Last Tuesday we went to Chicago. It was a last-minute decision. Total whim. Chicago is it's own thing. It lacks pretense and is full of purposeful architecture. The river running through the city creates such a wonderful travel experience for the pedestrian and biker. Luckily, the city started it's own public bike system last year, so we got to see the city by bike. Riding around in perfect Summer weather, stopping to check out a couple of art exhibitions, wandering into restaurants that were recommended.
The two stand-out restaurants that I went to were The Publican and Au Cheval. I received a tip from a friend (and chef) back in LA, Lydia Burkhalter. She suggested I try the homemade bologna sandwich at Au Cheval, in the meat packing district. It was unreal. The soft, thin, slightly-sauteed slices of the delicately-spiced mortadella were velvety and sweet. Layered high on a soft, eggy brioche bun, with oozy cheddar and a bit of mornay sauce, it was not the bologna you think of from that sad sack lunch from 5th grade. It was a delicacy. It was an honest sandwich, mirroring what Chicago feels like, honest and meat-loving.
I tried the roasted chicken & sausage on fries at The Publican and, in the words from fellow TofC contributor Sam Grawe, this had the best juices. Don't miss this place! The thinly sliced Benton's country ham (Tennessee) with goat butter on housemade German-style bread, was pure joy. Salty and sweet, melting on my tongue, on par with the Iberican hams in Spain. The avocado, kale, carrot, and toasted peanut with tahini dressing was better than the kale salads back in California. They nailed it. Chicago nailed it. Skip a white table cloth table for lunch and hit these spots instead. You won't regret it.