybe get something from the appetizer section of the menu, perhaps a taco, maybe some wings or even a Quesadillas?

The Mini Street Tacos looked like a good choice, they were offering Two Fish taco’s for $5.79 or Two Steak taco’s for $6.49, sadly there was not one of each.

Mini Street Fish Tacos

I checked out the Rock Bottom Menu and ended up picking out Two Fish Taco’s which were (as all taco here) described as being “Tequila-lime marinated with avocado, shredded cabbage, salsa roja. Mexican crema, tomatillo salsa and Cotija cheese”.  I figure a couple of Tacos would go well with my beer, and I was right, to be fair I have practised this a lot over the last decade 🙂

I liked the freshness in the taste of the taco, now that might have just been the lime, and I liked the crema and the Cotija cheese which added saltiness just like a kind of feta?

Now these are not the most amazing haute cuisine taco’s that you are going to find, they are a little way above ‘pub taco’s’ and they are pretty decent bar appetizer taco. I would not add them to a list of places to go to eat taco, but I would suggest them as a great snack while watching a ball game and needing some food option 🙂

I had a great evening anyway, they have a lot of good beer, the bar staff are friendly but not intrusive, and the people at the bar on either side of me were happy to talk sport and beer for a few hours. Some days that is all a man needs!

Rock Bottom Brewery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

Rock Bottom Brewery in Chicago is located at

1 West Grand Avenue, Chicago, IL 60654

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The Pleasant House pub at 2119 South Halsted Street in Pilsen was on my must visit list on my latest trip back to Chicago. I was a great fan of the Pleasant House bakery in Bridgeport and when I read last year in the Chicago Tribune that the husband and wife team behind that place Art and Chelsea Jackson were relocating to Pilsen and opening a pub, well I just had to visit to find out more.

To get to the pub it is almost the same trip, I rode the Orange line from the Loop to Halsted, I just jumped on the train that says Midway. Once at the station walk out back towards the city to Halstead Street, turn left and walk over the river past the Helicopter ride place, and about 5-10 mins later you will see the pub. It was pretty easy to find!

Royal Pie Menu

I have been a great proponent of the Royal Pies baked by the Pleasant House bakery, I used to buy them all the time when I was resident in this great City of Chicago. The last time I had the chance to write about them was back in 2012 when I declared on this blog that it was the “Best Food Hunt trip so far and the Best English Pie I have eaten in Chicago at Pleasant House Bakery – Very Pleasant Indeed!”

I think that I have pretty much tried all of their offerings over the intervening years, my favourite was, and still is, their Steak and Ale pie which is as they say a ‘Royally Rich’ pie. If I was forced to choose a second fave then it would be the Chicken Balti just because the Curry filled pie is fast becoming a classic back in England and the Pleasant House people have made a particularly tasty version.

I once traded in a handful of bottles of Henderson’s Relish, a classic British condiment from Sheffield, for a couple of platefuls of pies for myself and my mother on one trip. I am not sure who got the best deal? I like to think that it was us.

I was pretty tempted to have another one on this visit, just for old times sake, but I had other ideas to fill up my belly!

After all it was a Friday and that can mean just one thing – “Fish and Chip Friday!”

Fish and Chips

Once I knew that I was going to be in Chicago on a Friday, I had it in my mind to seek out the Pub for Fish and Chips, a dish that they only serve on Friday.

Fortuitous? or perfect timing? either way it was a stoke of luck and of genius on this MyFoodHunt’s behalf.

They serve a really excellent plate of Fish and Chips here at the Pleasant House pub, it did remind me of home, and it was an equal of many of my favorite places to eat this meal back in Blighty.

The chips are good and much better than the sort of ‘fries’ you get in the states, I really liked them and they are probably some of the best ‘chips’ I have had, however they are just not quite ‘chip shop chips’ but a really jolly good effort.

The Star, just as it should be, is the battered fish, I loved the crispy and crunchy batter, at first it looks a bit more brown than perfectly golden, but that is probably due to the beer that they add to the mix.

Once you cut inside you are treated to some lovely juicy white fish, sweet and meaty are my overriding memories. It was actually almost spot on and they should be jolly proud of how good it is.

So how good are the Fish and Chips at the Pleasant House pub? well, they are only one of two, that I have found, that I would tell you to seek out in the states to get a true taste of British Fish and chips. That might tell you something, so please make the effort to try them out!

Draft Beers on Tap

They certainly were keeping up the tradition of a true British pub with a pretty eclectic beer list up on the chalkboard and on the pumps on the bar. I found contenders from Scotland, Wales and from Manchester amongst the beers vying for my attention, all worthy companions for my meal.

As I read through the list I just had to message my cousin Caroline when I saw a beer from Robinson’s brewery in Stockport Manchester (her home town), she messaged back to remind me that they still deliver the beer around the town on horse drawn dray’s. Wow! that is quite something in this day and age and a great tradition. It is just like the sort of traditional values that the people at Pleasant House are trying to keep alive and celebrate with their work here in Chicago. I love this kind of stuff!

