Tuesday, September 4, 2012
With the current Cubs season reaching dismal new lows (now down to 30 games below .500 and counting, although I fret not as I am firmly planted on the Jed/Theo rebuilding bandwagon), every game on our schedule becomes another opportunity for me to sample Lakeview's finest and newest dining ventures. This time around, I parked the family truckster just east of the intersection at Clark and Montrose, making a short walk over to Pecking Order (4416 N. Clark) for my pre-game dinner. PO is a new restaurant opened by Chef Kristine Subido (and her mom, probably there for quality assurance) to showcase her family's traditional Filipino cuisine; specifically, a knockout marinated chicken that can be roasted, grilled, or fried depending on the patron's preference. According to the website, the chickens are completely natural (hormone and antibiotic-free courtesy of FreeBird Farms in Pennsylvania) and marinated in mom's own blend of tamari (a variety of soy sauce), sugar, garlic, and bay leaves, resulting in a succulent and delicious bird. I opted for the "roasted" chicken (which is stuffed with lemongrass and ginger, then basted with a compound butter featuring Philippine citrus) and two sides, an addictive fried rice with toasted garlic and a bowl of mom's pickled vegetables (including jicama, carrot, green papaya, daikon radish, and ginger). All 3 components of this meal were amazingly good (see photo above), with the juicy, rich bird perfectly melding with the mouth-puckering veggies and the umami-packed rice. Time and stomach constraints prevented me from ordering the traditional Filipino shaved ice dessert called halo halo (sounding similar to the raspado I'd had in Los Angeles), so I scurried off on foot past the many cemeteries down Clark Street on towards Wrigley Field (not to be confused with a cemetery, although lately it's been hard to tell at times).
After watching the opposing (and last place, I might add) Astros hit a second 3-run homer off the roof of the party room in the center field bleachers (a poke of no less than 420 feet), I decided to ditch the Cubs and their now 8-0 deficit in the 5th inning in favor of another dessert I'd been waiting to try. Scooter's (1658 W. Belmont) is a much-discussed neighborhood favorite featuring the smooth ice cream confection known as frozen custard (I can't profess to be an expert in these things, but apparently, frozen custard differs from ice cream in that it contains some egg yolk, which makes a silkier product). In the Midwest (especially Wisconsin), frozen custard is very popular (I fondly remember a stand in my college town of Lafayette, IN - Original Frozen Custard - that always seemed to have long waits), although not so much in Chicago, despite the fact that a frozen custard stand at the 1933 World's Fair here allegedly introduced the concept to a wider audience. Given the dearth of local availability, Scooter's is typically packed on summer nights and this was no exception, with the crowd spilling out onto the patio and sidewalk to enjoy their treats. After much deliberation, I chose the Chocolate Yum Yum (fun to say, funner to eat), a blend of chocolate and fabulous fudge nut brownie chip custards, topped with a shot of hot fudge. Fortunately for me, this creation is only offered in a small size, ideal for those already stuffed with garlic rice and roasted chicken. Scooter's menu had several additional offerings that sounded quite decadent; I'll gladly hope for more bad Cubs baseball in September so I can continue to satisfy my frozen custard fix.