Al Chapara's (or whatever the hell it's called).
State and Dearborn
Even a framed Urlacher print couldn't save this place from biting it. I can see why Mike Ditka and Michael Jordon would use their first and last name in the title of their restaurant; their names are the selling point but who the hell is Al Chapara? I don't even think I got the name right and I just spent an hour there.
I had the portabello mushroom sandwich. Tmuch mushroom. Like all normal people I like mushrooms but this was way out of proportion to the bread and lettuce leaf it was sandwiched between. Inconsistent toasting of the bread too. I don't like different sections of my bread to be in different stages of toastedness. I prefer a nice even toasting. Very inconsistent french fries as well. I noticed from glancing at my fellow Clubbers fries that they all varied in doneness, mine being a little less done than most which made them flaccid as well as greasy. No pickle? That's fucked.
Our server was friendly and attentive and Al served our food with a smile and brought not one but two varieties of mustard. Unfortunately this small touch did little to counter the sub par cuisine
The paper table coverings were a tacky attempt to appear upscale, perhaps this was to justify the price increase from the Dearborn Diner days. Very limited and unattractive menu. Would it kill you to laminate the thing for chrissake? How much could that cost? I understand that it may only be a temporary menu but it sends an immediate signal to the customer that you don't care. I'm sorry Al, but ordering off a food stained menu isn't appetizing. You order food off the menu not on the menu. And why such a limited menu? Only one type of burger? How hard can it be to make up a bunch of different burger names; "The Al Classic," "The Big Al with Cheese," "The Al Junior," "The Southwestern Al with Blue Cheese Dressing" etc, etc. How hard was that? They don't even need to make sense. I know that it's a brand new business but it comes in a long tradition of failed Diners however, customers wouldn't necessarily know this, especially guests of the hotel above. The place has a sort of a not-quiet-together feel to it. Perhaps a sign along the lines of "Pardon Our Dust" which businesses use when remodeling would be in order. Something like "We Just Opened And We're Working on Ways to Serve You Better" or "Still Tryin' to Get Our Shit Together, Be Patient". It seems like Al's doesn't even know if it wants to be a diner. It should either commit to being a diner which serves American food or completely change the decor and the menu.
Al's is struggling with its identity and I don't have time for restaurants with complexes. Although the conversation was captivating as usual, all in all it was not a very satisfying Lunch Club experience. I give it a spork.