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The Big Baby—A Chicago Burger Style from the SW Side

The Big Baby—A Chicago Burger Style from the SW Side
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  • Post #121 - January 31st, 2013, 12:50 pm
    Post #121 - January 31st, 2013, 12:50 pm Post #121 - January 31st, 2013, 12:50 pm
    ld111134 wrote:
    David Hammond wrote:
    ld111134 wrote:Does the method of preparation make a difference in taste versus a "regular" double cheeseburger with grilled onions. An In-N-Out double cheeseburger prepared "animal style" has a very distinct taste and texture due, probably due to the mustard grilling. Is the same true of a Big Baby?


    My theory, more on "assembly" than "preparation" is that because condiments – mustard, ketchup and pickles – are on the bottom heel of the bun, when you bite in, these flavors hit your tongue more immediately and completely than they would if they were on the top, as they usually are.


    Would I achieve the same results for a "regular" double cheesburger with grilled onions if I flipped it and ate it upside down? :lol:


    Yes, as long as the cheese was between the two patties.

    If you're into DIY, try making your own BB at McDonalds: off the Dollar Menu, get a McDouble and a Cheddar Onion Burger. Remove the upper layer of cheese and steamed onions from the McDouble; flip sandwich; move onions from Cheddar Onion Burger to what is now the top (formerly the bottom) of the McDouble. Imagine the bun has sesame seeds.

    Re: preparation, ReneG explained the "classic" procedure of allow buns halves to sit on the griddle gathering delicious grease, though I'd guess that technique is is not exclusive to the BB.
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  • Post #122 - February 1st, 2013, 1:19 am
    Post #122 - February 1st, 2013, 1:19 am Post #122 - February 1st, 2013, 1:19 am
    David Hammond wrote:If you're into DIY, try making your own BB at McDonalds: off the Dollar Menu, get a McDouble and a Cheddar Onion Burger. Remove the upper layer of cheese and steamed onions from the McDouble; flip sandwich; move onions from Cheddar Onion Burger to what is now the top (formerly the bottom) of the McDouble. Imagine the bun has sesame seeds.

    Hi,

    I tried to get my local McDonald's to create this for me. Unfortunately, the people behind the counter did not quite understand what I meant by, "Could the onions used for the Grilled Cheese Onion burger gp on a McDouble instead of the tiny onions?"

    While both sandwiches are a dollar, it would be priceless to get McDonald's to make a Big Baby or because Highland Park is so far away from Midway Airport, would Rene G insist it be called a Big Mickey? :)

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
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  • Post #123 - February 1st, 2013, 12:41 pm
    Post #123 - February 1st, 2013, 12:41 pm Post #123 - February 1st, 2013, 12:41 pm
    The question, "Isn't the Big Baby just a double cheeseburger?" has come up in this thread before. The simple answer is, "Yes, of course." But setting aside issues of its origin and spread which some find interesting, the Big Baby's somewhat unusual assembly actually makes a difference in its taste.

    The most important ingredient is the onions—they have to be thoroughly sautéed, almost melted but not browned, and noticeably greasy. Without such onions it's hardly a Big Baby. Here's an example (from a place in Crestwood) with onions that aren't close to proper. The taste of the burger becomes entirely different.

    Image

    That bun also lacks sesame seeds. A small point perhaps, but you notice when they're not there. And the bun should be lightly toasted on the flat-top. Usually only the edges get browned.

    The beef patties are also important for the proper flavor. Fresh-ground, hand-formed meat might produce a "better" burger but it won't taste like a Big Baby. The ratio of meat to bun is critical. I noted above some patties that seemed a bit small, resulting in a sandwich with the balance tipped toward bread.

    Cheese placement, too, contributes to the overall flavor. When the cheese is placed between the patties, it mingles with the exuded juices and greases, becoming an unctuous presence between the patties. Cheese placed on top tends to be partly absorbed by the bun, buffering its effects.

    As Hammond noted, putting the condiments on the bottom is also important. Many places would simply squirt ketchup and mustard on top with the grilled onions, mixing the flavors. Having the condiments, the cheese, and the onions all segregated is important so that each is tasted somewhat separately.

    What's not there is as important as what is. A proper Big Baby does not have lettuce, tomato or raw onion. Their freshness and crunch are totally at odds with the soft, steamy, greasy nature of the Big Baby.

