BadHappy Poutine Shop

October 19th, 2013 by Katya

BadHappy Poutine Shop
939 N. Orleans Street
Chicago, IL   60610
Tue – Sat: 12:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Sun: 12:00 pm – 4:00 pm

Good Food : 4/5 | Good Service : 4/5

On the corner across the block from the Corden Bleu culinary school, BadHappy is a small no-frills/no-nonsense shop with 4 tables and a counter that seats up to 10. The dark interior and lack of windows only help to reinforce the grunge ambiance. Most of the right wall is covered with BH stickers of people who attempted their Triple-Double Challenge : 1 triple BadHappy Sauce Burger (18 oz), two full poutines, and a milkshake (12 oz) consumed in 30 minutes or less.  The number of fails so far has greatly outnumbered the people who successfully completed this challenge.

If you drive, be prepared to circle a while for parking or to feed the ‘Pay to Park’ meters several blocks over. The CB school, church and several schools in a 4 block radius means that most of the street parking is permit-only and practically non-existent during the day. You can take the Metra to the Chicago-Brown stop or catch the 66/37 bus lines to Chicago & Orleans  if you want to avoid the parking madness.

The hubbie and I went on a Thursday for lunch and tried 2 of the poutines : the RedNeck and the Good, the Bad & the Happy. Poutines are served on food service wax sheets in standard pie tins, and paper napkins & plastic cutlery sits in plastic quart-sized containers on the tables and counter. Menus are laminated and you mark your order and give it to the staff behind the counter, who will turn right around to the cooktop area and make your meal.

The RedNeck's mac-n-cheese ball

The RedNeck poutine ($12) : Pulled BBQ Pork, a pool-ball-sized fried Mac-n-Cheese ball, red cabbage Southern Slaw, fried okra slices, PBR Gravy, frites and cheese curds. This was the more flavorful of the 2 poutines – the pork is tossed in the bbq sauce, adding a nice tomato/vinegar layer to counteract the heavy weight from eating the mac-n-cheese and fried okra pieces.

The Good, the Bad and the Happy - truffle mayo stripes!

The Good, the Bad & the Happy ($13) : Pork Belly pieces, truffle Mayo, Foie Gras mousse & gravy, frites, cheese and a sunny side up egg. A very heavy poutine due to the pork belly, truffle, and foie gras. The runny egg helps to slightly minimize the artery clogging feeling that comes over you about halfway through. Combining this with the RedNeck’s fried items meant we waddled out of the place with heavily weighted but happy stomachs.

Overall, be prepared to break any sodium or fat rules in your diet – since the french fries are deep-fried and salted & the poutine gravy is a staple ingredient, this combination plus the white cheese curds means that this is neither a low-sodium nor a low-fat food. But, if you can survive the meal, the poutines are a great indulgence.


Federal Donuts

April 26th, 2013 by Katya

Federal Donuts
1632 Sansom Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
(215) 665-1101

Good Food : 4/5 | Good Service : 4/5

While scouting out food places in downtown Philly, I ran across reviews touting the donuts from Federal Donuts. This review is for their second/smaller location tucked halfway down Sansom Street.

Federal Donuts sells 3 food items – coffee, dense cake donuts and buttermilk fried chicken with your choice of dry or wet seasonings. Since I was stuck in conference classes all day, I didn’t get a chance to taste their chicken but did sample their donut offerings. Donuts fall into 2 categories : fresh donuts and pre-made/fancy donuts. Since this was going to be my only visit, I tried to get at least one of each that was being offered that month. I was able to pre-order my donuts so that I could make sure to get the popular ones and pick them up 2 days later before my flight home.

Federal’s donuts are dense cake donuts and could be considered a little on the small side. Known for unusual flavors, these donuts are a premium at $1.25 – $2 per donut. Considering that the main alternative on the East Coast is Dunkin Donuts, this does give you an option  for a morning donut fresh from the fryer right before starting your work day.


Fancy donuts
These were dense cake donuts with a slightly soft texture, which could be interpreted as minimally doughy by some. Denser than the fresh donuts since they are made ahead of time.

  • Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter – salty peanut butter strips over a chocolate glaze made for a donut which pleases the adult palate
  • Turkish Coffee – covered in coffee grounds and flavored with a coffee glaze
  • Raspberry Lemonade – raspberry icing stripes with a lemonade glaze
  • French Toast – caramel, brown sugar sprinkles on a white sugar glaze (my favorite!)
  • Blueberry Muffin (special that month) – a strong tart/sweet blueberry glaze spiked with citric acid, sporting brown sugar sprinkles that gave a nice crunch
  • Cookies and Cream (special that month) – traditional cake donut with a white sugar glaze and oreo cookie crumbles

Fresh donuts
Since these are cooked to order, these donuts had a lighter texture than the pre-made/fancy donuts, creating a ‘melt in your mouth’ experience. They were best eaten within 30 minutes of purchase, especially the Cinnamon Sugar one!

  • Cinnamon Sugar – good staple, nothing surprising
  • Strawberry Lavender
  • Vanilla Spice

Overall, these were good donuts. Would I pay this much again if I’m in Philly? probably not, as the flavor and execution was spotty. My blueberry donut I had earlier that week was great, but the ones that I got in my box order were a little on the dry side and were skimpy on the blueberry glaze. I give them kudos for some of the unique flavor combinations.

Fairport Hots

March 21st, 2013 by Katya

Fairport Hots
1226 Fairport Road
Fairport, NY 14450
(585) 586-4540

Good Food : 3.5/5  | Good Service : 3.5/5

My co-worker had cited the need to try a Rochester garbage plate during our stay, so after getting several local recommendations we decided to try the ones from Fairport Hots. If you have never heard of a garbage plate, this is a dish made famous by Nick Tahou Hots, a dive restaurant located in downtown Rochester. This restaurant is holder of the ‘garbage plate’ trademark and originator of this high-calorie dish. Since they first starting offering this dish, many other food establishments have added their own spin/variant of the garbage plate.

A a typical ‘garbage plate’ is a combination of one or more meats (cheeseburger, hamburger, red hots, white hots, Italian sausage, chicken tenders, fish (usually haddock), fried ham, grilled cheese, or eggs) and two sides dishes (home fries, French fries, baked beans, or macaroni salad). Topping options include ketchup, mustard and onions, and some type of hot sauce. The sauce can vary from being a simple red hot sauce, or one flavored with spices and slowly simmered ground beef (the more traditional offering). To add to your carbohydrate intake, the dish is usually served with rolls or Italian bread slices/toast on the side.

Fairport Hots has an extensive plate offering (see their menu listing here). To minimize the hit on our arteries, we split the mid-sized ‘Varsity Plate’. This size comes with your choice of 3 meats (red or white hots, hamburger or cheeseburger patties) and choice of 2 sides: home fries, french fries, macaroni salad or baked beans. We chose the home fries as our starch and the macaroni salad, and got 1 white hot and 2 cheeseburgers for our meat.

Fairport Hots is not a gourmet food place – whether you do a sit-in or takeout order, your food is packaged into a styrofoam take-out container. Service is quick and no-nonsense, with plastic utensils and paper napkins. The menu reflects the type of quick food that satisfies a 2am late night craving after a night of partying and/or drinking.

Both of us agreed that their version of a garbage plate lived up to our expectations. The blandness of the macaroni salad balanced out the heavy flavors of the other ingredients, while the starch from the home fries potatoes went well with the burger patties and white hot meat. The meat sauce had just enough spice to distinguish it from comparing to a meat chili, and helped moisten the potatoes. The blending of flavors helps satisfy our ‘junk food’ craving for a long time.