Wednesday, February 29, 2012

McGill's Bar & Grill

-Grubbing in Chicago
Where the locals drink/eat.

Lenten season is here and although I eat meat whenever and wherever I want I still love the Friday fish fry's that come with it. I mean like Chris Rock said "I have a hard time believing my diet, what I eat, is going to decide my fate" Nonetheless too many dinners of fried fish and chips just may put you in your grave a little earlier than you had planned. So today we head to Albany Park over at Wilson and Pulaski to a longtime neighborhood bar, McGill's.

An Albany Park locals favorite

This is the type of bar that locals love to flock to for a few reasons. The first being the friendly familiar faces and service. On top of that I'm not sure there's a better bar in Chicago for daily drink specials thus creating a shitload of regulars. Some of these deals include $10 domestic buckets of beer every day. Then there's Craft Beer Thursday's when all craft beers are just $3 and the list is impressive for a place like this. It's not just cheap drinks at McGill's, the food is more than reasonable as well. It had been at least three probably more like four or five years since I had been here and I switched that up this past Friday. We went on in around 3p and the place was already filled with regulars. We started with some beers followed by an order of wings.

McGill's Chicken Wing Basket

After a few ice cold brews it was time to get down to business which would be my first Friday fish fry of this 2012 lenten season. McGill's is popular for theirs which is said to be the exact same recipe that the late Clancy's Pub & Grub on Lincoln ave used to use. One of the real nice options McGill's lets you have when ordering your fish fry is they let you choose if you want AYCE after the first batch. So if what you got the first time around wasn't enough fish to fill you up, then you can decide to have the all you can eat. Just like the rest of the menu, both food and drink, the Friday fish fry is a great deal at $7.50 and filled me up the first go around. The fish was hand battered and cooked to a piping hot temperature that was just right so that it still flaked. Count me a fan and one who would be a regular if I lived near McGill's. I'll be back.

McGill's Friday Fish Fry special

McGill's Bar and Grill
4553 N Pulaski ave
Chicago, IL 60630
(773) 478-6096

McGill's Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

Monday, February 27, 2012

Frankly Yours Original

--Got Beef? (and lamb)
KingT's gyro-tron

It's been some time since we took a ride on the gyro-tron. The reason for this is a few things among the fact that gyro meat for whatever reason always gives me heartburn. However that doesn't stop me from indulging in Chicago's favorite coned meat I just usually do it at my neighborhood place already featured. But I stopped in at the Original Frankly Yours in along Irving Park Road in Schaumburg a while back and remembered how much I love a good gyro dinner and also how lucky Chicagoland is to have countless options.

a longtime locals favorite in Schaumburg, IL

How many places similar to Frankly Yours have we visited since this foodventure began? The answer is countless places but to each their own and the people of the NW suburbs have been getting their guilty pleasures, Chicago style, from here for a while. They even serve beer and to go with that is all the other usual suspects including the hot dogs and gyros. Both of which are the way to go. Well actually the hot dog is just ok. It'd be great if it was a natural casing wiener but the fries are fresh cut and top notch, thus worth the calorie intake.

Chicago style hot dog from Frankly Yours

How Chicago became the center of the gyro cone world is a story for another post. I will reiterate that most every place gets their gyro meat from one of the gyro cone distributors here in Chicago which supply 1000's of stands here in the city and 1000's more around the country with gyro meat. It's rare for a place to make it homemade these days. So it's all about how the place prepares their meat. It should be sliced thin and browned well. This takes time so places that specialize in gyros and have a few cones supply better browned bits. A gyro dinner should include a massive amount of meat along with fries and a salad and pita bread too. Despite being named for a hot dog, the gyro sandwich (or dinner) is where Frankly yours shines.

Rating Scale: 5/5

Gyro meat: 4
tzatziki: 4
fries: 5
freshness of pita and toppings: 4

Score: 17/20

The Gyro Dinner - A Chicago Staple

Frankly Yours Original
1820 West Irving Park Road
Schaumburg, IL 60193
(847) 524-4380

Frankly Yours Original on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Pleasant House Bakery

-Grubbing in Chicago
Where everyone now eats.

Almost a year ago, Chicago, was blessed with yet another eating establishment that was sure to be in your regular rotation once you ate there. Even better than this was the fact 'The Pleasant House Bakery' didn't open up downtown, in River North or Lincoln Park but rather Bridgeport. A neighborhood that's known more so for being the home to the southsides pride and joy, the now Ozzie-less White Sox rather than hot food spots. Well the White Sox will suck this year as will baseball in Chicago. But that doesn't mean you cant get something good out of going to 35th and Shields when you go see the Sox play. You get to eat at Pleasant House.