    Image

    That's something called a Big Baby that I got in East Chicago, Indiana. I don't know why they bother with the name; it's not even close.

    Finally a Big Baby should be served snugly wrapped in thin waxed paper. Even for eat-in customers it's never presented open-faced on a plate. It's important for the assembled burger to briefly and gently steam, thus melding flavors. It's best to wait a minute or two before unwrapping to allow the cheese to fully melt, to avoid that "raw" taste.

    So, yeah, I guess you can say a Big Baby is just a double cheeseburger.
  • Post #124 - February 1st, 2013, 12:52 pm
    Post #124 - February 1st, 2013, 12:52 pm Post #124 - February 1st, 2013, 12:52 pm
    Thank you, Reverand, for preaching to us from the Church of the Big Baby! I'm a believer and I want one NOW.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #125 - February 1st, 2013, 1:00 pm
    Post #125 - February 1st, 2013, 1:00 pm Post #125 - February 1st, 2013, 1:00 pm
    Had the Big Baby at Little Market Brasserie last night:

    Image

    This was probably the finest tasting Big Baby I've ever had, but it was definitely fresh, hand-formed, and so may not have had the authentic low-end greasiness of a genuine baby (I, personally, think that's a sacrifice worth making). For the price, one wouldn't expect a pre-formed, frozen patty (though these are close to regulation size small patties: maybe 6:1s, just guessing).

    Now, one paradigm-challenging difference in assembly of the BB at LMB is that the onions, though done right, are inserted between the patties. I'm not 100% certain that this ultimately makes a difference, but it is one more example of how this version strays from the traditional southside model. I'd like to hear Chef Poli's rationale for this, as I'm certain he has a good reason for this arrangement (maybe it helps avoid bun crown slippage due to slippery onions butting right up against bread?).

    Perhaps because this is a luxe version of the BB, there are cheese slices on both patties.
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #126 - February 1st, 2013, 1:05 pm
    Post #126 - February 1st, 2013, 1:05 pm Post #126 - February 1st, 2013, 1:05 pm
    David Hammond wrote:Had the Big Baby at Little Market Brasserie last night:

    Image


    That's more of a Big Tweenager than a Big Baby. :wink:
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #127 - February 1st, 2013, 2:01 pm
    Post #127 - February 1st, 2013, 2:01 pm Post #127 - February 1st, 2013, 2:01 pm
    Rene G wrote:The question, "Isn't the Big Baby just a double cheeseburger?" has come up in this thread before. The simple answer is, "Yes, of course." But setting aside issues of its origin and spread which some find interesting, the Big Baby's somewhat unusual assembly actually makes a difference in its taste.

    The most important ingredient is the onions—they have to be thoroughly sautéed, almost melted but not browned, and noticeably greasy. Without such onions it's hardly a Big Baby. Here's an example (from a place in Crestwood) with onions that aren't close to proper. The taste of the burger becomes entirely different.

    Image

    That bun also lacks sesame seeds. A small point perhaps, but you notice when they're not there. And the bun should be lightly toasted on the flat-top. Usually only the edges get browned.

    The beef patties are also important for the proper flavor. Fresh-ground, hand-formed meat might produce a "better" burger but it won't taste like a Big Baby. The ratio of meat to bun is critical. I noted above some patties that seemed a bit small, resulting in a sandwich with the balance tipped toward bread.

    Cheese placement, too, contributes to the overall flavor. When the cheese is placed between the patties, it mingles with the exuded juices and greases, becoming an unctuous presence between the patties. Cheese placed on top tends to be partly absorbed by the bun, buffering its effects.

    As Hammond noted, putting the condiments on the bottom is also important. Many places would simply squirt ketchup and mustard on top with the grilled onions, mixing the flavors. Having the condiments, the cheese, and the onions all segregated is important so that each is tasted somewhat separately.

    What's not there is as important as what is. A proper Big Baby does not have lettuce, tomato or raw onion. Their freshness and crunch are totally at odds with the soft, steamy, greasy nature of the Big Baby.

    Image

    That's something called a Big Baby that I got in East Chicago, Indiana. I don't know why they bother with the name; it's not even close.

    Finally a Big Baby should be served snugly wrapped in thin waxed paper. Even for eat-in customers it's never presented open-faced on a plate. It's important for the assembled burger to briefly and gently steam, thus melding flavors. It's best to wait a minute or two before unwrapping to allow the cheese to fully melt, to avoid that "raw" taste.

