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#1
Posted November 28th 2007, 9:46am
LTHForum,

I've been to Army & Lou's 8-10 times over the years and each time, with my first bite, I wonder why I don't go more often.* Nicely decorated, comfortable, friendly professional service with terrific food, in particular the Fried Chicken, crisp exterior, moist chicken flesh with a slightly salty edge, and tender Catfish fillet.

Army & Lou's
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Fried Chicken
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Catfish Fillet
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We started with gratis corn muffins, crisp edges yielding to soft interior, flavor packed gumbo, nice hunks of andouille in a no roux style broth and fine, but in no way memorable, Hot and Sweet chicken wings.

Corn Muffins
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Gumbo
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We had three smothered dishes, the best of the three being Smothered Chicken, a mistake on the part of the kitchen,** full rich gravy, impossibly tender white meat with a hint of coating, tender Short Ribs, though the rich beef flavor was slightly overpowered by the gravy, and the one almost miscue of the evening Smothered Chicken Livers which simply did not come together.

Smothered Chicken
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Smothered Short Ribs
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Smothered Chicken Livers
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As an aside, Culinary Historians of Chicago are presenting a program Dec 8th on Smothered Southern Style, which sounds quite interesting.

For reasons that were, and still are for that matter, unfathomable to me Pigmon ordered ribs, which proved to be a textbook example of Chicago Style fall off the bone baked ribs. Not my cup of tea, but they were a nicely done version.

Chicago Style Ribs
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Sides were a highlight, baked Mac and Cheese, greens w/table pepper vinegar, beets, stuffing w/gravy, even the sweet potato, normally a sticky sweet mass of goo, had integrity and did not succumb to sugary sweet overload.

Greens
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Beets (Foreground)
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Service in the form of genial waitress Kim was quite good and Miss Reynolds herself came out for a moment of chat.

Miss Reynolds (Owner, Army & Lou's)
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Full bar, reasonable prices, top-notch Southern Style food in a comfortable nicely appointed restaurant, Army & Lou's is high on my Early and Often list.

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Enjoy,
Gary

*Reason being it's 140-blocks from my house on the Edens/Dan Ryan
**It's my policy to always keep mistakes, it may, as in the case of the Smothered Chicken, prove to be delicious

Army & Lou's
422 E 75th St
Chicago, IL 60619
773-483-3100
www.armyandlous.com
9am - 10pm
Closed Tuesday
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Sauce on the side, always, implied, axiomatic..........never a doubt, BBQ sauce without.

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#2
Posted November 28th 2007, 10:02am
Never seen greens presented with slice of tomato and onion -- flavors seem like they'd work together, but presentation seems unusual (hard to eat?). I remember the greens as being very good, cooked with smoked turkey, dense, and not boiled to the point where they give up their vegetal tang and mouthfeel.

Last time I was at A&L, I also had the chitterlings (I try to eat them once per decade).

I appreciate Pigmon's effort to try the ribs -- if they had been great, THAT would be news (Similarly, I've ordered the Seafood Platter, which was also not so hot, for the same reason).
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“We all have to stand before the kitchen gods.” Chef Jacob Sahaya Kumar Aruni
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#3
Posted November 28th 2007, 10:32am
G Wiv wrote:Army & Lou's
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Thanks for this report. I've had soul food on the brain since reading about the discovery of Malinda Russell's 19th-century cook-pamphlet. I don't need to find a catfish fricassee, but I've been thinking that I need to start sorting out the nuances of soul food here in Chicago. I decided last week that this will be my new year's resolution. Army & Lou's will be my first stop.
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#4
Posted November 28th 2007, 11:23am
David Hammond wrote:Never seen greens presented with slice of tomato and onion -- flavors seem like they'd work together, but presentation seems unusual (hard to eat?).


I've seen plenty of this throughout my upbringing at home meals. I also have a good number of family members, and friends of family who crush their cornbread and mix it in with the greens. Might be a regional thing rooted in the deep south. My family hails from a small town outside of Jackson, Ms. All of the pics here are great (as usual from Gwiv) but honestly, the one that has me salivating is the pic of the greens with the mention of the pepper/vinegar sauce. When it's right, man o man....
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#5
Posted November 28th 2007, 11:58am
seebee wrote:
David Hammond wrote:Never seen greens presented with slice of tomato and onion -- flavors seem like they'd work together, but presentation seems unusual (hard to eat?).


I've seen plenty of this throughout my upbringing at home meals. I also have a good number of family members, and friends of family who crush their cornbread and mix it in with the greens. Might be a regional thing rooted in the deep south. My family hails from a small town outside of Jackson, Ms. All of the pics here are great (as usual from Gwiv) but honestly, the one that has me salivating is the pic of the greens with the mention of the pepper/vinegar sauce. When it's right, man o man....


