Mike’s Place Pub – August 5, 2017
$21.91 after tax, before tip
I had a surprise trip to work on my day off to do a couple things. At one point I needed to talk on the phone with one of my co-workers who wasn’t gonna be available for an hour, so I decided to punch out, and go to the next stop on my burger tour.
I started walking along Baker Street not knowing where I was gonna go. I thought about Jackson’s Hole, but after quick consideration I passed because of what a couple people had said about it recently. I was gonna save it for another time. I decided on the Hume Hotel, so when I go to Ward Street, I took a left and headed down.
When I was about to walk around the corner to go into the main entrance of the building I decided I felt like staring at sports on TV on a Saturday, so I turned around and went into Mike’s Place Pub. I was pretty sure they had the same menu from the same kitchen, so it didn’t really matter to me.
It was minutes before 11:00am, so I walked straight to the bar and asked the girl behind it if it was too early to get a burger and fries. She smiled and said, “It’s never too early to get a burger.” In my mind that made me want to test that notion of rolling in as soon as they open and orderin’ one up. I was sure that was the case with the pub, but possibly not with the restaurant as it is open earlier, but I wasn’t in the restaurant, so I passed on my own silly challenge to myself.
She asked me if I wanted to see a menu to decide on what burger. I said, “Nope. I just want whatever your regular burger is in whatever way you serve it, but can I please have jalapenos, cheese and bacon on it?” She smiled again and assured me that I could absolutely have that. I responded simply with, “Excellent! May I also have a ginger ale too please?” Then, with a smile on my face, I asked for the ginger ale to be brought with the food. She smiled again, and said, “Of course.”
I’ve never liked when drinks are brought way before food. Even since I was a little, little kid, it has never made sense to me…especially with shakes. I guess that’s a restaurant’s way of trying to get you to order more drinks, because by bringing them before food, of course you’re gonna dig into ‘em, and inevitably not have enough to ride out your meal. It’s either that, or you wait and they end up goin’ flat, watery, and warm. (Those sneaky restaurant fucks! :) )
After I ordered, she asked me where I was gonna sit. I did a quick scan for where table’s vs TV’s were, and pointed at the first level up, and said, “Probably right there. Thank you.”
I went to that first little level up, and I picked the table and my chair so I could best see the big-ass screen and the smaller screen to its left without really having to move my head. The Cubs – Nationals game at Wrigley was on the giant screen and the smaller screen had a NASCAR race on it.
Typically I couldn’t care less about cars driving around in a circle as I find that some boring-ass shit, but over the past few days I had picked the movie ‘Talladega Nights – The Ballad of Ricky Bobby’ as the movie I pass out to, so I didn’t mind at all. It actually made me giggly thinkin’ ‘bout Ricky Bobby. (The reason I pass out to movies is directly related to my pain…one more story for another time.)
The NASCAR race wasn’t the typical oval track though. It was one that was more like an Indy or F-1 track. That reminded me of when I was a little kid and watched Formula-1 on the limited TV available on the weekend. My favourite guy was Alain Prost. That guy dominated like a mutha-fucka! The along comes Ayrton Senna and started whuppin’ everyone’s asses. Tragically, Senna died in a crash, and thinking about that today at Mike’s Place, even all these years later, I still took pause to acknowledge his passing.
The NASCAR was still all about Ricky Bobby though. I mean, how could it not be?! Ricky Bobby is freakin’ amazing! If you don’t like him you definitely have problems.
When I saw some of the baseball game I started feeling like the biggest armchair athlete loser on the planet again. This of course derives from being a die-hard Toronto Maple Leaf, Philadelphia Eagles, and team England in world football sports team’s guy.
Until last fall, I always had the Cubs to make me feel better about my loser-ass self, but not-no-freakin’-more dammit! Those fuckers just had to go and win a World Series after 108 years…reaffirming that I am, in fact, the biggest loser on the planet!
I do have a close connection to Chicago though. I have only been there a few times, but every time has been a magikal experience with some really great people. (Well…the last time I was there was totally fucked, but it wasn’t Chicago’s fault. ;) )
When I sat down I realized that it was the same table Chibby and I sat at when we had lunch at Mike’s. It was the last time I was there, and was quite some time ago. …Haven’t seen Chibby in awhile, so it was good to think about him.
The song, ‘The Muse’ by the Wood Brothers rang out through the speakers. I had never heard it before, but as acoustic music is what really speaks to me, the feel of it kind of struck me, so I wrote down some of the lyrics to try to figure it out what it was when I got home. After that it seemed like a string of 80’s Depeche Mode crossed with Talking Heads tunes came on. Not really my thing, but was easy enough to block out with Ricky Bobby chargin’ around my imagination while watching the NASCAR on TV.
Three different servers were takin’ care of me. That’s like ultra service. Saying that leads me to the thought that I don’t really like the term ‘server’ though. Something doesn’t feel right about that to me. It seems waitress isn’t the right one either apparently, as that is sometimes looked at like calling a flight attendant a stewardess, or a massage therapist a masseuse…one of those stupid politically correct things these days. (The term ‘server’ makes me think of rich pricks with servants who they look down on, and I don’t think anyone deserves to be looked down on.) They are serving your food to you though, so I guess that’s the term to use.
It was like rapid fire service with three of them all over it. When one of them walked past me I asked if I could have a steak knife with my food. She said, “No problem!”
When she brought my food and placed it in front of me, she asked if I wanted some ketchup. I said, “Yes please,” so she left to go get some for me.
It was the first burger on my little tour that was served open faced. It gave me a better look at what I was about to get into. At first glance you could tell it was playing at a whole different level than the last one I had at the Prestige when I took the top off of that one to put on the side jalapeno.
