I’m not really a fancy person.

I drive a Ford.  Named Renzo.

It takes me no more than 7 minutes to dry my hair in the morning.

Plain cheese quesadillas make my heart all aflutter.

In general, I can get behind any classic food without feeling the need to gussy it up.  Plain chocolate chip cookies, grilled cheese (made in a skillet with regular cheddar and real butter), meatloaf topped with ketchup; they’re all plenty good enough for me.

But it seems to be all the rage these days (thanks to the Food Network, no doubt) for restaurants to take simple, classic foods and make them gourmet.

Ever seen a meatloaf cupcake?  It exists.  In the great city that I inhabit, no less.

To be clear, I’m not discouraging this trend.  In fact, I like it.

Let’s take a look at some (crappy) pictures of my recent dining-out adventures:

Last week I headed to one of Chicago’s foremost pizzeria/breweries, Piece, for dinner with some friends.

Piece’s pizza isn’t really revolutionary.  You can order pies with standard red sauce, “white” (ie, garlic and olive oil) or “New Haven” (ie, no cheese- WHY would you do this??).  But they certainly have some gourmet toppings: meatballs, mashed potatoes and clams are all on the list.

We chose 2 medium red pizzas: one with Italian sausage and red onions, the other with tomato, spinach, pepperoni and banana peppers.

Both were really good, although I felt a little guilty cheating on my absolute favorite pizzeria.

On Tuesday, I was treated to a birthday dinner by my dear friend, Amber, at Burger Bar.  Incidentally, Burger Bar is next door to Sono Woodfired and they actually share a kitchen.  Is it any wonder that I like the place?

I ordered a blurry burger topped with braised pork belly, apple slaw and onion/garlic aioli, called the “Belly Up”.

So freakin’ good.

And then I took this picture:

What’s that?  You can’t read it??  But it’s such a crisp photo!

It says “Beer Is My Life” and I almost stole the pint glass.  Except I know the manager and I didn’t want him to yell at me for being a child and stealing his shit.

Incidentally, the beer is also an illustration of a gussied up classic.  Ordering a beer no longer means domestic light beer at most establishments.  This happened to be the beer of the month, which was a Levitation Ale from Stone Brewing Co.

I love this beer and I love Stone (also, try their IPAs and Arrogant Bastard if you like a beer with a pair of cojones).

I’m pretty happy that, while I am perfectly happy with my simple ways, the rest of this city is aggressively pushing the proverbial baby birds out of the nest.

Next I want someone to make me a pizza with pork belly on it.  BLAM.

13 thoughts on “Upgrade

  1. True story: I actually ate a pizza with porkbelly on it tonight! It had roasted potatoes on it, too. It was amazing. Go find yourself one like, now.

  2. That burger looks ridiculously good — and that pint glass is amazing. I just did a search for it online. Nothing. Although you’ll be happy to know that now anybody who agrees that beer is their life will be able to find your blog on the first page of search results. I personally think this is a huge accomplishment. 🙂

  3. I ate pork belly and duck the other night. It was good, but felt way too fancy for this Okie gal. Oh, and I tried to eat half a pig’s head this weekend. It did not go well.
    Give me a pint of craft beer and pizza or mac and cheese and I couldn’t be happier.
    We should hang.

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