Can't say I'm surprised -- seems like with a standard side like this, you'd come up with multiple ways to "enhance" it. What I was reacting to, though, was the big slices on top of greens -- if this were my lunch, I'd slice tomatoes and onions and sprinkle on top.
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“We all have to stand before the kitchen gods.” Chef Jacob Sahaya Kumar Aruni
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#6
Posted November 28th 2007, 7:48pm
Did they have chitterlings? If they did and you havent had them try them next time.
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#7
Posted November 28th 2007, 9:38pm
iblock9 wrote:Did they have chitterlings? If they did and you havent had them try them next time.


P.S. If you, or anyone would like sound like you're "hip" (for lack of a better term) when ordering - slang for chitlins is "wrinkles" or "grays." "Wrinkles" seems to be a more universally accepted name for them.

And always, ALWAYS eat them with hot sauce. The reg red vinegary stuff. Growing up, chitlins were whittled from most holiday meals, down to Thanksgiving and Xmas only, down to xmas only, and now, pretty much never. What a way to stink up an entire block. (you can't cook them indoors- crock pot on the back porch was the preferred method.)
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#8
Posted November 28th 2007, 10:04pm
seebee wrote:And always, ALWAYS eat them with hot sauce. The reg red vinegary stuff. Growing up, chitlins were whittled from most holiday meals, down to Thanksgiving and Xmas only, down to xmas only, and now, pretty much never. What a way to stink up an entire block. (you can't cook them indoors- crock pot on the back porch was the preferred method.)


You can cook them indoors IF they are PROPERLY cleaned. Finding a vendor that properly cleans them is a challenge.
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#9
Posted November 28th 2007, 10:55pm
happy_stomach wrote:Thanks for this report. I've had soul food on the brain since reading about the discovery of Malinda Russell's 19th-century cook-pamphlet.

happy_stomach,
Jan Longone was kind enough to share facsimile copies of Mrs. Russell's cookbook with the people who attended the 2nd Biennial Symposium on American Culinary History at the Longone Center of the Clements Library of the University of Michigan. (The author of the article you linked to, Molly O'Neill, was there, and her new book was also a gift to the participants.) I have one of these facsimile copies if you would like to take a look at it.

happy stomach wrote: I don't need to find a catfish fricassee, but I've been thinking that I need to start sorting out the nuances of soul food here in Chicago. I decided last week that this will be my new year's resolution. Army & Lou's will be my first stop.

I hope you post on the Events board, because I would like to sign on to that resolution of yours.
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#10
Posted November 28th 2007, 11:24pm
David Hammond wrote:What I was reacting to, though, was the big slices on top of greens -- if this were my lunch, I'd slice tomatoes and onions and sprinkle on top.

The first time I went to Edna's, Edna came over to see what we'd ordered after our food arrived. She saw my naked little bowl of collards sitting there and ran off in a huff. She came back with a saucer with one slice of tomato and one slice of onion, plopped them on top of my greens, and then grabbed my fork and butter knife and showed me how to slice them up into the greens. They added a freshness and crunch that really worked with the smokey, rich greens. I have hard time eating them any other way now.
(Beautiful pics and report, Gary.)

Kristen

Edna's Restaurant
3175 W. Madison
773-638-7079
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#11
Posted November 29th 2007, 1:34pm
You can cook them indoors IF they are PROPERLY cleaned. Finding a vendor that properly cleans them is a challenge.


Here's where to go:

http://retail.moo-oink.com/products/chitlins.html

Not many meat marts can make this claim:

"Only our Moo & Oink Hand-Cleaned Chitlins are nationally famed; they're cleaned year-round by our experienced team of Chitlin Cleaners."
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#12
Posted November 29th 2007, 2:49pm
jbw wrote:
You can cook them indoors IF they are PROPERLY cleaned. Finding a vendor that properly cleans them is a challenge.


Here's where to go:

http://retail.moo-oink.com/products/chitlins.html

Not many meat marts can make this claim:

"Only our Moo & Oink Hand-Cleaned Chitlins are nationally famed; they're cleaned year-round by our experienced team of Chitlin Cleaners."



In my first job out of college, I ran a cafeteria in southern Virginia. It was a hospital tradition that we serve chitterlings twice a year. We always used the AL Duck Co. of Zuni, VA as they were known for their CLEAN chillerlings. Most people (justifiably) will not eat the chitterlings unless they know the person (or vendor) who has cleaned them. I had no cook on my staff who would clean 60+# of chitterlings for those days.
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#13
Posted November 29th 2007, 3:55pm
I certainly remember having to help for a few hours when mom and gramma were cleaning one of the 10 lb pails. Sink full, cold water running, picking the tiny little knots, and sheaths of skin (and whatever else it was. :shock: )

The work:reward ratio was never quite as bountiful as say something like tamales, or bbq, but it was kind of a tradition thing. I ate them, and so did my dad and gramma, but as I recall, many of the fam scoffed at them, and the tradition just kinda died out. I might make a suprise dash to A&L's for an order of chitlins to go, and throw it on the Xmas dinner table spread for old time's sake!
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We cannot be friends if you do not know the difference between Mayo and Miracle Whip.
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#14
Posted November 30th 2007, 2:29pm
seebee wrote:What a way to stink up an entire block. (you can't cook them indoors- crock pot on the back porch was the preferred method.)

