By Charlie Thorne
Editor's Note: While Suzanne is recuperating from knee surgery, several In Good Taste readers have agreed to share their food thoughts and experiences.
I love having an epiphany. I had my most recent one when I was staying at the Palmer House in Chicago last week, thinking about what the theme of my blog would be. I'm not a road warrior when it comes to work travel but I'm in other cities at least 8 nights a month and I don't want to eat in a chain restaurant. I'm a wanna be Anthony Bourdain and my goal when visiting a different city is to find out what restaurants are regional and unique so that when the client I'm with asks "so whaddya like?", I don't get pigeon holed into a generic answer of Italian, Indian or whatever comes to mind. So this is where the epiphany takes shape. I want to encourage people that no matter how small the town is that you're visiting or where you're eating, write about it somewhere like chow.com or any blog where another foodie can find it. Face it, we never know where we may go a month from now but for me the first thing I'm going to do is go online and find out, "Where can I eat, what can I eat and how many different restaurants can I visit?" Ready?
I go to Livonia, MI every two weeks which is about 20 miles or so north west of Detroit. If you want lunch or dinner go to Green Cedar, a fantastic Middle Eastern spot (19217 Newburgh Rd, Livonia, MI - (734) 237-1 887), get the chicken tawook sandwich with extra pickles and garlic sauce, the Lebanese salad and the hummus. I haven't been to Chicago in at least 5 years but I was there last week and it's a city where after you've been there for a day you say to yourself, "I could live here!" The Palmer House (17 East Monroe Street Chicago, IL (312) 726-7500) is a hotel that is old school in atmosphere but looks but very modern and feels intimate in every other way. For me, the beds were the best I've ever slept on in a hotel, I mean superb to the point where you wake up and you're smiling like the butcher's dog. If you have an oyster fetish then you have to go to Hugo's Frog Bar (1024 N Rush St Chicago, IL (312) 640-0999) where the night I was there, they had 5 different types of oysters from Prince Edward Island. At Hugo's you can have fish or steak or both and the place has a distinct Chicago presence versus a chain steak house. If you don't want to hang out with the cake eaters then you can go to Hot Doug's (3324 N California Ave Chicago, IL (773) 279-9550) and have the most incredible Chicago style hot dogs. Seriously, go to the website hotdougs.com and look at the menu and see what you think.
Back to Baltimore. I've been on a curry tear for the last 3 months and I've found two places that I'd invite you to try. Kathmandu Kitchen in Towson (22 W Allegheny Avenue (410) 847-9595) prepared an incredible lamb vindaloo and samosa chat as an appetizer. The other restaurant I'd recommend is the Kabob Stop (5719 Falls Rd, Baltimore(410) 323-6060). This is one of the few places where, when you ask them to make it spicy, they oblige you and aren' t afraid to make it the way you want it. Service is fantastic and the menu has so many choices you'll have to follow my strategy and just keep coming back so you can bat around the horn.
Now go out there and eat and write like it's your job! There'll be many of us who will thank you for it!