Home Authors Posts by Brent Donaldson
Of all the ways a Loyola University student can blow money in Chicago, one of the best is at Carmen’s Pizza on North Sheridan Road. Located just across from the main campus, their stuffed pizza features a tsunami of über-gooey cheese and “toppings” pressure-sealed between two flaky layers of ultra-buttery crust and finished off with a bold, chunky, house-made sauce. It’s pricey, it takes forever, it’s laughably fattening, and it is damned tasty.
Concerning restaurateurs and sadomasochists: I don’t question whether sados make the best restaurant owners or whether owners simply tend to be sado. All I’m saying is that until I had experienced the killer Sunday brunch at Take the Cake (TTC), I considered the occupations indelibly bound. But now, after eating steak and eggs prepared with 100 percent real love, I realize my miscalculation.
Suddenly it seems as if pad Thai and spring rolls are the new roast beef and mashed potatoes. You can’t throw a pot sticker in Hyde Park or Oakley without hitting a restaurant that serves them. Are we drawn to the allure of health that’s associated with Asian cuisine—a myth drowned in the deep fryer? Who knows.
After opening in a funky Walnut Hills flatiron building in the late 1980s, the little gourmet pizza spot called ZZ’s Pizza Company quickly established a cult following. The narrow dining room with its odd angles and high ceiling was charming, and the owners, Bill Enz and Tom Rehme, had lots of friends and were outgoing and a touch eccentric.
Two years ago, reporting on bluegrass and barbecue in Owensboro, Kentucky, I took a tour of the massive kitchen of the hallowed Old Hickory Bar-B-Q. I shouldn’t have done it. As a former long-time vegetarian (I realize that I just lost cred with the hardcore carnivores), I didn’t have the intestinal fortitude to appreciate real barbecue in its raw form. But cooked?
Roughly two billion years ago, single-celled organisms engaged in the first intra-species competition for natural resources. Today, for the betterment of all carnivores, competing members of our species are engaged in a similar task: creating this city’s best hamburger.
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