Already a locals favorite at 31st and Keely

Actually you don't need a reason, like an invite to a White Sox game, to go to Bridgeport and try the pie place that's taking this neighborhood into the next millennium. Where it sits on 31st street at the corner is right next door to another great local stop, Maria's Community Bar. Here you can find some top notch American micro brews you wont find many other places and bring them in with you to Pleasant House. Better yet you can also order food from the Bakery and bring it with you into the bar at Maria's. There hasn't been a eat-drink side by side punch like this since Glascott's and the Athenian Room allowed one another customers to by the other.

Maria's Packaged Goods & Community Bar

Pleasant House is ran by a wonderful team including the owners, both husband and wife. This is their take "British blue collar food" However these are classically trained chefs so lets not assume this is how amazing it is at your average pub in the Borough of Brent. Everything is here is taken to another level and made with the love and passion to have for what it is you day that makes places like these so special. It's not just the food they take to that level but also the housemade sodas and the bath and body products like lip balm and salts. In fact the owner/chef and some friends have their own urban garden where many of the produce used for the dishes at the restaurant come from. Inside it's small but the tables turnover quick and as mentioned you can always order to eat at Maria's Bar next door.

The view waiting in line to order

The Sausage Rolls are BOMB!

Beauty Products

The main attraction at PHB are the 'Royal Pies' and they live up to the hype, all you gotta do is ask around. I don't remember a place that was agreed upon as great by as many people in a while. They make three different pies regularly and each is available until they run out that day. The first one we'll take a peak at is the Chicken Balti. This is a classic English take of a chicken pot pie in which they include curry powder. According to another article I read on PHB this particular type of curry is specific to Birmingham England and was brought over by Pakistani immigrants. Along with the chicken and curry it has additional spices including cumin and cardomon and also tomatoes added in. This English version of chicken pot pie does not include cream but the side of chutney that it comes with might be better than cream anyways.

Chicken Balti Pie

The Insides

Possibly my favorite thing on the menu is the "Pleasant Poutine" as I call it. Described on the menu board as "Deluxe Gravy Chips" this is a mighty bowl of many eats. The twice fried potato wedges get covered with real housemade gravy, chopped tender bits of skirt steak and then shreds of real cheddar are dropped on and allowed to melt which makes this one of the best potato based dishes anywhere. They don't do it like this in Canada, not when I was there anyway. What would piss the Canucks off more, not winning the gold in hockey or not having the best poutine in North America?

'Pleasant Poutine'

Not only wouldn't you expect to find a place like PHB in Bridgeport but you would think that if you did, they would be meat-centric based. Maybe a sausage shop in the mold of Hot Doug's? But that's not the case as they continue to push the norm. I haven't had the pleasure of trying one of their fresh green salads for the day but they get the same raves that the kale and mushroom pie (veggie friendly) does and some people, even the meat eaters, claim this one as their favorite. Let's just put it this way, if I ever became a Veg-Head, PHB would be an option. Let me just say this too, it always will be an option and those options will always include cold pork pot pie, Steak & Ale pies and sausage rolls too.

Inside the Kale-Mushroom Pie (Pic by: Ronnie_Suburban @LTHforum)

The regular menu pie for the beef lover is their Steak & Ale offering. Inside goes all natural beef, ale, carrots and herbs. As far as my favorite it just depends which one I feel like. The crust on all of the pies is as good as it gets when it comes to flaky greatness and as KennyZ from Fuckerberg on Food said over at LTH "Not much to add to what's already been written, but Pleasant House makes what is to me the platonic ideal of a pie crust. They make it difficult to eat pie from anywhere else." Thursday and Saturday of each week is 'Special Pie Day' where a pie filled with other great flavor combinations (not on the regular menu) is featured. I'm waiting for a classic American Chicken Pot Pie 'Pleasant House Style' to be offered on Pie Day (wink, wink).

Steak & Ale Pie with Buttered mint peas

The Insides

Oh yes it's the pies that shine especially when your an English 'bakery' serving dinner style pies but that's not all they do here folks. Each night they're open (Tues-Sun.) they have a specials night on the menu. Tuesday is burger day and as anyone who's a regular reader on here knows...I am the Burger King. It took me quite a few Tuesdays to pass by before I could finally get over there for what many people were calling "one of the cities best" When I did make it over to try the burger special it was excellent. One of the more desirable burgers over $10 I've had from anywhere and it was only a buck or so above that. House ground chuck is served on an English muffin with housemade bacon, cheddar cheese and a fried egg as well as greens from the garden.

