Not one mention of casserole in the post or the comments? What's happening to this site?
As for Emmett's, this is disappointing news. I will say that I think saying the amount of sauce appears to be in line with the range in Chicago and certainly Emmett's give a lot more than Pizano's. But some of the other flaws - flavorless crust and the sausage (Dear Lord, No!) - look and sound like dealbreakers.
A year and a half later, I think this list holds up pretty well. I still really like Primehouse, but now consider it #3 or 4 in Chicago, behind Owen & Engine, Sepia, and possibly Vie. Big Jones has replaced the burger grilled over wood to a griddled double cheeseburger, which is good but not Top 15. Taking its place is the burger at Acadia, which is sensational.
Made it back to Eat Rite this weekend for the first time in three and a half years only to have a horrible experience. Leaving aside the fact that the place smelled like stake urine and that the guy cooking went straight from touching money to touching food to lighting up a cigarette well before he made it out the back door, the real shame was how poorly he cooked the burgers. Gone was any attention to detail. I got 6 cheeseburgers (now $6.90) cooked with almost no onions, which meant the flavor was missing and the patties were steamed, and served on buns about 50% thicker than the ones pictured in this review. Eat Rite was a must-visit on my rare trips to St. Louis. Unless I'm advised otherwise by a trusted source, it's now a do-not-visit.
@Lara Bowman: I'd already been to Umami and Apple Pan and wanted to try new places. Rustic Canyon would have been awesome, but the location made it unworkable. It's definitely top on my list for my next visit to LA.
The Walnut Room gives diners a nice place to take a step back in time to an era when downtown department stores represented the pinnacle of the shopping experience and food preferences were, to put it nicely, wildly different than they are today.
Marshall Field's, one of America's greatest independent shopping venues, is now Macy's. The building is still gorgeous but the goods for sale are nothing special. But to be fair to the three corporations that have bought the once-great store over the past 20+ years, North Michigan Avenue has far surpassed the Loop as an upscale shopping area so the dumbing down of the store may have been necessary to survive.
But that begs the question of why almost no apparent changes have been made to the Walnut Room? Why not serve food worthy of the space? It's not as if the company is oblivious to consumer demand for good food. On the very same floor as the Walnut Room, people can get burgers from a Marcus Samuelsson restaurant, noodles from Takashi, and various Mexican goodies from Rick Bayless.
I suppose there are people who enjoy bland food and there are those who don’t care what they’re eating as long as it’s in a nice environment. And to be clear, the restaurant was far from busy when we visited. But other than the Frango Mint Cheesecake, which was deliciously over the top, there was nothing worth eating that we tried (and we ate a couple more things that didn’t make it into the review).
I’m not sure if I’ll go back to The Walnut Room, but if I do, it will likely be for a pre-theater snack of cheesecake, a cup of coffee, and one of the more elegant dining rooms around (albeit one that could use a few touch-ups).
@Lamphad713: I love bopNgrill but I didn't think it beat out any of the places I included in the Top 15. Which place on the list would you, based on personal experience, replace with bopNgrill?
@coppertone24: Burger Bar is solid, and I liked it a lot when I reviewed it (not quite as much on two subsequent visits). For my tastes, there wasn't anything that pushed it into the upper echelon of burgers, but I can see why some people disagree.
@charliesometimes: You make a very fair point. Owen & Engine is definitely not in the part of Logan Square that I find so disagreeable.
@Dave Losso: I wish I could have called the piece, "Top 15 Burgers in Chicagoland," but I was trained by a Serious Eats editor to use just the city's name when talking about the whole metropolitan area, especially in titles. That said, you are obviously correct that it's inaccurate (there are actually 3 suburban spots listed) and I'll make the edit.
@FredipusRex: Thanks for the kind words. As for your experience, that's really a surprise even if the place was packed due to the holiday. Kitchen errors happen; that kind of service is unacceptable. There are plenty of outstanding burgers around that not returning to Chicago Cut probably won't be a major loss for you. That said, it's a pretty outstanding burger.