I also saw two beers from Brains Brewery in Wales which brought back happy memories of trips to Cardiff and Swansea back in my college days when I shared a house with three rugby and beer loving Welsh students.

If I still lived in Chicago I would be over at the Pleasant House Pub at least once a week I reckon, just for the beer alone!

My Beer and some Pumps

I ended up drinking one of the beers from the Pleasant peoples own brewery Whiner. It was the “Et La Tete” which I chose because firstly it was a local beer and secondly because it was a Kolsch which is one of my favoured easy drinking styles.

I didn’t realise that this particular version is an ‘apple kolsch’ but that was something I learned through my friend ‘Mr Google’ after the event. It made a lot of sense though as I found it to be a crisp and refreshing drink, I didn’t really notice the apples, but then again my brain and taste buds were focussed on those excellent Fish and Chips 😉

They have some really great food on offer at the Pleasant House pub, on Friday as I have shown you can treat yourself with some amazing Fish and Chip. If you fancy a proper pie then they have all of their Royal Pies on offer, and you really cannot go wrong which ever one you choose.

If you just fancy a snack then I would suggest that you try one of their ‘Scotch Eggs’ which is a true British snack classic, often misunderstood and maligned, yet such a perfect handheld treat. If you have never had one, then you really must and if you have one here you will be in safe hands for your first try. Trust me, I have eaten a lot in my lifetime and the lovely people in the Pleasant House world know what they are doing 🙂

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The Pleasant House Pub say on the website that

“Pleasant House Pub welcomes you to join us at our new public house. Our menu features specialty beer and cocktails, savory meat and veg Royal Pies, delicious British-inspired food, locally roasted coffee, and homemade pastries. We’re also known for dabbling in fun, so you’ll find plenty of that, too. Whether it’s 10 a.m. or midnight, we hope you make yourself at home. Drink, eat, work, hang out.

Whatever you do, always do it f’ the sen.”

Sounds good to me!

Check them out also on Facebook and on Twitter

More Food Menu Pics

 

The Draft Beer List (on that day) 

 

Shake Shack at the Chicago Athletic Association hotel on Michigan Avenue near Millenium Park in the Loop was a Godsend on my recent visit back to Chicago. I had flown in to O Hare and made my way down the Blue Line to my hotel at the Club Quarters over on West Adams Street by about 9pm and I was in dire need of some food. It was getting late and a quick search on Yelp was showing me that places were closing fast downtown.

It was pretty cold out there, well below freezing, somewhere around 20F and I didn’t want to waste a meal, so when I saw that there was a Shake Shack that I had not been too nearby that was open until 11pm? well I had my hat, scarf, and gloves on and I was out the door to MyFoodHunt it down.

It was a bit hidden behind the doors keeping the cold out from the hotel, but inside it was a pretty impressive location that they describe pretty well on the Shake Shack website as;

“Knockout! The CAA Shack is located on the ground floor of the gorgeously, painstakingly restored Chicago Athletic Association boutique hotel across from Millenium Park. Where else can you chow down on burgers and crinkle cuts surrounded by stained glass, soaring ceilings, detailed millwork, and marble staircases?”

Lets move on and talk about some food though!

The Smoke Shack with Cheese Fries

I always seem to order the same thing at Shake Shack (well I have only been twice) and that was the Smoke Shack burger with a side of Cheese Fries.

This time I went for the Double, so I had the “Cheeseburger with all-natural smoked Niman Ranch bacon, chopped cherry pepper and Shack Sauce” for $9.69.

Those crinkle cut cheese fries were another $3.99, and add to that the beer I ordered and there was not much change out of a twenty dollar bill! OMG! was it or is it worth that cash outlay?

I kind of think that it is.

Smoke Shack burger

There is something kind of magnificent about this somewhat overpriced burger sandwich. The meat patty on it’s own is pretty rustic, crumbly, moist, juicy and really quite chowable. Covered in molten cheese it takes on a whole new personality and becomes something that you kind of struggle not to gobble down like a mad man on a competitive burger eating mission.

That crispy thick sliced bacon is a demon addition, and the spicy cubed tomato relish packed with heat is just more genius added to the bun, you have to pause and breathe in between bites otherwise the moment passes to quickly and you could find that you have scoffed a classic meal without pause for thought. Please be restrained 🙂

I loved this burger just as much as the last time I ate ‘exactly the same meal’ when I was last in Chicago over at the River North location (read more here) and I felt no guilt that I had chosen to do so once again, as I knew in my heart that it was a great decision on both occasions. Lets be honest, if it ain’t broke, why fix it?

Menu (well a bit of it)

CAA Shack in Daylight

The CAA Shack is located on the ground floor of the Chicago Athletic Association boutique hotel

is located across from Millenium Park at 12 S Michigan Ave in Chicago, IL 60603

Shake Shack Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato