Thursday, November 10, 2011
Do as I Say…Not as I Do
720 S. Michigan Ave.
“I don’t trust no one who don’t take their own advice”
-- Black Crowes,
You always have to take your own advice.
I deserve to be put on Double Secret Suits in Strange Places Probation for this one.
My meal at Kitty O’Shea’s in the Chicago Hilton violated not one, but two inviolable Suit757 commandments:
1) Never eat at a hotel restaurant.
2) Don’t order the food at an Irish Pub.
The reason to avoid hotel restaurants should be obvious – most of their customers are never coming back. No incentive to create shirt-buying-worthy cuisine.
And as for Irish Pub cuisine, take it from someone who has spent his fair share of time downing pints in the deepest, darkest nooks and snugs of America’s and Ireland’s most famous Irish pubs. It’s not the food that makes them famous.
But, today, a strange set of circumstances (involving stored luggage, subway station proximity, flight schedules, an urgent call from Suit69 and the overriding desire for a cold beer, among other things) conspired to lead me to the conclusion that of all the great dining establishments the Windy City offers, Kitty O’Shea’s in the Chicago Hilton was my best option for a meal.
Apparently a lot of other people don’t take my advice either. At 5:30 on a Wednesday, the place was packed.
Also, a few unadventurous traveling suits like me who for whatever reason had no desire to leave the confines of their hotel.
As far as Irish pub authenticity? Well, what do you expect?
Kitty O’Shea’s has dark wood paneling, a few Irish beers on tap, and a cow painted in green shamrocks.
If you are looking for more than that, then I’m afraid you are going to have to venture outside the Hilton.
For example, forgoing my Irish Pub customary pint of Guinness, I sipped a Kilkenny while perusing the very limited menu.
Kilkenny is somewhat unusual simply because it is an Irish beer far less ubiquitous than the typical corporate Irish beer triumvirate of Guinness, Harp and Smithwicks.
Just don’t read the fine print on the tap handle.
Turns out Kilkenny is a part of the vast Diageo booze empire, along with the rest of the Irish corporate triumvirate.
Am I the only Irishman on the planet who finds it sacrilegious that 99.9% of all Irish beer is produced by a world-dominating beverage conglomerate headquartered in London?
Arthur Guinness (God rest his soul) must be flipping in his County Kildare grave.
Kilkenny is light, but tasty and goes down smooth (REAL smooth) because it is nitrogenated like Guinness.
My second beer was a local microbrew, Gossamer Golden Ale, from Chicago’s own Half Acre Brewing Company. A pilsner with a bit of hoppy flavor, it was okay. Certainly better than Bud Light.
When it comes to ordering food at an Irish pub, the safest bet is to eat before you get there.
Kitty O’Shea’s version consisted of two beer-battered pieces of mystery fish and a handful of seasoned fries. The dipping sauce for the fish was described on the menu as an “Old Bay Sauce”. In reality, it was more like a remoulade from New Orleans.
The fish wasn’t bad. Crispy and flaky, the sauce really elevated the dish to above average.
Would you pay $35 for two pieces of fish, two beers and a few fries?
Well, I just did.
But that’s what I get for not taking my own advice.