Beef scores part 1
While we await the last set of sandwich scores, probably from Florida, here are the other ratings.
We had ten scorers for this tasting, and pretty much everyone scored all the places - we had at least 7 scores for each item. Of the scorers, 4 have attended all three tastings to date, I believe - VI, George and Dave R, and myself.
None of these places rated great, or terrible. The best place was Roma's, a traditional Chicago beef stand with a good counter. And the boss was a great guy, which rated a 6.8. Close behind was Max's at 6.6, A "quirky, spacious" place, with TV's and lots of tables. A little too cute for me, but not for most.
Tore's 6.2, Quick Bite 5.4 and Dino & Nick's rated 5.3 were all good, but not too special. Tore's did open up a back dining room for us, which was nice.
I believe every one of the places used Gonnella bread this time, so any differences in ratings could be attributed to storage, freshness, or handling. Ratings ranged from 7.2 at Max's down to 5.4 at Quick Bite, which abuses its bread by wrapping the sandwich in a tight little package of foil.
I guess it all comes down to how you make a sandwich.
Heaven help you if they use canned peppers, which are generally limp, bitter and generally unpleasant. Quick Bite earned what may be a record low score of 1.7 for its peppers in just this way. Truth be told, we have had others as bad, though they did not score quite as low. Dino & Nicks was almost as bad at 2.7 - maybe a better quality canned pepper?
The others had real peppers, briefly roasted, I suspect, and then held in a warm moist environment of one form or another. The less time they are held, the better the taste and texture, so the differences may be more luck than anything else. Tore's won this with a 6.1 and a pretty good pepper (though like Carm's, they were chunks that were not exactly sandwich friendly), followed closely by Max's at 5.6 and Roma's at 5.5.
So much better than sweet peppers, in almost all cases. First, it is usually made at the store, and each has its own recipe. Then, it stores so much better. As always, there were some great, and some very interesting ones.
For those that like really hot giardinera, none of there were, and none of the places offered extra hot options, as far as I could see.
Tore's was rated best with an 8. Decent heat but not really hot, a different blend of vegetables including olives and at least three types of peppers. Quite enjoyable.
Max's was very good - nicely oily, with a red color. Good mix of vegtables, and large bowls on each table. Scored a 7.7.
After that, there was a big dropoff, and none was very exciting or terrible, ranking as follows:
Quick Bite 5.6, Roma's 5.3, and Dino and Nick's 5.2.
There was one very good place, and couple of decent ones, and a couple of okay places. None was terrible.
Roma has very good, fresh made, skin-on fries, and rated an 8 for that. "Hand cut, fried crisp."
Max's were "crisp and well-flavored," getting a 7.3 - not bad for what they are. The Ghetto fries - a mix of fries, cheese, peppers, were a new treat for me, and a few others.
Tore's were nothing special, but cooked right, crispy and pleasant, scoring a 6.4.
Quick Bite and Dino and Nicks were nothing special, but tasty enough, scoring 5.5 and 5.1 respectively.
I will make the section of the gravy, beef and sandwich a separate post.
From the above, one could conclude that for a good Chicago beef stand experience, pick Roma's and be confident everything will be pretty decent. Not completely true, but not bad.
For good peppers, sweet or hot, go to Tore's.
And for a generally enjoyable experience, Max's is worth considering.
But those comments do not take into account the sandwiches, and the beef, which is the point, so stay tuned.
Feeling (south) loopy