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I've struck matzoh ball gold!

I've struck matzoh ball gold!
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  • I've struck matzoh ball gold!

    Post #1 - October 21st, 2005, 7:30 am
    Post #1 - October 21st, 2005, 7:30 am Post #1 - October 21st, 2005, 7:30 am
    Winter approaches and our thoughts turn to soup.

    I have been working in the SW corner of the loop for a little over a year, and I have derided the dining options here for just about that same length of time. The top-shelf lunch food in this part of the city wouldn't get a penny of my patronage in most other parts of town. But, I'm trapped, so I soldier on. Often times I bring my lunch, but some other times I am forced to pan for gold in this river of muck.

    Until now, there has been nothing particularly great to crow about Finkl's Deli. Not exactly a gold nugget, but not really part of the muck either. They do a brisk lunch business in cheap deli meats. The bread is always fresh and they move fast, but I can make a better sandwich at home and bring it in, so I rarely visit. Recently, during lunch with my uncle, he had a hankering for soup and suggested Finkl's matzoh ball. With a smirk and a shrug, I went along with the plan and found an excellent matzoh ball soup.

    You can imagine my surprise when I had the best matzoh balls that I've ever had in Chicago.

    I feel the same way about a matzoh ball the same way many people feel about BBQ ribs: It shouldn't be mushy or falling apart. It should have some tooth, but yield under pressure. I don't want my matzoh balls to roll over and die when approached by a spoon. I want my matzoh balls to fight back a little.

    Finkl's matzoh balls aren't too small or too large and have a soft exterior and get gradually more dense as you approach the core. They have a flavor all their own that stands up to the broth. The broth itself is good (but from time to time could use a little burst of S&P). For a little over $5 you get a "junior" sandwich (big enough) and a big styrofoam cup of soup containing two matzoh balls. It's plenty of food for me.

    These matzoh balls have quicly fallen into my weekly rotation of lunch, and as the weather gets colder I may be stopping in more than once a week. If you find yourself in the loop for lunch, give it a try.

    Best,
    Michael

    Finkl's World Famous* Deli
    400 S. Financial Place
    (312) 360-9911

    *Not world famous.
  • Post #2 - October 21st, 2005, 7:39 am
    Post #2 - October 21st, 2005, 7:39 am Post #2 - October 21st, 2005, 7:39 am
    eatchicago wrote:You can imagine my surprise when I had the best matzoh balls that I've ever had in Chicago.

    Michael,

    "Matzoh ball gold" and "best you ever had"* are hard to resist. Now if I can figure out where to park without it costing me $30 to try Finkl's MBG I'm there!

    Enjoy,
    Gary

    * I'm sure ~with the exception of your mother and grandmothers~ was implied. :)
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #3 - October 21st, 2005, 7:57 am
    Post #3 - October 21st, 2005, 7:57 am Post #3 - October 21st, 2005, 7:57 am
    Michael,

    Do you know Finks keeps weekend hours or are the just a Monday to Friday operation?
  • Post #4 - October 21st, 2005, 8:00 am
    Post #4 - October 21st, 2005, 8:00 am Post #4 - October 21st, 2005, 8:00 am
    G Wiv wrote:
    eatchicago wrote:You can imagine my surprise when I had the best matzoh balls that I've ever had in Chicago.

    Michael,

    "Matzoh ball gold" and "best you ever had"* are hard to resist. Now if I can figure out where to park without it costing me $30 to try Finkl's MBG I'm there!

    * I'm sure ~with the exception of your mother and grandmothers~ was implied. :)


    Well, I'm not sure I'd pay loop parking prices for the soup (Even the best matzoh ball soup doesn't compare to a medicore kreplach in my book. If I had my druthers, I'd still go to Manny's instead). If you really want a cup, give me a heads-up and I'll walk over there and hand it to you curbside so you can take it to a more parking-friendly location.