Tuesday Burger Special

Then there's also the Scotch egg's which are magnificent. These too are the best variation of this dish that I have seen and that's due to their cooking process. They manage to make them so that the egg yolk inside the hard boiled egg with sausage wrapped around it is still runny. I've never had one served this way before but I now believe all places should make Scotch Eggs like these.

A Pleasant House Scotch Egg

I cant decide what night is my favorite specials night but I can tell you their Friday night fish fry is among the best in town. You see a trend here? I'm always on the prowl for a good offering of Fish n' Chips and when I heard about PHB and how good theirs was it was what finally got me in. I was there for the fry before I ate a pie and it was then and there I realized how good the rest of the menu must be. It took me back to Bayfield WI as I was surprised to find my expertly fried piece of fish, sitting atop a mound of potatoes for which you can say the same, was Lake Superior whitefish. Top it all off with homemade tarter sauce and it's a reason to go to every Friday night White Sox home game going on this year if your a season ticket holder. Just know the fish is as good as it will get. Yes I know, no need to comment, Cubs suck too. Agreed.

Friday Night Fish Fry Special

LinkWhere's the Pie truck? @PHbakery

Then there's Sunday's. 'Carvery day' starts at 3p right after high tea begins. That's served around 2p with reservations required for tea but not to eat the weeks house roasted meat selection which comes served alongside house sides. On a Sunday I stumbled in they happened to be doing a take on 'Porchetta' and it was phenomenal. The carvery dinner costs a almost double what most other menu items do but this was a huge piece of pork cooked until tender enough to not fall apart. Inside it was stuffed with herbs and seasonings but this was not boneless and came cut from the loin bone in. You can see it but cant taste. Cheers to Pleasant House and a long, long southside run.

Sunday Carvery Day (A take on Porchetta)

Pleasant House Bakery
964 West 31st St
Chicago, IL 60608
(773) 523-7437 (PIES)

Pleasant House Bakery on Urbanspoon

Friday, February 17, 2012

The chibbqking Tuna Melt

--Tailgatin' and how to make mofos start playa hatin' (Recipes)

The tuna melt was what made me realize that canned tuna isn't so bad after all. Well what really did was the discovery of what a real canned tuna product is and it aint that "dead chicken floating in the sea" or "SlobKist" crap you see on most US grocery store shelves. But even so, I'm not nor never will be a fan of straight from the can, throw it into the bowl and eat tuna. I like to make a salad first and then put that on or into some bread, be it an Italian tuna salad sub or a tuna melt...done my way.

a chibbqking Tuna Melt is served open faced on a toasted English muffin

Ingredients for Melts (Use as much tuna as you need to feed)

- Real Canned Tuna (found in most Italian grocery stores)
- Package of English Muffins (One muffin per sandwich)
- Cheese of your choice (I prefer American or Cheddar)
- Bacon (cooked crisped and set aside)

Note: When I made these for three people I used three large cans (at bottom in picture) and there was enough for one sandwich each for four people. So this is what I base these measurements on.

My preferred brand (Italian) found easily in Chicagoland

Ingredients for Tuna Salad (can be made ahead)

- Celery and Green Onions (Produce Needed)

What you see is what you need + tuna and mayo

Note: I didn't have them but do like to use capers in my recipe too.


1) Start out by finely chopping a batch of green onions down as well as a couple sticks of celery and a sport pepper or two. Throw that into a bowl and then chop down about 4/5 Cornichons aka tiny Pickled French cucumbers. These work great and are a key to my tuna salad tasting so good. Add those to the bowl and set aside.

2) Empty the canned tuna packed in olive oil into a bowl and follow that with what you think is the right amount of as I call it my "tuna salad trinity" (green onions, celery and Cornichons). I like it so that there's some crunch to my salad. Plus if you got them and like spice use the sport peppers for heat.

3) Follow that with adding in a spoonful of mayo at a time until it's just right, which in my book is after maybe two or three. You don't want too much mayo and can always add more so go slow at first.

4) After that throw in the sweet pickled relish a spoon or so at a time tasting it as you do until ready and then squeeze a tablespoon or two of yellow mustard into the mix and mash it all up and season until it's ready to go. Then, this is key too, take a shot glass or so's worth of the pickled cornichon juice and empty that into the mix and mash. If you have the Vienna Beef sport peppers do the same with the juice from that.

Tuna Salad ready to go

Directions for making Melts (Serve with tater tots)

1) Start off by getting your tots baked and your bacon crisped. When that's ready you can toast the English muffins and spread them with butter when done.

2) Add a decent amount of tuna salad to each split end of the English muffins and then top that with the crisped bacon and a piece of the cheese you choose to use.

3) The best way to melt the cheese is to broil them for a few minutes but you could bake them too, just don't toast them all the way thru before.

