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CND Gyros & Lounge: in a time warp set off the Mag Mile

CND Gyros & Lounge: in a time warp set off the Mag Mile
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  • Post #31 - September 21st, 2008, 4:42 am
    Post #31 - September 21st, 2008, 4:42 am Post #31 - September 21st, 2008, 4:42 am
    ronnie_suburban wrote:I completely understand. I totally appreciate your passion for the the place, and obviously, kafein's as well, even if I don't completely share it. In fact, one of the reasons I posted about my indecision regarding CND was to further develop the discussion on this thread. I'm really curious to hear what others who have been here think about it.

    I shared my own bit of ambivalence in a post above - perhaps a bit surprising since I've posted so enthusiastically in the main thread. I guess this decision really comes down to one's definition of a GNR. If it's about what resonates with people, I cannot deny that CND has something that draws me in week after week. Surrounded by dozens of lunch options, I've been to CND probably 25 times in the last year - far more than any of my other choices.

    The food is not transcendent, but it is made with more care than other places I've been with a similar menu. Without fail in my 30 visits, the bread has been fresh and the food has been served piping hot. I like some other little touches too - such as the overnight marinade that the healthy, bland chicken breasts get to make them at least palatable, and the honest "no, don't get that" the owner gives me when I try to order something he knows is not the kitchen's forte.

    But as Gary and others have said well, one's enjoyment at CND comes partially from the food, and partially from much less tangible aspects of the restaurant. CND is a place that wants to make customers happy, and at least with this customer, it succeeds in a big way.
    ...defended from strong temptations to social ambition by a still stronger taste for tripe and onions." Screwtape in The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis

    Fuckerberg on Food
  • Post #32 - September 21st, 2008, 5:39 am
    Post #32 - September 21st, 2008, 5:39 am Post #32 - September 21st, 2008, 5:39 am
    G Wiv wrote:If the GNRs were solely about the food I might nominate your kitchen. Though my Gyro Melt with an over easy egg was terrific on its own merits.

    An LTHForum GNR has to resonate, have a certain style, an indefinable something. It's kind of like pornography, I know it when I like it* and I like C.N.D. Gyros.


    I've got to echo Ronnie's ambivalence. If you're talking about atmosphere CND has it in spades, and the gyro melt does have a certain charm, but my issue is that I can only eat 1 or maybe 2 gyro melts in a given year and CND doesn't have a very deep bench (to use a baseball metaphor). Although a GNR isn't purely about the food, it is about the food to a very large degree. On my visit, I tried to order broasted chicken (they have a large "official broasted chicken" poster in the window only to be told that they didn't have any chicken(?!), so I settled on a cheeseburger. The cheeseburger was one of the worst examples of a hot dog stand cheeseburger I've had in quite a while, being bland grey food service beef served with a piece of American cheese applied after cooking, so it didn't have time to properly melt. And the fries? Direct from the Sysco truck to you.

    Atmospheric Cheesecake
    Image

    Broasted Chicken Tease
    Image

    CND Cheeseburger
    Image

    My concern with this nomination is that unless a person knows the back story and orders a Gyro melt, they could very well leave CND both disappointed in their meal and scratching their head wondering about the integrity of the GNR list itself.

    CND Gyro Melt
    Image
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #33 - September 21st, 2008, 6:13 am
    Post #33 - September 21st, 2008, 6:13 am Post #33 - September 21st, 2008, 6:13 am
    stevez wrote:...On my visit, I tried to order broasted chicken (they have a large "official broasted chicken" poster in the window only to be told that they didn't have any chicken(?!), ...
    Interesting, in the many, many times I've been there, not once have they been out of broasted chicken. Maybe it's a weekday vs. weekend thing. I've never been to CND on a weekend, and imagine customer traffic is much slower then.


    stevez wrote:...My concern with this nomination is that unless a person knows the back story and orders a Gyro melt, they could very well leave CND both disappointed in their meal and scratching their head wondering about the integrity of the GNR list itself
    I shared this concern, and it's the reason I originally couldn't fully support CND or Marie's Pizza, which has the nerve to serve embarrassingly bad canned mushrooms on its pizza, and a sad iceberg lettuce salad with cold, mealy tomatoes. But after thinking about it more I decided that someone who doesn't bother reading far enough to get the back story isn't likely to make much of an LTHer anyway, so Marie's and CND would both get my vote.
    ...defended from strong temptations to social ambition by a still stronger taste for tripe and onions." Screwtape in The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis

    Fuckerberg on Food
  • Post #34 - September 21st, 2008, 6:50 am
    Post #34 - September 21st, 2008, 6:50 am Post #34 - September 21st, 2008, 6:50 am
    Kennyz wrote:so Marie's and CND would both get my vote.


    I'm not necessarily dissagreeing with you. It's a tough call.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #35 - September 21st, 2008, 7:23 am
    Post #35 - September 21st, 2008, 7:23 am Post #35 - September 21st, 2008, 7:23 am
    Well, and part of the point of the certificate is to point people toward the dishes that matter.

    Doesn't mean you won't be justifying it to somebody in a year, though...
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  • Post #36 - September 21st, 2008, 8:56 am
    Post #36 - September 21st, 2008, 8:56 am Post #36 - September 21st, 2008, 8:56 am
    stevez wrote:
    My concern with this nomination is that unless a person knows the back story and orders a Gyro melt, they could very well leave CND both disappointed in their meal and scratching their head wondering about the integrity of the GNR list itself.


    This certainly applied to my visit. My gyros was fine and the atmosphere was, well, atmospheric, but, because I didn't know to order the Gyros melt, I left wondering why we were considering CND. But I guess that is the purpose of the certificate.
    Toast, as every breakfaster knows, isn't really about the quality of the bread or how it's sliced or even the toaster. For man cannot live by toast alone. It's all about the butter. -- Adam Gopnik
  • Post #37 - September 21st, 2008, 9:56 am
    Post #37 - September 21st, 2008, 9:56 am Post #37 - September 21st, 2008, 9:56 am
    To make one further point of clarification about the food at CND as it applies to my personal criteria, it's not that the highs (Gyros Melt) were not high enough, it's that the lows (foodservice burger and fries) were pretty low.

    I'm guessing, as Kenny implied, that the food here on weekdays -- when there is brisk turnover -- easily outshines the food on weekends, when traffic is slower.

    =R=
    Why don't you take these profiteroles and put them up your shi'-ta-holes? --Jemaine & Bret

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #38 - September 21st, 2008, 8:29 pm
    Post #38 - September 21st, 2008, 8:29 pm Post #38 - September 21st, 2008, 8:29 pm
    G Wiv wrote:It's kind of like pornography, I know it when I like it* and I like C.N.D. Gyros.[/i]


    Gary,

    Not so fast. The quote regarding pornography is not "I know it when I like it." :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll:

    It is "I know it when I see it," or more colloquially, "[You] know it when [you] see it." And it's attributable to Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart.
  • Post #39 - September 21st, 2008, 8:38 pm
    Post #39 - September 21st, 2008, 8:38 pm Post #39 - September 21st, 2008, 8:38 pm
    aschie30 wrote:It is "I know it when I see it," or more colloquially, "[You] know it when [you] see it." And it's attributable to Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart.

    Wendy,

    That's why I attributed it to King's Thursday, it was a humorous slip of the tongue on her part. Personally, I like "I know it when I like it" better than the the original. :)

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #40 - September 21st, 2008, 8:39 pm
    Post #40 - September 21st, 2008, 8:39 pm Post #40 - September 21st, 2008, 8:39 pm
    G Wiv wrote:
    aschie30 wrote:It is "I know it when I see it," or more colloquially, "[You] know it when [you] see it." And it's attributable to Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart.

    Wendy,

    That's why I attributed it to King's Thursday, it was a humorous slip of the tongue on her part. Personally, I like "I know it when I like it" better than the the original. :)

    Enjoy,
    Gary


    I bet you do! :)
  • Post #41 - September 21st, 2008, 10:52 pm
    Post #41 - September 21st, 2008, 10:52 pm Post #41 - September 21st, 2008, 10:52 pm
    aschie30 wrote:Not so fast. The quote regarding pornography is not "I know it when I like it." :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll:

    It is "I know it when I see it," or more colloquially, "[You] know it when [you] see it." And it's attributable to Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart.


    Not so fast. The quote attributed to Justice Stewart relates to how to define obscenity, not pornography. (And no, they are not the same thing.)

    If you are going to pick nits...
    I don't know what you think about dinner, but there must be a relation between the breakfast and the happiness. --Cemal Süreyya
  • Post #42 - September 24th, 2008, 8:54 pm
    Post #42 - September 24th, 2008, 8:54 pm Post #42 - September 24th, 2008, 8:54 pm
    Sorry to interrupt with a report on the GNR nominee, but I visited CND today.

    I get the charm. I can see the amusing excess in the Gyros Melt, but...

    I have a hard time enjoying a meal when the raw ingredients are so uniformly industrial and mediocre, and the only effort made to hide that fact is by piling them on. I did like the toasted bread they used on the sandwich and the Gyros Melt had a 3am and drunk, excessive charm that reminded me of White Castle.

    Not a GNR, not by a mile. Sign me grumpy :x
    d
    Feeling (south) loopy
  • Post #43 - October 3rd, 2008, 3:17 pm
    Post #43 - October 3rd, 2008, 3:17 pm Post #43 - October 3rd, 2008, 3:17 pm
    I had lunch here today, as I was in the Mag Mile "neighborhood." I agree with the above posters that the ambiance is dripping in character. It hits you when you walk in the door, and you see the old high lunch counter with the flat top behind it, and then again, when you look towards the back, and see the old-style tavern with the vinyl barstools and TVs tuned to CNN. I see where GWiv is going when he implies that CND has an immediate comforting, enveloping quality to it. This is the type of place where, in my imagination, old newspaper icons would drink and smoke heavily while hashing out politics and corruption.

    So, these thoughts danced in my mind as I perused the menu which contained hot-dog stand/greasy spoon standards. I did not order the gyros melt because it did not sound appealing, and it's already been commented on numerous times. IMHO, the place has to do something else well besides a gyros melt. So I ordered a burger (forgetting that stevez had already done so before me). As I waited for my food, I pondered whether, as a greasy spoon with a run-of-the-mill greasy spoon menu, is there anything besides ambiance that sets this one apart? And is it enough to make it a GNR? I decided it would have to depend on the food.

    After getting my burger I sat down and took a bite -- sorry, but it was not good. At all. I am not launching into hyperbole when I state that you could get a tastier burger at McDonald's. The burger was extremely thin, devoid of any flavor (I got the salt and pepper shaker on it, which didn't really improve it), had pink cardboard tomatoes and a ton of shredded lettuce. The fries were similarly bland and, like the burger, not salted at all. Is this place catering to people with hypertension (which would be odd, considering the menu)? A heavy dosing of salt didn't help matters with the fries either. The worst part, I think, was that, even though there were bottles labeled as "Heinz" ketchup on the tables -- and maybe I'm wrong here -- it didn't taste like or have the consistency of Heinz ketchup and instead had a lingering, off and one-note aftertaste reminiscent of super-sweet tomato paste and nothing else. I suppose a ketchup expert may be able to ferret out this mystery.

    But, in all, as much as I wanted to like this place, I cannot recommend it for a GNR. I realize that I've made only one visit and did not have their signature sandwich. So take what I say with a grain of salt (ha!). However, when a place fails at doing something you'd think that they'd be able to do well -- make a decent burger -- I'm not sure that it's enough that it makes a good gyros melt. In the end, I decided that, if someone stopped me two blocks from there and asked me where they could get a good burger in the 'hood and I'd gladly point them to LEYE's P.J. Clarke's instead of CND, then it probably is not GNR-worthy. :(
  • Post #44 - October 3rd, 2008, 4:36 pm
    Post #44 - October 3rd, 2008, 4:36 pm Post #44 - October 3rd, 2008, 4:36 pm
    aschie30 wrote:However, when a place fails at doing something you'd think that they'd be able to do well -- make a decent burger -- I'm not sure that it's enough that it makes a good gyros melt.

    Ashie,

    Part of the charm of LTHForum, GNR season or not, is to help direct people to strengths of a restaurant. For example, someone reading the thread about Great Sea would be clearly directed to ordering the delicious spicy/sweet crisp chicken drumettes. Same with the CND thread, the Gyro Melt is mentioned, and pictured, as being delectable, at least by me and Kafein, and the burger as bland grey food service beef by Steve Z.

    I'm not of a mind that a restaurant has to do everything on the menu well to be a favorite, Great Sea again as example, I love the place, but the only really recommendable item on the menu are the chicken wing drumettes. I should also point out I am not making a direct comparison to CND, I've been to Great Sea countless times, ordered extensively from the menu, like the spicy octopus, cha chiang mein and pan fried dumplings, but the real reason to go is #50. Hot & Saucy Chicken Wings.

    I'm looking forward to exploring CNDs menu for other items of interest, but will happily go, recommend and appreciate CND if only for the Gyro Melt and old school bar room charm.

    Enjoy,
    Gary

    Great Sea
    3254 W. Lawrence Ave
    Chicago, IL
    773-478-9129
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #45 - October 3rd, 2008, 8:02 pm
    Post #45 - October 3rd, 2008, 8:02 pm Post #45 - October 3rd, 2008, 8:02 pm
    GWiv-

    Please remind me -- is Great Seas a GNR?
  • Post #46 - October 3rd, 2008, 8:16 pm
    Post #46 - October 3rd, 2008, 8:16 pm Post #46 - October 3rd, 2008, 8:16 pm
    aschie30 wrote:GWiv-

    Please remind me -- is Great Seas a GNR?

    Typical lawyer, never ask a question to which you don't know the answer.

    No, it is not, but that is why I said "Part of the charm of LTHForum, GNR season or not, is to help direct people to strengths of a restaurant."

    Also, if you look at previous GNR awards you will notice there are specific dishes mentioned on the plaques. For example, La Unica's says Here's the meal to have:pan con lechon, potaje de garbanzos, tostones and cafe con leche with pudin de pan for dessert. After a few additional suggestions a sensitive and poetic LTHer, me ;) , suggests...the oxtails were as tender as a predawn kiss"

    And yes, La Unica is a GNR.

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #47 - October 3rd, 2008, 8:24 pm
    Post #47 - October 3rd, 2008, 8:24 pm Post #47 - October 3rd, 2008, 8:24 pm
    G Wiv wrote:
    aschie30 wrote:GWiv-

    Please remind me -- is Great Seas a GNR?

    Typical lawyer, never ask a question to which you don't know the answer.

    No, it is not, but that is why I said "Part of the charm of LTHForum, GNR season or not, is to help direct people to strengths of a restaurant."

    Also, if you look at previous GNR awards you will notice there are specific dishes mentioned on the plaques. For example, La Unica's says Here's the meal to have:pan con lechon, potaje de garbanzos, tostones and cafe con leche with pudin de pan for dessert. After a few additional suggestions a sensitive and poetic LTHer, me ;) , suggests...the oxtails were as tender as a predawn kiss"


    Yes, but you see, La Unica has 6 dishes to recommend itself.
  • Post #48 - October 3rd, 2008, 8:30 pm
    Post #48 - October 3rd, 2008, 8:30 pm Post #48 - October 3rd, 2008, 8:30 pm
    aschie30 wrote:Yes, but you see, La Unica has 6 dishes to recommend itself.

