Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Deep Dish and Light Craft

From a food and beverage standpoint, what would you say Chicago is known for? Forgive my ignorance if I'm missing something obvious, but deep dish pizza and Chicago-style hot dogs were the two things on my radar as I anticipated my current trip to the Windy City. Wheat beer was not one that came to mind, but when KJ and I visited Lou Malnati's Pizzeria last night, their only craft beer selections were four of the lighter variety—Goose Island 312, Leinenkugel's Honey Weiss, Blue Moon Belgian White, and Goose Island Summertime. The latter was their seasonal selection, an odd choice considering April in Chicago hardly feels like summer.

In reality, I'm sure the beer selection had more to do with the fact that Lou Malnati's is all about great food rather than great beer, or maybe it has something to do with what pairs well with pizza. I really don't know, but I still would have preferred one choice that was a little more hop-centric. Regardless, I wanted to try something that was indigenous to the area, so I gave the Goose Island 312 Urban Wheat Ale a shot.

At first sip, I rather liked it, but that wore off a little as I worked my way to the bottom of the glass. Considering it's not my favorite style, I would still rate it as pretty good. It was light and refreshing, not too sweet, but a bit too bubbly for my taste. It did, however, pair rather well with our food selection, as we opted for the deep dish with sausage and giardiniera peppers, which in reality is a relish consisting primarily of serrano peppers, celery, carrots and cauliflower.

Lou Malnati's came highly recommended as the place for out-of-towners to get a taste of the deep dish pizza that the nation's third most populous city is known for. Let me just say it proved itself worthy of such recommendations. KJ and I shared a 9" pie, which consisted of two fully satisfying slices each, and she caught me saying "whew" under my breath a few times at the spicy kick delivered by the giardiniera.

The decor at Malnati's was pleasing as well. The walls were covered with lots of cool, but very tasteful, baseball memorabilia, including old programs from Wrigley Field, framed jerseys of Ryne Sandberg and Ernie Banks, and home plate from the final game played at Comiskey Park, signed by what appeared to be all the members of the 1990 White Sox. An odd addition to these tasteful decorations was a framed "Cub Fan, Bud Man" tuxedo. I'd really like to know what the story is behind that one.

Tonight, we're headed to U.S. Cellular Field to see if the White Sox can do what the Red Sox haven't been able to—beat the Tampa Bay Rays. More importantly, though, we're checking off the third major league park we've visited together and hoping to satisfy our other Chicago craving, which shouldn't be a problem at a baseball game.

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