One of my roomates for a year in college used to cook them once every couple of weeks in an electric fry pan in the big dorm floor bathroom... he worked second shift as a security guard to pay his way through college, so he never had any other food options at 2am.
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#15
Posted December 4th 2007, 5:56pm
I had a lovely dinner at Army & Lou's a few weeks ago. The mac & cheese was especially good -- warm and soft without being too mushy, and with a few crispy, cheesy bits to add texture. The fried chicken was tasty (especially the dark meat), but the sides were, as usual, the stars. The cornbread dressing with giblet gravy was a hit around the table, the red beans were full of porky goodness, and the desserts were tasty (especially the bread pudding with lemon sauce) if too sweet for me (especially the peach cobbler).

Notable was the music: alas, I failed to get the singer's name, but she was quite good (her own arrangements were creative), and she said that she generally plays the first Friday of each month.
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#16
Posted December 28th 2008, 3:07am
I was out and about in South Shore Saturday afternoon and on my way home to West Ridge I stopped at Army & Lou's for an early dinner. It was 4 p.m., in between meal times, and other than me there were several tables of diners enjoying their meals.

Dinner at Army & Lou’s

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Chicken Stew, Southern Style

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One of the Saturday specials - Chicken Stew, Southern Style - caught my attention and that's what I ordered. Rounding-out the special was a basket of corn bread muffins and a dinner salad. I ordered a cup of Louisiana-style gumbo as a starter and a side of mac and cheese to go with the entree (the mac and cheese arrived after I took the picture above).

The gumbo was great tasting, filled with small shrimp and meat and served with a small portion of white rice placed in the middle of the cup. A large bowl of the gumbo and a basket of corn bread would make a very nice meal on a cold Winter day.

The well-seasoned stew included, in addition to the pieces of chicken - okra, carrots, corn and some onion. The corn bread was warm, but dry (until I added copious amounts of butter!) - though I enjoyed it. It wasn't the best I've tasted, but the mac and cheese was a respectable rendition of that staple.

Peach Cobbler

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For dessert I was leaning toward the sweet potato pie or peach cobbler. Michelle, the excellent waitress who took care of me during dinner, strongly recommended the peach cobbler - so that's what I ordered. Piping hot it was, and flavorful with what I think were hints of cinnamon and of course brown sugar.

The restaurant had only one brand of beer on hand - Becks - so that's what I drank with my meal.

I left Army & Lou's full, and satisfied.
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#17
Posted December 6th 2010, 4:11pm
Drove down from Wisconsin to spent a nice Sunday lunch at Army & Lou's yesterday. Arrived about 11:45 for the brunch which is only served on the first Sunday of the month. Took a while for the brunch to be ready and I would suggest of you want the brunch to show up about 1pm. Two of us had the brunch and two of us ordered from the menu. Pork hock and fried chicken with greens and Mac n Cheese from the Menu and the buffet had among other things. Mac N Cheese, Salisbury Steak, Smothered Pork Chops, Fried Chicken, greens, sweet potato, regular mashed potato and dressing.
Everything was very good, food arrived hot but the smothered pork chops were to die for!
Service is Southern Casual but we were not neglected and made to feel at home.
I don't know how they get the fried chicken so crispy without it being greasy? But I had a leg, wing and breast, it was so good.
The bread pudding was as good as any I have had at Commander's NOLA. The peach cobbler, the best i have ever had!
The brunch is really too much to eat and on our next trip, we will just order from the Menu.
I have been seeing some comments on various Chicago websites about slow service and cold food but our food was hot and as I said the service is Southern Casual, so if you used to eating at McDonald's, this is probably not the place for you to wait.-Dick
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#18
Posted February 2nd 2011, 3:09pm
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“We all have to stand before the kitchen gods.” Chef Jacob Sahaya Kumar Aruni
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#19
Posted February 2nd 2011, 6:11pm

Sad news indeed. In the past two years Chicago lost two of its best soul food restaurants—Doggy's and Edna's. Now with the closing of Army & Lou's our most historic one might be gone too.

A couple years ago, Pigmon and I wrote an article for the Reader on some underappreciated soul food restaurants. In the course of research we visited over twenty places. A quick tally suggests that half are now out of business. If there's a particular soul food restaurant you've been meaning to get to, I'd suggest going sooner rather than later. And be sure to call first.

Doggy's S S Soul Eatery (closed)
2815 W Harrison St
Chicago
773-722-4037

Edna's Soul Food Restaurant (closed)
3175 W Madison St
Chicago
773-638-7079

Army & Lou's (closed)
422 E 75th St
Chicago
773-483-3100
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#20
Posted February 6th 2011, 11:23am
Well I guess there won't be a next trip!-Dick
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