Ah, Little Goat. You are trying to kill ALL OF US, aren’t you? There is nothing healthy on your menu, is there? I ordered the Caesar salad once, which is generally not a healthy choice either, but I like how you took it to the next level and DEEP-FRIED THE ANCHOVIES. Thank you for that, thank you. Above, my fish tostadas. What a beautiful mess. How deliciously engrossing. (Really, this was really delicious.) Ah, my cholesterol, my arteries, my heart. Really, we are all going to die, thanks to Stephanie Izard.
The Verdict: Don’t go here if you have had long conversations with your doctor about your lab results.
Quickly…over Christmas, I did that thing I usually do. I headed up to Orlando to visit my dad’s side of the family. My aunt and uncle have a timeshare in Orlando and — gasp — they actually use it. (Most Americans buy timeshares and then quickly realize they just can’t use them and then they try to sell them and can’t.) We stayed one night at the Marriott Cypress Harbour and boy am I glad my dad is a senior citizen, because without his discount, this would have cost us over $400 bucks just for one night. (My father was happy to stay at the Quality Inn 4.5 miles away for $62 bucks a night. Not me.) We got 15% off our rate because he is over 65.
The Marriott Cypress Harbour is an apartment hotel and our room was HUGE. As was the hot tub. A little disconcerting, this hot tub. I let my dad have this room. I took the smaller guest bedroom, above.
I guess if I were a family with two children, this place would have been the perfect setup. For a father and daughter traveling together though, there was no easy access to alcohol, which was a problem. There was no minibar and the bar at the clubhouse required a car to get there. (I often joke that my father would never survive a trip to Kuwait or Saudi Arabia. No red wine.) That being said, my bed was comfortable and the blackout curtains were awesome.
While in Orlando, we had lunch at the Copper Canyon Grill, where my order of rotisserie chicken was large enough to feed fourteen people. (America, this is why you’re fat. Really.) Our server also told us he was a green beret in Afghanistan, and my dad and my uncle, both servicemen themselves, thought he was lying. So that was awkward. (We didn’t tell him he was lying. We just discussed it during and afterwards.) Everything here was nice enough by big-box-chain-restaurant standards though. Speedy service, plenty of tap water, and they very easily dealt with our party of ten.
And before we sped off to the airport the next morning, we stopped at Denny’s at 11037 International Drive. (Remember, I’m not as sophisticated as you might think I am.) And I was again given pause for thought. Do you wonder why there is an obesity epidemic in America? Things like The Grand Slamwich exist, that’s why. Potato bread!! That being said, the service at Denny’s was super-chipper and speedy. There’s something about diner service in America: these servers are not precious, they’ve seen it all, and they are as flexible as flexible can be.
I was hungry. I was hungover. So I did it. I went to Harold’s. And I have no regrets about the chicken. The fries, maybe. But the chicken, NO.
I don’t know what they do to it. Some sort of breading. Some sort of deliciousness. Some sort of breaded delicious perfection. Some sort of MIRACLE HANGOVER CURE. That being said, the place is a shit hole. (Shithole?) Water dripping from the ceiling, ripped up stools, recycling that hasn’t been emptied for months. You know what I mean.
The guy at the counter did have some nice things to say about my eyes though. And he gave me some free fried catfish, which was AWESOME. You can love my eyes and give me free catfish anytime you want, mister.
The Verdict: If you are hungover and if you want to eat some chicken, you should order from here. Do not eat in; it is gross. And remember, quality takes time. These guys fresh fry everything. It will take time. A lot of time. Bring a newspaper. Or your iPhone. Or something.
Let’s talk about doing things differently in 2013. Let’s talk about being creative. Let’s talked about being INSPIRED. Being original Taking some risks. Let’s talk about brining HAM WITH COFFEE, sprinkling everything with New Orleans, and serving up the most delicious stuffed pig’s trotter (Zampone). Talk about that, think about that, and then tell me what you’re going to do differently in 2013.
