Posts Tagged ‘the loop’

 

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

Monks Pub Chicago

Monks Pub in Chicago established in 1969 is as old as myself and that was reason enough to head over to the Loop to seek it out for a pint and a bit of food. The other reason being to meet up with an old friend who was working downtown and was recommending the place.

I was told that it had some of the best burgers in town, now that has to be a challenge in itself and certainly something worth checking out. The burger itself is described on their menu as a “Half-pound certified Angus beef patty flame-broiled & served on a brioche bun with lettuce, tomato & onion”. I love an Angus beef burger and I also love a brioche buns so this was all sounding really good straight away.

Apparently one of the burgers to eat here is ‘The Chili Beer Cheeseburger’ but there were so many other great sounding toppings listed that I really wanted to try, what should I choose? The Maple Bacon Brisket was a front runner for a while the combination of “Certified Angus and brisket blend patty, pretzel bun, Vermont maple syrup, cheddar cheese, bacon, and grilled onion” was really tempting me. Another burger combination that stood a chance of making it all the way to my plate was The Bison which was described as a “Ground bison patty, pretzel bun, cheddar cheese, whiskey charred onions, and garlic mayo”

I was floundering as I read down the burger section of the menu!

“What is a hungry man to do?”, “Too much choice!”

Then it hit me smack bang in the face when I saw that they have a  burger topped with a fried egg. “Oh yes, come to papa!”

The Egg

The Egg Burger at Monks

There are no surprised for guessing the prime component of ‘The Egg’! This is essentially a burger topped with ‘Bacon, cheddar cheese & a sunny-side up egg’. It cod have been called the bacon, cheese, and egg burger, but I have to a say that apart from the excellent meat pattie, the star of the show is that soft yolked fried egg that drapes itself over the top of the burger and that once bitten into released it’s yellow delight over the whole beast. I love a fried egg on a burger, a love affair that started many moons ago when I first met this combination at Meatheads out in the burbs. It has been an ongoing somewhat guilty pleasure ever since.

The Egg Burger on the plate at Monks

As well as that egg you were treated with a bountiful handful of crispy smoked bacon strips and a big slice of cheddar cheese. I like the way that they present the burger here at Monks by serving it as an open faced sandwich. This way you can keep as much of the simple green salad, red onion, and sliced tomato as you care to chomp on. For my part I was just keeping about half of the lettuce as I really wanted to get a much of that bacon, cheese, and egg in your mouth which each bite of the burger.

This is a really good combination, hold on when I said good I meant exceptional combination. I fear that if I come back to dine here at Monks I will never actually get to try any of the other burger combinations as my heart will have been given to this one… Perhaps? perhaps? perhaps?

Monks pub is located at 205 West Lake Street, kind of on the corner of Lake and Wells. It is alongside the track of the elevated railway which rattles by overhead and the nearest stops are probably at Washington and Wells, or at Clark and Lake. It is close enough to see the train but a 5 minute walk to catch one. To be honest after eating on of the burgers, you will probably need that walk!

Monk's Pub Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

When I first saw the Westminster Hot Dog joint at 11 N Wells St, I was heading off the El Train at the Washington Wells EL stop and  it was closed, and I kept going back to a closed store until I discovered that it is only opened during the lunchtime rush 10.30-3.30 weekdays.  A rookie mistake when sourcing food in the Chicago Loop district.

When I first read the name Westminster I was thinking of London, the Houses of Parliment and the Abbey, and when I finally did some research  (well reading the menu this lunchtime) the story was that in 1876 a group of gents met up in a bar in Manhattan to talk about their sporting dogs and formed a club called the Westminster Breeding Association, then about one hundred years later another group of blokes were in Wrigleyville Chicago chewing the fat and unable to brag about their beloved Cubs they had to talk about something else that they were passionate about which turned out to be cooking, and what better to love in Chicago than some gourmet sausages.  This led to the opening of the Westminster Hot Dog ( so the story goes)

From the outside it was not much to look at, lined up in a row of joints geared up to feeding the offices and workers in the Loop. Once inside there were mouthwatering chalkboard offerings, and a constant stream of blue and white collar guys and girls lining up to order. A lot seemed to be going for the gourmet sausgages and a few for the regular Chicago Dog, but hey that meant more gourmet for the rest of us. Their ‘mission statement’ on the wall also helped to support the suspensful salivations.

I had to try number 5 the Chorizo Pork with Chihuahua Cheese and Roasted Peppers, funnily enough the paper menu said ‘red’ peppers but this seemed to have been seamlessly rubbed out on the chalkboard and it turned out that the reason was that it was coming with green peppers instead. I think it was my gain in the end, but it provided me with some mild amusement.

I had to wait a while while my sausage was cooked which I was happy about as it meant that some attention was being made to it and there was a good chance that it was a good sausage. When my name was called I headed out into the sunshine and over to the park to…well I’ll be honest…scoff it down in my rapidly diminishing lunchbreak.

It was pretty darn good, the chorizo sausage meat was lightly packed into the case, a little crumbly and moist, nice and spicy but not too much, hey it must have been good I even ate the green peppers which were just right, not overcooked or crunchy, there is probably a french word to describe that, but enough of the pepper, more about the sausages.

Most importantly their sausages are prepared fresh each day with no fillers or nitrates and using only local sustainable meat.

I will return here, especially since I found that it is now open at the weekend for a short time, and also there is now a second location at 1045 Madison which is open 11am- 9pm everyday.

Located right beneath the Washigton Wells stop at 11 N Wells, I suggest that you pop in when you can

Website:  http://www.westminsterhotdog.com/

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