Sunday, July 3, 2011
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
So I'm walking down Superior Street trying to find something to eat. I'm seeing Gino's (with its usual line down the sidewalk), Giordano's has a decent wait, and I couldn't exactly get into the pizza mind frame. I turn around and BAM, there it is, Jake Melnick's Corner Tap.
Now I've read about this place and had been wanting to check it out, so it sounded like the perfect spot.
I walked in the door and knew that I'd made the right decision. That smell of smoke and BBQ hit me quick. Yes please. Let's have a seat.
I'm lightly perusing over the menu thinking that I was going to get wings. Um... this place has been rated "Best Wings in Chicago" for the past 2 years, why wouldn't you try them? My eyes are darting back and forth, taking in the variety... and then I saw it. The Smokin' Cue Burger. Um, Cue Burger?
With my taste buds already salivating, I read the description. "Oh God", I thought to myself, "I am definitely getting that." This thing read like a love poem to a hopeless romantic. Only the burger was the poem, and my stomach was the romantic.
And I quote: "Wrapped in BBQ spiced bacon & slow-smoked, topped with BBQ pulled pork, crispy beer battered onions, cheddar cheese & BBQ sauce."
The waitress returned, and just like that, I've got a burger worthy of Devin Hester after running the opening kickoff back in Super Bowl XLI for 92 yards, a basket of wings, and a plate of fried pickles on the way.
So first things first, the fried pickles. The breading was crispy and well-seasoned and overall they tasted great. I just prefer pickle chips instead of the sandwich slice style. Oh well, no big deal.
Then that basket of wings arrived. Now Jake's only serves jumbo wings and man, these suckers are big. I had only ordered the spicy buffalo ones. With all of this food, I didn't want to ruin anything by trying the "XXX" wings. Yes. XXX. They make you sign a waiver due to the fact that they are made with the hottest chili in the world, the ghost pepper. No thanks. I enjoy feeling sensations while I'm eating.
So back to the wings. The flavor was tremendous, the heat was there, but I just didn't like the crispness of the skin, or should I say lack thereof. Maybe it's because I'm a grilled wing kinda guy, but it just didn't sit right with me.
Now to the real star of the show. That burger, that glorious, heavenly, mouthwatering, slab of perfectly grilled ground beef topped in pork, onions, cheese and BBQ sauce. I'm starting to think I should write the rest of this review on my iPad so I can take the L back downtown and grab another one.
This burger is massive and it comes with a side of fries that made me regret ever ordering so much to begin with. It comes in a 3 inch deep bucket. I mean you literally have to reach down and in, like bobbing for apples. Or in this case, bobbing for meat. I reach in, grab that thing, and take my first bite. I swear the waitress gave me a weird look because of the face I made. I seriously don't even know how to describe it. Bravo Jake's, you have left me speechless with that one. It's one of those things you just have to try for yourself. I only wish I would have thought about trying to cook it when I could still grill! The meat was perfectly cooked (they recommend medium or medium-rare), the pulled pork was on point, the BBQ sauce had just the right flavor and those onion rings were crispy enough to give it a good crunch. In the words of Guy Fieri, "Dude, that's outta bounds."
All in all, if you're ever in the Chicago area, stop in and give this place a whirl. You will not be disappointed.
Stay tuned for the next post, in which I'll go over making the perfect pulled pork from a slow cooker. I'm starting to get good at this without my grill around, haha.
Until next time.
P.S. sorry for the low res photos. I am going to start bringing my SLR with me.
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Well, looks like I'll have to save that feat for another day.
Anyways, what I hopefully can grab your attention for a moment and get me to lend your ear for is something forgotten all too often these days. Friendship.
It's what every human being longs for and what a lot of us are good at creating. When you do a BBQ and sleep from noon until midnight just so you can stay awake for the entire next day, there is a good bit more than just the meat, temperature, smoke ratio and weather on your mind. It's one of those things that allows you to remember just why you decided to do this in the first place. Well, that and possibly a little bit of whiskey or whatever your drink of choice may be. Well, a drink or two.
After you've sat there and battled against the odds to saturate a slab of beef, pig, chicken or turkey with smoke, keeping it at the right temperature, locking in the natural moisture, all while battling off the neighbor's dogs and for that matter, the neighbors. It's then when you realize that the whole reason you did this was because at some point in the middle of the day one of your friends is going to show up with a 12 pack. And then another, and then another, and then a few more, and then before you know it you have a house filled with people all sitting back, relaxing, blowing off steam from the week and just having fun.
I've always said that BBQ is not something that you eat, it's something you do. A time when cooking food becomes more about the experience and less about the taste. Although from experience I can tell you, you better be able to do both because when you don't deliver, yea. Short addendum, it's 30 percent about the experience, 70 percent about the taste (people don't like bad food). All that being said, I never knew how true that statement might be until I moved to Chicago. A place that, while littered with skyscrapers, amazing food and tons of nightlife, left me without the ones that I woke up and started a grill at midnight just to entertain.
This is a shout out to a few people that will always hold meaning in my mind from the days of southern outdoor cooking.
To Ryan, my pit partner, we've done it all man. We've taken shifts sleeping, we've stood there in the rain, and for that matter, the snow. It's been a blessing and to you and your adventures in California, good luck brother. Get those hours up quick so we can fly around the country at will.
To Sean, my eating partner, we've eaten it all man. Well, I had my fill and then you kept going. All in good fun man. You've been the one to test everything and help guide me through the process. If it weren't for those taste buds of yours, it wouldn't have been nearly as decadent. Marry your woman, may you build a family that enriches your life more than you could ever imagine.
To Danny, my family steak partner, we've argued about the name of that cut of meat a good bit man. London Broil, Top Round, ehh, you know what? It's a good old fashioned Family Steak, best way to put it. It's been a good ride man, all those late night talks over a good beer and much debate over Android vs. iOS. Always been a pleasure man.
And last but not least, Chris, my boss, my "SC mustard based sauce is king and all of you NC people can shove it" partner. What? It's true. Nothing better than SC style BBQ. It's been awesome man. From the Halloween party, to the Labor Day cookout, to a couple of my smoke-fests... I have truly been honored to have you as a boss and a friend.
Now don't get me wrong, this isn't a last goodbye, just simply a reflection. I'll see all of you miserable bums come Christmas. Yea, yea, don't get too excited now. We Chicagoans don't do that mushy stuff. This is the land of Al Capone for christ's sake.
So back to the point, whether you grill, smoke, roast, broil, pan sear, bake, boil, or microwave (Nick, just kidding man), love your friends, love the times you have with them and count down the days until you can see them again.
Stay tuned, I saw a place called Smokey Bear's BBQ House the other day in Irving Park and I'm definitely thinking a review is in order.
Keep the smoke rising...