Monday, November 25, 2013

Sunny Side Up

Location: 42 E Superior
Cost: About $18 per person

This brunch spot, Sunny Side Up, opened right across the street from my apartment building a little while back. I've walked by it a bunch of times and either I was in a hurry or there was a big line outside. So I hadn't tried it out until this past weekend. Jenny and I strolled over there and put our names down.

Sunny Side Up is on the second floor of what must have been a cool little walk up apartment in the past. The bro manning the host stand told us the wait would be 35 minutes, but 10 minutes later we had a table. This might seem like a good thing, but we were just about to leave because of the long estimate. Once we got seated, the food took 40 minutes to come out which is totally unacceptable for a breakfast spot. It's OK though because during the wait we got a show from the manager chastising one of the bus boys while they cleaned up a neighboring table together. The portions are good, but the cost is a few more bucks than most comparable places in town.

The Food
Jenny ordered the Chicago Way which is their name for the basic breakfast combo, and I got the Sunny Side Up Baguette. She went with her eggs scrambled and got the english muffin. The eggs were really very bad. They had that darker yellow film on the outside that you see at hotel breakfast buffets. The only jelly they had for her muffin was grape, which we all know no one really wants. The sausages were overcooked and very dry. The potatoes, on the other hand, were fantastic. They had a nice crisp and well balanced seasoning. My Sunny Side Up Baguette was a spin on the traditional eggs benedict. Obviously there was a baguette at the base with goat cheese spread, poached eggs, hollandaise sauce, tomato slices, and balsamic dressing. The concept was pretty interesting with a great spin from the dressing. Still, one of the eggs was spot on runny while the other was closer to a soft boiled egg. Again, my potatoes were fantastic.

The Sunny Side Up Baguette

The Chicago Way

We had a horrible experience at Sunny Side Up. It was really unfortunate since I live right next door, and this easily could have become a regular place. Between the wait for our food, the display with the bus boy, and the mistakes throughout our meal I will not be going back. I'm giving them 0.5 out of 5 Pearls.

Sunny Side Up & Coffee Shop on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Taco Joint

Location: 1969 N Halsted
Cost: About $20 per person

Now that both Jenny and The Professor live in Lincoln Park, I'll be lucky if I ever get to eat a meal near my apartment again. The other weekend when Erika was in town, the four of us all went out to grab a bite. In the epic battle of laziness between us North siders, Jenny won. We ended up at right around the corner from her apartment at Taco Joint.

Taco Joint has been around for a little bit, but because The Hungry Hound gave it a mediocre review, I never hurried over. This time, I got there before everyone because of my family bred neuroticism. The wait was about 45 minutes on a Saturday night, which really isn't that unreasonable. There's plenty of street parking. Lucky for us, we were able to take over the corner of the bar and never ended up needing a table. The cost is reasonable for designer tacos. You'll probably spend about $10 per person on entrees and a few more bucks for a drink and appetizer.

The Food
We all started off with some variation of a margarita. The drinks were creative and not light on the booze. From there, we tried the Tradicional and the Rojo Guacamole. The tradicional was pretty good with a balance of lime and cilantro while the rojo was a bit bland despite the attempt at spicy red sauce on top. The textures were right, but the flavors were toned down.

For the main course the Ericas split a bunch of tacos, Jenny got the Chicken Torta, and I got the Pulled Pork Tamale. My tamale was large with a delicate pulled pork inside the masa. The crema and frisee salad on top lightened up the dish well. Jenny's sandwich was definitely the value buy of the meal. The bun was well grilled with a nice rub on the chicken and well cooked peppers. It was on the milder side which was right up Jenny's alley. I also made everyone try out the Elotes. The parmesan and mayo was a little heavy, but expectedly so.

Taco Joint has a good variety of options. I think the tamale was my favorite item, but a lot of the dishes we got were pretty bland. The tacos were hit or miss and I wouldn't get the guac again. Still, you can put down a few solid drinks and sandwich for cheap. I'm giving Taco Joint 2.5 out of 5 Pearls.

Taco Joint on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Rub's Backcountry Smokehouse

Location: 6954 N Western
Cost: About $15 per person

I'd like to start today's post off with a big thanks to Josh Finkle (the man who saved Jeff Eats Chicago). Due to a mix up with my google admin account, I was within a matter of hours to having my domain dissolved or whatever happens when you don't pay for your .com account. Josh and his fancy "computer skills" figured things out just in the nick of time, so THANKS AGAIN!

That being said, I'm very excited about today's post. You may recall some mention of my working out in the Western suburbs at Macneal Hospital to start the year off. One of the surgeons there, Dr. Cho, has even more food knowledge than I do. He got a gift for a meat smoking course at Rub's Backcountry Smokehouse, and upon returning gave it a really strong recommendation. So the other day, I met my parents in Rogers Park to dig into some solid BBQ.

Rub's is right on the corner of Western and Lunt. It's pretty small and easy to miss if you're not looking. There's plenty of street parking. They've got this little patio out front, but it was way too cold the night we went. They've got a large communal table to one side and a row of tables along the other wall. The wait staff is really friendly, and it's BYOB. Apparently, some diners misconstrued the meaning of BYOB and brought in their own Sweet Baby Ray's instead of booze. I couldn't believe they tolerated that, but those people were missing out on the solid sauce options anyways. The cost is really cheap. The three of us ordered a huge portion of the menu, and our bill barely broke $50.

The Food
We didn't waste time on apps and dove straight into the main course. We got the St. Louis Ribs, the Smoked Sausages, the Brisket, and the Pulled Chicken Sandwich not to mention the Mac n' Cheese, the Baked Beans, the Coleslaw, and the Custard Filled Cornbread. All of the meats were incredibly smokey. The ribs made you work for the meat just the right amount. They weren't all that saucy, but they had a selection of side options to dip. My favorite was probably the South Carolina mustard style sauce. The sausages had a crisp casing that had somewhat separated itself from the meat in a way that heavy smoking can do. They were juicy and flavorful. The Chicken had a complex dry rub packing a flavor all its own, and despite the bun was not dry in the least. The mac n' cheese was probably my least favorite item and was way too heavy on the bread crumb topping. The cornbread on the other hand was awesome. The custard filling was really unique and the little kernels of corn strewn throughout made for a great texture.

The St. Louis Ribs

 The Mac n' Cheese

 The Smoked Sausage

 The Custard Filled Cornbread

The Brisket

 The Pulled Chicken Sandwich

Since we hadn't had enough to eat, we went for some Smoked Apple Crisp for dessert (I'd wanted the cobbler, but they were out). The crisp came in a little pan topped with plenty of vanilla ice cream. The dish had a great balance of hot and cold with a ton of sweetness.

The Smoked Apple Crisp

Rubs was easily one of the best BBQ meals I've had in a long time. With exception of the mac n' cheese, the meal was spot on. Plus, it was probably the least expensive sit down BBQ I've had in the city. I'm giving them 4.5 out of 5 Pearls.

Rub's Backcountry Smokehouse on Urbanspoon