    My mother is the one in the family that makes the best kneidlach, but they're a totally different animal than most others. Golf-ball sized and hard enough to break glass, they're true "sinkers"--and I love em! :wink: :D

    Best,
    Michael
  • Post #5 - October 21st, 2005, 8:01 am
    Post #5 - October 21st, 2005, 8:01 am Post #5 - October 21st, 2005, 8:01 am
    YourPalWill wrote:Michael,

    Do you know Finks keeps weekend hours or are the just a Monday to Friday operation?


    Sorry.

    7 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday;
    closed Saturday-Sunday
  • Post #6 - October 21st, 2005, 8:08 am
    Post #6 - October 21st, 2005, 8:08 am Post #6 - October 21st, 2005, 8:08 am
    eatchicago wrote:If you really want a cup, give me a heads-up and I'll walk over there and hand it to you curbside so you can take it to a more parking-friendly location.


    By the way, that offer stands for anyone. Just a little advance notice, please and it has to be during lunch.
  • Post #7 - October 21st, 2005, 8:09 am
    Post #7 - October 21st, 2005, 8:09 am Post #7 - October 21st, 2005, 8:09 am
    eatchicago wrote:I feel the same way about a matzoh ball the same way many people feel about BBQ ribs: It shouldn't be mushy or falling apart. It should have some tooth, but yield under pressure. I don't want my matzoh balls to roll over and die when approached by a spoon. I want my matzoh balls to fight back a little.

    Oy, another religious argument: The fluffy vs. the sinkers. Michael, you should live and be well, but you and I don't belong to the same shul. Light as air -- that's how a kneidel should be.
  • Post #8 - October 21st, 2005, 8:10 am
    Post #8 - October 21st, 2005, 8:10 am Post #8 - October 21st, 2005, 8:10 am
    LAZ wrote:
    eatchicago wrote:I feel the same way about a matzoh ball the same way many people feel about BBQ ribs: It shouldn't be mushy or falling apart. It should have some tooth, but yield under pressure. I don't want my matzoh balls to roll over and die when approached by a spoon. I want my matzoh balls to fight back a little.

    Oy, another religious argument: The fluffy vs. the sinkers. Michael, you should live and be well, but you and I don't belong to the same shul. Light as air -- that's how a kneidel should be.


    As a wise man once said, that's why Baskin-Robbin's makes 31 flavors. :D :wink:

    Best,
    Michael
  • Post #9 - October 21st, 2005, 9:09 am
    Post #9 - October 21st, 2005, 9:09 am Post #9 - October 21st, 2005, 9:09 am
    eatchicago wrote:
    G Wiv wrote:
    eatchicago wrote:You can imagine my surprise when I had the best matzoh balls that I've ever had in Chicago.

    Michael,

    "Matzoh ball gold" and "best you ever had"* are hard to resist. Now if I can figure out where to park without it costing me $30 to try Finkl's MBG I'm there!

    * I'm sure ~with the exception of your mother and grandmothers~ was implied. :)


    Well, I'm not sure I'd pay loop parking prices for the soup (Even the best matzoh ball soup doesn't compare to a medicore kreplach in my book. If I had my druthers, I'd still go to Manny's instead). If you really want a cup, give me a heads-up and I'll walk over there and hand it to you curbside so you can take it to a more parking-friendly location.

    My mother is the one in the family that makes the best kneidlach, but they're a totally different animal than most others. Golf-ball sized and hard enough to break glass, they're true "sinkers"--and I love em! :wink: :D

    Best,
    Michael


    If you want ot check out Finkl's MBS, they have another location with FREE parking. There's a Finkl's in the same building as Kendall College. It's located on the NW corner of Halsted and Chicago. It's the building that sits at a 45 degree angle to the corner with the big Kendall College sign on the top of it.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #10 - October 21st, 2005, 9:10 am
    Post #10 - October 21st, 2005, 9:10 am Post #10 - October 21st, 2005, 9:10 am
    stevez wrote:If you want ot check out Finkl's MBS, they have another location with FREE parking. There's a Finkl's in the same building as Kendall College. It's located on the NW corner of Halsted and Chicago. It's the building that sits at a 45 degree angle to the corner with the big Kendall College sign on the top of it.


