Thursday, April 16, 2009

My First Chicago-Style Dog

Ever since Phil Foss responded to Menupages' street food challenge with the lobster dog at Lockwood, I've been flirting with the idea of ordering it up. I usually make most non-life-altering decisions in about a nanosecond, but I vacillated on this. Maybe it's because I feel so left out of the Symphony in Pig movement, as Dennis Ray Wheaton coined it in Chicago mag this month, that's seduced dozens of chefs at places like Mado and The Publican. These are restaurants where pescatarians like me feel a little like Tracy Flick showing up at an orgy. The cults of Hot Doug's and charcuterie are having such a moment lately, even something as honestly marine as Foss' creation struck me as getting a little bit sucked into the pork vortex.

But, hell, I work a block from Lockwood and literally walk through the Palmer House lobby several times a week. And a girl's gotta eat something other than tuna wraps for lunch. So I parked myself at the bar today fully expecting to order the crab cake sandwich, as I did last time I was there. Except that there is no crab cake sandwich anymore. It's been replaced by the dog. So I ordered it... with truffled chips.

It really is quite good. Not life-changing. But surprisingly rich and delicate at the same time, if not a touch too oozy with more saffron-ginger buerre blanc than it needed. Foss did a great job of honoring all the textures and flavors of the hot dog (if I remember's been 15 years or so) using lobster, scallop mousse, leeks, tomatoes, a potato bun and spices. But even if you were oblivious to the provenance in say, a blindfolded, 9 and 1/2 Weeks type situation, it stands on its own as inventive, decadent, comfort food. I don't know anybody who isn't going for that right now. At $18, it's not a recession darling, but I'm not going shame you from enjoying one. Quite the contrary. Despite what the media wants to tell us 24-7, some people have money right now and they're still spending it on things that make them feel good. As were the six other people eating at the bar with me today.

Our waiter mentioned that Potter's, the cocktail lounge at the Palmer House, is offering the dog for half price on Wednesdays. That's nine more bucks for your cocktail kitty.

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