Duke of Perth: A Happy Holiday in Fishandchipshire

See, Fishanchipshire is a county of England, just north of... all right, where the hell is Fishandchipshire? I believe I was told it "existed," as it were. I want my money back! Where's my prozac?!

2913 N. Clark

Website

Our UK comrades call fries “chips.”Unless they’re the fries in the previous entry at Lucky’s Sandwich Co., in which case a Brit would call them “Oh god, someone get the flamethrower.” But for a good set of genuine English chips and even better beer-battered fish fillet, there is only one place in Chicago where you can go for the best fish & chips: Duke of Perth. Because, y’know, you can go to McDonald’s, get a fillet o’fish meal, pour vinegar on the fries, and take away the bread to make fish & chips, but that’s just regoddamndiculous.

Duke is a nifty Scottish bar that specializes in whisky and their famous fish & chips. I’m not a big whisky fan, but I’ve developed an unrequited love for their fish.

You know how good this fish & chips meal is? Whenever I try to write out fish & chips on this blog form, I keep telling myself “I’ve gotta capitalize it!” and oftentimes I accidentally do. It’s that important of a menu item and it deserves to a proper noun, but only at Duke of Perth.

Fish & Chips.

This particular proper noun is equal parts moist and dry, flaky and smooth, salty and not-quite-so-salty. It’s a delicate balance to make this fried fish, which they not only serve with chips, but peas and tartar sauce. I know peas aren’t too popular, but trust me: once your fish and your chips are gone, you’ll be compelled to eat the peas regardless of how much you hate them, because you’ll have been busy eating and you’ll be in sort of a trance.

The best part: on Wednesdays and Fridays, the Fish & Chips (DAMMIT I DID IT, oh well not uncapitalizing this time, might as well wear it as a badge of shame) are all-you-can-eat. Which can be great if you’re hungry – if you’re not, come on some other day. On the all-you-can-eat days the place will be crowded, and the dish is very filling – so you might have only room for one.

As for the alcohol– like i said, I’m not a huge whisky fan, nor am I a beer fan (oh my God Dave, what are you doing making a food blog if you don’t like beer YAAAARGGHGHGHGHGHGHGGHG I HATE YOU) But I do love hard cider, and this is one of the few bars in Chicago that has it on tap.

As for the service and decor – the service is what you’d expect of a pub (friendly, unless you’re a drunk – nothing too special but it’s better than laziness or rudeness), and the decorations make it feel true. It’s an intricate place with more than a few old paintings and wood surfaces everywhere. You’ll feel so downright Scottish that if any guy mentions “Manchester United” in either a positive or negative regard, you’ll want to bash the bloody piker’s head in, because you’ll either think they’re overrated or you’ll be a closet fan.

Thank you, Duke of Perth. Your place is amazing, and provides the best fish & chips in Chicago.

AMAZING STUFF.

Shiroi Hana: Ur doin sooshi rite

Shove all that dead sea life in my mouth RIGHT NOW.

3242 N. Clark

Website

Comrades, Japan is a good country. Not only do you get fed there, but you get fed raw fish that actually tastes good. That’s the equivalent of an American taking a rusty truck spring and incorporating it into a cheeseburger and it tastes amazing. It’s just magic because nobody else can do it right, and that’s the magic that is truckburgers sushi.

But America is not Japan, and there are a lot of sushi places. So which one do you trust to deliver the best sushi in Chicago? The answer: go to Clark and Belmont, take a northbound turn on the west side of the street, ignore the screaming bums, if you park your car in the Dunkin’ Donuts lot get your best screaming voice ready for the douchebag who puts the boot on your wheel, and you’ll find a place decorated by wall rocks that calls itself Shiroi Hana. In Japanese, that means “white flower,” but the literal translation means “shut up and feed me you amazing and wonderful nitwit.”

Just kidding, the good people at Shiroi Hana are probably smart enough to question the existence of my head and make it explode in the process, if they’re as good at thinkin’ as they are with sushi.

How do you judge such a unique food? Easy: have some lesser-quality sushi from somewhere else. It’s a total crapshoot in this city, because any old Thai food place can say “oh yeah, we do sushi too,” but do they get shipments of fresh fish from a frozen truck every day like Shiroi Hana? I live behind them on Wilton, I would know; if I wake up early enough I always hear the truck.

"Oh crap. Dave's doin' a sushi review. I guess I'd better just swim into a blender to go out quickly and painlessly. I leave all of my possessions except for my plutonium stash to my girlfriend, all the plutonium can go to Al-Qaeda."

That was probably the most ridiculous caption I’ve ever put on this blog. But it’s near midnight and I’m tired as hell, throw me a bone, comrades.

The only two real drawbacks with Shiroi Hana are the decor (the place looks cheaper than it tastes; the chairs look like they were made in 1977 as part of a study by some Swedish experimental furniture designer on Neo-Dadaism, where the artwork slowly destroys itself as time progresses) and the wonky hours (open for lunch, open for dinner, closed in-between). But these are issues you can swerve around by 1. ordering takeout and 2. not having sushi at 9:00 A.M. like a total douchebag.

The service is nice, but they usually seem a little stressed out. Understandably so – the place is packed at night. One calming thing about the service is that there’s almost always one particular old man, I have no idea what his name is, making the sushi in plain sight – and he does a damn good job. I grow fearful of the words “under” “new” and “management” when used in the same sentence in this restaurant.

This is the best sushi in Chicago. Go there. This is not a choice.

The Three Best Burgers in the Chicago Area

And here it is. The best burgers in Chicago come from here. Article over.

