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844 W Randolph St
Chicago, IL 60607
(312) 491-0844

Grange Hall Burger Bar  

Categories: Burgers, Breakfast & Brunch
Neighborhoods: Near West Side, West Loop

2.0 star rating
6/28/2014 1 check-in here
The veggie burger is below average (starchy and without much flavor). Fries were fine, although my preference is not thick-cut fries. Service was generally OK, although we had to ask for an extra plate a few times. Interesting beer/liquor menu.

My main problem with Grange is that its veggie burger pales in comparison to Little Goat's version a few doors down. I'm not that high on Little Goat but their veggie burger is great. It is the same price as Grange's but infinitely superior. Actually, I ended up at Granger because I went to Little Goat but the wait was too long. I should have stuck it out.

I was going to give Grange 3 stars for being merely mediocre until we got the bill. 2 burgers, 2 drinks and a side of fries was $61 with tax and tip. That would be fine if we enjoyed the meal, but it just wasn't that good. My wife had a beef burger and she said it was fine if instantly forgettable. Overall, a poor value. So long as Little Goat continues to offer a better product at the same price just steps away, there's no reason for me to return.
1560 N Damen Ave
Chicago, IL 60622
(773) 360-7386

Stan's Donuts & Coffee  

Categories: Donuts, Coffee & Tea
Neighborhood: Wicker Park

3.0 star rating
This is really a 2.5 star review. Stan's makes some great donuts. Service has always been helpful and friendly. However, their failure to publicly disclose a key polarizing ingredient in over half of its donuts knocks Stan's down a few stars.

I learned after maybe a dozen visits that their yeast raised donuts are made with lard. If given a choice, I wouldn't eat products made with this ingredient. Also, I took some vegetarian friends here who ate non-vegetarian donuts on my recommendation (which I never would have given had I known what was in the donuts). I would never suggest that Stan's change its recipes, but disclosing its use of lard in advance would give customers the ability to make an informed choice.

Listed in: The Definitive Donut List

64 Bergen St
Brooklyn, NY 11201
(718) 596-1511


Category: Sporting Goods
Neighborhood: Cobble Hill

5.0 star rating
Friendly, helpful staff (which is rare among skate shops). Well designed displays. Overall, a great shop. If it was my local, I'd shop here all the time.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
340 E Randolph St
Chicago, IL 60601
(312) 496-3999

Brown Bag Seafood Co.  

Categories: Salad, Seafood, Sandwiches
Neighborhood: The Loop

3.0 star rating
Brown Bag has a lot of promise but is showing some new restaurant growing pains.

The concept/gimmick of writing down your own order doesn't enhance the experience. I'm not sure how this is superior to having people order at a counter. It probably sounded interesting in a brainstorming session, but in practice it's a nedless hassle as customers mill around trying to figure it out. I was there when it wasn't crowded, but imagine there would be a considerable backup when busy. The "hook" of this restaurant is easily it's weakest point.

I had the tuna tacos. Tuna should be pink in the middle. This was way over done, well past the point of dryness. The taco toppings and tortilla were solid. My side of brussels sprouts was really good.

The menu is interesting and presents a refreshing change from the other lunch options in the area. I'll give Brown Bag another few weeks before returning to see if they've streamlined the process or learned how to properly cook fish.
445 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 661-1434

Frontera Grill  

Category: Mexican
Neighborhood: Near North Side

2.0 star rating
Frontera Grill is a mediocre restaurant coasting on the goodwill of a celebrity chef. I really don't understand the glowing reviews of this place. Average food would ordinarily rate 3 stars, but the prices charged here are outrageous in comparison to the quality.  

I've been here a few times and always thought that maybe I ordered the wrong things. After my most recent experience, I can safely conclude that the food is just not that good. The sweet plantains are actually great, but I wouldn't recommend a restaurant based on a single side dish. The best of the rest is the ceviche, which I rate only as above average.

The room is dark and dated. We were most recently there on a warm, sunny day and the dining room was like entering a cave. It was actually a downer as we came inside from one of the first nice days of spring.

Service was unpolished. Everyone at the table was delivered the wrong food, waiter took food order without asking about drinks, etc.

