restaurants

Power dog

Power dog

In our continuing quest to find the world’s best Chicago-style hot dog, we’ve found a contender out in Harbor Country.  Honestly, this was the best hot dog I’ve ever eaten.

Nani's mug, © 2013 Celia Her City

The name of the place is Nani’s, on the Red Arrow Highway in Union Pier, MI.  It’s a new place, opened last season, that only now is getting a reputation.  Besides hot dogs done various ways, Nani’s offers a shrimp roll and Italian Sausage.  In the morning it sells muffins that are made on the premises: Bacon-Maple Muffins, Lemon Rosemary with Pine Nuts . . . . a changing selection of exotic muffins that are cultivating a following.

The counter at Nani's in Union Pier, © 2013 Celia Her City

The menu includes dogs done various ways, vegetarian and non-meat offerings, and sides like pineapple cole slaw.

The hot dogs (Hebrew National brand) are all served on a buttered and toasted New England-style bun.  The standard toppings, which were excellent, were all freshly made.  The topping variants on offer are intriguing.  Will we try the “Egg Roll Dog” or the “Sweet and Spicy Dog” (with sriracha, pineapple cole slaw, jalapeños, bacon, and garlic mayo) next time?   Hm.  Don’t think I can pass on that Chicago style.

The Bushel ‘n Peck

The Bushel ‘n Peck

This morning, the wedding over, my family left Concord, where we’d been staying.  Some of us headed to the airport, others out to Worcester for a final visit with my sister.  She took us to a locally famous deli, the Bushel ‘n Peck, where we bought sandwiches and said our good-byes.  My parents and younger sister’s family were headed back to Pennsylvania.  My husband and I were headed for the Berkshires, to kill a day or two before flying back to Chicago via Albany.

The deli was crowded, though its appearance was modest, on the verge of dumpy.  There were nine in our party. Counter staff took our orders abstractedly, without writing down a thing.  Customers came and went.  Sandwiches began appearing, were as quickly claimed.  Despite our efforts to convey to the cashier what we’d ordered, it never came right, and I’m pretty sure we ended up underpaying.  But we got the food, and it was yummy.

'The bomb' at Elsa's Bushel 'n Peck, © 2013 Celia Her City

‘The bomb.’  A delicious wrap made with prosciutto, seafood salad, and cheese.

I had a seafood wrap called ‘The bomb.’  As sandwiches go, it was a beauty.

The bomb was misnamed, because it went down easy.  It was filled with fresh seafood salad, prosciutto ham, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, and mild cheese.  Everything about it was perfect—perfectly prepared and assembled, tightly wrapped, and every ingredient noticeably cold—a quality I look for when eating in a deli.

Elsa's Bushel 'n Peck: A memento, © 2013 Celia Her City

Photograph of Teddy Kennedy and Edward McCormack, Jr. with local businessmen; a handwritten note conveys the shock of JFK’s assassination.

On our way out, we noticed some vintage photographs on the walls.  We were deep in Kennedy territory.  This one memorialized the assassination of JFK.  A young Teddy Kennedy shakes hands with local businessmen, their sentiments telegraphed in a handwritten ‘Why?’  Meanwhile, Kennedy’s onetime rival, Edward McCormack, Jr, the nephew of a powerful speaker of the US House, stands by.  A poster of Audrey Hepburn in the background caught my eye.  Back then, too, she was idolized. . . . By now, of course, everyone in the picture has gone to their graves.

On Plymouth Court

On Plymouth Court

One of the funny things about the Loop is that it contains lots of streets that have an “out-of-the-way” feel.  The northernmost block of Plymouth Court, off Jackson, is this way.

It’s a backwater that the main currents of the city sweep past, unfrequented except for a valet loitering in the doorway of the Standard Club, waiting for something to do.  Waiting for important people who have business in the federal courts, chauffeured cars loiter, along with the occasional television crew.  Plymouth Court is the green room of politicians, lawyers, criminals: the class of people who make Chicago go.

The only notable thing on the block is this restaurant with its proud paint and retro sign.  It’s called The Plymouth, but it used to be Binyon’s, a very famous hangout that closed in the 90s.  I was too young to remember it, but I found this picture of what it looked like in the 1950s.

Someday I’d like to step in to the Plymouth and ascend to its rooftop deck for a drink.

Historical image courtesy of Chuckman’s Collection.

Landscape with memory

Landscape with memory

The el speeds past an indifferent landscape, much of it devoid of association or meaning.  Yet embedded in the landscape is a memory, like a tiny glimmer of quartz in all those dull rocks that lie on the beach, waiting to be picked up and looked at more closely.  In this case, the memory is of a hot summer night at the restaurant MK: happily threading through the crowds thronged and waiting for tables, ascending with my guy to a choice table in the loft, dressed in a bright yellow silk blouse and a white pencil skirt.

This photograph has been given a diffusion glow.