Monthly Archives: August 2010

Ain’t Nothin but a Hound Dog…

I have always wanted to go in the Hound Dog on Grand Ave. but never have. When I decided to start a blog I said this was going to be the first place I blogged about. Maybe it was my reason for starting a blog. Well you all know this is not my first blog post, although it may sound like it! Maybe I didn’t want to go in because I wanted to keep the romance of it alive.  In my mind, it was this great “find”; amazing food hidden in a store front that advertized burgers and teriyaki, egg sandwiches and bi bim bob. I was afraid to go in and have my illusion shattered, because I knew it most likely would be shattered, smashed, and then I would have to find a new place to fantasize about. I started passing it every Monday and Wednesday on my way to work about six months ago. Ohhh, maybe I would go in at lunch time. It was so close. Maybe I would stop for one of those $2.27 egg sandwiches on my way in.  Nope, never happened.  So when do I decide to go there? On my day off! Not that it is that far from my house. I needed a blog post. It was time….The fears started creeping in again. What if it totally sucked? I would have gone there for nothing and my little story would be ruined and I wouldn’t have a blog post. Well….being the HUGE gambler risk taker that I am (ha!) I decided I would write a blog post about it no matter what! Risky, huh? Plus I decided to go twice in one day. Once for breakfast and once for the Bi bim bob. Oh boy, this could be a very good day or a very bad day. I am trying to keep you in suspense. Is it working???? Ok here we go….

I love this sign.

I actually went to Hound Dog in my pjs, which also happen to be my work out clothes. Is that bad? Just don’t tell Stacy and Clinton from TLC’s What Not to Wear! I have always wanted to be on that show! Laurent doesn’t think I could get on it. I keep begging him to turn me in. I haven’t seen any cameras following me around yet. Damn!

So I packed up my peppermint tea and got in the car to head over to Hound Dog. Yes. I brought my own tea. I am a morning beverage snob. I was not about to drink Lipton!

Don't think this is cold brew!

I had noticed picnic tables outside when I drove by, so I wouldn’t be drinking it IN the restaurant.  I walk in and it is just what I expected. Menu boards with the plastic push in letters, molded fast food restaurant booths., Asian specials pasted on the walls printed on Astrobright paper from Kinkos.

But boy was it clean. It may smell like a fryer, had to throw my pjs in the wash after my visit, but it was clean. The line has a deep fryer, a flat top, a grill and a white apartment stove.  I ordered the egg sandwich.  The owner offered me white or wheat bread, English muffin, croissant or French bread. Wow, what a selection. I got it on French bread. That wasn’t $2.27, but it was still a steal at $3.50 or so. When I asked for cheese, there wasn’t that same choice like the bread. In fact he didn’t even ask me what kind I wanted. I knew what was coming, American cheese. Yes! There is a big neon sign in the front window that says Fast Food. Boy, was it fast. They weren’t lying. It was cooked fresh, but couldn’t have taken more than 2 minutes. The verdict. Screw you McDonalds Egg McMuffin. (Yes I do eat them once in awhile.) This egg sandwich blows you away! Think I might be craving this. Think I will probably stop on my way to work some Monday or Friday. Nothing fancy, but it did the job. I actually could barely finish it. The French bread took me straight back to my days working at my Aunt’s fast food restaurant. I am betting it was Gonella bread, which is made right here in Chicago, over by Chicago and Milwaukee.  We used it for our steak sandwiches. It smelled the same in Hound Dog as it did in 5 Points, my Aunt’s restaurant, just like a fryer! If the owner would have been wearing English Leather, like my uncle, the olfactory memory would have been complete!

I know you can't really see the sandwich, but it was $3.50, that's the important part!

Phew! Breakfast passed the test. It didn’t suck. You don’t know how happy that made me. I didn’t feel so bad about coming back here for lunch, although my stomach will probably beg to differ. I am sure I will be craving veggies for days. I better bring my lunch to work tomorrow.

Ok, fast forward to my lunch trip to Hound Dog. I am sure the owner recognized me. People seem to spot my orange hair a mile away and remember it.  I really wanted to get the teriyaki, because I think that is on the sign, but I don’t like teriyaki. I lied. I actually don’t think I  know when I have ever had teriyaki. The word brings on visions of red sickly sweet sauce on chicken. Not a good start. I am sure the real deal  in a good Japanese restaurant is amazing, but I don’t think Hound Dog was the right place for my initiation into the teriyaki world. I might be scarred for life. The egg sandwich was good, but I was not expecting miracle for lunch! I ordered bi bim bob, or BBB as the owner called out to his wife (?) who was doing the cooking. She cooked this up in about two minutes flat again. I guess it wasn’t rocket science and there were no foams, emulsions, reductions or sous vide to perform, but still, two minutes is fast. It was served in a real bowl too. A plastic bowl, but real, not a Styrofoam to go container. It saves them money, but I was still surprised. In fact, it was the same Asian bowl that I have at home. Yes, my bowls at home are plastic. They are the perfect size and shape and I haven’t found any ceramic ones to replace them yet. We eat mostly Asian food at home anyways, so it is fitting.

