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Posts posted by ronnie_suburban

  1. I think about Steven often.  He was a friend and a mentor, and one of the smartest, funniest, warmest and most generous people I have ever met.  I remember fondly the times we spent together in NC, at several Heartland Gatherings and in my hometown of Chicago.  I help run a local food discussion forum here, and hardly a day goes by when I don't wonder how Steven would have handled one situation or another there.  Frankly, it'd be way beneath him but still, I know he would have happily given me guidance if I were able to ask him for it.  What a loss that he's not here with us.  They say only the good die young.  In Steven's case, that was certainly true.


    Here's a shot of Steven, Ellen and PJ at the Rock & Roll HOF in Cleveland in August of 2011, where a bunch of us met up for a Heartland Gathering . . .




    RIP, my friend.



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  2. Steven was one of the brightest, most analytically-minded people I ever met.  He was also kind, funny and passionate.  I considered him a true friend, an inspirational leader and a valuable mentor.  Rarely a day goes by when I don't think of him.  I miss him tremendously.



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  3. This is such tragic and shocking news.  My heart goes out to PJ, Ellen and his entire family.  I cannot even begin to imagine what they're going through right now.


    Steven was an exceptionally generous and talented person.  He had a profound and lasting influence on my life.  He taught me, he mentored me and he was always kind to me, even when it would have been completely reasonable for him not to have been.  To say he will be missed is a huge understatement but I'm really at a loss for words.


    Rest in peace, my friend.



    • Like 4
  4. Need the best example of a Chicago Dog though.

    I'd suggest Gene & Jude's in River Grove or Redhot Ranch for the epitomatic Chicago dog experience. Hot Doug's and Franks N Dawgs are both worthy destinations but they're more variations than typical examples.

    Also, on the chef-driven side, I highly recommend Nightwood. It's a great spot -- run by chef Jason Vincent -- that just doesn't get its proper due.

    Not to take anything away from the discussion and great information on this thread, but for a dense concentration of current information on the Chicago-area food, beverage and dining scene, check out LTHForum.com (full disclosure: I'm one of the site's owners). Since the site is about nothing but Chicago food, it's an extremely rich source of information.


    Gene & Jude's

    2720 River Rd

    River Grove, IL 60171

    (708) 452-7634

    Redhot Ranch

    2072 N Western Ave

    Chicago, IL 60647

    (773) 772-6020

    Hot Doug's

    3324 N California Ave

    Chicago, IL 60618

    (773) 279-9550

    Franks N Dawgs

    1863 N Clybourn Ave

    Chicago, IL 60614

    (312) 281-5187


    2119 South Halsted St

    Chicago, IL 60608

    (312) 526-3385

  5. This looks like a lot of fun; you couldn't ask for better hosts than Katie and Phil!

    Obviously very early for this sort of thing, but on the subject of kids- I'll get a babysitter for the restaurant events. But what about the potluck? Do folks bring kids along?

    I asked this same question last year, though I really, *really* appreciate your attitude.

    Myself? I'm unapologetically anti-kid. Don't want 'em, don't need 'em, *certainly* don't want to hear them or be around them when they're bored/tired/misbehaving/squealing/yelling/crying/existing. That being said, my impression of The Gathering was that it's an Adults Only thing, but I was told that my impression was incorrect, that kids were welcome. This caused me to withdraw from The Gathering, as the risk is just not worth it to me...I'm there, I've booked the hotel, I've paid for the events scheduled, and someone brings along their kids, who inevitably get bored (justifiably!) or misbehave in some way, making life generally lousy for everyone, and migrane-inducing for people like me.

    I greatly appreciate your willingness to (GASP! Such a novel idea!) get a babysitter. It's practically unheard of in this area, apparently. So do as you like. It's nice to see, even just the idea of it, the idea that kids are not, and should not, be included in everything.

    Well, here we go again. Your anti-kid bias is well known. However, the larger issue, as I see it, is that you don't trust the kind of people who *might* bring a child to such an event (the Saturday meal) to: 1) have sufficient judgment to bring their child only if the child's temperament, etc., suits the venue, and 2) have a management plan in place in case of potentially disruptive behavior. Anti-kid, well, I can accept, and I certainly know that rude parental behavior does occur in restaurants, but in this case I believe your attitude is ultimately anti-eGullet parent. Frankly, I would much rather you not attend the Saturday meal than have a parent not attend because they need (or want (gasp!)) to bring their child.