    I cannot vouch for the soup at this location. Can you steve?
  • Post #11 - October 21st, 2005, 9:12 am
    Post #11 - October 21st, 2005, 9:12 am Post #11 - October 21st, 2005, 9:12 am
    eatchicago wrote:
    stevez wrote:If you want ot check out Finkl's MBS, they have another location with FREE parking. There's a Finkl's in the same building as Kendall College. It's located on the NW corner of Halsted and Chicago. It's the building that sits at a 45 degree angle to the corner with the big Kendall College sign on the top of it.


    I cannot vouch for the soup at this location. Can you steve?


    I know I've had it befofre, but I don't have any specific memory of it being anything special. I suppose a visit in the interest of chow science is in order. My guess is that all of the Finkl's serve the same food.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #12 - October 21st, 2005, 9:18 am
    Post #12 - October 21st, 2005, 9:18 am Post #12 - October 21st, 2005, 9:18 am
    stevez wrote:I know I've had it befofre, but I don't have any specific memory of it being anything special. I suppose a visit in the interest of chow science is in order. My guess is that all of the Finkl's serve the same food.


    The only reason I ask is because that someone down here told me that the loop Finkl's recently changed ownership, so I have no idea if they're affiilated in any manner besides name.
  • Post #13 - October 21st, 2005, 9:20 am
    Post #13 - October 21st, 2005, 9:20 am Post #13 - October 21st, 2005, 9:20 am
    Hope people see this before lunch: don't know about the Financial Place location, but the Finkl's on Halstead has a half-price special on Fridays. I've only been there once, but I seem to recall that everything is half-off (your bill is just cut in half).

    I passed on the soup when I was there, but had a rueben or pastrami sandwich...I remember thinking that it was fine, certainly had nothing on Manny's...but when it was half-price, well, everything balanced out into a pretty damn good deal.
  • Post #14 - October 21st, 2005, 9:52 am
    Post #14 - October 21st, 2005, 9:52 am Post #14 - October 21st, 2005, 9:52 am
    eatchicago wrote:
    stevez wrote:I know I've had it befofre, but I don't have any specific memory of it being anything special. I suppose a visit in the interest of chow science is in order. My guess is that all of the Finkl's serve the same food.


    The only reason I ask is because that someone down here told me that the loop Finkl's recently changed ownership, so I have no idea if they're affiilated in any manner besides name.


    It sounds like a Finkl's-a-thon is in order.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #15 - October 21st, 2005, 5:00 pm
    Post #15 - October 21st, 2005, 5:00 pm Post #15 - October 21st, 2005, 5:00 pm
    The deli near Kendall now spells it with an e. The others have the same spelling as the foundry, Finkl's, and I believe originally had the same ownership.

    Finkel's on the River
    312/335-0050
    926 N. North Branch St.
    Chicago, IL 60622

    Finkl's World Famous Deli
    752 N. Ogden Ave., Chicago, 773/829-1699
    870 N. Halsted St., Chicago, 312/335-0050
    400 S. Financial Place, Chicago, 312/360-9911
  • Post #16 - October 21st, 2005, 5:59 pm
    Post #16 - October 21st, 2005, 5:59 pm Post #16 - October 21st, 2005, 5:59 pm
    I'm pretty sure that the 870 N. Halsted and the 916 N. Northbranch locations are indeed the same location. Note that the phone numbers are the same. It's a big lot on the corner of Halsted and Northbranch, so the info you posted is inconclusive. Someone has to go and check it out in person to get any type of definitive answer.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #17 - October 21st, 2005, 7:04 pm
    Post #17 - October 21st, 2005, 7:04 pm Post #17 - October 21st, 2005, 7:04 pm
    stevez, I've been on a slow-paced, and yet to be fulfilled, search for a good chicken soup with matzoh balls. Most recently Max & Benny's was recommended and I tried the soup there and it was nice, but didn't jump out at me in the way I was hoping to find.