I ate outside again. This time I purchased a beverage. I am more of a morning beverage snob than anything. The bi bim bob was ok. Not great, but not inedible either. Would I order it again? Probably not. Have I had worse food? Yes, at the casino in our hotel in Green Bay a few years ago at Thanksgiving. Inedible Caesar Salad. Since when are there olives in a Caesar Salad? And how can you ruin a Caesar salad? Don’t ask me how, but they did. At least this resembled bi bim bob. Like I said. It wasn’t bad. It wasn’t memorable at all though. Which can be a good thing. I wish I could forget that Caesar salad!

Here is where I start getting philosophical on you since I have already told you about the food. This place just had a good vibe. When I was there I saw every kind of person come in; city workers, two blond girls (don’t know how else to describe them!), hipsters, a Hispanic family, an older Asian woman and some guys who looked like architects or something! And they all seemed like regulars.  Here was a couple, living the American dream. They owned their own business doing what they knew how to do , cook. It was an honest living. They don’t run in food circles, they don’t judge you, they don’t offer you their politics. They cook and serve you fast cheap food. I  get soooo tired of  the food world with all the competition, the nasty back stabbing and the  gossip. Did you hear so and so serves rice in his restaurant? And mangos? And uses vanilla extract  in his desserts? Oh my gosh! What a crime. Those items don’t grow in the Midwest.  He should be shot!  Did you hear so and so is selling their restaurant? It must not be busy enough. Did you hear so and so is no longer working at so and so and said that…….blah blah blah. So much hypocrisy and one upping and political crap. It’s exhausting.

Was the food at the Hound Dog the best food in the world? No. Did my stomach hurt a little after eating there twice in one day? Yes. (Everything in moderation.) Would I come back? Yes. It was nice to just go and order an egg sandwich. A simple, plain, cheap egg sandwich., without a side of attitude and political correctness. And I am not embarrassed to say that I enjoyed it.

Hound Dog Burger and Teriyaki    2257 W. Grand Ave.   312-666-5797

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Coming soon to a bar near you….

Oh boy, am I in trouble…..I have been MIA for a few weeks.  Here comes my excuse…I have been totally immersed in a Nia White Belt training for seven days, twelve hours a day.  And I had to get ready for my birthday party and then I had my birthday party and then I had to recover from my birthday party enough to tell you about it.  That should cover those few weeks. Phew! I know, I know, you are going what the heck is a Nia White Belt Training? Nia is something else that I am totally passionate about, just like food. It is the only form of exercise that I do and the only thing that I have stuck with…ever…for eight years now.   Nia is a form of movement that combines martial arts, dance arts and healing arts. Nia is all about Mind, Body, Emotion and Spirit. It is exercise and therapy all in one, and boy do I need both! There is no way I could describe the life changing experience I had without going over 3,000 words, so I will spare you. All I can say is click on the link find yourself a Nia class and give it a shot. I highly recommend Jamie Klausing’s classes. She is a Nia Black Belt that has been practicing for twelve years. She truly is an amazing teacher, an inspiration and a friend.

Here we go, my birthday party. Don’t ask how old, that is rude, you know. It is enough to say that I have stopped counting, or can’t count that high. Whatever. You probably want to know how much I weight now too, huh? No go on that one for sure. Actually, I would probably rather tell you my weight than my age!  See, I didn’t forget how to go on a tangent…and you were worried!

My birthday party is really the only party we have every year. I keep saying that we need to change that. My favorite thing to do is hang out with friends, especially my friends, because they are all foodies and amazing cooks. I guess I wouldn’t be hanging out with people who weren’t my friends or other people’s friends. Although that is how we got a lot of our friends. They were other people’s friends first, friends of friends and now they are some of our most favorite people on the face of the earth.  I am jumping into these tangents full force.

While there was good food at this party, that is a given, the focus was really on the booze this time! The theme was “cocktails” and not just any old cocktail like tired cosmopolitans or boring gin and tonics, cocktails made with the syrups I am making for the syrup company I am launching in the fall. Hmmmm, does that mean I can write off this party? I hope so. I invited my accountant.

