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Sabatino's, Strolling Musicians and BBQ [Pictures]

Sabatino's, Strolling Musicians and BBQ [Pictures]
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  • Sabatino's, Strolling Musicians and BBQ [Pictures]

    Post #1 - May 2nd, 2005, 9:33 am
    Post #1 - May 2nd, 2005, 9:33 am Post #1 - May 2nd, 2005, 9:33 am
    LTH,

    Had a pretty darn nice LTH day last week, for lunch I smoked ribs, made slaw and BBQ sauce for friends from out of town. They live in Houston, are BBQ aficionados, and for dinner we went to Sabatino's.

    Image

    I only have the one BBQ picture, just as I took the picture the battery ran out and, when I started to get another battery, with the request they wait a sec, I was (almost) physically attacked by a hungry 110-woman. They seemed to like the ribs, I made 3 large racks of loin back, same cut as baby back but larger, and they were but a pleasant memory in short order.

    Which brings me to dinner, Sabatino's, Old School Italian American perfection, right down to the strolling musicians, which, as I've said before, are surprisingly good.
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    We stared our meal with, also surprisingly good, gratis pizza bread.
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    Baked Clams, contain small whole clams, not minced and were given a serious thumbs-up by the baked clam aficionado at our table.
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    Bresaola w/Parmesan and arugala, was delicious with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of crushed red pepper with Sabatino's warm, crusty Italian bread.
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    Prosciutto w/olives and Parmesan was, well, Prosciutto w/olives and Parmesan. :)
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    Soup, either Minestrone or Stracciatella, I had Stracciatella. To which I added crushed red pepper. (I was in a crushed red pepper mood that evening)
    Image

    and salad are included with your meal.
    Image

    It was Wednesday and Wednesday means Lobster Special at Sabatino's, at least it does to my bride. Lobster tail on plate is actually a little bigger than it looks. Wednesday price is $19.95 including soup, salad.
    Image

    I had, as if you can't guess :), Chicken Vesuvio. A tasty, no peas, wine, not lemon juice, version.
    Image

    Sister in-law Rita had Rich's Special, Beef filet with mushrooms/shrimp/veal, which she enjoyed.
    Image

    Two at the table ordered Lake Superior Whitefish, which had good flavor, but the bottom was a wee bit overdone and the upper flesh slightly mushy. I'm being picky, but, being from Wisconsin, I tend to have high expectations of Whitefish.
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    Baked Alaska, prepared tableside is a showstopper.
    Image
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    Sabatino's as has been discussed by JeffB, JimInLoganSq, Ed F, EatChicago and many others, is a fun, good bang for you buck, throwback in time Chicago gem. If you haven't been, are in the mood for Old School Italian/American food served with flair, I highly suggest a visit.

    Don't forget to have the strolling musicians play a tune or two, it's really quite enjoyable, as evidenced by Ellen's smile.
    Image

    Enjoy,
    Gary

    Sabatino's
    4441 W Irving Park Rd
    Chicago, IL 60641
    773-283-8331
    Sauce on the side, always, implied, axiomatic..........never a doubt, BBQ sauce without.

    Low & Slow
  • Post #2 - May 2nd, 2005, 10:25 am
    Post #2 - May 2nd, 2005, 10:25 am Post #2 - May 2nd, 2005, 10:25 am
    Beth and I had a quite good meal at Sabatino's last Sunday. It really amazes me what a great restaurant it is, and how ridiculously low the prices are for the quality and quantity of food served.

    Beth had stracciatella, creamy garlic on the salad, and spinach linguini with pancetta and maybe mushrooms (hazy memory).

    I had minestrone, blue cheese dressing, and a very nice butt steak.

    We split peaches flambe for dessert, which was much better than the baked alaska we had last time. I can't wait to try it again when peaches are actually in season :)

    The place was almost empty when we were there (8pm on a Sunday), but the table next to us was celebrating their 51st anniversary.

    It was a lot of fun, and very good, as always.
    Ed Fisher
    my chicago food photos

    RIP LTH.
  • Post #3 - May 2nd, 2005, 11:22 am
    Post #3 - May 2nd, 2005, 11:22 am Post #3 - May 2nd, 2005, 11:22 am
    Sabatino's is also a great value at lunch with many dishes in the $7-$9 range.
  • Post #4 - May 5th, 2005, 3:49 pm
    Post #4 - May 5th, 2005, 3:49 pm Post #4 - May 5th, 2005, 3:49 pm
    I have been to Sabatino's many times over the years and for some reason I always order, either the lobster, chicken vesuvio or the special but never a pasta dish. I'm the one that is always looking at what other people have ordered and it seems like Sabatino's pasta is not as popular as the other entrees. Why is that?
  • Post #5 - May 5th, 2005, 6:15 pm
    Post #5 - May 5th, 2005, 6:15 pm Post #5 - May 5th, 2005, 6:15 pm
    Kim wrote:I have been to Sabatino's many times over the years and for some reason I always order, either the lobster, chicken vesuvio or the special but never a pasta dish. I'm the one that is always looking at what other people have ordered and it seems like Sabatino's pasta is not as popular as the other entrees. Why is that?


    I maintain several theories on that. First, the non-pasta dishes at Sabatino's are generally a huge bargain, compared not only to equivalent dishes at other restaurants of similar quality, but also to the pasta dishes at Sabatino's. That bargain (e.g., a $20 lobster dinner) can be hard to resist, as Mr. and Mrs. G Wiv can attest. Second, a very high percentage of the folks at Sabatino's during the dinner hour view it as a special treat, or they are celebrating an "event," so they naturally gravitate to food that goes better with tuxedoed waiters and strolling musicians, rather than more pedestrian options like pasta. Third, every entree (more or less) comes with a side of pasta, if you want it. Though that side is just plain pasta in red or meat sauce, that may be enough to satisfy the pasta cravings of most. Relatedly, after the complementary pizza bread and Italian loaf, and with the prospect of a huge, flaming dessert coming after, the idea of another starchy dish may be more than many could stomach (so to speak).

    However, one theory I do not espouse is that people trend away from Sabatino's pasta dishes because the pasta dishes aren't good. The pasta is very good in my experience and like everything else at Sabatino's, a bargain.
  • Post #6 - May 6th, 2005, 6:17 pm
    Post #6 - May 6th, 2005, 6:17 pm Post #6 - May 6th, 2005, 6:17 pm
    JimInLoganSquare,
    You are absolutely correct. When I see what other people are having I tend to order what everyone is having. I have to stop that. But your right, when you can have so many dishes under $20.00 I have to go with it. But next time i'm at Sabatino's , it's Zuppa De Pese or Carbonara for me. Thanks for putting it all in prospective.
  • Post #7 - November 30th, 2005, 10:50 am
    Post #7 - November 30th, 2005, 10:50 am Post #7 - November 30th, 2005, 10:50 am
    As of last night, I am seriously considering the addition of Sabatino's Brandy Ice to my "top ten dishes of 2005" list.*

    My God, it sent me right back to five years of age, and with eyes as wide as saucers.

    I was thankful for the privacy of a booth. I acted a complete fool. ;)

    E.M.

    * If I understood correctly, Sabatino's Brandy Ice is blended vanilla ice cream, liquor, and ice in a brandy-filled martini glass.
  • Post #8 - December 17th, 2005, 8:58 pm
    Post #8 - December 17th, 2005, 8:58 pm Post #8 - December 17th, 2005, 8:58 pm
    gleam wrote:Beth and I had a quite good meal at Sabatino's last Sunday.


    I've just returned home, full as a bunny, from my sister's birthay dinner at Sabatino's. It was her first time and she was upset that in all her years in the area she had missed out on the experience. We had Chicken Vesuvio, Veal Parmesan, Chicken Parmesan and Pork Chops, followed by one tiramisu shared and a little cold something with sparklers for the birthday girl (we never figured out exactly what it was, but it was delicious nonetheless). For four people with four cocktails and four soft drinks, the bill was $120 and change. Unbeatable value for a delicious meal.
  • Post #9 - December 19th, 2005, 9:42 am
    Post #9 - December 19th, 2005, 9:42 am Post #9 - December 19th, 2005, 9:42 am
    What'd ya know. I was there the other night too, celebrating me mum's b-day, where they stuck the sparkler in the cherries jubilee.

    It's been about five years (at least) since I've been to Sabatino's, and it surely will not be five years between my next visit. Sabatino's is exactly the kinda place that is not really great but a GNR. If nothing else, it's deserving for its Vegas era decor down to the perfect font on the menu cover. And what vibe. Count this with Gibson's at 10 pm on a Tuesday night for crowds I just cannot explain. The packed house really adds to the experience. They get so many little touches perfect. For instance, when taking the fried calamari order, the waiter asks if we want Tabasco. Then, he brings plates with a lemon quarter and seafood fork for each eater. Probably a time when all places did things like that; now it seems so special.

    What makes it not great? I do not think on an objective standard, could I call the meat sauce very great. Adequate just about cuts it. It was quite muddy in flavor, having neither a tomato brightness nor a meaty succor. The chicken parma was not quite bland, but again could have been notched up slightly. These are still minor quibbles. That calamari mentioned above was crisp fried perfectly; the minestrone had this great cheesey undertone, I even liked the vinegrette. Of course, the cherries jubilee hit the spot. Regardless, they gave you a lot of food ( :wink: ).

    Like I say, I'm anxious to return.

    Rob
  • Post #10 - December 31st, 2005, 9:42 am
    Post #10 - December 31st, 2005, 9:42 am Post #10 - December 31st, 2005, 9:42 am
    I finally made it out to Sabatino's last night, for a pre-New Year's eve dinner with Ed and Beth and various visiting relatives. The start was a little dicey, because of a 20 minute wait standing in the smoky bar for our 8:30 reservation--tough for both the asthmatic and arthritic among us--but the piano player and the people-watching provided some distraction. But from then on it was A-1 all the way. I don't have a lot to add to all the previous praise, except to provide a grouper alert. It was a special, so I don't know how often they have it, but it was perfectly fresh and perfectly cooked. I've tried grouper several times when it showed up on a Chicago menu, always to my regret, and I didn't order it this time for that reason, but I encouraged my mother notwithstanding my own experience, and we were both glad I did. Absolutely the best grouper I've had outside of Florida.

    And the peaches flambe are pretty special too :) Image[/b]
  • Post #11 - February 18th, 2006, 12:53 am
    Post #11 - February 18th, 2006, 12:53 am Post #11 - February 18th, 2006, 12:53 am
    A good friend of mine gave me a $100 gift certificate for Sabatino's as a Christmas gift , and I redeemed it tonight. I invited two of my neighbors to dine with me as a treat for their continuing acts of kindness.

    A dinner club I'm familiar with eats at Sabatino's almost weekly, but I've almost always passed-up the opportunity. No particular reason why - but it just hasn't interested me much (the restaurant, not the group). I've also eaten in the upstairs banquet room, and haven't been impressed.

    Tonight I had a very pleasant experience in the main dining room. I feel like a stuffed animal, awaiting my place over someone's fireplace!

    I reviewed prior Sabatino posts earlier this afternoon and made some notes. Thanks to those of you who've shared your own experiences and recommendations.

    The place was jumping tonight. It was good that I called ahead a couple of days ago to make a reservation for 7 p.m. - because when we got there "walk ins" had to wait about 30 minutes for a table. We were seated quickly, without a wait.

    No sooner had we been seated when the complimentary pizza bread arrived. How light in texture it was. Very easy on the stomach. Soon thereafter the first loaf of crusty bread arrived. My table companions - long-time customers and friends of the owners - were ecstatic with the bread's quality.

    A appetizer special for the night was the baked artichoke, and having earlier in the day read about this "winner" I ordered it, along with the bresaola over argula - another home run selection. The artichoke was the real winner, though - great texture/taste without much weight - and the "finger food" quotient was a nice start to the meal.

    My companions, when I could get their attention away from the bread, ordered minestrone soup, while I opted for the stracciatella with spinach (a selection to which I owe gratitude to others here who've spoken of it here). The soup of the others was okay, but mine was rich in texture and flavor - I, too, heartily recommend it.

    One of the brother-owners stopped by the table to greet my guests and afterwards sent over some bruchetta (maybe everyone gets this, but I was impressed). Then, the other brother-owner stopped by to say hello - and afterwards he sent over a plate of bow-tie pasta in some sauce with peas and other things, and it was very good.

    The salads were the next to arrive - very fresh, but the tomato's were over-ripe and not very good. I opted for the house dressing: Italian with gorgonzola cheese, and the cheese was disappointingly unflavorful.

    My guests don't drink alcohol, but I was sipping on several glasses of Kendal Jackson Chardonnay throughout.

    My entree choice was Veal Braciole served in a mushroom sauce. The sauce was too rich/flavorful and it overshadowed the meat. The meat was a thin piece of veal wrapped around "Italian sausage." The veal was so/so, and the Italian sausage was actually a finely ground, unflavorful, meat filling without a casing. As I've already said, the strength of the sauce obliterated the meat. I don't recommend this selection.

    My guests ordered the Veal Marsala, and liked it very much.

    We're now into our third loaf of bread. This table liked the bread a lot!

    After the entree, and before we could think about dessert, one of the owners sent over a large plate of fresh fruit (maybe this is customary, but I'd not received it before on earlier visits). I ordered an espresso and a sambucca, and the three of us shared one order of Chocolate Tartufo for dessert. It's a rich ice cream-sort of dessert. I wasn't impressed.

    Our foraging consumed 2.5 hours, and not one of the three of us ate all that was placed in front of us. We each had "take home" bags when we left. What we did consume was an enormous amount of food (and my various drinks), for which the bill totaled $105 before the tip was added.

    I'll agree with comments of others, earlier, that Sabatino's doesn't offer "great' Italian food. It's "good." It's well priced, and therefore a "good value." There's nothing wrong with being good. The service was impeccable - well-above restaurants I've frequented in a comparable price range. The surroundings/decor was first-class - very comfortable.

    A very good time was had by us all.
  • Post #12 - February 18th, 2006, 9:59 am
    Post #12 - February 18th, 2006, 9:59 am Post #12 - February 18th, 2006, 9:59 am
    In my experience, and I think a few others here too, the braciole is not a strong point at Sabatino's. I know that doesn't help you much now, but it might be useful for others to note.
  • Post #13 - February 18th, 2006, 10:21 am
    Post #13 - February 18th, 2006, 10:21 am Post #13 - February 18th, 2006, 10:21 am
    Bill - Mrs. JiLS and I were at Sabatino's last night, too., meaning our paths almost crossed. We walked in at 6:00 and were immediately seated -- a common occurrence, by the way, and something you might want to keep in mind. I really ought to wear an LTH baseball cap to aid recognition by other LTHers in such situations. In any event, we had a very good dinner as we watched the place start getting packed throughout.

    Another coincidence -- I also had the braciole, and I also found the mushroom sauce overpowering -- although I thought the underlying meat was very good. I think it might have been a better with a substitution of another sauce.
    JiLS
  • Post #14 - February 19th, 2006, 2:27 am
    Post #14 - February 19th, 2006, 2:27 am Post #14 - February 19th, 2006, 2:27 am
    Yes, it's a small world.

    We didn't have any difficulty with seating, as I'd made a reservation a couple of days in advance. We were given our choice of two or three tables from which to select.

    Aside from the sauce accompanying the braciole, I was disappointed with the flavoring of the meat filling. It was very finely ground and not well-seasoned as I recall - and, therefore, it didn't meet my expectation for "Italian Sausage" as indicated on the menu. I brought 1/2 of the meal home with me and maybe I'll do some dissecting of it later today.

    The restaurant was jam packed, as was the bar, and I think the wait staff did an excellent job. Our waitress apologized once for the entree's not coming out more quickly, but with all of the things we were eating in advance of the main course, we didn't notice it - and we were enjoying our conversation and watching people come and go. We were there 2.5 hours and never felt rushed.

    My guests like the meat sauce Sabatino's puts on pasta dishes and ordered a large container of it to take home. They've done that when I've eaten there with them before. They usually order a loaf of bread to go, but we had enough left-over for them to take with them without a special order. With the "doggie bag/containers" , loaf of bread, container of red gravy, etc., I felt like asking for a shopping bag to get the stuff out of the place and home!

    Although I didn't fully enjoy my entree I enjoyed the evening. Sabatino's is a favorite of my guests, and being with them in their favorite place and watching them enjoy the evening let me have a good time, too.

    Maybe we need secret decoder rings - that light up or glow in the dark - so as to better identify one another when we're out on these expeditions.
  • Post #15 - February 19th, 2006, 1:44 pm
    Post #15 - February 19th, 2006, 1:44 pm Post #15 - February 19th, 2006, 1:44 pm
    Bill, my own Italian proverb is: one who orders braciole has himself to blame. :twisted:

    http://lthforum.com/bb/viewtopic.php?t= ... t=braciole

    Also, I have said enough about why I like Sabatino's that I have am trying to stop. I think the weight of experience here is that it is a very good resaturant and an excellent value. I do believe that a great meal can be constructed there, which is not always true of merely "good" restaurants. But the kitchen must be challenged to rise to the level of the dish. In general, this is no major commitment, since the dearest plates at Sab's are so cheap compared to the same things elsewhere.
  • Post #16 - June 18th, 2006, 1:00 pm
    Post #16 - June 18th, 2006, 1:00 pm Post #16 - June 18th, 2006, 1:00 pm
    I just passed by Sabatino's today and there is a large green "License Suspended" sticker on the front door.
    When I grow up, I'm going to Bovine University!
  • Post #17 - June 18th, 2006, 3:08 pm
    Post #17 - June 18th, 2006, 3:08 pm Post #17 - June 18th, 2006, 3:08 pm
    I called Sabatino's this afternoon to make some reservations for next week and was told they could not take a reservation because they were closed today. He told me they were "cleaning some things up" and would be open tomorrow....
  • Post #18 - June 20th, 2006, 2:18 pm
    Post #18 - June 20th, 2006, 2:18 pm Post #18 - June 20th, 2006, 2:18 pm
    Verified by the city
  • Post #19 - June 20th, 2006, 2:30 pm
    Post #19 - June 20th, 2006, 2:30 pm Post #19 - June 20th, 2006, 2:30 pm


    After reading this I think I'll take a pass on trying Sabatino's

    :shock:
  • Post #20 - June 20th, 2006, 3:43 pm
    Post #20 - June 20th, 2006, 3:43 pm Post #20 - June 20th, 2006, 3:43 pm
    HI,

    I found this post by Evil Ronnie, a professional chef, rather illuminating.

    While you may choose not to go to Sabatinos, I will be glad to return.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #21 - June 20th, 2006, 3:55 pm
    Post #21 - June 20th, 2006, 3:55 pm Post #21 - June 20th, 2006, 3:55 pm
    Sabatino's violations, as listed by the city and posted by LAZ (thanks), seem to go well beyond the perhaps understandable issues cited by Evil Ronnie. Then, too, Ronnie indicates that inspectors are often willing to overlook a few violations in a restaurant otherwise endeavoring to do a fair job of keeping things safe. That doesn't seem to be the case here. Though I've enjoyed visits to Sabatino's in the past, this certainly gives me pause. I'll wait and see just what they do to fix what seems like a whole lot of serious problems.
    ToniG
  • Post #22 - June 20th, 2006, 4:06 pm
    Post #22 - June 20th, 2006, 4:06 pm Post #22 - June 20th, 2006, 4:06 pm
    On the plus side, after a place is shut down by the health department, you gotta think they'll open up cleaner than on your previous visits.
    Ed Fisher
    my chicago food photos

    RIP LTH.
  • Post #23 - June 20th, 2006, 4:24 pm
    Post #23 - June 20th, 2006, 4:24 pm Post #23 - June 20th, 2006, 4:24 pm
    Cathy2 wrote:HI,

    I found this post by Evil Ronnie, a professional chef, rather illuminating.

    While you may choose not to go to Sabatinos, I will be glad to return.

