17. April 2011 04:47
Each one of his books has killed him a little more, said Norman Mailer quotably. And each one of these experiences has killed me a little too. Not because I poured into them a limited life’s essence but because I eat and drink to immobility, sampling everything so you don’t have to.
They cooked up some truly truly great fried chicken. Some excellent red rice and beans. Waffles and omelets that left none to be desired and deserts – well, I wish I could have given them a thorough tasting. Perhaps if I had four chambers in my stomach I could have. But then again, the stomach chambers of my cow-gods don’t really accept the salivated product of esophagus in parallel so I’m not sure how this would be advantageous unless one simply assumes that they have bigger serial ports due to their overall bigger size. That kinda makes sense. Anyway, this is irrelevant. I was astounded with just how good buffet brunch was. So good that the most unimaginative and bland thing served was bacon. Wow. That was actually typed and not deleted. That fact carries more weight than the statement itself. My only advice would be to not fill up with the early plates of lunch.
Everyone does it. HOB is no exception. Every single AYCE buffet in the history of dining wants you to fill on cheap and not expensive. Pasta Salad = cheap. Omelets = expensive. Lox = cheap. Carving Station = Expensive. Why else do you think things appear in the order that they do? Do NOT fill up on pasta salad or the heap of bacon or any other damn thing in the communal pots. EXCEPT the fired chicken. This was not given the reverence it deserved. Every piece should have been served in a numbered case. Have you been to Table 52 on Monday night? Art has nothing on this fried chicken. Thick, crispy, delicious batter. Flesh: tender and not even dreamt of overcooked. It peels off the bone as though it were osso buco. And rides down your throat like, well, it depends, or this simile is stillborn. You owe it to yourself to try it. Just not if you’re in line ahead of me.
Of course, now we knew we were coming to an area of discomfort. It was, after all a Gospel Brunch. And Gospel, either way it is defined, is absolutely useless to me. You want to spread the good word of your savior? I’d rather see you spread your legs. You want to sing in my ear while I’m trying to hear the crunch of batter? I’m going to stick my index finger up your nostril until about the second knuckle. If you deprive me of audio I actually wish to hear, I will deprive you of some other inputs and overload them with offense. But knowing that, as social creatures, we often tend to settings with a soundtrack, I cannot knock this one. It’s the HOB and it’s a Gospel Brunch and it reminded me of a set from Glee and you know, I’m one of 2 people I know who feel about music as I do. Clearly it has some merit or you humans would not keep making it. Just as long as you keep making the fried chicken, I don’t really give a veal shank.
8. April 2011 03:15
As you walk onto the Belden-Stratford, you notice there is something…not…quite…right. There’s a little too much noise over there…somewhere in the corner. Not anything that would have ever been permitted in the days of Ambria. Indeed, the ghosts of Lincoln Park West Past should haunt this place forever. Because it’s the best meal they’ll ever have.
And why wouldn’t it be? Have you some insider information? Well shut the front door. Riverdance survived the swan song (and dance) of Michael Flatley. James Bond spies onward with the rise and setting of 5 stars. And L2O is still, after its chef’s departure, the finest meal most of us will ever have. Ghosts included.
Rarely do the founders make the best businesspeople. It wasn’t the teacher-trio who started Starbucks that built a few stores into a global brand. It wasn’t the McDonald brothers, operational geniuses that they were, that created the foremost icon of America. Nor is a single firm that laid the final mile of DSL copper still in business. The best entrepreneurs very rarely make even adequate managers. The Gateses, Dells and Waltons are few and ever scarcer. And growth in the restaurant business is an exercise in the battle between the artists and accountants. The problem arises when the founder can’t scale up the creativity to accommodate the increase in demand. It is fine to insist that every item leaving kitchens is perfection on a plate but not when this makes for miserable chefs/staff/owners because the misery’s contagious – the customers can tell. We can tell. Trust us.
I would like to talk more about this dining evening the review of which is 2 months in the making. I simply haven’t the vocabulary. Those who know me know that this admission means something. I have vocabulary for most things but not this experience. And I can’t in good faith, hold up any more deserved reviews. All I can tell you is that this was, and still remains, the best meal of my 35 years. Rock-star chef’s departure non-withstanding. For those that must: we had the seasonal tasting menu. This consisted of 3 creatures of the sea, 1 overfed duck liver, a Korean something, a fungus and 2 desserts. And regarding those who may wish to inflict ridicule upon the creatures overfed, know this: all of earth’s biomass survives at our pleasure or consumption. Korea sucks but their food rocks. So do their movies. Anyway, did you just take a breath? 2/3 of the cells you aspirated were fungal and since you’re likely in America, you’re a fat mofo and could use 50% of the two desserts we had. Which were caramelized apple and a grand mariner soufflé. See? Even the Lincoln Parkies know how to feed their drunks to death. After this, despite our good intentions, we went home. Which takes some doing. We really didn’t need that 4th bottle of Sake with our meal but my date said we did and I’ve known her for a little while and would like to keep my head…
In that vein, my woman has never know the pleasure of an oyster. RAW. Until this day. Had there been no more b-day presents (like her paying the tab), I would have assumed this mine. Except, she hated it. She made seem like it was kicking and screaming its way down her gullet. Until I told her that they haven’t the skill of motion. I think I made out fairly well. Don’t you?
Then it was all my fault.