TOC & Tribune: Deep Fried, Long-Gone, All You Can Eat

• We’re thinking deep-fried [anything] is the new bacon. Case in point: the deep-fried sandwich available at newbie lounge The Velvet Hour: it’s fatty, it’s rich, it’s awesome. Chris Borelli believes in “this culinary three-mile island” so much that he’s given future generations of gastro-anthropologists three salient reasons why it is totally acceptable that he put an $8 brioche sandwich containing peanut butter, banana, bacon, and wildflower honey, all thrown into the fryer, into his actual stomach. We support this line of justification. Also: the headline? One of the most honest and to-the-point we’ve ever read. [Tribune]

• Planning a picnic? Of course you are. It’s simply not summer unless you’re planning a picnic. So do it the well-informed way: a roundup of the best excuses, events, and locales, plus a handy guide to what you’ll want to bring to supplement your blanket & basket. Those marching ants say gracias, Emily Le Beau! (We have just now arbitrarily decided that all Chicago-dwelling ants are Spanish-speakers) [Tribune]

• Speaking of fried peanut butter-and-banana sandwiches! Julia Kramer puts her investigative journalism hat on, and finds out why exactly it is that beloved menu items will just very rudely disappear from menus. Like the aforementioned Elvis-killer, formerly on the menu at Over Easy Cafe. Also missing: braised octopus at Avec, brisket panini at Vella Cafe, and the McRib you-know-where. [TOC]

Now how ‘bout them thar reviews:

• Phil Vettel does a twofer, hitting up Brazilian all-you-can-eat-meat places Texas de Brazil and ZED451 this week. Mandatory groan-inducing-yet-endearing Vettel pun: “sometimes I think it’s called “Brazilian style” because each meal contains a brazillion calories.”
Phil one-stars Texas de Brazil and two-stars Zed451 (turns out the name is a head-scratchingly oblique reference to Fahrenheit 451! Who knew!). TDB is too salty, not quite as exciting as Zed’s expanded offerings — the mini-chain doesn’t restrict itself by the Brazilian rules of only seasoning with salt, and only using Brazilian cuts of meat. Also: totally exciting salad bar! [Vettel, Tribune]

• Over on the cheaper side of things, Epic Burger lands a solid three forks (out of 4) from Glenn Jeffers. The all-organic, eco-friendly patty joint is, in fact, epic — in the best possible way, with the juicy meat not even needing the various veggies and sauces sharing bun space. Additional awesomeness: the egg-and-pepper sandwich, and milkshakes that sound pretty darn heavenly. [Jeffers, Tribune]

•We’re going to resist the urge to make “bro! dude! bro!” jokes and be serious for a moment: We are riding the Heather Shouse train right now. Her review of HUB 51, whose various claims to buzz we don’t really feel we need to explain to you anymore, is one of those things that sits with us just right. Like a critical David, she knows where she stands vis-a-vis a Melman Goliath:

Regardless of the flaws, regardless of my personal feelings about the place, this isn’t the kind of restaurant that is shaken or even affected by reviews.

That, in our humble opinion, is too bad, since the criticisms here are many: besides a few standout dishes, not too much “stood out as something worth ordering again, or even finishing.” We would like to point out that this is including the hamburger, the universal dish that is hardest to screw up. Confidential to R.J. and Jerrod: Maybe we only say this because we are not, ourselves, wading around in a kiddie pool full of cash and business acumen, but we’d prefer solid menu execution over a nightly packed house. In fact, hey now, the one might not be mutually exclusive with the other? [Shouse, TOC]

[Photo: Epic burger, via Joe M500’s Flickr]


TOC & Tribune: Deep Fried, Long-Gone, All You Can Eat