My New Year’s resolution isn’t going well so far. The plan was to stop eating like a stoned teenager and get my lazy bones on a treadmill every now and again. Apparently my willpower is stuck in 2013, when my goals were to have gout and constant back sweat. It might be a more realistic resolution just to stop ordering the Heart Attack Platter at every restaurant I visit. I’m sure my blood is practically easy cheese at this point, but every menu I read has a delicious-sounding artery-clogger calling my name.
For example, I recently went to check out the new brunch menu at Café Modern (3200 Darnell St.), a place reputed for its locally sourced ingredients and healthy dishes, when the breakfast burger ($15) stood out as though its place on the menu was demarcated by one of those giant inflatable tubes with the waving arms that you see at car lots. The cruel siren tempted me with a 6-ounce patty, applewood-smoked bacon, a fried egg, and cheddar cheese, all of it dripping with creamy Hollandaise sauce and stuffed in a Kaiser bun. I had to use a knife and fork to eat the juicy, messy goliath, since I doubt an alligator could get that thing into its mouth.
If I start this whole “try not to die so soon” diet, I might have to skip Magnolia Motor Lounge (3005 Morton St.) altogether. Everything on the menu is designed to satisfy the appetite of a Russian bear, and vegetables are as rare as Yeti sightings. One afternoon a friend and I were contemplating the menu when our lovely server suggested the pork chop special ($13). The plate comes with two breaded hubcap-sized chops on a bed of creamy mashed potatoes, topped with mushrooms, jalapeños, and grilled onions. I pounced on it like a lion on an elderly antelope. My partner in gluttony went for the equally monstrous chicken-fried steak ($11), which had a perfect batter-to-steak ratio. (Few things upset my delicate psyche more than a steak that’s all batter. It’s like being given a gift box with a smaller gift box inside.) It also came with the mash. And no veggies.
The one time I did resist was at one of my usual lunch haunts, Vickery Café (4120 W. Vickery Blvd.). It’s not a place renowned for its spa food. The café is a lighthouse for those who want down-home comfort food made with care and not out of a can. Like Café Modern, it also has some new items on the menu. One of them was the Everest burger ($16.99), stacked with four 7-ounce meat patties, corned beef, andouille sausage, and barbecued brisket, with Swiss and pepper jack cheeses. Instead of buns, the sandwich uses two grilled cheese sandwiches, with another one stuck in the middle for good measure. The burger comes with a set of rules and a prize for anyone who finishes it. One of the servers told me that she had recently seen “a football player” finish it. But I wasn’t going near that thing.
I suppose that’s where I draw the line. Any lunch that comes with a prize for just clearing your plate can’t be on my new diet … unless my 2015 resolution is to become a competitive eater.
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