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Restaurants & Bars 14

Gene and Judes

Ponzu | Feb 2, 2004 12:34 AM

I feel like I'm cramming for chowhound 101. Since finding this site in mid December, my wife has been commenting that I have a maniacal gleam in my eye.

I pore over past posts to find my next big thing before rushing out of the house, family in tow, to the afghannie cab joint, or the yunnanese pancake house (YHOP!) . I keep on going back to the oracle and it keeps on coming up aces. And so I go back again.

Am I obsessed with the chicago food scene? to answer one question with another, Is GWBush a cretin?......

Anyway, today while waiting with my snoozing son in the car, as my wife browsed in the fabric store, VI's command to try the "heads and tails" of the chicago street food scene rang in my head.

My next move became clear. Gene and Jude's.

But first a disclaimer. I'm a transplanted san franciscan via NOLA. Hot dogs I associate with baseball, and selling cokes at candlestick in high school, and Will Clark series winning single up the middle against Mitch Williams. Happy, happy associations to be sure, but wieners don't pass from my esophagus to my soul in the same way as say an SF Burrito or a perfect piece of sahimi. In other words I am not a chicagoan yet.

The hot Dog.

The wiener itself was as advertised, red, meaty tasting, and so plumped from the steam that it made an audible sound in my head each time my teeth pierced the taut viscera which encased it. The taste was more polishy than the average dog. It was perfect, without betraying its fundamental wiener-ness.

The toppings.

mustard, sweet relish, onions, and 2 uninspiring sport peppers. I'll get extra relish the next time.

The bun.

This was the best part. Biting into the dog , I was transported to my first wonderfully inauthentic SF burrito as a 7 year old. then, I was astonished at how the steamed, not grilled tortilla made a springy sack that fused with the sour cream, guac, pollo asada, thus elevating the humble burrito to new heights. The dog's bun was similarly steamed, and so it clung to the link, fusing with it. It offered an elastic resistance to the teeth, a moist sweetness to the tongue, and a pleasing springiness with each bite.

The fries.

Very promising looking, as the partially peeled spuds were loaded into a hand press which when pulled down, dropped the perfecly sliced root into the awaiting fry basket. The taste was excellent with a mild sweetness that played nicely off of the salt. But the texture wasn't quite right. They were missing that crunchy outer layer that screams "frites." I like soft/firm best when it accompanies a contrasting crisp exterior, a la last weeks fries at Al's.

There's been alot of discussion of late on the list serve as to whether quality can exist on its own without reference to context, history, perceived meaning. I would hold up a Gene and Judes dog (noting that this is a form whose splendor I may be never be fully capable of appreciating) as an example of such stand-alone quality. It was mindfully prepared, unadorned, and each bite screamed at the top of it lungs, "HHHOOOTTT DDDOOOGGG!!!!!!!!"

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