Friday, November 30, 2012

Sioux She

Feeling disillusioned over the amount of turkey you ate last week? Sick of leftovers, particularly the awkward way the congealed gravy soaks into your stale white dinner roll?

Maybe it's time you splurged on everyone's favorite Asian cuisine from the last twenty years that most Americans probably don't even eat correctly, sushi.

Or maybe you just want to read an article with one of the tackiest headlines ever. Roll into Ponzu.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Delivery from Sgt. Peffer's

1501 North Saddle Creek Road
And another location in Millard
Or, in this case, my bedroom in front of my TV
Open daily 11am - 10pm

Hot Strombo and a side of potatoe salad ($6.50):
"Baked bun stuffed with sliced ham, pepperoni,
mancini peppers, mozzarella and romano"

Today at lunchtime I was faced with the strenuous task of finding something to eat without leaving my house. I foraged through the cabinets, but once the columns of Saltine crackers diminished, and the memories of setting the smoke detector off last night trying to make a pizza came back, I decided on delivery. My experience would have been smoother if I had the possibility of ordering online. In the "Delivery Instructions" field, I would have typed key by key with my index finger from my bed to please bring the food upstairs to my bedroom, along with some plates and napkins, and retrieve the money from my wallet which should be somewhere in the vicinity, but I'm not exactly sure where.

They don't offer online ordering, but to my delight, Sgt. Peffer's delivers. I spent most of the 45-minute wait wondering what's behind the name. What's a Peffer, and why the Beatles mid-career motif?

I intuitively disregarded Sir Paul's veggie crusade and went with a couple of meaty sandwiches. With a name like Hot Strombo, I was expecting something more, ya know, stromboli-like, perhaps a bit more fromagian. Instead, it was relatively light on the cheese, but stuffed with enough cured meats to fill a party tray. On the other hand, the roast beef au jus was just phenomenal.

The potato salad served on the side was one of my favorites in recent memory; it had a semi-pureed consistency, interrupted with bits of crunchy scallion.

As with most takeout, both sandwiches resembled a surgery, or as my dining buddy mused, "John Lennon's brain spatter." But both were much better tasting than the "jelly on stale bread" I would have come up with myself. Thanks, Sarge.

Roast Beef au Jus ($6.50), with peppers, onions and provolone cheese

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Goldberg's II

5008 Dodge Street
Open Mon - Thurs 11a.m. - 11p.m., Fri and Sat 11a.m. - midnight, closed Sunday
Goldbergs in Dundee on Urbanspoon

Cheeseburger  on Pretzel Bun with Curly Fries ($8.50):
Seasoned, juicy patty, toasted pretzel bun and crisp toppings.
Passed all points of the burger inspection with flying colors. 

My recent visit to Goldberg's in Dundee evoked the repetition (in my head) of one of my least favorite adages: "It is what it is."

The cheeseburger was well-proportioned, and in many ways an exemplary model fit for even the most stringent burgerphiles. The atmosphere, marked by straight backed booths, senior citizens yammering on, and even a mural of what I think was Memorial Park, was charming. The decorative details from decades past and the intimate, relaxed feel reminded me of any one of my home city's bajillion Irish pubs.

The soup was clearly not the focus here -- I'd be surprised if it wasn't doctored up Campbell's, served lukewarm -- but the oyster crackers made me smile. No need to quibble over the unimportant. Goldberg's says they're good at "Burgers, Beers & Bloody Marys," and I believe them.

While the food was mostly pretty good, I'd probably have to befriend some regulars to really get the feel for what makes this place so special. And if I never get around to that, I'll still go here next time I'm in the mood to bust my gut with all of the good things in life. I hear their salads are nice, too.

Pastrami Melt, slathered with creamy horseradish sauce,
and sweet potato fries, which chicks really dig for some reason ($9.45).

The Fourth "B," Bread Pudding ($5.75)

Beef broth soup with the occasional grain of barley and random corn kernel ($4.25).

Monday, November 26, 2012

La Casa Pizzaria

4432 Leavenworth Street
Open Tues-Thurs 11am-10pm, Fri and Sat 11am-10:30pm, Sun 4:30pm-9:30pm, closed Mon
La Casa Pizzaria on Urbanspoon

Double slice deal:
Spicy sausage with olives, and
 "Genoa Bianco" with artichoke hearts and mushrooms

As I was bumbling down Leavenworth Street the other day, I noticed a sign next to La Casa's Best Pizza in Nebraska facade advertising a lunch special of two slices and a salad for $6.69.

