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Beefathon V report

Beefathon V report
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  • Beefathon V report

    Post #1 - September 24th, 2005, 10:21 pm
    Post #1 - September 24th, 2005, 10:21 pm Post #1 - September 24th, 2005, 10:21 pm
    It might be a little too early to ask but how did things go today?
  • Post #2 - September 26th, 2005, 9:12 am
    Post #2 - September 26th, 2005, 9:12 am Post #2 - September 26th, 2005, 9:12 am
    Since nobody else has chimed in, I'll give a brief report.

    I don't have any pictures, but I'm sure Gary will post some from the first two stops.

    Stop 1 Chickies: Clearly this beefathon's top location. Pleasantly, beefy gravy and a very complimentary homemade (or is it housemade, handmade, etc.) giardeniera. I found the beef to be a little stringy, but still tender. Overall, the combination of the ingredients was superior to any of them by themselves. The fries which we were initially offered, while nicely filled with potato flavor, were underdone. These were replaced with an order of nicely crisped fries that I found overly greasy.


    Stop 2 Freddy's: While I have loved this little shop since VI introduced me to it. I have never been a fan of their Italian Beef. The gravy when tasted by itself reminded me of diluted pizza sauce. Standard commercial giardeniera, but the standout was definitely the sweet peppers. For most of us that have been involved in the past beefathons generally agree that there is no reason to even try the sweet peppers. Freddy's sweet peppers, unlike most have almost no bitterness to them. I also enjoyed the Italian sausage, but it could have used some help from the grill.


    Stop 3 Parisi's: Since our group had dwindled down to 3 by this time, Dickson and I decided not to stop at a interesting looking Mexican place on Austin. This would probably be the biggest mistake of the day. Everything we tried can be best described in one word BLECH!

    Stop 4 Vinces: Apparently they don't open until later so we were not able to visit.

    Stop 5: Tony's Italian Beef: It was stated that Tony's had the advantage of being directly after the hellish experience of Parisi's, but I believe that it still would be completely serviceable if I lived in the area. The counterperson was kind enough to portion the sandwich for us. Lawry's seasoned salt was used on the fries which didn't bother me. What bothered me was the complete lack of texture in the hot peppers. Literally, we were presented with a cup full of oily mush. Otherwise a decent sammy.

    Stop 6 Duke's: Dukes definitely won me over in the atmosphere department. I was reminded of the places my father would take me as a youngster. The scene was enhanced by the emergence of a thunderstorm while we ate. Now about Duke's beef. Here we found another beefy gravy which complimented the sandwich very well. The giardeniera was proclaimed, by yours truly, to be the best of the day. Horrid sweet peppers were the only disappointment for me. Overall, if I was in the area I might stop back.


    All in all I would have to say that this was a fairly successful day. However, I do have to wonder if we are only spinning our wheels. I don't believe that any truly amazing finds have arisen since my initial beefathon (#2) last year. I do agree that tastes vary and what I believe is good you might detest, but where do we draw the line?

    Flip
    "Beer is proof God loves us, and wants us to be Happy"
    -Ben Franklin-
  • Post #3 - October 3rd, 2005, 2:13 pm
    Post #3 - October 3rd, 2005, 2:13 pm Post #3 - October 3rd, 2005, 2:13 pm
    All in all I would have to say that this was a fairly successful day. However, I do have to wonder if we are only spinning our wheels. I don't believe that any truly amazing finds have arisen since my initial beefathon (#2) last year. I do agree that tastes vary and what I believe is good you might detest, but where do we draw the line?


    As we come closer and closer to the Holy Grail, the quest becomes wearisome, and we begin to lose faith. But we must soldier on, for to abandon the quest just as the Grail is coming into view would be worse than to have not embarked on the adventure at all.

    One more Beefathon, and then the finals. Full reports on recent outing to follow next week. Then we schedule the last preliminary outing to the far south side, followed by a tasting of the best against the best. I suppose we all know who the winners will be, and the main question here is how many finalists we will include, and who the second tier will include, after Johnnies and Al's.

    I am rather impressed by the endless varieties of Giardinera we have encountered, though. While the beef sammies in the last 2 outings have either been lousy (Beefathon IV) or pretty good without breaking any new ground (Beefathon V), each trip reveals at least two new and different takes on Giardinera. From this I conclude either that Giardinera is viewed as an important differentiator between Beef stands, or that it is much, much cheaper to make than buy. In any case, the variety of house-made Giardinera is impressive.
    d
    Feeling (south) loopy
  • Post #4 - October 9th, 2005, 10:07 am
    Post #4 - October 9th, 2005, 10:07 am Post #4 - October 9th, 2005, 10:07 am
    Beef-A-Thon V
    Dickson, George R, Steve Z, Pigmon, Flip, G Wiv.
    9/24/2005

    LTH,

    I was only able to stay for two legs of Beef-A-Thon V, Chickie's and Freddy's.

    Chickie's

    Chickie's is your standard Italian Beef Joint done well, no, check that, done very well, and is one of my personal favorites in Chicago. Spotless, including the picnic table area and attached parking lot, a friendly owner, who seems to be in attendance 100% of the time Chickie's is open, often along with his wife, and excellent Italian Beef. Nice portion of thin sliced good quality meat, rich beefy flavored gravy, maybe the best gravy in Chicago, and thin sliced jalapeno giardiniera.

    Chickie's Italian Beef
    Image

    I really enjoy Chickie's jalapeno giardiniera, though I could see how traditionalists might feel it's a bit of a side step. Carm's does a jalapeno giardiniera as well, but minced as opposed to sliced.