@brbeats and Kenji: Good catch and total editing error on my part. I'd had a choppy line that mentioned three cuts that made for a fatty burger (which, combined, they do) and screwed it up royally when smoothing it out before submitting it. Definitely time for me to take step back from burger writing! :) As far as the why use the filet, my guess is that they use scraps that remain from trimming the filets they serve in perfect circles.
@texasblues: As far as I was concerned, those veggies were for decorative purposes only and can't imagine anyone keeping them on the burger, at least not unless they were knife and forking it.
@OdinKnows: I've only tried Rosebud twice, but have not been particularly impressed either time. It's one of those good, but not great steakhouse burgers I mentioned. Maybe I should try it again?
@monopod: This burger may not need the additional moisture or fat from the garlic aioli, but that's no reason to keep it off.
@Lance Roberts: You've stumbled upon a couple of the big problems with the pizza style guide: Chicago thin and Midwest thin aren't legitimately separate categories and bar pizza isn't a real category. Chicago thin and Midwest thin describe the common thin crust pizza that developed in the middle of the 20th century in the middle of the country (from at least Ohio to Nebraska in my experience). There are some common themes, like heavily herbed thick sauce, but there is a lot of variation in the crust. I've had crusts ranging from cracker thin to the doughy stuff you describe above to uberflaky ones to crisp but not crunchy crusts. This "style" came of age when they were just known as pizza and only recently, due to our collective need to oversimplify things into categories, have been retroactively defined as particular types with governing rules.
All that said, are you sure about there being butter in there? I know I said there are no real rules for the crust for this style, but a butter crust is really rare.
Next time I'm in LA, I really want to check this place out.
These look and sound great. When I did my mini pizza tour of Atlanta a couple years ago, I really wanted to get to Vingenzo's but couldn't justify the time for the trip on a completely packed weekend visit. Those look even better than I expected. Damn it! What kind of seasoning was in the sausage?
@Rodzilla: Sure you can get a better griddled burger made from freshly ground beef for $5.89 at Edzo's (which has only gotten better since I reviewed it, but you can't put a price tag on the social value of being seen at a hip spot in the West Loop! Honestly, these are definitely on the pricey side, especially since fries aren't included, but there's no place I know of in or around downtown Chicago that's pulling off a griddled burger anywhere near as good as this.
@texas blues: I see what you're saying. Before taking the shots of the cut burgers, I used the back of my knife to wipe away some of the excess dijonnaise. I think the thin layer left behind made the beef look a little extra gray. That said, they were definitely cooked to medium, though the two-patty burger did have a little pink. If you're really curious about seeing the interior of the patties, send me an email (address is in my profile) and I can email you a couple pics that show it better. They're of half eaten burgers so I left them out of the post.
@texas blues: What do you mean by anemic? As for your second fear, I can see how it would look that way, the dijonnaise was mild, pretty wet (so it did spill over the side when the burgers were cut), and it was covering either 1/2 pound or 3/4 pound of beef; definitely not overwhelming by any stretch.
Isn't it already part of the American culinary lexicon? I mean, other than the shortsighted few who think that anything that wouldn't pass for pizza in Naples in 1880 cannot be called pizza, is there anyone who doesn't consider pizza to be an American food? That's not to say it's not also Italian, which by virtue of history and pizza's current popularity in Italy, it most certainly is. But why would we limit this to an either/or proposition?
@Adam Kuban: Thanks for bringing me on board years ago. Never thought it would last this long.
@Jim-Bob: Thanks. As for a replacement, that is a question far above my pay grade. There's a few relatively new places I didn't get to that are worth posts. There's also a number of old school "good for the neighborhood" places but they tend to not be all that distinguishable and don't generate as much interest.
