Saturday, 4 May 2019

Lazy Chicago Saturday

Having propped my eyelids open until my midnight minimum, sleep is uninterrupted. Even by the regular rattling of Blue Line trains virtually under my window.

I checked out the breakfast options yesterday. When not included in the room rate, I prefer to eat outside the hotel. Somewhere diner-like. I do love me an old-fashioned diner. It’s like being in a film set in the 1950s.

Just around the corner is a place called Dove's Luncheonette. A modern, slightly trendy take on a diner. “Southern-inspired Mexican cuisine”, whatever that is, it claims to provide. But there are some diner-like items on the menu.

I sip on my coffee and stare at the menu. Either the typeface is slightly too small or my eyes aren’t working properly yet.

“Do you have anything that includes eggs and bacon?”

The waitress smiles patiently and points to the egg and bacon option. She must think I’m a total idiot. Or in denial about needing glasses. In my defence, it is almost the last item on the menu.

Eggs, bacon and grits. That’ll do nicely. Not sure about the grits element. Never quite got my head around the point of them. Pure ballast? What the hell. There’ll be bacon and eggs. I can always leave the grits on the side of the plate. Or have them doggy-bagged up and dump them in the nearest rubbish bin. I hate to appear impolite or unimpressed by leaving food on my plate.

The two eggs – over easy, as always – are perched on a bed of grits. Almost hidden, the grits don’t look that unappetising. And there’s bacon. You can never go wrong with bacon in the morning.

A slightly odd breakfast, but pretty nice. I even finished up all my grits, like a good boy.

The selection of mezcal is huge. "Could you recommend one?" I ask my waitress. She can and does. One made especially for them, Banhez house reposado. She’s still smiling patiently. Though now she probably assumes that my confusion is substance-induced rather than eyesight-related.

The mezcal is served, like in Deep Ellum’s mezcal bar, in a little shallow earthenware bowl. That's pretty cool.

I do some lazing in my hotel room. Watching some crap TV, fiddling on my laptop, sipping some hotel whisky. If there’s one thing I know how to do, it’s while away the day in a frivolous fashion.

I'm in no rush. Absolutely nothing planned today. So I wander down to the offie me and Mike dropped in yesterday to get some whiskey for Andrew.  Brilliant selection and reasonable prices. What’s not to like?

Whiskey literally in the bag, I trundle to Piece, a nearby brewpub. Though I have trouble spotting it. As it’s snowing, I’m not going to piss around. I ask a passerby. Turns out it’s just over the road. But there’s no sign with something as explanatory as “Piece” or “brewery” on it. Just a weird symbol. There’s a good way of avoiding custom.

Where I park my fat, ancient arse at the bar. Time for a beer. Or two. And to get out of the weather.

Because it's snowing. It's fucking snowing. Just a couple of days until May and it's fucking snowing.

Piece is an industrially large echoey sort of place. And appears to be quite popular with those of a younger persuasion. Nothing wrong with that. I get to look at their perky youthfulness. In return they get to admire my flabby belly. Pretty sure I know who’s getting the better deal.

What to try first? Quarters Mostly (West coast American Pale Ale), Moose Knuckle (American Style Barley Wine) or Golden Arm (German-style Kolsch Bier)? The latter, I think. Leaves me the most scope for righteous indignation. And I don’t want anything to strong to kick things off. Not after the hotel whisky.

Golden Arm
Not sure how much it resembles a Kölsch. But the locals are friendly and it’s fucking snowing outside. I’m not going nowhere. Happy times. Probably as close to Kölsch as guacamole is to mushy peas. Right colour, similar texture, but not something you’d want with your pie and chips.

I’ve a belly full of whisky, a bug full of whiskey and a mind as empty as Boris Johnson’s morals jar. Two days in Chicago with not one fucking thing planned. Ace, acety ace. Just me, the US and my appetite and thirst. Coolerific, as the kids never say. One of the biggest relaxy times I’ve had in the US for years.

The beer may not be particularly Kölsch-like. But what the hell. At least they don’t describe it as an Ale. After the morning whisky I need to dial things back a bit. Or I’ll be on my back. At least my hotel is just over the road. I’m not going far today. Especially with the fucking snow. Did I mention that it’s fucking snowing. Have I gone back to Winterland?

Do you like this bollocks I write while I’m down the pub? I’m not sure I do. Is my travel writing a complete waste of time? Maybe. But I enjoy it. The writing and the travel. I really do.

Time for another beer. Maybe step things up.

Quarters Mostly 7.5% ABV
As it’s billed as American-style, not much scope for me to go into throbbing temple mode. It comes in a cheaty Nonic glass. Maybe it’s a US pint. It certainly fucking ain’t an Imperial pint. It has that American hop thing going on. Luckily the fruity one, rather than the disinfectant one. Anyone remember Izal toilet paper? One particular hop always reminds me of that. Is it Citra or Mosaic?

Just noticed. This place is full of white people. Don’t get me wrong. I’m a white people. But it isn’t very diverse.

It seems about time to eat again. I don’t fancy pizza, which rather limits my options. Think I’ll get another beer while I have a think.

Moose Knuckle
Another step up. It’s thick and strong. Full of alcoholy goodness. Should strengthen me up nicely for confronting the snow later.

Food time. A roasted turkey breast sandwich. “Whole breast turkey, slow roasted to perfection, sliced thick and served with gorgonzola, crispy bacon, lettuce, tomato, and pesto” the description goes. Crispy bacon – is there any other kind? It’s a quite reasonable $8.95. Especially as it comes with crisps.

I can’t manage to get all my sandwich down. My appetite isn’t what you’d call man-sized. More sparrow-sized. I never eat much when on holiday. Other than a shitload of bacon for breakfast. I get the leftovers packaged up to take back to my hotel. And no, I won’t be dumping it in a bin on the way. It’ll be my tea.

When I get outside, it’s still fucking snowing. Just as well my hotel is so close.

Back in my room, I while away the evening with bad TV and good whisky. Occasionally going to the window to observe the blizzard outside.

Slumber slowly ascends from my toes and sleep shakes my hand.

Dove's Luncheonette
1545 N Damen Ave,
IL 60622.
Tel: +1 773-645-4060

Piece Brewery
1927 W North Ave,
IL 60622.
Tel: +1 773-772-4422


Anonymous said...

Yes, I enjoy your travel thoughts and beery words. :)

Mike said...

You were about 30 years too late for the Busy Bee. Great breakfast of blood/barley sausage, eggs and potatoes. A favorite of Chicago pols that later spent time in Club Fed.

Mike said...

30 years late for that Busy Bee. Egsz blood/barley sausage and potatoes is the best breakfast.