Substantiated Rumor of the Month Update: Alex Roberts e-mailed me and told me that regarding his new restaurant in St Paul, "We have not signed a lease but are slowly moving forward on the 777 Grand Avenue space, design, construction planning, etc. All parties are optimistic. I will let you know when we have something concrete like a signed lease.” Thanks for the clarification, Alex.
Unsubstantiated Rumor of the Week: Barrio is opening in downtown St. Paul. I was at the pool at the Four Seasons in Palm Beach last week and a local mega-developer gazillionaire was sitting there with several pals, licking his wounds from the Vikes loss. He introduced himself to me. He told me he is chatting with Tim, Josh, et. al about giving them a home in one of his buildings in The River City . . . how awesome would that be!?
Gripe of the Week: I just flew home from Chicago on United’s crappy old 737 with seats for more than ninety and overhead baggage space for only forty-five roll-a-boards. How stupid is that? It causes delays just loading the passengers on board! I travel with only a small carryon, and I check luggage underneath since I am rarely on short trips, and when I am, I often have to bring enough stuff to preclude bringing a bag on board a plane. Watching eighty-nine people fight for space is getting ridiculous; the airlines are charging for bags, no one wants to check luggage because delays, cancellations, and lost bags are the rule and not the exception; the food is terrible; and everyone’s attitude sucks, passengers and airline employees alike. And there is no solution at all. None. Everyone I know loves to complain about their own airline; it seems to be national sport at times, but I can tell you from experience that NWA is twenty times better than United or American, and its proven out every time I step on a UA or AA piece of equipment.
On a more positive note, I was in Chicago last weekend and had some great food, some of the best in recent memory. I have finally found the perfect Chicago hot dog and burger joint. One counter, nine seats, a 300-square-foot shed that calls itself Paradise Pup. Several pals told me about the place, and on their recommendation, I went last Saturday. There was a line out the door in the middle of a snowstorm, and I now understand why. The burgers are insanely perfect, charred and beefy, and I am not a grilled burger guy at all. I like a pan-seared or griddled burger, but PP has me rethinking things. All the burgers come perfectly cooked at somewhere north of medium rare, the dogs and Polish sausages are charred as well (they are all available steamed if you like) and are available with all the usual toppings. But the quality of the meats and the care in the construction of the sandwiches (I watched a guy cleanly eat three teriyaki chicken two-fisters with cheese and giardiniera relish) makes this place a must. The banana malt made with real ripened bananas was about as perfect a foil for a char-dog and char-cheeseburger as you can hope for, and the fries come in a host of guises (sour cream with bacon and cheese rocks). PP is six miles from O'hare, just take the exit at Touhy Avenue West, off I-294 North. 11 a.m.-5 p.m., 1724 S. River Rd. in Des Plaines, Illinois, 847-699-8590