    So, yeah, I guess you can say a Big Baby is just a double cheeseburger.


    Great explanation and now I really want to go out and get one. What is currently your #1 place for a big baby?
  • Post #128 - February 1st, 2013, 7:11 pm
    Post #128 - February 1st, 2013, 7:11 pm Post #128 - February 1st, 2013, 7:11 pm
    fropones wrote:What is currently your #1 place for a big baby?

    Nicky's at Archer & Austin: original building, well maintained inside and out; run by a father and son with direct ties to Nicky; Big Babies made as they always have been.

    Image

    Image

    It won't change your life. But you'll probably enjoy it.

    Nicky's
    6142 S Archer Av
    Chicago
    773-585-3675
  • Post #129 - February 2nd, 2013, 9:53 pm
    Post #129 - February 2nd, 2013, 9:53 pm Post #129 - February 2nd, 2013, 9:53 pm
    I'll second Rene G's recommendation as the #1 place in Chicago for a Big Baby. A hop, skip and a jump from Midway Airport, I always plan my return flight itinerary to include a stop at Nicky's. The only qualm I have with this location is a very small parking lot where patrons park haphazardly which can make for interesting entrances and exits.

    I recently had a Big Baby at the Nicky's in Alsip (11524 S. Pulaski) and, while it was very good, somehow, the Nicky's Archer Avenue location always seems to be the definitive example of the Big Baby for me. Enjoy, Tom
  • Post #130 - February 6th, 2013, 3:59 pm
    Post #130 - February 6th, 2013, 3:59 pm Post #130 - February 6th, 2013, 3:59 pm
    I have to third Rene's recommendation. I've passed by this Nicky's hundreds of times, but only stopped in there once, to get a hot dog. My neighborhood choice for Big Babies has always been Jacky's on 5415 S. Pulaski. I still think they have a great Big Baby, so if you happen to find yourself on Pulaski looking for one, that's your best bet. However, today, after making a pitstop to Archer Liquors, I remembered this thread and went a couple blocks down Archer for a Big Baby. I have a bit more enthusiasm than Rene about this one. If Big Babies could be life-changing, this would be the one. It was as if I was tasting a Big Baby for the first time. Simply transcendant. The onions are what sealed it for me. They were the sweetest, most caramelized onions I have ever seen on a Big Baby. Properly brown (Rene mentions they're not browned, but mine were definitely beyond "golden" and dark), without being burnt, juicy, and generous. Crisp griddled patty, oozing cheese, griddled sesame bun. This may be the best fast food burger I've had in a long, long time.
  • Post #131 - February 7th, 2013, 1:57 pm
    Post #131 - February 7th, 2013, 1:57 pm Post #131 - February 7th, 2013, 1:57 pm
    30 plus year patron of the Archer and Austin Nicky's. I have tried Big Babys all over the south side and this is the standard bearer. For a change of pace try the Petit Burger which is a Big Baby plus gyro meat.
  • Post #132 - February 7th, 2013, 6:36 pm
    Post #132 - February 7th, 2013, 6:36 pm Post #132 - February 7th, 2013, 6:36 pm
    I will fifth the recommendation for the Big Baby at Nickys on Austin. My favorite in the whole city. Used to love the one at the Nickys on Pulaski, but this one is much better. Always grab one when we pass by. Love it Love it Love it!
  • Post #133 - February 7th, 2013, 6:54 pm
    Post #133 - February 7th, 2013, 6:54 pm Post #133 - February 7th, 2013, 6:54 pm
    huberman wrote:I will fifth the recommendation for the Big Baby at Nickys on Austin. My favorite in the whole city. Used to love the one at the Nickys on Pulaski, but this one is much better. Always grab one when we pass by. Love it Love it Love it!


    If you're talking about the one on 46th & Pulaski, that's the Nicky's I grew up with. You have to ask them to hold the lettuce and tomato, as they don't serve a canonical Big Baby (unless they changed something very recently). I swear I don't remember this being the case in the 80s and early 90s. If you're talking about the one on 115th & Pulaski, then I don't know, as I haven't been there.
  • Post #134 - February 7th, 2013, 8:12 pm
    Post #134 - February 7th, 2013, 8:12 pm Post #134 - February 7th, 2013, 8:12 pm
    Binko wrote:
    huberman wrote:I will fifth the recommendation for the Big Baby at Nickys on Austin. My favorite in the whole city. Used to love the one at the Nickys on Pulaski, but this one is much better. Always grab one when we pass by. Love it Love it Love it!

    If you're talking about the one on 46th & Pulaski, that's the Nicky's I grew up with. You have to ask them to hold the lettuce and tomato, as they don't serve a canonical Big Baby (unless they changed something very recently). I swear I don't remember this being the case in the 80s and early 90s. If you're talking about the one on 115th & Pulaski, then I don't know, as I haven't been there.

    The Nicky's at 115th & Pulaski is owned by the same guy who runs one of the original Nicky's at 58th & Kedzie (not quite original I guess since it had to move across the street) as well as the one at 24th & Cicero. It's been a while since I visited the ones in Alsip and Cicero but I think he still makes a classic Big Baby at all his places. They're among the best to be found. Here's a shot of the owner assembling a trio at 58th & Kedzie.

    Big Babies, Nicky's, 5801 S Kedzie
    Image

    The Nicky's at 46th & Pulaski is one of the original buildings, though it's been significantly modified. As you say, they routinely put lettuce and tomato on their Big Babies. That seems to be the trend; I guess people feel that the more stuff you put on, the better.

    Big Baby, Nicky's, 4601 S Pulaski
    Image

    Another of the original buildings is on 47th near Kedzie. Their Baby is flame-grilled and comes with lettuce, tomato and raw onion.

    Big Baby, Nicky's, 3140 W 47th
    Image

    Image

    It's not at all a bad burger but I'm not sure why they call it a Big Baby. Customers have certain expectations, especially when a Nicky's displays the original yellow and white keystone sign (see my post above from February 1 for another example).

    stevez wrote:P.P.S. The shape of the sign reminds me not so much of a keystone but more of a cone of gyros.

    It may sound reasonable that Nicky's sign is a stylized gyros cone but it's unlikely to be true. When I suggested this possibility to Jim Lilas, owner of the Nicky's at Archer & Austin (still with its original sign), he immediately reminded me that the signs went up before gyros became common. It's easy to forget that the Gyrokone™ wasn't ubiquitous in Chicago not so long ago.
  • Post #135 - February 8th, 2013, 3:08 pm
    Post #135 - February 8th, 2013, 3:08 pm Post #135 - February 8th, 2013, 3:08 pm
    Had one last night from Nicky's in Crestwood.
    Great burger for $1.99
  • Post #136 - February 12th, 2013, 2:04 pm
    Post #136 - February 12th, 2013, 2:04 pm Post #136 - February 12th, 2013, 2:04 pm
    Rene G wrote:The Nicky's at 115th & Pulaski is owned by the same guy who runs one of the original Nicky's at 58th & Kedzie (not quite original I guess since it had to move across the street) as well as the one at 24th & Cicero. It's been a while since I visited the ones in Alsip and Cicero but I think he still makes a classic Big Baby at all his places. They're among the best to be found.


    FWIW the one at 115th & Pulaski is the best Big Baby I've had, though I have not been to Archer & Austin. Definitely has that steamed/greasy thing going. I know you didn't dig the one in Crestwood (Cicero & Midlothian Turnpike?) and they're not my favorite but they do scratch the itch, plus that place does fries better than any of the other Nicky's/Mickey's variants I've been to.
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  • Post #137 - February 20th, 2013, 2:25 pm
    Post #137 - February 20th, 2013, 2:25 pm Post #137 - February 20th, 2013, 2:25 pm
    metro man wrote:For a change of pace try the Petit Burger which is a Big Baby plus gyro meat.

    Thanks for mentioning the Pettit Burger. I tried my first one the other day. It's a Big Baby plus a lot of gyros meat. Many gyros burgers have only a few thin strips on top but the Pettit (named after an old customer) has a big wad under the patties. It's noticeably larger and heavier than the standard Big Baby.

    Big Baby (left), Pettit Burger (right)
    Image

    The Pettit Burger
    Image

    All that gyros meat significantly alters the Baby's character, though certainly not in an unpleasant way. It's a major change of pace rather than a slight modification. If you like the Big Baby and you like gyros, you owe it to yourself to try a Pettit. And remember, Nicky's (the Archer & Austin one) makes one of the better straight gyros sandwiches you're likely to find at a hot dog stand.