    Chickie's Jalapeno Giardiniera
    Image

    Chickie's house made sweet pepper verges on very good, but is run off course by a slight note of bitterness in the skin. Fries are terrific, ask for them crisp. Though our first batch of fries was slightly underdone, which was attributable to us being the first customers of the morning. They made up a fresh batch, no charge, no hassle.

    Chickie's Fries
    Image

    George R divvying up Italian Beef at Chickie's
    Image

    As an interesting aside, Pigmon said El Barzon, a block south of Chickie's on Pulaski, was excellent for carne en su jugo. He picked up an order for Trixie Pea.

    Freddy's

    Being as Freddy's is West of Harlem I got slightly turned around on the way there from Chickie's, though no harm, no foul as the wait for our Beef-A-Thon order was quite lengthy. The beef, thinly sliced, but not overly so, was good, not a bell ringer, but certainly within range. Bread was heartier than the standard Gonella or Turrano, a nice change of pace.

    Freddy's Italian Beef
    Image

    Gravy had a hint of tomato, good beef flavor with noticeable oregano, but was overly oily/greasy.

    Freddy's Italian Beef Gravy
    Image

    Giardiniera was fine, straight out of a jar, though nice flavor, but the real winner were the house roasted red sweet peppers, though the peppers could have used a bit of char to take them over the top.

    Freddy's Sweet Pepper
    Image

    Sausage was nondescript, a baked link that had, seemingly, been held a while. Flavor was ok, with a distinctive fennel hit, but had a slightly odd aftertaste.

    Freddy's Italian Sausage
    Image

    Pistachio gelato was rich, with good pistachio flavor, but would have benefited from pistachio pieces both for additional flavor and texture.

    Freddy's Pistachio Gelato
    Image

    We also had an 'interesting' San Pellegrino soda, Chinotto. Intensely bitter, evocative of Campari, Chinotto is, obviously, an acquired taste, and one I'm not likely to acquire anytime soon. :)

    San Pellegrino Chinotto
    Image

    All in all Freddy's is an interesting, compact, Italian grocery/Italian Deli that, while many sing it's praise, I've never been able to warm up to, though the house made bread, and sausage, is quite good. Though in a one to one taste off with Riviera's soprassata, I happened to have both in the house, Freddy's soprassata seemed undistinguished.

    Thanks again to George R and Dickson for leading the Beef-A-Thon way, it was a fun, interesting, though, for me, slightly abbreviated, afternoon in the company of LTHers. Looking forward to Beef-A-Thon VI.

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #5 - February 18th, 2006, 3:56 pm
    Post #5 - February 18th, 2006, 3:56 pm Post #5 - February 18th, 2006, 3:56 pm
    As we prepare for Beefathon VI, it seems time to recap the scores from Beefathon V, and also merge the reports over here from the events thread:

    No big surprises.

    Chickies was by far the best beef, with an average score of 8.3, versus 6.3 for Dukes & Tony's, 5.6 for Freddy's and an awful 4.7 for Parisi's.

    The bread was all Gonnella's and scored a 6 in every place, though I am currently fighting against the mediocre rolls that abuse our Beef sammies, and believe this score is way too high.

    Gravy went to Chickie's spicy mix with an 8.1. The rest were not too hot, each flawed in its own way - Duke's got a 5.8, Tony's 5.3, and then Freddy's and Parisi's were pretty bad at 4.7 and 4.5.

    No surprise, then that the best sandwich was Chickie's with an 8.7, followed by Duke's and Tony's tied at a 6.3, Freddy's at a 5.3 and Parisi's - the part that did not go straight to the trash - at 4.8.

    This was not a good trip for Fries - Duke's got a 6.3 for fries that are a whole lot like Mickey D's. Duke's at 5.5, Chickie's at 4.4, and Parisi's at 2.7. As noted, Chickies might be better when they have the fryer working properly, but they were challenged on this visit.

    Giardinera was decent, not thrilling, tho some do love Chickie's green version. Chickie's got a 6.8, Duke's a 6.5, Parisi's a 6 (so, if you must go to Parisi's just get a roll & giardinera...), Freddy's a 4.8 and Tony's a 4.3.

    Sweet peppers - Freddy's has very good, real peppers and rated an 8.6 (!). The others were not good and ranked Chickie's 5.5, Tony's 4.1, Dukes 3 and Parisi's 1.3.

    Atmosphere was nice at all the places. Chickies ranked a 7.9, Dukes a 7.5, Freddy's a 7.4, Parisi's a 7.2 and Tony's a 6.

    Based on this, Chickies still deserves its place in the top tier, or at least the top of the second tier. Despite their champions, none of the rest of these places really belong in those top two tiers, though Dukes and Tony's are decent sammies, and Dukes has a pretty complete package - sandwich, fries (if McDonalds' style is okay for you) and giardinera.

    On to Beefathon VI.
    d
    Feeling (south) loopy
  • Post #6 - February 18th, 2006, 5:49 pm
    Post #6 - February 18th, 2006, 5:49 pm Post #6 - February 18th, 2006, 5:49 pm
    In case anyone missed it, Beefathon VI - Far South will be Saturday, March 11th. Planning is at:

    http://lthforum.com/bb/viewtopic.php?t=7181&highlight=
    Where there’s smoke, there may be salmon.
  • Post #7 - February 18th, 2006, 6:22 pm
    Post #7 - February 18th, 2006, 6:22 pm Post #7 - February 18th, 2006, 6:22 pm
    G Wiv wrote:We also had an 'interesting' San Pellegrino soda, Chinotto. Intensely bitter, evocative of Campari, Chinotto is, obviously, an acquired taste, and one I'm not likely to acquire anytime soon. :)

    San Pellegrino Chinotto
    Image


    Those are fightin' words! :x
    I measure the quality of any bar I visit on if they have Campari or not.
    Of course, they usually have to dust off the bottle before pouring me a glass. :wink:

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