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Brent Donaldson


Death and the Maid

He was rich, brilliant, and as solitary as a hermit. Then Walter Sartory opened his door to a cleaning lady and her son. First he lost his moorings. Then he lost his life.

Bourbon House Pizza

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.

Ko-Sho Restaurant

Yukio Fukunaga, the owner and head chef of Ko-Sho Restaurant in Northside, used to prepare his signature sukiyaki in the traditional Japanese fashion: at the customer’s table. “The idea is, you eat, and talk, and drink, and it’s a long meal,” he says.

Take The Cake

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.

Weeknight: Siam Orchid

Editor's Note: This was originally published in the April 2010 issue.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...

ZZ’s Pizza Company

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...

Hamburger Mary’s Bar & Grille

Confidence and character can go a long way in some places. In sales, for example, or private contracting in Iraq, or waiting tables at a gay-friendly bar and restaurant. But in any of those fields, you’ve got to have the chops to back up the bravado.

Walt’s Barbeque

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?

Gordo’s Pub & Grill

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.

Tostado’s Grill

The bartender at Tostado’s Grill was singing “Purple Rain” when my 5-year-old son head-banged his chin into the table and started bawling. It was unfortunate because the bartender was actually pulling off a pretty decent karaoke rendition of the Prince classic, and my son injured himself in the process of showing his sincere appreciation.