    FWIW, I've been at every Gathering except KC and Cleveland--including the first one in GR, where we had a three-year-old-ish child in attendance. To the best of my recollection, not once was there any child-related disruption, even a minor one.


    You touch on what I believe is the key here: history. I've been to most of these gatherings and cannot recall a single child-related problem at any of them (though, I do recall a few grown-up ones :wink:). In fact, I think there would be uniform agreement among the attendees of the previous gatherings about this, but perhaps I'm forgetting something. And even if I am, it's fairly clear that such instances are not deal-breakers for most folks. However, I agree that in this case, the concern over children isn't a genuine concern about children at all. It's actually the concern of one person about the parents who might attend this event -- and it's a concern which completely ignores the well-known history of these gatherings. So, here we are talking about a theoretical problem that has never once surfaced at a Heartland Gathering...again.

    I learned long ago that when you jump into an ongoing thing -- any ongoing thing -- it's best to assess it and decide whether you are a good fit for it. You do not impose your will upon it, especially if you have never participated in it before. That seems so simple to me, so fundamental, that I'm shocked when I encounter people who do not share that perspective. In fact, it definitely bothers me far more than naughty children or neglectful parents do.

    I don't know for sure yet if we'll be attending this year but if we do, it'll definitely be me, my wife and my 15-year-old son, who's been attending these events since 2007. If that's enough to scare anyone off, I can live with it, especially since my boy is a seasoned, Heartland Gathering veteran who knows full-well how to comport himself . . . in spite of the shoddy parenting he's received. :wink:


  6. I wound up meeting the incomparable ronnie_suburban for burgers at Owen & Engine: aside from the excellent company, the burger there was stellar, easily among the best I've ever had. Well-seasoned, beefy, juicy, with a fantastic onion jam and cheddar cheese, on a toasted, buttered bun. My only complaint is that the burger I got was closer to medium than to the medium-rare I asked for: nevertheless, even at medium it was fabulous. I can't tell you whether it's the best burger in Chicago, but it's a hell of a burger.

    The previous day I had a burger at Revolution Brewing, which was quite competent: I had the farm burger, which is served with baby spinach, roasted beet, horseradish cream, and an egg: nice combination, I thought it complemented the beef without overwhelming it. The day before that I had a very poor burger at Fox & Obel. Ron says they're on the way out, and I certainly believe it based on this lame specimen of overcooked, under-seasoned beef on a badly-textured roll. I know they're not known for their burgers, but to serve one this bad? Take it off the menu, folks.

    Glad you enjoyed it, Chris. The burger was so good, it almost surpassed the company. I've taken to ordering "rare" at O&E just to avoid the occasional possibility of having my burger cooked beyond my preference. Still, it's such a fatty unctuous portion of ground-on-site beef, that it doesn't suffer at medium.

    Here are a couple of pics of the burger I had at our lunch yesterday . . .


    Meyer Ranch Beef Burger


    Meyer Ranch Beef Burger

    This remains my favorite burger in Chicago. As for Kuma's, I'm not really a fan. The novelty of their distinctively over-the-top topping cominbations wore thin for me a while back and I don't think their beef comes close in quality to O&E, or other places around town.


  7. Have you tried one of the HomeMade Pizza locations?

    One of these is right down the street. They were on the short list, but they close at 4pm on xmas eve. I'm a bit worried about trying to hold a pizza that long.

    What's their pizza like?

    In a word, it sucks (yes, I realize that's actually 2 words :wink:).

    Crust is too thick and doughy. Ingredients are of high quality but they're bland and seem almost entirely out of place on a pizza, where each square inch of real estate should mean something. This a place where suburban moms buy ready-to-bake pies for their kids. I cannot imagine anyone who's serious about pizza regarding this place very highly at all. Interesting business model, to be sure, though.


  8. You want The Butcher & Larder. Call ahead.

    1026 N. Milwaukee Ave.

    Chicago, IL 60642

    Tel: (773) 687-8280

    ^ What he said ^ :smile:

    ...especially if you don't want to venture too far from the city.

    If distance is no object, contact Dave Zier @ Zier's Prime Meats in Wilmette. It's about 15 miles north of Lincoln Park but well worth the trip.

    You might also want to check with Joseph's Finest Meats, where I'd suggest calling in advance.