I was in Miami for Labor Day back in September. It was a bad trip because I got monsterously ill. And I hated the hotel I was staying in, a hotel that made me question the value of TripAdvisor and wonder whether the hotel was paying people to write all those wonderful reviews. But I survived. And got a little tan in the process. Here’s where I ate, roughly in order of deliciousness:
Yardbird, 1600 Lennox Avenue: If I had been smart, I would have eaten here multiple times. Reservations were hard to come by, so bar seating for us. Yardbird is one of the new breed of southern-focused restaurants. I had — surprise — the fried chicken. But what really amazed me with its deliciousness was the salad with mango, pecans and tomatoes, all local to South Florida. Florida used to be all agriculture. Now it’s all strip malls and strip clubs. Yardbird reminded me of the old days. The Verdict: GO.
BLT Steak, 1440 Ocean Drive, at The Betsy: This is totally a chain, but I loved the peaceful plantation vibe and attentive service. Also, my delicious grilled cheese and tomato soup. All too often, people mess up grilled cheese. Not here. I had the place to myself on a weekday afternoon and I loved it. The Verdict: Very very nice.
The Dutch, 2201 Collins Avenue, in the W Hotel: I’m not quite sure why I did so much hotel eating, but I did. The Dutch is all white subway tile and feels like an old soda fountain. I love that. What I didn’t love? The food. Mainly because although I was one of the only diners, my corn chowder (bisque?) was served lukewarm. My pasta main was unmemorable. The Verdict: OK. More style than substance.
The Front Porch Cafe, 1458 Ocean Drive, in the Z Hotel: This place packs them in, and I’m really not sure why. If you like a dirty restaurant with inattentive service and a lot of people drinking heavily early in the morning, maybe this place is for you. I could barely touch my breakfast. Meh. The Verdict: Don’t go here.
Four very good restaurants in Chicago! All in a short time period. Amazing! Imagine me, doing a happy dance. Actually, don’t. That’s embarrassing. Now if only it was all just so much CHEAPER. Then you can imagine me dancing. Because really, Chicago, you are not as cheap as I thought you were. Listed roughly in order of deliciousness…
Carriage House, 1700 West Division: Like it so much, I’ve been here three times already. I love the Lyonnaise Salad, with its soft pillows of pork belly and salty, vinegary dressing in particular. It reminds me a lot of Yardbird in Miami Beach though, which is a bit weird. (Still haven’t written up my Miami trip. Sorry!) Either the design aesthetic is just an overall trend or Southern food is just an overall trend or something else is going on?? Anyhow, I don’t care really because it’s great to have a nice new spot in the neighborhood. Verdict: Go.
Au Cheval: 800 West Randolph. LOVE IT HERE. It reminds me of London. Not surprising after I figured out that they are part of Soho House. It was the Cowshed products in the ladies’ that gave it away. I saw the Cowshed and I actually teared up in the ladies’ room. It was all a little awkward, really. I’ve been back multiple times to have the bone marrow at the bar. Because that’s what I like to do, wander around town and eat bone marrow. The burger is pretty ace as well. Verdict: Go, but be mindful that they do not take reservations, so go early or late and do not take 12 people with you.
Trencherman: 2039 West North: I also love it here, although the food was best on my first visit. (That being said, on that first visit, it was my food — the short rib — that was great. My friend Amy’s pasta was so plain and boring, it was painful.) What I really like most about Trencherman is the bar. I like to just show up and eat at the bar. Sometimes, I massage the old white subway tile. My chicken thighs and grits just last week were very, very good. The Verdict: Great addition to the neighborhood. Go.
Grassfed, 1721 North Damen: My mother always told me never to buy white furniture. Grassfed has apparently never met my mother. For $25 for steak, frites, salad, and a huge chunk of garlic bread, this is a very good value. And a tasty one at that. I’d go again. The Verdict: If you, like me, like focused menus, go. If light hurts your eyes, stay away. So for example, I would never willingly choose Grassfed for a first, second, or third date. You don’t get to see my crows’ feet until much later, you know.
I’ve had some “meh” meals too lately. More about that in a later post. And hey, that picture above? It’s from the new Walgreen’s at North, Milwaukee and Damen. It’s in a old bank. So that’s cool.