Monday, November 30, 2009

Chowing in Chicago

Behold a gallery of Zach eating, with super sleuth notes.

Date/Time: Nov 11th, Mid Evening Time
Location: De Cero
Deliciousness Consumed: Duck Enchiladas (note: not on menu)

Date/Time: Nov 12th, 6:30 PM
Location: Flattop
Deliciousness Consumed: Various mixtures of meats, fake meats, vegetables, noodles, rice and sauce. Approx. 3 bowls and numerous flat breads.

Time/Date: Nov. 13th, 10:50 AM
Location: Hot Doug's
Deliciousness Consumed: Alligator Hot Dog, Keira Knightly (firedog) and Cheese Fries

Also See Unaccompanied Food:

Spotted at De Cero
Possible Suspect: Taco collection: Mahi Mahi Special, Avocado, Flank Steak, Duck
Most Likely to be Eaten Again: Flank Steak, Duck
Suspected Accomplice: Hibiscus Margarita

Spotted at: Hot Doug's
Possible Suspects: BLT Hot Dog with Avocado Aoili and Mini Bagel Dogs with Tots
Observed Suspicious Activity: Hot Dog actually made with bacon

Private Eye Conclusions:

~De Cero is a delicious hot spot of activity. Margaritas are strong, duck is luscious and tortillas are freshly homemade.
~Long Line at Hot Doug's can only be avoided by arriving before opening time (approx 30 min).
~Mixing too many flavors at Flattop can lead to flavor overload and taste-bud exhaustion.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

You shuffle with your head down

I've always found DC restaurants to be a lot like their transient population - always a little bit in a hurry, a little bit like the congressional staffer at 5 p.m., and like the politicians and their aides that infest it, they talk a big game with little substance. You shuffle with your head down, slowly talking into your phone and you end up eating what's in front of you.

It's pretty much the same every place you go. My last trip to DC was 2 1/2 months ago for my brother's wedding. There's a lot to like (but not love) at some places, and in other places, not so much. DC has a burgeoning young population - but again, if you ask me, they don't have really good taste. (With the obvious exceptions of my brother and my sister-in-law, who are great hosts, and even better people to put up with my constant complaining and pretentious way of analyzing food.)

Anywho, it doesn't take much to impress someone who is a starry-eyed aide for a congressperson - they're already impressed by the egomaniacal rantings of political sociopaths.

Anyway, this was a quick trip, and we hit two restaurants during our time. We hit a third in Fado, which I don't consider a restaurant as much as a chain bar, in the style of Baker Street or Cheers. If you've eaten at one Fado, you've eaten at them all. I assume readers of this blog like food or drink, and will have been to one in their lifetime. My experience at Fado is: Dark, chainy, and Smithwick's. That experience has been had a million times by a million people around the country.

Friday night, we went to a place called Matchbox. People seem to like this place, and I guess for DC fare, it stands out amongst the places that don't have to try so hard. One gripe I have is the cover of the menu is made out of wood. Carved into it, the Matchbox logo.

I guess when I see stuff like that, I expect a more business casual atmosphere, which this place (in the middle of Eastern Market, yuppie central) did not have. It kind of seemed like it wanted to go that way, but just can't quite pull itself up like an Italian restaurant that, as its owner, is trying to escape its immigrant past.

Beer: My server seemed to think "I don't know" was a good option when I asked her to recommend a beer on tap. Alright. Either way, she (eventually) suggested Allagash White, an unfiltered witbeer. Allagash is a Maine brewery, and we don't get a lot of that in Denver. I liked it, kind of pale, kind of fruity, very spicy for a wit. Good head, good lace. Not strong, very drinkable and actually went really well for the meal I ordered.

Everything about this place screams "For God's sake, don't order a steak! Please, order the sliders! THEY'VE GOT ONION STRAWS!"