I asked everyone to bring a bottle of booze, well, groups of people, otherwise that would have been out of control. At that our liquor cabinet is still full. I suggested that not everyone bring vodka, so everybody brought gin instead! It was funny. Actually that was said mostly for effect, mostly. We did have a lot of gin. We did have some creative bottles, though, too. Margaret brought grappa, excellent canvas. Erica got all old school and cleaned out her father’s liquor cabinet, just like in high school, and brought  Godiva , obviously we went to high school in two different decades, Kahlua, Crème de Banana, Harvey’s Bristol Cream and Amaretto. Luckily we didn’t get desperate enough to use the Harvey’s Bristol Cream. Although that would have been my choice over the cocktail made with ketchup and mustard. Sort of like a Bloody Mary, but not good, at all. Sorry Bil. Can’t say my friends are not creative.

I started out by trying all the cocktails people were making. Oh boy did that practice end soon! Yikes! Way to get trashed fast. This was my 34th birthday, not my 21st. (Don’t even think of writing in to tell me about my “typo”) It’s funny, as people were mixing away they would comment, “oh, this one is not so exciting”, and I would say, “Why don’t you just dump it and start over?” That was ALWAYS met with a “We can’t WASTE it!” It’s not like thirsty alcoholics in rural Appalachia would benefit from these drinks if you didn’t drink them. Waste them, so you do not get wasted people. Oops, too late.

Chris was the only smart one, she made tiny cocktails, tasters really. Boy does she have a great palate. The very first drink she made was named “Coke”. It was Godiva, club soda and Café de Olla Syrup (Brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves, molasses and orange extract). It really did taste like Coca Cola. Don’t ask me how, but it did. Really. I still had my wits and my taste buds at that point.

Mindy made a good one with the Café de Olla Syrup also, and vermouth, mint and apricot nectar. Those are the drinks that intrigued me, the drinks made with the spiced syrups like Cardamom Rose Water, the Café de Olla and the Fig Vanilla Black Pepper.

Dana Joy of Real Food Rehab was also a natural, naturally. Her one drink contribution was sake, lychee and Lemongrass Shiso Syrup.  I think she only had one cocktail. How was that possible? I think the Bills and the Davids made up for it, so it all worked out in the end. Sort of.

The most interesting booze of the night arrived late, but we managed to polish off half a bottle of it. Richard and Michael brought Saffron Infused Gin made by a micro distiller in Dijon, France. Way to go boys.

This stuff was the color of my hair, a beautiful shade of orange and very unique. We all jumped on it. Laurent made an excellent drink with the saffron gin, lemon juice, lemon twist, mint, Hibiscus Basil Orange Blossom Syrup and fresh peach juice that our overachiever friend Seth juiced from Michigan peaches from the farmers market. Not a combo that I would have thought of at all, but boy did it work.

Another interesting alcohol was the bottle that Liz brought. We don’t know what it is! She has moved it from apartment to apartment to apartment and decided to put it out of its misery by bringing it to the party. Perfect. The writing on the bottle is Japanese, all Japanese. Hmmmmm. It looks and smells like a sake that has been aged in wood barrels. Not that I really know what a sake aged in wood barrels looks or smells like. It tastes a little like a whiskey but smoother. If anyone has any insight, send it my way. We went through a quarter bottle of it. I don’t see any recipes using it though.

As I go through the notebook I put out, I see tons of recipes from Jen and Bil. I am glad my friends took this task I put upon them so seriously. I kept screaming “Write it down” all night, but I don’t think anyone listened but those two. And Bil took it a step further and actually wrote down proportions. He is one serious mixologist or at least one serious drinker. (I shall leave that one alone.)

Jen took it a step further and named her soon to be infamous signature cocktail creation of Prosecco, gin, lemon zest and Tangerine Lavender Honey Syrup. People were already asking for it by name at the party. Coming to a bar near you soon…the Dutch 74. It has quite a ring to it, doesn’t it? I asked Jen if the name had any significance.  She said (or texted)  “ It’s based on a French 75, so I named it after my ancestry and year of birth.” (Oops, gave away your age if people are not too lazy to do the math. Not something you have to worry about yet, like some of us!) How awesome is that? It kicks a French 75s butt! Now who wants to be the first to put it on their cocktail menu? Violet Hour? Whistler? Come on, give the Dutch 74 its righteous place in cocktail history.

Now to wade through all the recipes and first figure out what the heck they say, as you could guess, it gets more illegible as the night continues, and then figure out proportions. (You can only ask drunk people to write down so much, besides Bil, who is on the almost on the cusp of Virgo, which explains it, in my mind, at least!)

Sounds like another party in the making!

"The Trouble Twins"

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