I don't get, nor do I deserve, a lot of sympathy in my work. As soon as my face winces -- before I even get out a word of complaint -- I'm met with a barrage of facetiousness. "Oh, poor food critic guy eats out on someone else's dime." I pay, though, people. I promise.
Like those days when I'm not super careful about my dining plan and somehow manage to schedule a meal at Luscher's Red Hots after doing a first look at Spork -- all of this after reviewing a Tex-Mex restaurant. It's times like these I catch myself fantasizing about savoring a single parsley leaf with a fork and knife, but instead find myself ordering an Italian beef with french fries.
"On Tuesdays our special is beef tallow fried french fries," the well meaning cashier told me at the counter. The news felt like a kick in the nuts. I asked if I could have fries that had been fried in a less special manner but she told me that would take longer. I told myself that I would only eat a few, after I nibbled on the end of that sandwich.
Let's start with the beef sandwich, which comes on a shorter and more stout roll than I expected. The bread is generously stuffed with tender beef, and it's not dipped in gravy, but it's got a modest dressing. I'd call this the gentlemen's beef sandwich -- you can get it done with two napkins.
The giardiniera is lively, crunchy and plenty hot. I lied and told myself the vegetables made the experience healthy somehow. That's two lies at one restaurant. I lost my moral compass in a sea of saturated fats.
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As for those fries, I ate half of them plain before walking back into the restaurant for a packet of mayo. OK, that's another lie, it was three packets of mayo, but I'm not sure it matters at this point. The fries had that subtle crispness that can only come from a bath in hot animal fat. They were heavily seasoned and delicious.
As I used the last few fries to squeegee the remaining traces of mayo from the deli paper, I talked to a cashier that was outside bussing tables. I couldn't understand why they'd only use beef tallow on Tuesdays.
She didn't have a good answer, so that's another problem for another day. For now I'm planning two things for my immediate future. The first is "Tuesdays with Luscher's," a recurring series. And second, I'm standing in line every Wednesday and letting those poor suckers know what they missed by only a day. I won't be the only guy made to suffer.
Luscher's Red Hots, 2653 Commerce St., (214) 434-1006, luschers.com