    I was fortunate enough to see this thread before lunch today and, as a direct result of your comments, I visited the Financial Place branch of Finkel's. I was there about 12:30 p.m.

    The 10-minute walk from my office building took me past a dozen or so small restaurants, mostly fast-food, and I was surprised with how much is available near the Van Buren/Wells intersection. This Finkel's location is small, and there were two other customers in the storefront when I entered.

    I ordered the soup/sandwich combination, and with a Diet Coke the bill came to about $6.50 (I think a tad less). My sandwich was corned beef on rye (with a healthy portion of horseradish on top). The portion was fine, not too much not too little. And the meat was on the lean side, which is what I prefer. It came with a small dill pickle. My soup was the matzoh ball/chicken broth.

    I stood at one of the tall tables to eat and, with great anticipation, opened the soup container to taste the contents. There were two matzoh balls, a bit larger than golf balls in size, completely covered by the chicken broth. The broth tasted good, with just the right amount of fat residue floating on top. Either it was homemade broth or broth made from reasonably good commercial chicken stock. Things are looking up, I thought to myself.

    Because I couldn't see much of the matzoh balls I took my plastic soup spoon and started cutting into one of them to taste a piece. The going was rough, as the spoon was bending and didn't cut into the matzoh ball very far. I broke-off a piece of one of the matzoh balls and tasted it. It had an uncooked dough-like texture/taste. Strange, I thought.

    I took the other matzoh ball out of the broth with the spoon and placed on the soup container lid so I could have a closer look at it. The spoon had some difficulty going through the ball, It wasn't just a slight resistence, but more like cutting through dense substance. I cut the ball in half and had a look. What I found was a matzoh ball with just a very thin exterior portion cooked, and an interior of uncooked/not thoroughlycooked matzoh meal. I was surprised, and disappointed.

    One of my gripes about matzoh balls I encounter in Chicago is that they're frequently of the frozen variety and they arrive in broth, not thoroughly thawed/cooked. So, with matzoh balls in hand, I returned to the cash register at Finkel's and asked the woman behind the counter if the matzoh balls were "fresh" or "frozen." She told me they're always freshly made, never frozen. I asked her to have a look at the matzoh balls that came in my broth and to tell me if they looked cooked to her. She looked and told me, "We cook them by letting them sit in the hot broth." I told her I didn't think the ones in my soup were cooked through. She replied, "They're fresh." She didn’t get it.

    Yes. I think I found a place that serves "fresh" matzoh balls with chicken broth. I just wish I'd found a place that served fresh matzoh balls that were cooked before I ate them. Doughy matzoh meal doesn't do anything for me.

    The corned beef sandwich was tasty. And I finished the broth in the container. As I left, I returned the 1 1/2 fresh but uncooked matzoh balls to the cashier, and said, "Better luck next time."

    There's no way to know ahead of time whether the food we order will be what we hope it will be. We eat, and we learn. I found that out again today, to my disappointment. The meal wasn't a total waste, and I'll give Finkel's at Financial Place a try in the near future to see if they get it right next time. After all, a good matzoh ball is a wonderous find. Hope springs eternal!

    stevez, thanks for mentioning this place. I hope my experience isn’t the norm, and your’s the exception to the rule.
  • Post #18 - October 21st, 2005, 8:23 pm
    Post #18 - October 21st, 2005, 8:23 pm Post #18 - October 21st, 2005, 8:23 pm
    LAZ wrote:The deli near Kendall now spells it with an e. The others have the same spelling as the foundry, Finkl's, and I believe originally had the same ownership.

    And of course, they're both wrong, the name should be spelled "Finkle" -- that's my name. Anything else is generally an indication of being shortened from something such as "Finkelstein," which is German for Flintstone, which I guess makes me your man Flint.
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #19 - October 22nd, 2005, 1:25 am
    Post #19 - October 22nd, 2005, 1:25 am Post #19 - October 22nd, 2005, 1:25 am
    stevez wrote:I'm pretty sure that the 870 N. Halsted and the 916 N. Northbranch locations are indeed the same location. Note that the phone numbers are the same. It's a big lot on the corner of Halsted and Northbranch, so the info you posted is inconclusive. Someone has to go and check it out in person to get any type of definitive answer.