My addiction is to pizza no secret. When I saw that sign, my excitement was palpable. 

Side salad with creamy Romano dressing

The appetizer lunch salad -- a handful of colorful greens, a blob of house-made cheesy dressing, and a chunk of herb focaccia -- provided some much-needed foliage for the day's diet without killing my pizza buzz. The slices arrived rectangular, and seemed reheated, but with exceptional toppings such as spicy sausage and fresh mushrooms. Another thing that I imagine makes La Casa's schtick special is the dense, flaky, pie-like edges. But strangely unlike pie crust, it buckled under the weight of the toppings and flopped towards the table when I picked it up. Cue the sad trombone sound effect. 

The Hot Italian Beef sandwich was a fine specimen, though if you want to get technical it was more like a French Dip. And the pizza was more like... flatbread? Ok, I'll shut up.

Should anyone ever have the gall to leave Omaha, La Casa now ships its pizzas nationwide (four pies for only $100, plus a nominal $49.99 shipping fee). Because, ya know, there's nothing like it anywhere. 

Hot Italian Beef sandwich --
I wonder if they'd ship one of these to Chicago?

They say sex is like pizza -- "even when it's bad it's still pretty good." But I maintain that bad sex and bad pizza are both pretty depressing. Unless you're drunk, of course, in which case neither exist. Behold this Chicken Caesar slice I ordered recently in a fit of intoxication and you'll understand. I've enjoyed many a lackluster pie in my day, but until I finally attain the status of functioning alcoholic, I just won't understand La Casa's die-hard appeal.

Chicken Caesar Salad slice, Anna Maria Pizza, Brooklyn --
Hot lettuce is not the same as hot sex.

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Drover

2121 South 73rd Street
Lunch Mon-Fri from 11-2, dinner nightly from 5pm

Drover Burger ($8.50)

When I think of the '80s, I think of Communism, cocaine, and salad bars like the one at the Drover. Iceberg lettuce, bacon bits made out of soy, GMO cherry tomatoes, and neon orange French dressing. It's for those of us who want to travel back to a time before we gave a shit about food additives.

Since I was only there for lunch, I didn't try the Drover's most prized item, the Whiskey Steak. Instead, I had the pleasure of sinking my teeth into some of the juiciest beef I've had in this town yet. Recent Best Burger lists have snubbed this one, which made it seem that much more hip. And reuben purists might balk at the substitution of prime rib, but it was a welcome change for me. Corned beef is so sawlty! 

The cavelike little room with only a few other tables felt more like a bomb shelter ('80s!), and in such exclusive quarters I could taste some businessman's Old Spice. If you're willing to brave the odd atmosphere, stop by the Drover for some no-frills, well-grilled beefy sandwiches. They rock.

The salad bar, meticulously positioned amongst glistening ice cubes
and ancient wood and tile. 

The masterpiece I fashioned out of the salad bar materials.

Reuben ($9.75):
Sliced prime rib sets this one apart from the rest. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Happy Hour at the Michael's Cantina at the Market

1102 Harney Street
Open Sun - Thurs 11a.m. - 11p.m., Fri and Sat 'til midnight
More importantly, happy hour weekdays 3 - 6p.m. (half off margaritas and appetizers)

A close inspection of the sign will reveal the word "fine."

There's bad Mexican food, and then there's bad food. I hereby set aside all labels, specifications and standards. I'm throwing out my obsession with authenticity and qualms about the spice level in order to tell you, my dearest fellow diner, that the food here is not worth ingesting. The solitary exception is the South of the Border appetizer sampler, which features four of the usual suspect dips, executed with exquisite averageness, and never ending basketfuls of both corn and recently-fried flour tortilla chips. The point is merely -- and yet also imperatively -- to give you something to do with your mouth in between sips of the deliciously boozy beverages.

From the hours of 3 to 6p.m. on any given weekday, Michael's is the most magical place to get tipsy with friends and coworkers alike. You'll likely have the place to yourselves, which is an added bonus. Jump start your hangover with one of our nation's favorite drinks, the high fructose bomb that packs a powerful punch: the Margarita.

Rocks with salt (Reg $5):
For those of us who haven't yet outgrown the concept of "these will get you wasted."

South of the Border Combination Platter (Reg $9.99):
Colorful, and oh so edible

This concoction is known as the Tamale Float,
and it, along with the hot wings, jalapeƱo poppers, and taco al pastor,
has about as much culinary appeal as a satchel of silica gel.