Just from the sight of this burger, we were talking the difference from big-league top player compared to minor league grinder. There is a certain romance in the minor league grinder, but when it comes time to throw down, you want the big-league bad-ass on your crew. That’s what Mike’s was in a visual battle with the Prestige. No contest!
I gave it a bit of a visual inspection, and it looked good. The bacon slices were nice ones, and the jalapenos were ample too. There weren't many, but I was happy for raw onions over caramelized ones for that crunch and pop-splash of flavour when I bite into ‘em.
I don't really like those style of pickles...the accordion cut lookin' round ones. Lengthwise slices of dills are where it's at. Of course, just like every other burger, it came with mayo. Gawd damned maaan! As per usual though, I was more into getting’ down to business rather than just looking at my burger, so I took out my camera and started taking some photos of how it was served, so I could get on with it.
After my server dropped off the ketchup, and left, I went to grab some salt to put on my fries. I looked where I thought the S&P were behind the little display thing on the table advertising drinks or whatever, but nothing was there. In a way I was kinda surprised by that as it always seemed automatic that S&P shakers would be on a table, or at least offered…especially when having something like French fries. I thought about asking for some, but then I felt that I’d just roll with what was simply offered. I didn’t really mind though ‘cause it is kind of a crazy notion to have something that is deep fried, and then feel the need to add salt to it. It’s actually quite freakin’ insane if you understand anything about health. I was hopin’, that rather than not offering what every other restaurant/bar does with fries, that they were just trying to save us from ourselves regarding extra salt.
One of my servers walked by and giggled when she saw me takin’ photos of my food, and then asked me, “Did it come the way you wanted?” I told her I’d let her know after I started eating it.
I know the whole deal with the presentation of food, and eating first with your eyes. I can really appreciate a beautifully plated serving of food for sure. Even having said what I did about the difference between the visual look of Mike’s vs the Prestige, when it gets down to it, and comes to a burger, I don’t really care. Pick it up…stuff that fucker in my face, and let the burger do the talkin’ from there.
As it was served open faced, it had to be put together to be able to be eaten properly. As I was doing that it kinda seemed a bit odd to me to take an open faced burger, put it together, and then cut it in half to eat. (I really don’t like this cuttin’ a burger in half shit. I can’t wait for my burger tour to be over just for that reason alone.)
It took a moment to balance the thing once put together so it would stand on its own without toppling over so I could take a photo of it. I got it sorted by positioning some fries and propping it up against them. I took my quick few photos, and then grabbed my knife to slice ‘er up. When I did that I had to open it up and then balance it again for a few more photos of the inside. I got that sorted too though.
The one thing I do like about cutting a burger in half is seeing what’s inside. The reveal!
When I picked it up, I could feel the freshness of the bun. Nice and soft! As the patty was cooked properly the bun wasn’t soggy at all. Score another point. I like sesame seeded buns, so I was happy about that too.
Aside from looking at it, when I bit into it I could tell right away that there was a healthy amount of bacon and jalapenos. Saying that though, is there really such a thing as a healthy amount of bacon? I know many in the chefing world have referred to bacon as the perfect food, and anyone I know who eats meat loves the shit outta that stuff, but let’s face it, bacon is like some little flat slippery heart destroyin’ missiles…that just happen to taste yummy as fuck! Let’s not kid ourselves though…there ain’t nothin’ healthy about bacon. Bacon is possibly the ultimate betrayal of your taste buds to the well being of one’s body. You tasty lil’ bastids!
(Personally, I much prefer turkey bacon on top of baked boneless skinless chicken breast with smashed up avocado smeared on a bun as my choice of burger-ish food.)
Just as a burger should have, it had a nice sear on the outside of the patty, but not burnt. You could tell it was done properly because even though it had the nice sear and char lines on the outside, it was still moist and juicy on the inside. At the same time, while holding its nice moisture it wasn’t greasy. The easiest, straight ahead way to say it was that it was a burger done right. As simple as that!
It was good too. I didn’t want any bite to end. The bun, the patty, the right amount of bacon, jalapenos & cheese, raw onions rather than caramelized…it was some yummy-ass shit!
It was a tad below the average size of the string of burgers I have had so far, but each bite made me want to have more. Unlike the burgers where they stack that mountain of salad between the buns, making it kind of a pain in the ass, and uneven to eat, the Mike’s Place burger had that balance of being eatable with every bite having some of everything.
Back to the fries…they were a nice size side of fries simply served on the plate. That’s definitely become my much preferred way for fries to be served rather than a chintzy amount of fries disguised to look good in one of those awkward upright containers. The fries were pretty good ones too, so that was OK. Yes fries are an afterthought next to the burger, but they still count for what they are, and these weren’t too bad.
Overall, it was really great…fuckin’ awesome even! The only drawback was that it was that tad bit below average size. I was happy, and that was the feeling I was leaving with.
I got up and walked down to the bar to get my bill and pay for it. When I got rung in and handed my bill my happiness quickly took a turn. It was nearly $2 more than the most expensive burger so far. Now, considering that it was a tad under size of average, and that it was by far the most expensive, the cost vs size didn’t overly do it for me.
I do recognize and appreciate that it is hormone-free grass fed local beef, and a local organic sesame bun, and really fuckin’ good; but the thought that a burger, fries, and a fountain drink could cost 9 cents below $22.00 before you drop a tip is kinda crazy. (As far as I'm concerned, local ingredients should never cost more than far away ones.) That’s really my only hesitation with it as far as a repeat visit goes, but it was really done well and very tasty.
Stuff Writin' About Kinda Guy
I am a simple guy who likes to dream of the impossible and go after it. I have found fun in writing about my journey as well as other things that inspire me too.