    Nicky's
    6142 S Archer Av
    Chicago
    773-585-3675
  • Post #138 - February 20th, 2013, 2:35 pm
    Post #138 - February 20th, 2013, 2:35 pm Post #138 - February 20th, 2013, 2:35 pm
    Though not a Big Baby, they've been making a cheeseburger with gyros meat at the Wilmette Chuck Wagon for, I'm guessing, at least 30 years. It's called the Nikki Special. Given the moniker "Nikki," I have to wonder if it's related to the original incarnation in some way.

    Another gyros-augmented classic they make is there is The Waitress, which is a grilled cheese on white bread with gyros meat inside it (tomatoes and onions are optional). Both are delicious munches, though, I prefer The Waitress. I posted about the place back in late 2009.

    =R=

    Wilmette Chuck Wagon (website)
    1120 Central Ave
    Wilmette, IL 60091
    (847) 256-0120
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  • Post #139 - February 20th, 2013, 3:29 pm
    Post #139 - February 20th, 2013, 3:29 pm Post #139 - February 20th, 2013, 3:29 pm
    ronnie_suburban wrote:Though not a Big Baby, they've been making a cheeseburger with gyros meat at the Wilmette Chuck Wagon for, I'm guessing, at least 30 years. It's called the Nikki Special. Given the moniker "Nikki," I have to wonder if it's related to the original incarnation in some way.

    I wouldn't be at all surprised if the Niki Special predates the Pettit Burger (which has been on Nicky's menu for about 20 years). It sounds like the Double Niki ($6.95) might be closer to the Pettit Burger ($4.10). As I understand it, Niki was the wife of Sam Vastis (the Chuck Wagon's original owner) and mother of Bill Vastis (who took over from his father). There's an old thread here on gyros burgers: Ever Heard of a Tommy Burger? Rereading a post that I'd long forgotten about, I see I wasn't terribly impressed with my Gyros Big Baby from Mickey's. Never had a Niki.

    Joe Coughlin wrote an excellent article on the Chuck Wagon for The Winnetka Current a couple years ago. In it, he explains the origin of the name Losh (a Niki Special with bacon; $6.66), something I had wondered about. Also he mentions the Niki Special has been around almost 40 years.
  • Post #140 - February 25th, 2013, 4:20 pm
    Post #140 - February 25th, 2013, 4:20 pm Post #140 - February 25th, 2013, 4:20 pm
    Rene G, Is that Pettit burger a new addition at that Nicky's? I dont ever remember seeing it. My aunt lives down Archer and my grandma lived a few block from that Nicky's so I've been eating it since I was a kid. I pretty much have to stop there when I go to my aunt's. Never knew about it. I guess the last time I ate there was last year, maybe even a little longer but still don't ever remember seeing that burger. I have to get one now! And you're right about the gyros, probably one of the best you can get.

    As a side note. I think I've said this before, I love this thread. Growing up in the west burbs and eating big baby's at my grandma's, I never knew why
    no one else knew about them. I obviously figured it out later in life, but now I can show everyone what I was talking about.

    Edited: Sorry, just saw your next post that it's been on the menu for 20 yrs. I never knew about that burger. But again, have to try it now.
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  • Post #141 - February 25th, 2013, 4:40 pm
    Post #141 - February 25th, 2013, 4:40 pm Post #141 - February 25th, 2013, 4:40 pm
    thepld wrote:Rene G, Is that Pettit burger a new addition at that Nicky's? I dont ever remember seeing it. My aunt lives down Archer and my grandma lived a few block from that Nicky's so I've been eating it since I was a kid. I pretty much have to stop there when I go to my aunt's. Never knew about it. I guess the last time I ate there was last year, maybe even a little longer but still don't ever remember seeing that burger. I have to get one now! And you're right about the gyros, probably one of the best you can get.

    As a side note. I think I've said this before, I love this thread. Growing up in the west burbs and eating big baby's at my grandma's, I never knew why
    no one else knew about them. I obviously figured it out later in life, but now I can show everyone what I was talking about.

    Edited: Sorry, just saw your next post that it's been on the menu for 20 yrs. I never knew about that burger. But again, have to try it now.

    The Pettit Burger isn't new at all but I, too, somehow ignored it in my many visits. Angelo told me it's been on the menu for about 20 years. Here's a shot of the menu from earlier this month. The Pettit is midway down the third column.

