Sunday, January 14, 2007

chicago's... not famous for ribs!

i can't sleep, so i'm tending to my much neglected blog...

i can't remember if i've been back to chicago's piano bar & grill since my first visit for lunch over a year ago, but in any case i found myself dining there again on friday night when i met up with some clay folk for dinner. this time i sat outside, where a male duo on guitar and tambourine sang some pop songs, thus providing a bit more of an atmosphere than during the day.

perhaps spurred on by the fond memories of the ribs i had last month in sydney (see previous post for pic/details), i thought i'd try it from a local eatery. prior to tony roma's, the only other time i can remember eating ribs in a restaurant was some years ago when i tried some from a friend's sizzler meal... and so i went for the "smoky bbq pork rack of ribs".

well, this turned out to be probably the worst ordering decision i had ever made. the only point of redemption was to get the half rack with chicken rather than the full rack - at least the chicken was ok, and the combo was $1 less than getting the full rack. so i didn't feel quite as cheesed off as ST, who ordered the full rack...

now i'm not an expert on cooking ribs (ok i'm not an expert on cooking anything... except maybe 2 minute noodles??), but from what i understand, the aim of producing good ribs is generally to end up with tender meat that almost falls off the bones. this is certainly what i was served at tony roma's. chicago's on the other hand served a rather antithetical version, with meat quite unwilling to come off the bone despite the best intentions of teeth or knife (ST said her teeth were sore after getting through her rack). the meat was tough, chewy, and just unco-operative to the efforts to tear and pull off the bone and into the mouth. i did manage to cut up the ribs (never mind the tearing apart by hand idea of eating ribs though... you'd be building some muscle if you tried that method!), i tried to cut the meat off each individual bone. bad idea... whatever meat or non-bone matter that was, it wasn't coming off the bone without a fight. in the end i gave up and returned to the more primal means of hand and teeth. honestly, can you imagine ribs that are difficult to cut even with a knife? i'm talking proper meat knife here, not your butter variety.

ok enough ranting. apparently the vast disappointment i had with the ribs was not repeated with the dishes the others ordered, with the pizza apparently worthy of repeat ordering. some say the meat might have been old, and hence my experience an anomaly. i don't know enough about food and its preparation to know whether i got a bum deal, but i know that it was frustrating to eat and i had no satisfaction for my monetary investment. the more i reflect on the situation, the more i think i should have taken the dish back, even if it was somehow meant to be served that way... oh well. live and learn.