So the clientele, the menu, the server - I really wanted their sliders to be bad so I could write a bad review all thew way around. But I'm sad to report - they were actually very good. It could do with less onion straws, but they were cooked exactly how I ordered them, the buns were lightly buttered underneath the hood, and the gorgonzola on top was just enough.

Damn you, Matchbox. Your sliders got me. Now I have to suggest you.

(Aside: Eastern Market has a wide assortment of restaurants. I've been to 3 now, and my favorite is still Las Placitas, owned and operated by Salvadorians. Any place that bills its weekly flea market as having vendors "from 5 continents" might be a little bit pretentious. I mean, obviously they have people coming from Africa EVERY WEEK to sell their wares to DC residents. That's not that far to go to sell a few prints or handwoven caps.)

On the day I left, we had brunch at a place called Hawk and Dove on Capitol Hill.

Now this is my speed - divey, but not quite dangerous. I had a sausage and cheddar cheese omelet. Aside from being an 8-egg omelet as opposed to the more standard 3-egg, their coffee was decent, their homefries greasy enough. But I didn't like the Bloody Mary (WAY too much pepper) and that's a dealbreaker for me.

Allegedly, Hawk and Dove's food is not its strong point, and I have to agree. Seems like it might be an okay place to drink. I've been to worse places here in Denver.

Starting to look like I'm going to be coming to DC a bit more in the next year or two. I better start finding better places to eat, or this town is going to get real old, real fast.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Quick List: Chicago

Things I did in Chicago that you should too:

1. Take the train alone, feel accomplished because you didn't get lost.
2. Walk into the Hilton on Michigan Ave. Act like you belong. Get free information from Concierge.
3. Wear a scarf.
4. Take a Bus Tour! (I will always recommend bus tours).
5. Answer bus tour guide's questions, he becomes less disgruntle this way.
6. Go to the Art Institute.
7. Understand that the video-art-clown-room is supposed to make you feel uncomfortable it is the point of it.
8. Make fun of clown room with people from Michigan.
9. See a Show at Second City.
10. Get a little buzzed on $9 spiked coffees at Second City.
11. Make nice with table mates at Second City, get shots bought for you.
12. Hug your friend goodbye and say "thank you."

Friday, November 13, 2009

Bill O'Reilly would be proud

So I work in Arvada currently, and there's a place we go to fairly often for lunch, although, I'm not really sure why.

This place is called The Sultan Grill, and I'm convinced that it is the only Middle Eastern food in a 5 mile radius. I've had a few different things here, and I'm always surprised that the place isn't a little bit more busy.

Yelp denotes it as another one of those "3 1/2 star" places. The best way to describe 3 1/2 star places are "tweeners." In basketball, it's drafting a guy who could go either way - he could be a star or a bust. In west Arvada, a tweener is just as hit or miss - somedays, it's good. Somedays, not so much.

Today, it was good.

I usually order the Gyros Sandwich combo, which includes a gyro, french fries and a drink for $7.25. Sometimes the meat is a little too greasy, and sometimes the tomatoes are a little squishy, but for $7.25, it's better than fast food. And it's a nice change of pace from regular office lunch spots like Chipotle or Qdoba.

Try the hummus - it's not exactly what I think of when I think hummus, but it's tons better than the store-bought kind. And they give you plenty of pita to go along with it when you order it as an appetizer.

For my money, though, the Falafel is what this place has going for it. You don't get good falafel like this at a lot of places in Denver (unless you're Bill O'Reilly, that is).

So what? I have a thing for chickpeas.

Channel the writing skills of Peggy Hill: If you're ever in the vast desert of Arvada and are looking for a place to eat, take a stop at this oasis.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

What to Do In Chicago?

I will have a little solitary free time in Chicago next week and I feel like a historic home tour. Here are my options so far...

Glessner House Museum/Clarke House Combo Tour (leaning towards this one)

Frank Lloyd Wright's Fredrick C. Robbie House

however these completely non related attractions also look nice...

Shedd Aquarium

Lincoln Park Zoo

Adler Planetarium

I am open to other suggestions, of course. Help!