    Image

    It's great to read about all the love for this particular Nicky's. They deserve it.
  • Post #142 - February 25th, 2013, 8:19 pm
    Post #142 - February 25th, 2013, 8:19 pm Post #142 - February 25th, 2013, 8:19 pm
    Rene G wrote:
    thepld wrote:
    Image

    It's great to read about all the love for this particular Nicky's. They deserve it.


    Those are real good prices. $2.20 for a fish with fries, wow. I've been in Chicago a long time now and the shocking realization that one can generally get a gigantic gyros cheeseburger all over the place has only partially subsided. Where you can get it, I usually do, as it is a tremendous value. Usually you can expect nearly the same amount of gyros as on a gyros sandwich, and often for *less money* [i.e I've seen the gyros cheeseburger go for $4 where the gyros sandwich goes for $5]. The crucial thing to me is to make sure to get the white sauce on the side; I dont feel it mixes well with burger condiments and in any case the giant thing is already sloppy enough as it is.

    Which makes the Big Baby Gyros extra enticing. A gyros cheeseburger for me is too much; I can just peel the majority of the gyros off and save it if I am going home. But a small burger with gyros on it is ideal. And most of the time the gyros is sitting just under the top bun in a gyros cheeseburger. Here, it is on the bottom and segregated from the cheese which makes the overall effect more gyros-y.

    Now, someone needs to come forward and slap a gyros Reuben on their menu. Most places can't or won't get good corned beef anymore. But gyros in a Reuben set up would work just fine.
  • Post #143 - February 25th, 2013, 9:10 pm
    Post #143 - February 25th, 2013, 9:10 pm Post #143 - February 25th, 2013, 9:10 pm
    Marco wrote:Now, someone needs to come forward and slap a gyros Reuben on their menu. Most places can't or won't get good corned beef anymore. But gyros in a Reuben set up would work just fine.


    That doesn't sound appealing to me, BUT it doesn't sound like a BAD idea at all. Any standard Greek diner that has gyros should be able to make this for you if you ask them. Don't wait for someone to offer it on a menu. The "create your own" usually sparks creative interest in the kitchen if it's a cool idea.
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  • Post #144 - April 28th, 2013, 4:22 pm
    Post #144 - April 28th, 2013, 4:22 pm Post #144 - April 28th, 2013, 4:22 pm
    I have to put in a nod for the Big Mickey at Mickey's on Harlem.

    At $1.40 an awesome value (compared to Nicky's $2.50).

    Fresh with a nicely toasted bun. No skimping.
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  • Post #145 - April 28th, 2013, 5:56 pm
    Post #145 - April 28th, 2013, 5:56 pm Post #145 - April 28th, 2013, 5:56 pm
    David Hammond wrote:Had the Big Baby at Little Market Brasserie last night:

    Image

    This was probably the finest tasting Big Baby I've ever had, but it was definitely fresh, hand-formed, and so may not have had the authentic low-end greasiness of a genuine baby (I, personally, think that's a sacrifice worth making). For the price, one wouldn't expect a pre-formed, frozen patty (though these are close to regulation size small patties: maybe 6:1s, just guessing).

    Now, one paradigm-challenging difference in assembly of the BB at LMB is that the onions, though done right, are inserted between the patties. I'm not 100% certain that this ultimately makes a difference, but it is one more example of how this version strays from the traditional southside model. I'd like to hear Chef Poli's rationale for this, as I'm certain he has a good reason for this arrangement (maybe it helps avoid bun crown slippage due to slippery onions butting right up against bread?).

    Perhaps because this is a luxe version of the BB, there are cheese slices on both patties.

    A couple weeks ago Steve Dolinsky covered the Big Baby, both Little Market’s and Nicky’s (the Archer & Austin one). It’s nice that he devoted equal time to the original.

    I finally got around to trying Ryan Poli’s Big Baby. It’s a darn good cheeseburger but even more different than the original than I expected.

    Image

    Image

    In the classic Big Baby, the single slice of American cheese between the patties seems to amplify the rich greasiness of the griddled beef more than contributing its own flavor. Poli uses two slices of good cheese (aged Cheddar?) which brings it to the forefront. Cheese is the major flavor in every bite of this Baby but it doesn't overwhelm the quality beef. The brioche bun, properly toasted and studded with sesame seeds, holds up well, even until the last bite. Fries are excellent, made even better with a squirt of housemade ketchup.

