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No Sticky Wickets

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Hello everyone to another edition of Mastication Monologues!  Today I will be doing a brief review of a restaurant where I tried something that I didn’t really expect to find on their menu.  The restaurant in question is Wickets Bar and Grill located at 601 N Martingale Rd (at Woodfield Rd)  Schaumburg, IL 60173.

I was meeting some college friends there just to catch up on things, and I didn’t know really what to expect from this establishment.  Based off the name, I would have thought that we were going to be eating in an imitation English gastropub of some sort due to the cricket reference in the title.  Instead, I walked into a very sleek sports bar that did not have a single Guinness poster anywhere or a cricket bat on the wall.  The menu did have the usual litany of bar food items like nachos and burgers, but I began to see a pattern emerging that was downright confusing.  Wickets offers different types of samosas for appetizers, a chicken tikka sandwich, and tandoori chicken skewers.  Why was Indian  food on a sports bar menu?  My friend and I hypothesized that there was one Indian master chef who was called upon to make these delicious treats from his homeland.  Either that or it was a nod to the popularity of cricket in South Asia and other British colonies.  Menu construction theories aside, I decided to go for the two skewer platter and a Lagunitas Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale to drink.IMG_1080

I had already had this particular brew from Lagunitas before, but I knew that I couldn’t go wrong with this choice.  If you haven’t had it before, it is an amber-colored beer with a clear hoppy taste that covers your palate initially, but at the end it gives you a little smooth sum sumpin’ at the end that makes you always come back for more.  If you enjoy IPAs, I would recommend this beer to you.

Stomach don't fail me now!

Stomach don’t fail me now!

As for my entrée, I went with one skewer of beef with vegetables and the other with chicken tikka tandoori with vegetables.  They were both served on a bed of basmati rice infused with herbs which was surrounded by golden flatbread triangles.  Plus, I decided to get the cucumber chive yogurt sauce that was served on the side.  Taken all together, these skewers were on point in terms of quantity and quality.  If you are not really hungry, then you will take some of this home with you.  The basmati rice with herbs was cooked to perfection, and the herbs provided the starch with whispers of rosemary and parsley.   I used the flatbread wedges as pseudo-pizza slices to put the yogurt sauce on like sauce and then piled on the meat and rice which gave the meal an Indian vibe since I was eating with my hands which I always enjoy.  The Tandoori chicken was actually quite tasty since it tasted exactly like the same dish I tried in some of the Indian restaurants I visited in London.  If you never had Tandoori chicken, it is a type of specially cooked chicken coated with the right blend of cumin, turmeric, chili, and a slightly charred aftertaste.  The beef was equally delectable since it was grilled completely through but still quite succulent.  As for the veggies, it was a mix of mushrooms, green and yellow zucchini, bell peppers, and onions.  All were adequately grilled, but they still maintained their original integrity which I enjoyed since sometimes over-grilling can lead to crumbling in  vegetables with higher water content.  Finally, the yogurt sauce was like mix between tzatziki and the Indian raita; the neutral yogurt element provided a cooling element to the slightly spicy tandoori chicken  and the cucumbers and chives provided a texture change that interacted nicely with the semi-crispy flatbread.

Overall, I was stuffed and a satisfied customer.  So if you’re looking for some delicious Indian influenced food in a very non-Indian environment, come on down to Wickets Bar and Grill!

Wickets Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

Wickets Bar and Grill on Foodio54


What Can Brown Do For You? Answer: Delicious Food

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Hello to all of the veterans and first time readers of Mastication Monologues.  If you have never seen this blog before, I write about all of my different food experiences in the Chicagoland area and during my travels in order to broaden your culinary and cultural horizons.  Plus, I would like to think that I could break certain cuisine stereotypes that exist with different types of ethnic foods.  One of the most persistent ones is with Indian and Southeast Asian food.  Often times I have heard from many people that it is too smelly or spicy or simple or causes bad things to happen to your G.I. tract, and I am here to tell you that it is not the case at all.  I recently went to a small Indian restaurant called the Little India located on 1109 West Bryn Mawr Avenue Chicago, IL 60660, and it is a great establishment in terms of hospitality and food.

At first, I was not sure what they meant when they claimed to serve “Indian fusion” cuisine, but upon closer inspection of their menu, I could see that there were some American elements like french fries and chicken soup and even a Chinese entry with Paneer Manchurian.  However, I went with a traditional Pakistani dish called Chicken Shajahani Biryani which was described as, “Chicken marinated in a yogurt sauce, herbs, spices, and served with steamed Basmati rice”, and I could only imagine it got its name from the influential Shah Jahan.  One of the reasons why I chose this dish was that I love the intermingling of tastes when mixing rice and meat together, and from a more economical standpoint, only the choices under the “Rice Dishes” on the menu automatically came with rice.  Just a heads up because my fellow diner did not have the same luck and had to order rice with her Paneer Makhani.

When they brought out our food, I was somewhat underwhelmed by the presentation of the Biryani since it looked like ordinary rice with a couple chunks of chicken put on the surface, but oh how wrong I was.

Chicken Biryani: Geopolitical alliances be damned for deliciousness!

It was also served with a small gravy boat of yogurt sauce filled with diced cucumbers and carrots.  Once I tucked into the mini-mountain of rice, I realized that I made a great choice because the rice was cooked to perfection and huge, golden nuggets of chicken were lurking under the surface.  There was also a slightly spicy hint to each bite which I expected to come with a dish like this, and the yogurt sauce provided a cool contrast to the spicy rice and chicken.  It was white, creamy, and almost seemed like a Pakistani version of the Greek tzatziki sauce that can be found on any classic gyro.  Upon seeing me intake heaping spoonfuls of the dish, the staff asked me if the spice level was alright.  Naturally, I responded with it wasn’t spicy enough, so they actually took it back to the kitchen to make it even spicier for no extra charge.  When they came back, I could see they added more red peppers to the rice, but it gave it only about a Habanero level of spiciness.  The waiter and doorman both joked with me that the cook couldn’t believe someone wanted their food spicier and that they knew what it was like to have a penchant for amping up dishes with more spice.  These chats gave the restaurant more personality than others I have been to in my life where they just want your money and don’t care much for small talk.  I ended up finishing the entire plate which was pretty substantial for the price, and I even tried some of the Paneer Makhani.

It was an odd dish with cubes of homemade cheese in a tomato and cream sauce, but the clash of the somewhat old Swiss cheese aftertaste with the smooth, spiced tomato sauce really didn’t jive well with my palate.  I think I would enjoy both elements on their own instead of combined in one bowl and eaten together with rice.

To sum up, if you want to go beyond your culinary comfort zone, wander over to The Little India to try some delicious food that will convince you that Southeast Asian food is one of the most underrated cuisines in the world.

The Little India Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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