4) Serve with a side of tater tots or potato chips and enjoy!

Note: Make sure your tuna salad is at room temperature and not fresh out the fridge when putting it onto the muffins. Otherwise it'll be cold in the middle while the cheese and toast are hot.

"bacon makes everything better" tuna melts

See ya next time @chibbqking

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Mr. Gee's

-Oh Yeah, I've been there too...
A PoPo's favorite on the NW side

A popular stop along Fullerton ave on the NW Side

Neighborhood: Hermosa
Cuisine: Chicago Style Fast Food & Grilled Chicken
Price Range: $5-$10
Would I go again? Yes and if I was on the beat in the neighborhood I'd get there often

I've only stopped in once to Mr. Gee's after passing it by 100's of times. It's located in a small strip mall on the 44oo block of West Fullerton and as seen in the opening picture it's very visible at night with all of it's lights.

Chicken is their claim to fame but that's not all they do

The "BBQ on demand!" slogan is a little misleading since this isn't real deal smoked meat aka bbq but rather just grilled chicken which is their claim to fame. That and the fact this place will never be robbed, although in todays America with the idiots we got, you can never say never. But I say this becasue this is where the local police man patrolling the neighborhood love to stop in at for lunch whatever hour that is. I've seen them in the parking lot while driving by and on my visit there were three separate groups coming in and out while I waited. It's Greek owned so the best menu items are the Greek ones. Me and brother split a few things starting with the skirt steak dinner and sandwich.

Mr. Gee's Skirt Steak Dinner

Skirt Steak Sandwich

Everything was really filling and nothing was bad so I'd say it was pretty good. Your not expecting anything but that when you come to these family owned fast but not crap food joints around Chicago. The steak could of been cooked a little less but again it was good and at the price about what I would expect. Same for the sandwich which is what I would get next time if I wanted beef. I've always liked boneless dark meat from Japanese and Hawaiian style food spots so that's what I went with here when I saw they do a charbroiled version and offer it with both rice and cottage fries. Again, I got what I was expecting and enjoyed it for what it was. Another quality Chicago style fast food joint that's nice to have in the neighborhood. I'll add it to the massive ever growing list.

Boneless charbroiled dark meat chicken dinner

Mr. Gee's
4440 West Fullerton ave
Chicago, IL 60639
(773) 235-1166

Monday, February 13, 2012

LP Cupcake Shops

-Grubbing in The Chi
The Cupcake Scene.

Happy Monday readers and the rest. Today were going to go a little bit off track away from the spots I specialize in. We're going to visit as couple Lincoln Park cupcake shops in case anyone out there needs a last second Valentines Day gift and the person your courting loves them some cupcakes. I was talking last night with a couple people and they explained the cupcake trend began in NYC when a popular shop there was featured on Sex & the City. I guess soon thereafter the craze began and cupcake places started popping up all over here in Chicago and elsewhere. So today we visit two of them, both of which are doing very well. There's almost always lines at these spots and people (especially ladies) love them.

A LP favorite on Clark street

Molly's opened up back in 2008 to much hype and also delight. They've lived up to it, I like this place and when there isn't a wait and I'm riding by, I usually stop. They also have a location in New York City. Started by a guy who fondly remembers his 3rd grade teacher and the cupcakes she made whenever it was one of her students birthdays. I'm not a expert in the baking game or trendy new spots on the scene but damn this place is great. Fresh ingredients, baked daily are parts of the reason I would highly recommend this place for cupcakes.

Molly's Red Velvet Cupcake (Voted best in Chicago according to Chi Magazine)

Box of goodies incl. my favorites blueberry cheesecake and Apple Pie (top)

Next up is Sweet Mandy B's, the place that started the craze in Chicago, they were up and running before most any of these now popular cupcake spots were around. It's not just cupcakes here and they consider themselves an "old fashioned dessert" place. The folks behind this LP hotspot started baking treats in their own kitchen and then started up their shop which has some real nostalgia to it. I like stopping in her with a lady friend and enjoying a treat before the real dessert comes later. Honestly everything here I've had has been great and they even sell cups of just the frosting, gotta love that. Lets take a look.

A LP favorite on Webster street

A Happy Hallmark Holiday to all (Strawberry buttermilk 'cake, Blueberry Apple Pie)

See ya next time @chibbqking

Molly's Cupcakes
2536 North Clark Street
Chicago, IL 60614
(773) 883-7220

Molly's Cupcakes on Urbanspoon

Sweet Mandy B's
1208 West Webster
Chicago, IL 60614
(773) 244-1174

Sweet Mandy B's on Urbanspoon


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