Monday, 26 May 2014

Corner Bakery, Wells Street, Chicago, Illinois, USA

I took the CTA into downtown and it rattled its way from Cumberland all the way until I jumped off at Clark and Lake, an area of the city that seemed closed. There were hardly any people on the street, there were no restaurants, just snack bars, and they were all shut. I moseyed around for a while before realising that I would get bored if I stayed there any longer, but being hungry I dived into the Corner Bakery for lunch.
The Corner Bakery, conveniently on a street corner

"You click. We Cater." said a sign, referring to the store's online service, but it was too late for that. I ordered from the counter – chicken carbonara and a cup of tea, served in a paper mug. I wasn't expecting great things, but in many ways I got great things. The food was good and was accompanied by garlic bread. The tea was just tea, but overall, I was quite pleased with my $10.80 meal, although a glass of wine would have been nice, but the Corner Bakery wasn't licensed.

There was nothing special about the Corner Bakery – and there were other branches elsewhere in the city – but it was a pleasant joint with wooden tables and mosaic Linoleum floors. One wall of the restaurant offered framed photographs of bakers, presumably from the Corner Bakery's past. The ceiling showed exposed air conditioning and outside there were cream and black awnings.

In addition to being able to order food online, Corner Bakery offered both eat-in and take-out food. For on-line orders there was a specific pick-up point.

One of many meal options was the Garden Gate Scrambler (eggs scrambled to order, diced chicken apple sausage, fresh spinach, red bell peppers, mushroom and Cheddar). In many ways I wished I ordered this dish, but I didn't.

Chicken carbonara and garlic bread
Also on offer was a range of panini breads, breakfasts, salads, soups, chilli, a kid's menu, oatmeal and yoghurts.

The Corner Bakery was good and while I could have done with more, it was sufficient and I took a cab back towards O'Hare rather than sit on the CTA. Click here for more details.

Friday, 9 May 2014

Bob Evans, East Washington Street, Indianapolis, USA

My 'Be Fit' breakfast at Bob Evans on East Washington
Being as I'm staying on the outskirts of town and not a million miles from what is generally regarded as a bad neighbourhood, I've spent most of my week here in Indianapolis in the downtown area of the city. This morning, however, I felt it wrong not to visit the Bob Evans restaurant across the parking lot from the hotel in which I'm staying.

Bob Evans is good ole American food and the chain, which, apparently, is all over the USA, would like it's customers to think that the food is cooked by somebody called Martha and that she's also skilled in the art of making a good apple pie. Well, they're not far wrong. This really is a homely sort of place and it's quite large and airy. It's not licensed, which is good, and I thought I'd go there and have my breakfast. All week I've been surviving on Rice Krispies and tea back at the hotel, so I figured I could push the boat out a little bit.

There's a big counter up front offering cookies and cakes and Hershey bars and I was directed to a window seat from where I could look out on East Washington Street and the Richard Skirling car dealership on the other side of it.

Traffic roared past in both directions and it started to rain. Storms are promised after a week of summery weather full of bright sunshine and temperatures well into their 80s (fahrenheit). It's been great so what better way to end the week than with a 'hearty' breakfast. Except that I didn't want to go ruin my reasonably good diet over the past six days. Despite being in America I've managed to avoid heavy food on all but one day when I enjoyed a pizza on Massachussets Avenue – or 'Mass Ave' as its known over here. That aside I've been eating salmon and halibut and trout and keeping my weight in order. At least I hope I have.

So, here I am in Bob Evans on East Washington expecting some nutters from the hood to burst in with guns and rob the customers. It didn't happen, fortunately, although I was reading that Indianapolis is way up there in terms of the number of homicides it's had this year. While in 2013 Chicago was voted the murder capital, that honour is likely to be bestowed upon Indianapolis in 2014 and it's in my neighbourhood – certainly no more than a mile from the Bob Evans restaurant – that most of the crime seems to be taking place.

There were a lot of unhealthy breakfasts but I chose the 'Be Fit' Breakfast, which set me back a cool $5.99. Hot tea was $1.99 but not served with milk, proving once again that you can only get a decent cup of tea in the United Kingdom, and a large orange juice cost me $2.69. All in all the bill was $11.63 and I added $5 as a tip for my waitress who, by all rights, should have been called Martha but was, in fact, called Joni. I liked Joni because she was homely and, in many ways, just the sort of person that old Bob Evans himself would have employed as a waitress in his home cookin' restaurant chain.

The Be Fit Breakfast didn't pay that much attention to being fit. Alright there was the orange juice and there was a slab of tomato on the plate, but in addition to an omelette there were two pancakes and some maple syrup. Still, it was as healthy as it was going to get and I loved it.