    When I read your post, Cathy, I assumed you to mean that reading Evil Ronnie's post would set my mind at ease about the Sabatino's closing as it seems to have done yours. But Evil Ronnie says that inspectors go out of their way not to shut down a place, and that only egregious and continuously unaddressed violations lead them to that drastic measure. You must have meant that you will be returning to Sabatino's despite the illumination you received from Evil Ronnie, not because of it.
  • Post #24 - June 20th, 2006, 5:10 pm
    Post #24 - June 20th, 2006, 5:10 pm Post #24 - June 20th, 2006, 5:10 pm
    HI,

    I think there are many variables involved in these issues. I found ER's comments that working kitchens are falling in and out of range of violations from moment to moment rather interesting. The inspector has the discretion to ignore, warn or go full regulatory force.

    Inspectors, not just food inspectors, can have a wide range of response to the same stimulus. For instance, Custom's inspectors have given me scant interest, politely returned my documents and welcomed me to the country. I have had Custom's inspector's spend a good two hours tearing apart and reassembling an automobile, while constantly checking my reaction for nervous agitation ... I kept reading my Time magazine with benign interest in their efforts (as long as they put it back together!). I have encountered the angry Custom's inspector who challenged me and inspected everything in my luggage and purse. Why he was angry, I have no clue though he was in advance of my arrival.

    While this period of time is no fun for Sabatinos. I think it will be improved overall from the experience. I guess I dislike the thought of permanent damage from what I like to presume is a transitory event.

    Oh just call me Pollyanna!

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #25 - June 20th, 2006, 11:27 pm
    Post #25 - June 20th, 2006, 11:27 pm Post #25 - June 20th, 2006, 11:27 pm
    Is it possible that it could be a vindictive inspector? It seems like an awful lot of violations for a place without that type of history.

    You should always pay your street tax.

    And save your flames, I'm Italian.
  • Post #26 - June 21st, 2006, 8:33 am
    Post #26 - June 21st, 2006, 8:33 am Post #26 - June 21st, 2006, 8:33 am
    Apparently they passed reinspection so I will be back for some half price lobster dinners and baked Alaska soon!
    When I grow up, I'm going to Bovine University!
  • Post #27 - June 21st, 2006, 9:08 am
    Post #27 - June 21st, 2006, 9:08 am Post #27 - June 21st, 2006, 9:08 am
    saps wrote:Is it possible that it could be a vindictive inspector? It seems like an awful lot of violations for a place without that type of history.

    You should always pay your street tax.

    And save your flames, I'm Italian.


    Chicago :?:

    OK, I want to address a couple of thoughts in this thread. First, I totally agree that there's nothing cleaner than a re-opened restaurant. :!:

    Now, as to why they closed, and inspections and such. It is my understanding that certain items will pretty much always necissitate a closing. From the previous inspection report, now not available, it seems that Sabatino's had evidence of the things that lead to an immediate closing.

    Anyways, I'm glad they're re-opened. It's one of my favorites.

    Rob
  • Post #28 - June 21st, 2006, 12:13 pm
    Post #28 - June 21st, 2006, 12:13 pm Post #28 - June 21st, 2006, 12:13 pm
    I love Sabatino's too, but those are quite a lot of violations. This one, in particular, I find interesting, that was labeled as a "critical" violation:

    No person affected with or carrying any disease in a communicable form or afflicted with boils, infected wounds, sores, acute respiratory infection, or intestinal disorder shall work in any area of a food establishment in any capacity where there is a likelihood of that person contaminating food or food contact surfaces.

    I wonder how the inspectors discovered and verified that Sabatino's was actually committing this violation.
  • Post #29 - June 21st, 2006, 12:24 pm
    Post #29 - June 21st, 2006, 12:24 pm Post #29 - June 21st, 2006, 12:24 pm
    Someone had a visible cold sore, if I had to guess.
    Ed Fisher
    my chicago food photos

    RIP LTH.
  • Post #30 - June 21st, 2006, 12:42 pm
    Post #30 - June 21st, 2006, 12:42 pm Post #30 - June 21st, 2006, 12:42 pm
    or adhering to the usual "nobody gets sick" policy that exists in restaurants (cf "Heat" by Bill Buford). If an inspector walks in and sees some line cook coughing up a lung, there's probably going to be a violation.

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