    You're probably right about the two being the same. I did get the Finkel's on the River/Northbranch data in person, although the restaurant was closed at the time. The other info came from superpages.com.

    Bill wrote:The going was rough, as the spoon was bending and didn't cut into the matzoh ball very far. I broke-off a piece of one of the matzoh balls and tasted it. It had an uncooked dough-like texture/taste. Strange, I thought.

    I took the other matzoh ball out of the broth with the spoon and placed on the soup container lid so I could have a closer look at it. The spoon had some difficulty going through the ball, It wasn't just a slight resistence, but more like cutting through dense substance. I cut the ball in half and had a look. What I found was a matzoh ball with just a very thin exterior portion cooked, and an interior of uncooked/not thoroughlycooked matzoh meal.

    Sounds like a sinker, all right.
  • Post #20 - October 22nd, 2005, 5:08 am
    Post #20 - October 22nd, 2005, 5:08 am Post #20 - October 22nd, 2005, 5:08 am
    eatchicago wrote:Well, I'm not sure I'd pay loop parking prices for the soup (Even the best matzoh ball soup doesn't compare to a medicore kreplach in my book. If I had my druthers, I'd still go to Manny's instead). If you really want a cup, give me a heads-up and I'll walk over there and hand it to you curbside so you can take it to a more parking-friendly location.

    Michael,

    Thanks, very nice of you. Maybe we should have a corned beef/matzoh ball soup picnic lunch before Chicago is covered in snow and the temp goes down to -2. Is there a park near there, w/parking?

    Maybe head over to Ping Tom park like the LTH Chinatown Duck Open. Anyone else interested in Matzoh Ball Gold?

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #21 - October 22nd, 2005, 6:17 am
    Post #21 - October 22nd, 2005, 6:17 am Post #21 - October 22nd, 2005, 6:17 am
    Bill wrote:The corned beef sandwich was tasty. And I finished the broth in the container. As I left, I returned the 1 1/2 fresh but uncooked matzoh balls to the cashier, and said, "Better luck next time."
    ....
    stevez, thanks for mentioning this place. I hope my experience isn’t the norm, and your’s the exception to the rule.


    Bill,

    Sorry that I steered you towards a bad lunch, but at least you blamed it on steve and not me :D

    I've probably had 6 bowls of this soup in the past few weeks and I've never had an uncooked one. Maybe you caught one that they just dropped in the broth? Possible, I guess.

    Future diners be warned: as I described in the original post, they are harder than normal, they have some fight, and yes, they are sinkers. If you share LAZ's tastes, these will not be to your liking.

    Best,
    Michael
  • Post #22 - October 26th, 2005, 11:33 am
    Post #22 - October 26th, 2005, 11:33 am Post #22 - October 26th, 2005, 11:33 am
    I just finished my lunch which consisted of a bowl of Finkl's (loop) matzoh ball soup and chicken salad and giardinera on an onion roll (acutally it was more of a giardinera sandwich with some chicken salad as a binder :) ).

    This time I decided to pay more attention to the sinkitude....uh...floatiness.....aha!, boyancy of the matzoh balls. Usually I eat them too fast to notice, but this time I stopped to really pay attention.

    The interesting part about this particular serving was that they didn't float or sink--they sort of hung below the surface of the broth without actually hitting the bottom. They were neither sitting on the bottom or floating at the surface. (And they were fully cooked).

    Perhaps I have struck more than just a great lunch? Could this soup be the "Treaty of Versailles" of the matzoh ball world, ending the great war between the floaters the sinkers?

    Or maybe I'm starting a third camp all together? Neither floaters nor sinkers, but....bouncers?

