Lannae's Food and Travel

I hope you like my food and travel blog.

March 30, 2006

Greektown has good restaurants, but...

Greek Islands
200 S. Halsted St
Chicago, IL
312-782-9855Greektown is a nice, busy, and comfortable part of Chicago. There are blue and white awnings up and down S. Halsted. I would have to say that almost any restaurant you pick in Greektown is going to be good for Greek food. The Greek Islands restaurant got the highest rating by CitySearch, but I am not certain if the people doing the rating ever really had delicious Greek food. The restaurant has many dining rooms with very nice decor, and it did feel like a Greek island with lovely tile work and cascading greenery. The sheer size of the place indicates it is meant to support tourists and large groups. We were seated by the kitchen line, and it seems that most everything is pre-made and sitting under heat lamps or in heated bins, so our table was a bit warm. The olive oil on the table was quite flavorful and I enjoyed dipping my bread in it. The dolamades - a bit tasteless with some tasteless floury white sauce that was supposed to be an egg-lemon sauce. The lamb shank sliced off the bone - it is obvious that the lamb had been sliced many hours earlier and sat under a heat lamp because it was dried out. Mousaka - there was a lot of bland potato with a layer of plain tomato sauce (I think there was supposed to be eggplant in this dish, but I never saw any), and fried calamari which was ordinary. I have had Greek meals that felt nurturing, had great texture, lovely flavor and excellent cooking execution, but Greek Island is not one of them. I would try one of the smaller Greektown restaurants for a more carefully made meal.

The Phoenix Rises in Chicago

2131 Archer Ave #2
Chicago IL

The Phoenix is the best of a limited number of Dim Sum restaurants in Chicago. 5 of us went on a Sunday morning, got there about 11:30 am and found an hour wait. This is rather normal, so if you go, you better be willing to wait. There were many elder Chicago Chinese people in line, which I take as a good sign that we are eating at the right place. We got our number in line and took a walk through the new Chicago Chinatown to pass the time, and we found the lushious Chinese ingredients for dinner and the next day. We finally got into the Phoenix. The tables were covered with giant white pieces of paper instead of table cloths, and the dim sum was brought around in carts. The carts were not coming very fast, so we had a long wait between each dish, and on occassion, the cart was empty by the time it got to our table. My uncle decided to take matters in his own hands, and got up with our ticket, and walked into the first dining room and started taking plates of the carts as they were coming out of the kitchen. I am sure, to his dismay, he saw that the carts were not coming out of the kitchen very fast, so he only got to get 2 dishes (one from each cart) until he got tired of waiting at the kitchen door.

March 27, 2006

Mabenka's in Chicago

7844 S. Cicero
Chicago, Illinois

Mabenka's is a Polish restaurant with delicious homemade Polish and Lithuanian food. If you want to feel like you are eating a bit of your Eastern European Grandma's cooking, you need to go to Mabenka's in Chicago. You may not find it in the yellow pages, or on the internet, but believe me, Mabenka's is bigger than all that. The home made chicken and dumpling soup had fresh Spatlese noodles in it, and it goes well with the freshly made brown bread. The piroghis are like little Polish dim sum that are melt-in-your-mouth scrumptious treats.

UPDATE, for those who went to Mabenka's a week later had rather negative things to say about Mabenka's. They did not stick to the basics pf piroghis, chicken soup and bratwurst. Rather they made a complete U-turn at this restaurant, and did not like it at all.

My words of adivce for a Mabenka dining experience is to stick with the basics, and feel the love of a Grandma from Eastern Europe.

Chicago's Tony's Italian Beef

Tony's Italian Beef
7007 S. Pulaski
Chicago, Illinois

This "small sized" Hot Italian Beef sandwich was HUGE! It had layers of tender beef au jus, with peppers and onions on top and a nice layer of cheese on the bottom. The french bread was perfect that it soaked up the jus and was sturdy enough to hold together. Tony's Italian Beef does a brisk takeout business, but if you happen to be driving by Tony's there is a off-street parking lot that is free to park in and you can go in and enjoy your Italian Beef at the counter.

March 23, 2006

The Windy City of Chicago

There is a reason why they call Chicago "The Windy City". It is because it is windy! My first day in the city, I myself from the south, with long flowing hair, discovered that my hairdo was a hair-don't after about 3 minutes of walking down the windy streets of Chicago. I looked around at all the savvy working women of the fine city, and they all have medium length hair all up in pony tails. What a great deal for cutting down time in the morning when all you have to do is to toss the hair up in bun, clip, elastic, whatever, and you look stylish on Washington and Wells! I have saved myself 15 minutes each morning that I am here in Chicago by not worrying about the hairdo, and I fit right in! You go Women of Chicago!

March 8, 2006

There Have Been Studies

I have notice that I have gotten a lot of "There have been extensive studies" as an explaination for something totally stupid, and said by someone who is put out front, but has no real authority. For example, the state government gave lots of money for a sound wall to be built in my neighborhood to reduce noise from a new parkway they ran though my 'hood. The sound wall was built for cars, not trucks. So the state let trucks go on the parkway, and we can see the tops of trucks and their exhaust pipes over the sound wall. We can hear the trucks and exhaust and horns over the sound wall, and it is so loud that you cannot carry on a conversation outside. The explaination I got from the government lowly worker was, "There have been extensive studies done, and you should have an effective sound wall." OK, where is the study, and can I read it? And by the way, can I add empirical data of TOO MUCH NOISE to that study?

March 3, 2006

I am NOT a Quitter!

I could give up chocolate, but I am not a quitter.


March 2, 2006

Flowers and Olive Oil in my Kitchen