@Pizzablogger: Thanks. What's debatable about this being 00? I understand that there's generally no bran in most 00 flour, but doesn't 00 just refer to how fine the flour is ground?
@John Wozniak and cornici1: Fascinating stuff. Thanks! By the way John, if you watch the two videos I linked to, you can see the flour and the dough.
@cpd007: Thanks. Much as I've enjoyed continuously seeking out new places, I'm definitely looking forward to more visits to old favorites. I actually had the best Malnati's sausage pizza I've ever had yesterday. Granted, it was media related and made by a guy who's been cooking there for 20 years and that's not going to be a typical experience, but it was really, really an exceptional pizza.
@dhorst: Just so I'm clear, are you saying the starter had a floral flavor or the actual bread you made from it did?
@dmcavanagh: I love reading the thoughts of anyone as passionate about pizza as you are, but I think this latest lamentation of yours is more than a bit strange. If we subtract your 13 comments, the comments that have been made in response to the intense harshness of your comments, and the comments that came as a direct result of you announcing on pizzamaking.com that you'd slammed a Slice thread, I think the MPM post would be winning the comment battle.
@Chicago Bob: As a matter of fact, my dog did get a couple of bites of pizza from Rolling Stonebaker. Not this one - I didn't want to give him barbecue sauce - but he got some of the sausage pie. For the record, he loved it!
@dmcavanagh: Even if I thought this pizza was bad, I think it would still be review-worthy on Slice. As you know, this site has long sought to cover the entire spectrum of the pizza world, from chains to the top pizzerias in the country and, in some cases, around the world. I appreciate that you're only interested in and obviously very passionate about what you consider to be great pizza, but there are plenty of others who are curious about other aspects of the pizza world. For those people, a broader approach to content is "better."
Wow, so much fighting over one little old Daily Slice post. Maybe I'm feeling nostalgic because my time on Slice is winding down, but this hostility takes me back to my very first post when I ran into an expected firestorm over deep dish pizza. But in an age where decidedly nontraditional toppings are increasingly common, a pizza with barbecue sauce, pulled pork and slaw doesn't seem all that crazy to me.
@DNAlx: Go back and give the Purple Pig a shot. It's only $9 for a 10-inch pie (since added to the post). The only pizzas over $10 are specials, like the one I mentioned with morel mushrooms.
Entertaining stuff PB. I think you're a little too hard on yourself regarding the value of reviews you'd write based on just one visit. Nearly all pizza reviews out there (including those on Slice) are based on one visit. Each one's a data point, though some (as is the case with those written by you) are more valuable data points than others.
@dmcavanagh: Wow, tell us how you really feel :) I was more than a little surprised when I learned they didn't make their own crust but given that it was actually a good piece of bread (and far better than plenty of crusts made in pizzerias), I didn't get worked up about it. Regarding whether it was burned, as you can see, the bottom wasn't at all. The outer crust, the most heavily cooked portion, had zero carbon flavor; certainly edible. Lastly, regarding the barbecue sauce, I generally agree with you, but it worked on this pizza. Also, apparently the majority of Slice readers actually are fans of barbecue sauce on pizza.
@KingDiamond: I'm secure in my happiness the American colonies succeeded in their revolutionary efforts but you've given me another in a long list of candy-related doubts. Canadians really have a sweet deal with their unfettered access to British candies. What makes the non-veggie ones better? Usually I like gelatin in gummy candy for the extra chewiness, but I really loved the soft chewy foam-like texture of these things.
@RobertaJ: That's a good question and I think the answer is unknown at this point. I asked the Hershey's people about it and they told me to ask the people working at the Brookside booth. At the Brookside booth, they said no decisions have been made regarding how this will affect production or if it will at all.
@Summerfield: I'm much more surprised that you had a bad burger at the Roadhouse than a great one at Motz's. Give it another shot and make sure you try the fried chicken. And bring someone with you who will share the food; it's the only way to get through a meal like that.