My wife first read about the local food centered market, Lionette, in one of our in-room magazines (I think). I'll cover Lionette and some related places in another post.In looking up the name of an oyster bar in Boston yesterday, I was reminded of yet another post I meant to do. So, listen, I'm totally backlogged on posts. When I promise forthcoming posts on local inventory, what's in season, my recent eat local speech in Glen Ellyn, I mean it. I promise. And I have a couple of restaurants to report on, in the loop; both I generally liked, and both had pretty good fries, but neither had fries that came close to as good as Mr. D's on the far Northwest side of Chicago.
Why, why, why...why, why, why; why it frustrates me so much that people, people, at least the general population in the Chicago area eat so poorly. Eat good food. Is there anything more basic, more satisfying, more hard to find than a good french fry. In another time, in another food board universe, there used to be vehement arguments on "cheap eats" vs. "fine dining". I'm surely a cheap guy, but I have some sympathies towards fine dining. Certainly, as I have focused on local eating, my snobbery towards product has grown. Still, there are things that cheap restaurants tend to do better, that satisfy more, and no more is that demonstrated than in the french fry.
I assume the couple running Mr. D's Shish Kabob (6656 W Diversey, Chicago) are a couple. They have that silent communication, nearly extended conversations of the long married. They divide the labor. Most orders just come over the short counter. She'll get the meat and condiments ready and later take the money. He mans the grill and fries the fries. Unlike, say Gene and Judes, the potatoes are not constantly cut. Rather, you can see the same levered device as Gene and Judes to the side, but there are bins a-ready. He works the two fryer system, aided by a long, square-headed spider, that he uses to both pat down frying potatoes, maintaining submergence, and straining out any fallen bits.
It is rare, really rare, for a better (read more expensive) to take the same care on their fries. Outside Chicago, I know, but so representative, both of the Kellers in Las Vegas, Hubert at Burger Bar and Thomas at Bouchon, produce fries no where close to Mr. D. I remember someone telling me at Bouchon that they just did not have the time to make fries the way Mr. D does. Then, someone else told me, about one of the Kellers, that they got the "best frozen". Hahahahahaha. One of the places in the Loop had those too, skin on, maybe could fool a non-fry freak, but not me. I'm a freak.
A freak for good food. I get most of my good food from local farms. I also like to get my good food from guys who know how to do it. Guys like Mr. D.