Once upon a time there was a South of Chicago Pizza in Fletcher Place, on Virginia Avenue. It had one of the best, if not the best, Italian Beef sandwich in the city. they also had a lunchtime buffet. They were so successful they were able to open another joint near Greenwood. Back in July they were told that the new building owners didn’t want to renew their lease. So they are gone and this joint is here.
I enjoy buffets. It is just difficult for me to get any decent pictures of the buffet line.
This is most of the salad bar, in 2 shots. For an inexpensive buffet ($11- drink included) it was well-appointed.
They also offered a plain cheese pie and a meatball dish.
On my first trip I got a slice of both the sausage and bacon pies. Deep dish and a thinner crust. I also tried their meatball dish. I enjoy deep dish sometimes, it depends on the crust. However I consider it more an open-faced Calzone than a pie. I agree with Pat about the sauce it tasted of tomato only. Some people swear that a pizza sauce should be unassuming so that the toppings will stand out. Others contend every element of a dish should stand on its own. In this case I am more a stand by itself sorta guy. This especially is relevant with the meatball dish. The meatballs were huge. One cross-section was about 3 inches. They had a great texture, just no great taste. The overall dish was something I would eat at a buffet but as a primary dish, no.
As I said this was a nice salad bar. This was a very good buffet and from the lunch crowd the folks in the neighborhood agree.
I am sure some people will ask the same question that is always asked when a new brewery opens. “Do we really need any more breweries?” Well I don’t see how that is possible. Can you have too much happiness or too many smiles? I don’t think so.
Happy Brewing opened in one of the defunct Double 8 grocery stores. It opened about 2-3 months ago with typical brewery hours. No lunch just evenings and noon opening on weekends. My first trip there was on a Sunday to sample some beer. I really enjoyed the beers I tried. They have a nice ale and a great cream ale but the show stopper was their Happy Hopper. Be advised though it has a ABV approaching 11 so it is best consumed in small quantities. Their cream ale is less than 5 ABV so it is more like a session beer. A brew you can drink while mowing your lawn. I think the owner Gabe has plans on canning it in the future. As of the past week they took the bold step to open for lunch.
Their menu is small and concise and it is all done in a kitchen without an exhaust hood. For those who don’t know all commercial kitchens require an exhaust hood when the cooking process produces fumes or smoke. Further more you will also need a fire suppression system. All of this runs into a bunch of dollars. Dollars they did not want to spend at this time. So now they have an impinger conveyer belt oven, a Panini press and a soup warmer. I think they pulled it off well.
On my first trip there I had their Italian sausage. It was a solid sandwich. The sausage had a slight spiciness to it but what carried the dish was the red sauce. It was very good. I ordered it with chips and pickle but in the future I will probably just opt for the sandwich alone. Beer carbs are superior to chip carbs.
On my return trip I ordered a pizza. They buy all the pizza product from Delco a Hoosier firm founded in 1957 that sells all things Italian related. That includes the raw dough they use for the pizza and the Calzone.
I thought it was a nice pie. The crust had a slight chew and again that marinara sauce has great flavor and richness.
I have only tried 2 items on their menu but I plan on trying more. This joint is very close to home so I can see myself there weekly. I had a very good conversation with Gabe on my first lunch trip. He has some great plans for his place. Patio seating and even a rooftop beer garden and in time he would like to have a “proper” kitchen. I am always excited for new places to eat. Especially one so close.
I really like old school bars and taverns. I like the dark and quiet ambience. Except when you try to take a picture with a smart phone, well at least with my smart phone. Unless I have really good light my pictures are not too good. But I guess it is better than Pat and I making drawings.
Pat promoted this joint because of their pizza. A good pie is always a good reason to visit. So Pat ordered a salad and large slice.
I wanted soup and a large slice. The SOD was Gumbo. This had to be left over from Fat Tuesday so I ordered a bowl. Gumbo is one of several dishes better as a left over.
The Gumbo was pretty good. A nice broth with a good dose of cayenne and all the usual suspects in side. Chicken,shrimp and the Trinity. I prefer my roux to be darker and my sauce to have more leg to it. But it hit the spot on this 17 degree day. I wanted a sausage and pepperoni slice.
The pie was outstanding. I don’t know if you can see it or not but the cheese was nicely browned, as a good pie demands. I thought everything was spot on. The sauce, the large pepperoni slices, the crumbly sausage and the huge amount of cheese. The crust had a really nice tooth and stood up well to its big load. This was their standard crust. They also have a thin and a pan. The pan is similar to what some folks would call a deep dish. They offer a 10 inch pan,which is what I am having when I go back.
Being a fully functional bar they have beer and liquor specials,so that is worthy of consideration. It is a huge place and an attractive place and the service is excellent.
The above pictures are of the bar area. The partial wall and its booths are all part of the bar seating. Our server Cindy was handling the area. Booth customers as well as bar patrons. Plus she had to deal with several carry out orders. I think she did one heck of a job. Thank you Cindy and thanks kitchen dudes for our pizza.