Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Manny's/Dat Donut

Ever since he joined Cub Scouts late last year, Hackknife Jr. had his heart set on an overnight at one of the local museums. Unfortunately, the sleepover for his first choice, the Field (where the dinosaurs live), is taking place after we skip town in a few weeks, so Mrs. Hackknife made arrangements for he and I to stay at the Adler Planetarium this past Friday night instead. Hungry space enthusiasts need a good meal before an evening of sky shows and mock rocket launches, so we popped in to Manny's Delicatessen (1141 S. Jefferson) on the way, a Chicago institution serving up fine Jewish food since 1942. Service here is cafeteria-style - you grab a tray and head up the line past the metal pans of soups, salads, and other goodies to place your order, which can be a bit intimidating to newbies since the white-coated staff behind the counter likes to move quickly. Famous for their corned beef and pastrami sandwiches (everyone from mayors to sitting presidents stop by for a photo op with one), I chose the half corned beef on rye with a bowl of kreplach (basically dumplings filled with meat) soup and a potato pancake on the side, while Jr. went with a hot dog and chips. I was glad I stuck with the half sandwich - the grizzled septuagenarian slicing the brisket (a job I imagine he's performed for 50-odd years) piled it so high I could barely find the bread on the plate (see photo above). Not quite as fatty as the pastrami found at Fumare in the French Market, the corned beef was still excellent and surprisingly mild. When accompanied by 4 pickles (Hackknife Jr. gave me his 2 to go with mine) and a Dr. Brown's Cream Soda, this made for a mighty fine pre-flight meal.

After scant sleep that night, we skipped out of the Planetarium a little early to pick up some donuts to bring home to the rest of the Hackknife household. I recently read a story about how one of the best barbecue purveyors on the South Side (Uncle John's) was making arrangements to move into some vacant space in a nearby beloved donut shop called Dat Donut (8249 S. Cottage Grove). Fortunately for us, DD happened to be on our route home, so we headed over there to investigate. Located in the quiet Chatham Park neighborhood (not quite as rough around the edges as Roseland), the shop nonetheless uses a plexiglass divider for employee safety (similar to Exsenator's in Markham), although I suspect most bandits are still in bed at 7:30 on a Saturday morning. Clearly, they have a loyal following as we had to briefly wait in line before placing our order, a half-dozen mixed donuts including glazed, chocolate, and blueberry (a bargain at only $6). I have to say I enjoyed all 3 varieties, with the glazed having a slight edge over the others, light and airy with a nice balance of sweet and savory. If we're fortunate enough to find donuts like these somewhere in Tampa, we'll be doing just fine...

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