Friday, March 21, 2008
Armitage & Milwaukee
There was this place that my friends and I used to go to when we were in high school called Burger Express. It was a rung or two below your McDonalds and your White Castles and a couple more steps below Burger King. We're talking a completely different level of fast food nastiness, but it was a buck or two cheaper than McDonalds and if K-Mart didn't pan out (at closing time we could sometimes get them to give us the unsold egg rolls, tacos, and corn dogs from the cafeteria for half price) the other option was The Express where we could gorge ourselves on their grade D cuisine and for a few fleeting moments, forget about our awkward, pimpled lives in a teenage vacuum.
Cut-rate mozz sticks, third rate burgers, onion rings and breaded mushroom fried to hell and back, they really know how to destroy food at that place. But, like most of life's great pleasures, it was short-lived and soon after we had gorged ourselves, like clockwork, we would all suffer the same symptoms simultaneously: headache, dry mouth, followed by nausea and then, by the time we made it home (if the gods were pleased with us that day) after a mad dash to the bathroom, the Burger Express left the station right on schedule.
So that brings me, finally to White Castle, a guilty pleasure if there ever was one.
Sliders, (as White Castle hamburgers are called for their ability to slide in one end and out the other with ease) you either love 'em or you hate 'em or you're like me and you're pretty ambivalent towards them. Yeah, some people like White Castle hamburgers. Some people like sniffing glue too, but that doesn't make it good for you.
I was thee only customer in the restaurant. The workers outnumbered me three to one. They were communicating with headsets and had a lot of other technology at their disposal but it didn't seem to help them. I guess fast food can't be rushed.
It was late in the evening on a Sunday and the seating section was closed and by closed I mean that it was barricaded with metal bars. Consequently, I had to order my diner to go. Which is just as well when I think of the collection of freaks that could be congregating in White Castle at this time of night.
This is what I ordered: three hamburgers, large onion rings, and a side of cheese sauce. This is what I got: three cheeseburgers, small onion rings and no cheese sauce. Three strikes. The cheese sauce error was corrected easily enough with the additional payment of fifty-four cents. I didn't bother with the rest, the onion rings weren't for me and the food took such an extraordinarily long time to prepare that I didn't want to deal with it.
One could pose the question, instead of selling four tiny burgers for fifty cents a piece, why not make one hamburger that's four time the size and charge two bucks? Because no one would pay two bucks for a White Castle hamburger but they will pay more for less if they perceive that they are getting a bargain. But the fact remains that you can buy a lot of food for cheap at the Castle and the Castle sells a lot of burgers. After all, it is a castle and not a shack--no offense to Harold's Chicken Shack numbers one through forty-seven.
Check, please!--Julio Childs
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Western Ave across from the Cineplex with the most uncomfortable seats in the world.
Apparently the Whopper is forty-five years old this year and this particular Burger King is celebrating my the posting of signs to give credit to a few of the ingredients that have made this milestone possible. One element that Burger King attributes to the longevity of the world's second most famous sandwich is the use of the "old fashioned dill pickles." I personally wasn't aware that there had been such an amazing leap in pickle technology that would make a distinction between the old and new schools of dill pickles necessary, but then again I don't really follow that sort of thing. Of course the distinction that sets BK burgers apart from every other fast food burger is the famous "flame-broiled" cooking method; Burger King hamburgers aren't grilled or fried, they're "flame-broiled." To tell you the truth, "flame-broiled" really doesn't mean much to me. If your hamburgers taste like shit, it doesn't really matter how they got that way. The damage has been done.
It should be evident at this point exactly how I felt about the Whopper I ingested. I sincerely hated it. The fries on the other hand were, very, very salty. You might even go so far as to say that they were way too fucking salty to enjoy. As for the beverage, the ice melted quickly in my "Coke or Pepsi or whatever" (that's how I order it in restaurants and movie theaters 'cause I'm so oblivious to name brands--and so cool!) making it all watery and therefore not so good.
The cashier was pretty spaced out. He made several attempts to give my change to the guy next to me. The woman in BK gear leaning up against the waste receptacle by the door did say goodbye which I wasn't expecting at all. It was a nice touch though, especially after the horrible, horrible food that was now churning in my gut.