    How about I save myself some time and trouble and just say you win. Not sure what it is you won, but you won.

    Congratulations!
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #49 - October 3rd, 2008, 8:47 pm
    Post #49 - October 3rd, 2008, 8:47 pm Post #49 - October 3rd, 2008, 8:47 pm
    G Wiv wrote:Not sure what it is you won, but you won.

    A free burger from CND Gyros and Lounge!!! Image
  • Post #50 - October 3rd, 2008, 8:49 pm
    Post #50 - October 3rd, 2008, 8:49 pm Post #50 - October 3rd, 2008, 8:49 pm
    cilantro wrote:
    G Wiv wrote:Not sure what it is you won, but you won.

    A free burger from CND Gyros and Lounge!!! Image


    I'll admit -- that is a better prize than a kick in the ass!
  • Post #51 - October 3rd, 2008, 8:53 pm
    Post #51 - October 3rd, 2008, 8:53 pm Post #51 - October 3rd, 2008, 8:53 pm
    aschie30 wrote:better ... than a kick in the ass!

    Okay, we have the GNR certificate.
  • Post #52 - October 3rd, 2008, 9:34 pm
    Post #52 - October 3rd, 2008, 9:34 pm Post #52 - October 3rd, 2008, 9:34 pm
    I would say the perfect illustration of the principle G Wiv mentions would be Gene & Jude's, which has exactly two offerings, one of which (the tamale) exists only to mock the other.
    Watch Sky Full of Bacon, the Chicago food HD podcast!
    New episode: Soil, Corn, Cows and Cheese
    Watch the Reader's James Beard Award-winning Key Ingredient here.
  • Post #53 - October 4th, 2008, 7:20 am
    Post #53 - October 4th, 2008, 7:20 am Post #53 - October 4th, 2008, 7:20 am
    Mike G wrote:I would say the perfect illustration of the principle G Wiv mentions would be Gene & Jude's, which has exactly two offerings, one of which (the tamale) exists only to mock the other.

    I haven't gotten to CND yet, but I can't get behind awarding a GNR if there's only one notable thing on a menu that has more than two things.
    Joe G.

    "Whatever may be wrong with the world, at least it has some good things to eat." -- Cowboy Jack Clement
  • Post #54 - October 4th, 2008, 7:31 am
    Post #54 - October 4th, 2008, 7:31 am Post #54 - October 4th, 2008, 7:31 am
    germuska wrote:I haven't gotten to CND yet, but I can't get behind awarding a GNR if there's only one notable thing on a menu that has more than two things.

    You have obviously have never been to Great Sea. ;)

    And no, Great Sea is not a GNR, though I was seriously thinking of nominating it this time around.
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #55 - October 4th, 2008, 8:09 am
    Post #55 - October 4th, 2008, 8:09 am Post #55 - October 4th, 2008, 8:09 am
    germuska wrote:
    Mike G wrote:I would say the perfect illustration of the principle G Wiv mentions would be Gene & Jude's, which has exactly two offerings, one of which (the tamale) exists only to mock the other.

    I haven't gotten to CND yet, but I can't get behind awarding a GNR if there's only one notable thing on a menu that has more than two things.


    On second thought, maybe MikeG and GWiv are correct in that a GNR can be a restaurant with one really, really good menu item. I'm just not sure a gyros melt is good enough.
  • Post #56 - October 4th, 2008, 1:40 pm
    Post #56 - October 4th, 2008, 1:40 pm Post #56 - October 4th, 2008, 1:40 pm
    I like CND Gyros, but no way I consider it a GNR.

    While I enjoy the food just fine for what it is, if this gets a GNR, we've really thrown the food component of the program under the bus.

    CND Gyros has atmosphere in spades, but so do many neighborhood bars and diners in Chicago. This one is particularly notable because its right off the Mag Mile, and for that reason I can understand ronnie's inclination to make an out-of-towner recommendation.

