Friday, May 28, 2010

Red Ivy

Whenever you're going to a baseball game (cubs game in this case), eating always becomes an important logistical question. Do you eat before the game, or do you go for dogs at the game (or maybe the new bison dogs if you're feeling adventurous)? If you're lucky you'll get a box like Golden College (although at a sox game) or get to sit on a rooftop like Schneider did a few nights ago and pig out to your heart's content. For those less fortunate souls, we have a tough call to make. Either way, you eventually get tired of dogs, and one of the more charming aspects to Wrigley is the assortment of bars and restaurants nearby. Many people will tell you to go to Lucky's because that's where they went on Man V. Food. I've been, and everything is far too salty. When Eric and I were looking to eat before the game this past Tuesday, we wanted to sit somewhere outside, get some good food, and get some cheap beer. We originally went to Sluggers, but all the good tables were taken. By the way, this made me furious since there were tables for two people, but all the parties of two people were sitting at the larger tables. To make this more clear, we had Schneider with us for drinking purposes and needed three seats.

Anyways, we walked around a little and came up to this place called Red Ivy. It didn't have outdoor seating, but the windows facing the street had basically been removed, giving it a somewhat outdoor feel.

Logistics
Red Ivy is a pretty large bar in accordance with what you might expect in Wrigleyville. There were numerous booths and raised bar tables, and in order to be near the outside we took a bar table. We were pretty early before the game, so we didn't really have any trouble getting seated. Our service was real quick since the bar wasn't all that crowded, and they had lots of waitresses working at the time. There was a general sense in the bar like most bars on Clark street, which was that everyone wanted to eat and get to the game.

In general it was a little more costly than I would've liked. Well, it was more that I would've liked a better drink deal. They had buckets of miller light (5) for $17 which I thought was alright until I saw that Goose Island had $8 pitchers. The sandwiches were all around $10 which was to be expected, but one thing that stood out as ridiculous was the prices for their supposedly famous pizza. A small pizza was somewhere around $20 and took 45 minutes to make. So we had two good reasons not to order it. One last logistic note: I somehow got the only seat with the sun hitting me in the face. I'm not saying this is the restaurants fault or anything. I'm just saying that it sucked.

The Food
Ordering from this waitress was pretty interesting. I first asked her how the Smoked Salmon Sandwich was. She responded that it's really disappointing. She then went on to trash the rest of the menu saying that unless you're going to get pizza, italian beef, or a burger that you may as well not eat. So it was pretty clear that the food wasn't going to be anything special from this great sell, but we'd already sat down and gotten drinks so we went through with it anyways.

 The Red Ivy Style Italian Beef

I ordered the Red Ivy Italian Beef Sandwich, and Eric got the Half Pounder. My meal was alright. The beef was a little on the dry side with an good spice rubbed flavor, and the toppings (kalmatta olives and marinara sauce) added nicely to the taste. The au jus on the side was pretty tasty as well. When I put the whole thing together with the au jus the sandwich came out pretty well. The fries were soggy, but clearly that was the style, which is acceptable but not preferable. There was some kind of spice mix on the fries that was definitely the highlight of the meal, but it wasn't good enough to redeem the restaurant. Eric's burger was nasty. I don't know what they were thinking when they put this together. The bun was dry and flavorless. The worst part about it was the overpowering taste of oregano. It was like biting into the oregano leaves when I fresh pick them from my garden, which is far to pungent and should never be the only flavor in a burger. The house made potato chips on the side were pretty good. I still don't know how Eric ate most of the burger.

 The Half Pounder

Overall
Bars near Wrigley Field are not rare. Good food near Wrigley isn't that rare either. It was kind of a bummer to shell out that much for a sandwich and a few beers, especially considering the quality of the food. Basically my message is don't waste your time at Red Ivy because there are so many better places. At the same time, if this were a bar near The Cell, I might suggest you go there. If you don't get the burger, it's pretty tolerable. The fries and beef are pretty good but not great. Also, our service was real good, and they clearly appreciated the need to get to the game. I'd give it 1.5 out of 5 Pearls.



Red Ivy (Palermo's) on Urbanspoon

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