Under five bucks. That's a deal, I gotta admit.
Check, please!--Julio Childs
Monday, March 10, 2008
The one on Ashland, 1 block north of Diversey (by the Jewel)
I do not eat at McDonalds much for I realize that they are corporate hamburglars who exploit their workers and our environment, produce genetically manipulated food with little or no nutritional value, contribute to much of the litter on our street and do so in the name of the almighty dollar, etc. Having made this claim, let me also confess that sometimes, every once in awhile, more as a punishment than as a reward, I do lunch at the Arches and it is always, without exception, a pretty traumatic experience, physically and mentally, and it usually leaves me feeling quite depressed. This most recent outing was no exception.
Small children simply adore the greasy McDonalds experience and this particular establishment was certainly no exception. The joint was ripe with young children running helter skelter through the aisles, snot glistening from their little button noses. Some of these precious little darlings were mild-mannered, some maniacal, but all were freakish in their own special and unique way (like snowflakes). Truly a microcosm of society, I suppose, but this only added to my inability to enjoy that which is hard enough to enjoy in complete solitude, unfettered by the irksome squeaks and high pitched squeals of children, but I knew this going in so I can hardly feign surprise.
In attempting to order my food, I chose to stand in the line that I perceived to be the shortest, not because I believed it to be the fastest line but, as it was the shortest, it was the most appealing to me. it turned out that contrary to Murphy's Law and more in line with some sort of scientific equation loosely based on common sense, it was in fact the fastest line. Consequently, I burned a good many of my fellow patrons with my line judging ability which seemed to perturbed the previously peppy middle-aged cashier whose privilege it was to take my order. It bothered this man to such a degree that he did not thank me for my patronage and was further miffed by me request for ketchup packets, but I've already bored enough of my colleagues with the details of
that pointless story, so I'll skip it.
Of course my friends were cold by the time we (my fries and I) had traveled the short distance from the counter to my table. I had selected this spot due to its excellent view of both entrance (or exits if you're a pessimist--it's like that half empty glass of water scenario) to the restaurant (you never know when some misanthropic gun-toting freak is gonna step in a take a lifetime of grievances out on th innocent patrons of the karmic waste dump that is the fast food restaurant establishment). So anyway, these fries, long the pride of McDonald's and a bit of a bone of contention with other burger joints who lay claim to the tastier fry, were not only cooling at an alarming rate, they were also a far cry from the golden slices of Idaho perfection that you're likely to see in any one of McDonalds five hundred thousand TV commercials.
It should be mentioned that for my entree I selected a Super Value meal involving a Big Mac, a beverage of some size (probably medium), and the aforementioned disappointing fires. For those not familiar with fast food logic, there are three different grades of Super Value meals; medium or regular being the smallest f them. There's plenty of humor there but you can suss it out yourself, I really don't have the energy having used most of it to digest my Big Mac (the good news is that I was full for nine hours afterwards.)
In conclusion, if you'll indulge me, I'd like to take a crack at that secret Big Mac sauce. Ummm, let's see, probably some combination of mayo, pickles, and ketchup, sometimes called Russian dressing (though probably not in Russia) or Thousand Island dressing (in trailer parks outside of Russia).
Super Value is not empty promised, I will say that. For four dollars and twenty-five cents, not only was my stomach full, but I was also reminded of the unpleasantness of eating at such a restaurant as McDonalds. This memory jolt will keep me out of McDonalds and their ilk for a good while and therefore keep my body that much healthier possibly leading to a longer, more productive life. This dining experience also gave me the chance to reconnect with my fellow citizens in a public area, reminding me at well that I don't care much for my fellow citizens, I never have and i don't foresee a time that I ever will.
Check, please!--Julio Childs
Thursday, March 06, 2008
In honor of the Reglar Wiglar's Fifteenth Birthday, here is ever letter you, the adoring public, have sent to us over the years. Except for the one's we didn't publish of course. Those are dirty, dirty letters for our eyes only.
Reglar Wiglar Mailbag!