But, I have partaken of at least 4 buffets in the past 2 weeks.
Yes, between Vegas and Chicago I've recently eaten quite well. In Vegas, it was more that I ate a lot. Quantity not quality. While in Vegas, however, I did manage to eat at Lotus of Siam. Little Lo is a member of my favorite class of restaurant. Class members are usually located, like Lotus, in a seedy strip mall next to a wig shop. Lotus looks like the type of place one would be wiser to forgo. Inside, multilingual reviews of the Lotus' supreme mastery of Thai cuisine papered the entryway. The reviews did not betray. Something larb-like was excellent and the pad see ew was perfection. The wide noodles had a texture no other restaurant I've been to has attained and the tofu in the dish was delicate and somewhat sweet. To top it all off, we had an amazing (but somewhat expensive) Thai desert trio of a coconut sorbet (disappointingly granular texture), what I considered to be a deep-fried banana twinkie, or more appropriately a banana egg roll, and some spectacular mango sticky rice. The banana egg roll was good, but I would travel back for the mango sticky rice. That, dear readers, is saying something. I have reached my Vegas saturation point, and I don't see myself returning soon. Nevertheless, when I think of that rice, I consider checking SWA for cheap flights...
In Chicago, I had a fabulous bachelorette party meal at Sapori Trattoria in Lincoln Park. My dear friend's sister treated us to kir royales, a memorable appetizer with portobello mushrooms and some really really decadent bread pudding. My favorite entree was the equally decadent butternut squash ravioli. A lot of restaurants won't serve that dish year-round. For traditionalist reasons they confine (or rather, imprison it) to colder seasons. The emphasis in this particular ravioli was on the butter. I appreciated that as a butter devotee. The ravioli was sweet, nutty, crispy (was that pine nuts?) and yumtastic. Service at Sapori was also top notch.
The next night in Chicago, my sister, her main squeeze, and his roommate took me to Polish-town on Milwaukee Avenue. While there I saw what appeared to be the nicest laundromat... ever. It was next door to the Red Apple (aka Czerwone Jabluszko) Restaurant. My hunch is that the Red Apple owners also manage the laundromat. The laundromat was very clean and had a tiered tray of free (that's right, free) desserts out for the taking. These desserts were both free and looked awesome. At the Red Apple our awesome waitress pushed us to order beer (the Polish nickname for the brand is O.K., and it was, O.K.). The buffet, for $8.99 (weekend rate) was rad. The meaty pierogies were scrumptious and I enjoyed the apple pancakes as well. The meat and potato varieties were also good, I'm afraid I can't describe the dishes since the restaurant was not so accomodating to us non-Poles as to place names near the buffet trays. Despite that minor pitfall (and with the exhortation to step away from the fruit tray - the plums were bruised and mushy, food looked spoiled), I wholeheartedly recommend the Red Apple.*
Before I sign off, some of you may be wondering, why has Dirteens spent an entire post discussing food? What's up with that? Well, on the one hand, tomorrow I'm replicating part of the recent NYT taco quest feature [see "Chasing the Perfect Taco"]. In Pescadero, I hope to try a pineapple tamale, some tacos with scary meats in them, and track down some olallieberry pie. On the other hand, I'm trying to avoid thinking about wedding planning and fuming about my recent denial of short-term health insurance. Apparently, if you take any prescription medication (i.e., asthma inhaler) you are categorically denied short-term coverage by Blue Cross.
The real inspiration for all of this was the newly revamped Chowhound site. I visited Chowhound every now and then before the onset of the Bar. Post-Bar I returned to find that the site had sold out, but to my surprise and glee, it is much easier to navigate these days and conducive to hours of browsing. Good times.
* Eating at the Red Apple brought back many happy memories of the Pierogi Fest in Whiting, IN. You really must go. In addition to the widest variety of dumplings this side of heaven, you can take your picture (for FREE) with Mr. Pierogi and Mr. Kielbasa. Now that is a treat. And while I'm on the subject of weird festivals and events... if you weren't at the Anvil Drop at Gardner Hardware in Mpls, MN today, you missed out. I may plan my wedding around it next year.