User Error, Chicago in July part 1

Ahhh, Chicago.  Did you miss me? 

I flew in for a couple of quick meetings.  Unfortunately I was in the burbs with no car so my options were somewhat limited. While every trip has highlights (of course I made it back to Avec) it is important to note the mishaps too.  Some of these are because you’ve gone into the wrong restaurant and some are because you’ve ordered the wrong thing.  Here is my warning to you – don’t order the wrong thing!

I know not to order the fish in a steak restaurant in a land locked state.

I know not to order the sushi anywhere but a sushi place.

I know not to order Chicago dogs with ketchup.

I know not to order fries in places where it comes on the sandwich (they will always be soggy).

I know, normally, not to order the corned beef hash. Ever. Period.

These rules are set for a reason.  Because these are not the specialty of the restaurant they will not be their strongest dish.  You will be sad. 

I have been ruined for all corned beef hash.  My diner of choice in high school served breakfast all day and made their CBH from scratch.  Shredded beef, grilled onions and peppers, and on a great day, if Lou was in a good mood, mushrooms!  That was it for me.  A pair of sunny side up eggs and toast with strawberry jam washed down with gallons of black coffee. HEAVEN!

I have since learned that 99.99999% of the times you order corned beef hash you will be given a can of Mary Kitchen’s Corned Beef Hash. 

Sorry Mary, you just won't do.

Slimy, pink and mushy, studded with square bits of potatoes.  Occasionally you will have someone slide this out onto a flat top and gets some char on it.  One time they even mixed grilled onions in.  If you eat enough pink goo you start to formulate a plan for your order. I thought my plan was fool-proof. 

  1. Look at the other items on the menu.  Are there 482 other breakfast options?  If so they aren’t likely going through enough of this less than popular breakfast item to keep fresh corned beef just for you.
  2. Do they have other corned beef items on the menu?  This would also help get in fresh rotating breakfast gold.
  3. Does the restaurant seem to have higher standards than to serve an item directly from a can?

I thought I was safe at the Crowne Plaza Northbrook (Chicago)

There were only about 8 items on the menu for breakfast.  The dinner menu had 5 sandwiches, two of which were corned beef (a deli sandwich and a reuben).  These were all great signs, then I remembered seeing a chef’s meeting earlier in my stay where the head chef was discussing new menu specials with the rest of the kitchen.  Head Chef I tell you – I had to be safe!

Nope.  The only thing saving my breakfast that day were two perfectly poached eggs and toast with strawberry jam.  That pile of pink meat with white polka dot potatoes staring at me while I debated the meaning of my life.  The sad part is that instead of vowing never to order it again I decide that next time I will ask questions.  Good CBH is worth it. 

There was still hope for this world, my co-worker promised to take me for an authentic Chicago dog for lunch!

Until we eat again,



About Jen The Nerd

Nerd that likes food - What else do you need to know?
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3 Responses to User Error, Chicago in July part 1

  1. Dave Cunix says:

    Jack’s Deli on Cedar and Green makes a nice CBH. No mushrooms and not nearly enough onion, but the central ingredient, the corned beef, is excellent.

  2. Since this postmany have told me about the best place to get CBH. Why is this such a neglected menu item? I would certainly pay more for good stuff…

  3. Pingback: The End of a 14 Year Quest | jensfoodadventures

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