    Best,
    Michael
  • Post #23 - October 26th, 2005, 12:05 pm
    Post #23 - October 26th, 2005, 12:05 pm Post #23 - October 26th, 2005, 12:05 pm
    Thanks for the update. I leave tomorrow for 10-days in Mexico. When I return I'll be in touch. I'd like to try the matzoh balls once again, with you when you have the time/inclination. Maybe I don't know what a matzoh ball really ought to look like!
  • Post #24 - October 26th, 2005, 12:44 pm
    Post #24 - October 26th, 2005, 12:44 pm Post #24 - October 26th, 2005, 12:44 pm
    Bill wrote:I'd like to try the matzoh balls once again, with you when you have the time/inclination. Maybe I don't know what a matzoh ball really ought to look like!


    I'm sure that's not the case.

    I always have the inclination. Time, on the other hand, is tougher to come by these days. Feel free to PM or email anytime.
  • Post #25 - October 26th, 2005, 6:19 pm
    Post #25 - October 26th, 2005, 6:19 pm Post #25 - October 26th, 2005, 6:19 pm
    Even though they look a bit weary from the freezer case, i like to get Matzoh balls, Kreplachs and broth Kaufmann's in Skokie. Always the NON lean corned beef and chopped liver as well- and some onion rolls. Good to do at home.
  • Post #26 - October 26th, 2005, 6:43 pm
    Post #26 - October 26th, 2005, 6:43 pm Post #26 - October 26th, 2005, 6:43 pm
    Bill wrote:stevez, thanks for mentioning this place. I hope my experience isn’t the norm, and your’s the exception to the rule.


    Thanks for the shout out, but eatchicago deserves the credit for this recommendation. I only mentioned that they had more than one location.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #27 - October 27th, 2005, 1:13 am
    Post #27 - October 27th, 2005, 1:13 am Post #27 - October 27th, 2005, 1:13 am
    The Bagel's matzoh ball soup is the best I've had here.
  • Post #28 - October 27th, 2005, 9:11 pm
    Post #28 - October 27th, 2005, 9:11 pm Post #28 - October 27th, 2005, 9:11 pm
    Grant, you have performed a mitzvah - it never dawned on me that Kaufmann's would have kreplach-to-go. We are getting into mish-mosh soup season, and, while I am perfectly capable of making all of the other components (chicken stock, matzoh balls, rice, skinny noodles, and, if I have it around kasha), I have NO idea how to make kreplach, nor had I found a good retail source. I'm out that way quite often, so I'll make a big note on my to-do list to drop in Saturday and pick some up.

    Thanks! 8)
  • Post #29 - October 28th, 2005, 5:31 am
    Post #29 - October 28th, 2005, 5:31 am Post #29 - October 28th, 2005, 5:31 am
    sundevilpeg wrote:Grant, you have performed a mitzvah - it never dawned on me that Kaufmann's would have kreplach-to-go. We are getting into mish-mosh soup season, and, while I am perfectly capable of making all of the other components (chicken stock, matzoh balls, rice, skinny noodles, and, if I have it around kasha), I have NO idea how to make kreplach, nor had I found a good retail source. I'm out that way quite often, so I'll make a big note on my to-do list to drop in Saturday and pick some up.

    Thanks! 8)


    While there, check out some of the other items in the freezer case. Their stuffed green peppers are Bubbe quality.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #30 - October 29th, 2005, 2:50 pm
    Post #30 - October 29th, 2005, 2:50 pm Post #30 - October 29th, 2005, 2:50 pm
    Tried the matzoh ball soup for lunch yesterday. First of all, I've been working near this lunch spot for a number of years and never had the urge to check it out, for some reason or another. So, thanks for the motivation.
    I'm kinda saddlin' both opinions here (eatchicago's and bill). I totally agree with Bill that the matzoh balls were partially undercooked and yet, like eatchicago, I still found the desire to finish them up! I'm definitely not a matzoh ball maven but I know what I like, for whatever that's worth. The soup itself bordered on something being almost good, but not quite. I think people around here like to use the word "serviceable" in these instances.
    Nice description, Bill.

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