    But if this were anywhere else in town, I doubt any of us would have heard of it. The food is fine, just fine, and a lottery ticket, beer, and gyros melt makes a highly satisfying work-a-day meal, but overall, the food here is not special.

    This "ineffable quality" business I think is more of an adjunct than a replacement for stellar food. I don't think atmosphere can make up for average or uneven food.

    Plus, and more importantly from a voting persepective, the LTH track record seems insufficient to me. One thread, four posters (including me) who say they like it. It's a good joint, but I need to see more of a big forum embrace for GNRs.

    I'm glad you brought this to peoples' attention, kafein, but I just don't see it as a GNR.
  • Post #57 - October 7th, 2008, 10:23 am
    Post #57 - October 7th, 2008, 10:23 am Post #57 - October 7th, 2008, 10:23 am
    Just to make sure I still liked it - I visited with some non-foody co-workers last week.

    I actually enjoyed the fries, had a great juicy chicken leg, had an outstanding gyros melt and my co workers thoroughly enjoyed their patty melts.

    There are other GNRs that don't have the best food in town or even in their genre, (I'm looking at you White Palace). But, I'll not disparage them for that. They are places you're proud to show off, hidden gems in the city, and the food is very good, if not great.
  • Post #58 - October 9th, 2008, 9:02 am
    Post #58 - October 9th, 2008, 9:02 am Post #58 - October 9th, 2008, 9:02 am
    germuska wrote:
    Mike G wrote:I would say the perfect illustration of the principle G Wiv mentions would be Gene & Jude's, which has exactly two offerings, one of which (the tamale) exists only to mock the other.

    I haven't gotten to CND yet, but I can't get behind awarding a GNR if there's only one notable thing on a menu that has more than two things.


    While I'm still on the fence about CND, I will note that I have reported and pictured a second fine offering - the chicken sandwich.
    ...defended from strong temptations to social ambition by a still stronger taste for tripe and onions." Screwtape in The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis

    Fuckerberg on Food
  • Post #59 - October 9th, 2008, 1:11 pm
    Post #59 - October 9th, 2008, 1:11 pm Post #59 - October 9th, 2008, 1:11 pm
    I love learning about places like this, and it often happens as a result of GNRs discussion.

    I will check CND out, but I fear that it might not be enough about the food there to support a GNR. Just an uneducated guess based on the documentation. Nonetheless, looks like a place where I'd rather spend time and money than many GNR worthy spots.

    Which brings me to an idea -- is LTH ready for more categories? Because I could see CND joining the Hourglass (the still-obscure Korean soju bar and late night snack joint) and others as a Great Neighborhood Watering Hole, with Food. Or maybe it joins Pepper's Sandwich Shop, Diner Grill and others as Great Neighborhood Dump where We Happily Eat. Or perchance it ranks with Hamburger King and Orange Garden in the category, Weird Places We Love for All Sorts of Reasons, Some of Which Have to Do with Food.
  • Post #60 - October 14th, 2008, 8:17 pm
    Post #60 - October 14th, 2008, 8:17 pm Post #60 - October 14th, 2008, 8:17 pm
    JeffB wrote:I love learning about places like this, and it often happens as a result of GNRs discussion.

    I will check CND out, but I fear that it might not be enough about the food there to support a GNR. Just an uneducated guess based on the documentation. Nonetheless, looks like a place where I'd rather spend time and money than many GNR worthy spots.

    Which brings me to an idea -- is LTH ready for more categories? Because I could see CND joining the Hourglass (the still-obscure Korean soju bar and late night snack joint) and others as a Great Neighborhood Watering Hole, with Food. Or maybe it joins Pepper's Sandwich Shop, Diner Grill and others as Great Neighborhood Dump where We Happily Eat. Or perchance it ranks with Hamburger King and Orange Garden in the category, Weird Places We Love for All Sorts of Reasons, Some of Which Have to Do with Food.


    Great post, on a number of levels.

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