There is usually a long wait to get into Frontera, so I think many people have a sense of accomplishment getting to eat here. I feel like that, coupled with Bayless' renown, are what make people rate Frontera higher than it should be rated. If this same food was served at a new restaurant with an anonymous chef, there is no way it would be this highly regarded.
Chicago, IL 60610
(312) 600-4814

The Eastman Egg Company  

Category: Food Trucks
Neighborhood: The Loop

1.0 star rating
I ordered the Fairfax sandwich and was told it would be ready in 7-10 minutes. 20 minutes later I had a flavorless sandwich served on a heavy, bready, tasteless roll. I pitched it after three bites as it wasn't worth finishing. A complete waste of time and money. Eastman owes me $7.
300 N Lasalle
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 329-1800

Chicago Cut Steakhouse  

Category: Steakhouses
Neighborhoods: Near North Side, River North

4.0 star rating
I went for an early lunch on a weekday. At 11:55 it was nearly empty and by 12:05 it was jam packed. It was unreal how quickly it got crowded.

I had the crab and avocado appetizer and the sesame encrusted tuna entree. Both were great. Service was knowledgeable and attentive. The view was very nice.

This is not my usual scene. I don't eat beef and businesspeople in suits trying to impress others by talking loudly stress me out. I'm shocked that I enjoyed myself. If I go back to Chicago Cut, it will be to sit on the patio on a nice evening, enjoying some drinks, oysters and maybe the fish tacos.

Highly recommended for business lunches.
955 W Randolph St
Chicago, IL 60607
(312) 733-0707

La Colombe  

Category: Coffee & Tea
Neighborhoods: Near West Side, West Loop

3.0 star rating
The coffee here is quite good, but the staff is generally unpleasant. I'm not looking to make friends with the staff, but is a "hi" or a smile out of line?

The atmosphere at Morgan Street Cafe and Little Goat Bread is much better and the coffee is just as good as La Colombe's. I'd skip this location of Colombe in favor of those nearby spots.

For the record, the Colombe location on Damen has the same great coffee but trades pretentious lames for much cooler and nicer baristas.
825 W Fulton Market St
Chicago, IL 60607
(312) 445-8977

Publican Quality Meats  

Categories: Butcher, Delis, Caterers
Neighborhoods: Fulton Market, Near West Side, West Loop

5.0 star rating
This is a non-traditional review of PQM, as I'm only talking about the cookies. I hate cookies, but I love the cookies at this place.  A while back, I was surprised to see that PQM made its own cookies, so I picked up a few not really expecting much. They were awesome. PQM is seriously the only place I'll buy cookies. The oatmeal sandwich and cowboy cookies are my favorites.
44 E Grand Ave
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 521-8701


Category: Italian
Neighborhood: Near North Side

3.0 star rating
Given Mario Batali's involvement and the Michelin star earned by its sister restaurant Babbo, I had high expectations for Baffo. Unfortunately, Baffo fell quite short. While not bad, the Baffo experience is a poor value and I would not return. Baffo's closest comparison in the area is Cafe Spiaggia. They share similar price points, but Cafe Spiaggia is superior.

The room is well decorated, but the atmosphere needs immediate improvement. The soundtrack was 90s wuss rock (Hootie, Spin Doctors, etc). It became a bad joke as the night went on. Also, the lights are way too bright. Candles are on the tables, but are totally unnecessary as they are overpowered by the ceiling lights. Are there no dimmer switches in Baffo?

The food was generally good, but inconsistent. We had the charred octopus, which we liked until about halfway through-- which is when we became overpowered by its saltiness. The chestnut crepe was a solid appetizer and one that I would recommend. The special pasta was bucatini with scallops, which was good but not particularly "special." Highlight of the night was a squid ink fettucine with lobster, which I would rate among the best pasta I've ever had. Seriously, this is a must-get standout dish. We shared the "Sicilian life guard style" calamari, which was just OK. The gelati were great. Baffo's cocktails are pricey, but very good. In particular, the Rosemarino and La Tempesta cocktails are highly recommended.

Service was generally fine, but not what I'd expect of a place of this caliber (or at least what Baffo aspires to). Our waiter was nice, but seemed hazy on the descriptions of some dishes. We barely put a dent in the calamari (too full) and one of the runners asked if we wanted it wrapped. We said "yes" and that was the last was saw of the calamari and the runner.

At Baffo's price point, I expect a lot more. Maybe this place will improve over time, but in the meantime, I cannot recommend this place. Also, Baffo should work to distance itself from Babbo. Babbo has achieved near-legendary status, which sets a level of expectations that Baffo is nowhere close to meeting.

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Review votes:
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Chicago, IL

Yelping Since

September 2006

Things I Love

Nutella, pizza, gelato, Xbox 360, vegetarian food, keeping it ten zillion, donuts, the NBA, my Nespresso machine, fish tacos

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Air Jordans and Levis

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Palos Hills, IL

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Quarter Pounder with cheese and a Shamrock Shake

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