    Although Poli and Nicky's use similar condiments, the overall effect is quite different. Little Market’s Baby is dressed with housemade spicy mayonnaise (mayo is never found on traditional versions) which causes the mustard and ketchup to fade into the background. Poli doesn't skimp on the onions—unconventionally placed between the patties—but somehow their taste is subdued, which certainly isn't the case with the original. But Little Market's pickles are hard to ignore. Unlike the mellow tartness of the usual dill coins, Poli's housemade pickles have an aggressive sharpness and wasabi-like bite. The thin shavings provide an effective counterpoint to the richness of the cheese and mayonnaise without dominating. For a burger with so many ingredients it's surprisingly balanced. Fans of thin griddled burgers would do well to seek out this one. It's among the best in the city.

    Perhaps the biggest difference between the two versions is price ($13.50 versus $2.50). Tab for a Big Baby (fries are included), coffee, tax and tip: $23. Crazy.

    Little Market American Brasserie
    10 E Delaware Pl
    Chicago
    312-640-8141
    http://littlemarketbrasserie.com/
  • Post #146 - April 29th, 2013, 12:22 pm
    Post #146 - April 29th, 2013, 12:22 pm Post #146 - April 29th, 2013, 12:22 pm
    +1 regarding Ryan Poli's iteration at the Little Market Brasserie. My wife and I were there on Saturday,and I really enjoyed the burger. The gooey, cheesy greasiness was somewhat reminiscent me of my favorite fast food burger - a 2x4 "Animal-style" at In-N-Out (not exactly the same, of course, but similar).
  • Post #147 - April 29th, 2013, 2:36 pm
    Post #147 - April 29th, 2013, 2:36 pm Post #147 - April 29th, 2013, 2:36 pm
    I also had the Big Baby at Little Market recently and, while I really enjoyed it, will probably refrain from ordering again as I managed to get quite a lot of it on myself. :oops: That is one messy burger!
    "Baseball is like church. Many attend. Few understand." Leo Durocher
  • Post #148 - May 26th, 2013, 11:07 am
    Post #148 - May 26th, 2013, 11:07 am Post #148 - May 26th, 2013, 11:07 am
    It had been years since I visited Mickey's in Oak Park. One certainly can't complain about the price of a Big Mickey, barely changed in a decade.

    Image

    Image

    Still, I much prefer the Big Baby from Nicky's at Archer & Austin (now $2.50), the benchmark. Is Nicky's Big Baby 79.9% better than the Big Mickey? Hard to say. Is it worth an extra $1.11? Without a doubt.

    Mickey's
    525 N Harlem Av
    Oak Park IL
    708-848-3333
  • Post #149 - May 26th, 2013, 11:30 am
    Post #149 - May 26th, 2013, 11:30 am Post #149 - May 26th, 2013, 11:30 am
    I wanted to shoot a segment of "You Really Should Eat This" at Mickey's, but they were not interested. "Not necessary," they said, and they're probably right. As Peter's picture above suggests, there is usually a line waiting at the counter and this place is not hurting for business. Pricing is certainly part of it, but who wouldn't want to have dinner at the place that invented the big baby and chicken pita?! :roll: :wink:
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #150 - February 23rd, 2014, 8:48 am
    Post #150 - February 23rd, 2014, 8:48 am Post #150 - February 23rd, 2014, 8:48 am
    Rene G wrote:I much prefer the Big Baby from Nicky's at Archer & Austin (now $2.50), the benchmark.


    I enjoyed a Big Baby from the Nicky's at Archer & Austin yesterday. Sorry, I didn't pay attention well enough to see if the Big Baby was still priced at $2.50, but my entire bill, including a drink was just over $6, so how much could it be? Rene G is correct in saying that this is the benchmark Big Baby...even among the various locations of the Nicky's "Mini-Chain".

    Nicky's Big Baby
    Image

    As long as I was there, I also tried their version of a Mother in Law, which they call simply "Tamale on a Bun".

    Nicky's Tamale on a Bun
    Image

    While I'll certainly be back for more Big Babies, I'm not sure I need another ToaB. Despite the chili, it's a very beige-tasting dish. Another thing on my list of things to try at this location of Nicky's is the gyros. Their trompo was going non-stop the entire time I was there. They use one of those electric gyro shavers to cut the meat and it was getting a real workout. 10,000 SW siders can't be wrong.

    Nicky's Hot Dogs
    6142 S. Archer Ave
    Chicago, IL 60638
    (773) 585-3675
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven

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