Don’t get me wrong, comrades. McDonald’s, Burger King, and all the other nifty burger joints are nifty, and they provide some pretty close impressionist copies of edibility. But you’ll also find McDonaldses in Kentucky, India, Madagascar, Chile, Death Valley, the bottom of the Marianas Trench, Hoth, Klingon, Isengard, Gallifrey, Tatooine, and Mordor.

So, what about the ones we haven’t heard of yet? Because that’s kind of what this blog is about.

If you're a hop, and you're homeless, this is the place to be.

NUMBA FREE: Hop Häus – Various Chicago locations, just Google it.

It’s a bit on the expensive side, and all too often on the loud side – since it’s mainly a bar that just happens to serve burgers. But they’re good burgers, otherwise they wouldn’t be here on the #3 spot, now would they?! You jerk.

The customization options and sheer amount of how many burgers there are can be a wee tad intimidating, but once you get what you order you likely won’t regret it.

It’s not #2 or #1 because, as I mentioned, it’s expensive and loud – and all too often packed with yuppies, regardless of the location.

Five against one? Good thing I'm Bruce Lee.

NUMBA TOO: Five Guys – Various Chicago locations

Who are these five guys anyway? I’ll bet it was created by four guys, but there are enough quartets out there – the Fantastic Four, the Beatles, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, just to name a few – that they had to go the extra mile and take pride in being different.

The main thing they take pride in, however, isn’t so much their fivefold manpower, but their massive amount of awards and great reviews. From the looks of all the praise lining the walls, you’d be convinced that their best-burger-in-the-goddamn-universe status is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

And you know what? It probably is a self-fulfilling prophecy. I’ll bet they started with a couple of phony quotations and waited for the real praise to roll in. “Gosh oh gee, I’d better not piss people off, they really like this place.”

But the above theory is dependent on how good these burgers actually are. And they’re not bad at all!

I dare say it’s one of the finest-tasting, mealiest hunks of organic meat I’ve tasted in Chicago. It is a bit on the dry side, but that’s better than being greasy as all hell.

One drawback: if you are allergic to peanuts and you’re suicidal, then by all means pay the good people at your local Five Guys a visit. But if you’re allergic and you value your life, I’d recommend keeping a sixteen-mile radius away from this place, as they serve bulk peanuts for free in their shell.

Will you marry me, mysterious DIY scrapbook menu cover girl?

DA NUMBA WUN BURGA IN DA SHEEKAGO ARRY-YUH: Lucky Platter: 514 Main St., Evanston

Expensive sit-down place? Yes.

Kuh-razy metal fish decorations staring at you while you’re trying to eat? Yes.

Damn good burgers? A THOUSAND TIMES YES.

Look comrades, Lucky Platter, just off the Main street Purple Line stop north of Howard, is plain-and-simply amazing. They let you put feta and sun-dried tomatoes and other wonderful ingredients on meat that’s been custom-tailored by angry Russian butchers with severe obsessive-compulsive disorder about their craft, who were raised by domineering Soviet cheeseburgers who raised their adopted children with the sole purpose of manufacturing the amazing cheeseburgers that they never turned out to be in their own prefabricated lives to perfection.

There’s not much else to say about these gourmet little things other than the customization options are simple, yet endless. Definitely give Lucky Platter a try.

Ian’s – Cthulhu Raped my Dreams and Told Me to Eat Here

Damn right.

3463 N. Clark

Website

True story, comrades – I had a recurring dream about Ian’s Pizza. I had seen it on the way home from treks in the car, and for several days I went to sleep, and at the end of my dream I went to this place. Not knowing what it was like inside, I imagined Ian’s as the mecca of all pizza lovers, with god-spankingly amazing pizza that I couldn’t eat because I woke up at the end. Then I went there and I stopped having these dreams.

Apparently, some horrible brain-frying demon god – let’s say Cthulhu because he’s popular – really has taste in Pizza, and decided to do a similar thing to this food blog and recommend places to me, only he did it by invading my subconscious and risking my sanity in the process.

Thanks, Cthulhu!

Sometimes I really wish I was making this up. Some people have recurring dreams that tell them to make serious changes in their life. I have those dreams about pizza. I’m fat, aren’t I. Be right back, crying for the next few years.

Okay, I’m back. When you first walk in and you see their selection: you’ll see three things wrong with Ian’s:

  1. They put cheese tortellini on pizza.
  2. They put tortilla chips and salsa on pizza.
  3. The above two completely amazing items are NOT IN YOUR FUCKING MOUTH YET.

And believe me, once you are given your wondrous little slice or two of Ian’s pizza, you will required by the unwritten five millionth amendment to the Constitution to be a regular customer.

They are breaking the Geneva Convention by not shoving all of those slices in my mouth for free.

They also shake things up by having a weekly special, so that you don’t get the same thing every time. Sometimes it’s the Chicago Style Hot Dog pizza (want), sometimes it’s a lackluster flavor such as the Fish & Chips pizza (can’t win every time), but you never know what you’re going to get. Or, you can just check what the upcoming next flavor is, then you’ll know. So you’ll kinda know what you’re going to get. Whatever.

My only complaint with Ian’s is their weird hours. On weekends they’re normal, but on weekdays, they open at 5 PM. Unless it’s a Cubs game, in which case they’ll have weekend hours. But the Cubs don’t play year-round, and if you’re in the middle of January and you arrive at 1 PM with your ears falling off from frostbite and you NEED something warm… go to Einstein Bros. across the street. (And they suck.)

But it’s a small price to pay for what I claim to be the best frickin’ pizza in Chicago. (And that’s counting deep dish. Let’s face it, deep dish is great sometimes, but only when you don’t care about looking like a walrus.)