    Zier's Prime Meats

    813 Ridge Rd

    Wilmette, IL 60091

    847 251-4000

    Joseph's Finest Meats

    7101 West Addison Street

    Chicago, IL 60634-3623

    773 736-3766


  9. I also love Sun Wah, though I'll add that you should call and reserve the duck in advance to ensure it's available on your visit.

    It definitely cannot hurt to call. I think they used to ask for 24 hours lead time but their volume on this item has grown to the point where that's no longer necessary. Still, better safe than sorry.


  10. I'm looking to order Peking duck in Chicago. Can anyone recommend a restaurant in Chicago with a good Peking duck?

    IMO, there is only one place doing it that's worth a visit...

    Sun Wah BBQ

    5041 N Broadway St

    Chicago, IL 60640

    (773) 769-1254

    Here are some links to relevant discussions about it at LTHForum.com

    Sun Wah

    Beijing Duck for Chinese New Year at Sun Wah


    Hosts, feel free to remove these links if it's not cool to link to LTH. :smile:

  11. I completely trust the locals to set us up properly and I look forward to it. Reading this thread, there are ton of great options -- far more than we could hit in a weekend, even an extended one.

    I've never been to Philadelphia or had an authentic Philly cheesesteak sandwich, so for me that's going to be a priority. Being a sandwich lover, I don't want to come back from Philadelphia not having checked that iconic sandwich off my list. If it seems like old hat to the locals -- which I can completely understand -- I'll take some time on my own to get it done.

    As for the rest, I don't have enough knowledge of the area to comment on the specific restaurants. Again, I'm sure the locals (and those who are familiar with the area) will make it wonderful. That said, we've got plenty of dairy farms and artisanal cheesemakers here in the Midwest (a few of which I've visited), so I'd prefer to allocate our limited time to something more definitively local.



  12. I just want to add my thanks to all those who helped plan, organize and carry out the weekend's events. It was a lot of fun and I'm truly appreciative of the effort made by all who contributed.

    Like Rona, I too am in the process of going through my pictures and organizing my thoughts about everything we experienced. I hope to be back in the next day or 2 with a more detailed post and some pictures, too.

    Thanks again!


  13. 2. Liquor is state controlled, unfortunately. GE will get you anything that they are permitted to get if they don't carry it (they are very nice there!), if you give them a little time; I'd call them today.

    It's not a burden to bring some bottles from home. But I will call GE and see what they can supply before doing so.



  14. We'd like to serve the salad course family-style, so we'll need as many larger platters as there will be tables. Fwiw, it will be a hearty salad that can be served at any point during the meal.

    Thanks, for the information on the liquor store. I will give them a call as soon as I know for sure what I'm making. I just wanted to know if retail liquor in Ohio is state-controlled, as it is in some other states. That tends to limit selection greatly.


  15. 10:30 for Sunday brunch sounds good but I still cannot commit to it 100%. If you need a yes or no in advance, please let me know (and by when).

    After lunch has been typical start-time for the meal prep, from what I can remember.

    My group + the REB group will make at least one cocktail, a nosh course for the afternoon and a salad course for the meal.

    Speaking of cocktails, what's the liquor situation in Cleveland? Are there places to buy decent spirits or should I bring some bottles from home?


  16. Due to timing issues, my group of 3 is wavering on the Sunday meal, so the earlier the better, as far as we're concerned. But please don't change the start-time on our account, as it may not work out for us no matter how early it starts. Please, count us as "probable" for that event and let me know the latest you'll need to know from us whether we're attending or not.

    At this point, we'll just skip EventBrite.com and pay at the door, as long as that's ok.

    Thanks, Nancy, for everything.


  17. Tom's last post raises a couple of important questions. The Chubby Cook is a fully stocked kitchen and has all of the food prep and service items we'll need (and Scott is generously donating all of this for our Saturday pleasures). However, we'll be renting tablecovers and more importantly, all of the serviceware, flatware and glassware we'll be using.

    We are planning to rent basic table cloths and napkins, as well as:

    50 14oz water goblets

    50 11oz grand cru chardonnay glasses

    40 10.5" dinner plates

    70 6" plates

    35 coffee cups

    40 saucers

    40 each of dinner fork, dinner knife, salad fork and teaspoon

    Do we need to add either category or quantities to this list? Do we need shot glasses, cocktail glasses, additional plates, bowls of any types? Looks like we do - please give feedback ASAP so I can have our quote updated.

    I'm guessing that rocks glasses and martini stems or coupes would be good to have on-hand.


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