Restaurants & Bars

Chicago Area

Restaurants that make you shake your head...

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Restaurants & Bars 3

Restaurants that make you shake your head...

Pete | May 13, 2004 02:23 PM

...and wonder how they're still in business?

I'm not talking about an isolated incident, or a single rude waiter. I'm talking about places that just seem to consistently be awful - bad food, unpleasant staff, and just... a dirty enviroment.

Case in point - a dive right near home for me: Lorraine's Diner. This is the place on the corner of Chicago & Damen that bears an awning proudly proclaiming "B*tchy Waitresses, Dirty Dishes, but Damn Good Food." Well, in my experience they're right on two out of three. (You guess which two.)

After a late evening of boozing at Dark Room, a friend and I stumbled in. We'd walked by the place, and even stood in front of it while hailing cabs - but never actually ventured in. It was your standard greasy spoon inside, but not quite as clean. A low row of booths on one side and a counter facing the grill on the other. There were two employees - a woman that we guessed was the namesake, and a cook.

Being somewhat inebriated generally tends to make me much more agreeable towards the fare at any establishment. Even with the sensitivity of my tastebuds turned down, things still weren't pretty here. I ordered a ham & cheese omelet, my friend had a steak & eggs. The omelet was your nothing special, except for the liberal addition of grease. There was what appeared to be a coffee can full of melted butter on the side of the grill - the cook seemed to ladle a healthy splash of this molten butter onto anything touching the grill. We whispered to each other, wondering how long the butter (or approximation of butter) had been sitting on the heat.

The food was pretty awful, the service was as advertised, and the dishes appeared to be vintage Melmac in a shade of tan that might hide dirt well. We never went back, and assumed the place stayed open based on first-time customers who made the same mistake we did - or else our experience was out of the ordinary. Well, up until I read this on a community on Orkut (credit to "John" in the Chicago Eats community)

"The all-night diner on the corner of Chicago and Damen is truly where bad tastebuds go when they die. We all have a slightly lower bar when completely crap-faced and hungry, but I've tried getting hammered a couple times and sampling perhaps the easiest thing to prepare on earth - a grilled cheese sandwich - from this unhappy establishment. Much to my staggering dismay, it was inedible. I am convinced they used rancid butter and stale bread. It was more grease than sandwich. It was an abomination. The woman behind the counter wears her glower and moustache as accessories in her 'hell's matron' ensemble. It's awful. Avoid it at all costs. Dear god, if you are in the neighborhood, drunk and starving, just call me and I will make you a f*cking sandwich. Anything to spare another hapless tongue from the torture."

So, I'm having to wonder if there's some back room operation involving suitcases full of money or human organ sales on the black market. Anyone have a similar establishment they're aware of?

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