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Little Shedrak's (plus Al Khaymeih again, now green plums)

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Little Shedrak's (plus Al Khaymeih again, now green plums)

Vital Information | May 10, 2003 11:13 AM

But for the lack of Dalmatian wine and seven colors of mole, I can imagine no place more truly RSTish than Little Shedrak's. It is not on Lawrence, but two store fronts off Lawrence, on Sawyer. You walk in past of a crowd of men with nary a plate of food in front of them. The expected al Jerza blares. Little Shedrak's is also a card room. One table played mah jong (surprisingly?). Another played backgammon. Later several tables played some type of bridge/hearts type of trump game. Someone suggested we move toward the empty tables in the back. We sat down on a table with green baize, but our host soon removed the card surface. She left the little side table where players would keep their cigarettes, perhaps a sandwich or a glass of tea. It was perfect place for my cell phone and Ms. VI's water bottle.

About a year ago, the elusive one was on an Iraqi/Assyrian kick, regaling us with tales of stuffed heads and other treats. Zim finally prodded the name of one of his places out of him, George's Kebab, but soon the movement readjusted. New cuisine's, new streets, cemitas and such. When I mentioned Little Shedrak's a few days ago, RST piped in that he had mentioned that place a long time ago. As we all know, chowhound is not exactly search friendly. I tried the control f browser page search and a chowhound search engine search, but found no reference. Finally, I did things the really hard way, I waded through a bunch of posts. I did find mention of Little Shedrak, but it provided no information, nor did RST reveal which of the various Assyrian places he thought the best.

To digress (let's all digress freely in our reports, no?), it is amazing how many Assyrian places exist in the approximate intersection of Lawrence and Kedzie. Besides George's and Little Shedrak's, there is King Kebab and one or two more, all serving their superior version of shwarma called gus and various long cooked soup/stews. I'm just not a completist, however, who has the ability to categorize all of the places. For now, I'll report on Little Shedrak's.

The menu includes sandwiches, every day plates and daily specials. What is available, however, does not necessarily correspond to what the menu says. Ask. We had three chowhounditas with us and they negotiated furiously over what they should eat--spoiled by no potato chop--ending up with two chicken kebab sandwiches and one gus sandwich. The Condiment Queen and I split the farrouch (baby chicken) and white beans with meat.

No offense to the Assyrian's, but you will notice that a lot of the card players carry a bit of a pouch. It will make sense when you see how much food consists of a meal at Little Shedrak's. The sandwiches are the Assyrian bread, very similar to Mexican torta bread (bolillo), the bread split to form a pocket, like a New England hot dog bun. Huge amounts of the ordered meat get stuffed on top of a simple salad. A bottle of English "HP" sauce was brought for the sandwiches. A filling meal, but nothing like the entrees.

For a few dollars more, you get a huge range of food. Each plate came with two of the squishy rolls. You get a huge plate of very good rice, very pilafed if you know what I mean, not low cal rice. The chicken came with a big bowl of soup/stew made from long simmered wide green beans and possessing a few big chunks of spine meat that would have made this a meal pretty much in itself. The white beans had similar chunks of meat and looked similar with its red broth, but actually tasted different. Also, a big plate of pickles and onions dusted with sumac and not very spicy hot peppers. The flavors were all deep and satisfying. The chicken nicely seasoned and charred. My only complaint, there must be some other kind of condiment no? Achar, what is it called, a hot type sauce/chutney. The final glass of tea was as usual, scalding, but nothing particularly special. Still, a wonderful amount of food for $27.

With the pleasant weather we strolled a bit around Albany Park after dinner. Al-Khaymeih got a huge amount of press on this board last winter about its feta and its green almonds. We nosed around their last night as well. I know Joan is always trying to get me to eat there, and I will surely return. They had these most amazing looking meat pies in view in their kitchen. At their bakery counter, which is jumbled together with the actual bakery, we were offered a sample of baklava (spelled there baklava). Both Ms. VI and I felt this was the best baklava we ever had. What makes one baklava just that much better than any other one, I do not know. But I did not take home any baklava. Rather, I had my eye on these extruded pastries, very much like churros but soaked in syrup.

Green almond season is past. Now Al Khaymeih is selling green plums. These are tiny immature plums. I was told that they are usually eaten dipped in salt. The kids loved them, who would now, and we got a big bag. Another interesting thing at Al Khaymeih, they have two big crates of bulk tea. I note this not so much for the tea, which really smelled fresh, but for the ancient looking containers which made the tea look like it came off a tramp steamer circa 1879.

One more side note. While we still have not tried Shwarma King, the place smelled terrific. The ability to have all his doors and windows open on a warm spring night was a huge advertisement for his fare.

VI

Little Shedrak's
4749-51 N. Sawyer (at Lawrence)
Chicago, IL 60625
773-583-6330

Al-Khaymeih
4742 N. Kedzie
Chicago, IL 60625
773-583-0999

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