I was asked to pick out a restaurant near Allstate Arena in Rosemont this past weekend. The in-laws were taking the family to a Chicago Wolves game, and while I opted out of joining them (because sitting in the Allstate Arena is near impossible for me), they wanted me to join them for dinner. The only problem was Rosemont is basically expensive hotel restaurants and subpar fast food. Well, that’s the only Rosemont I’ve seen. It’s O’Hare Airport’s city, so it almost comes across as a transient place to live. So many people travel THROUGH there you almost forget people live there, too. Needless to say I didn’t know where to take them.
On a good day, it’s a tough call to randomly pick a place. When you’re trying to not let down an entire clan, there’s even more pressure you put upon yourself. While they’re far more adventurous in dining than my family is, I wouldn’t want to take them to an unknown foreign food restaurant and hope for the best. You don’t want to hope for the best in some circumstances.
What I found was The Ram Restaurant and Brewery. It’s not a local place, but a chain found in 5 states, getting its start in Washington. What surprised me was it’s a restaurant founded by the same group of people who founded Shakey’s, a fond restaurant memory of my youth. I used to love going to Shakey’s with my family. It’s where I learned such a thing as a pizza buffet existed. It’s where I learned the upper limits of how much pizza a human body could handle.
It turns out that for a chain restaurant, the food is far above average, although I can’t necessarily say the same for the beer. Nothing much struck my fancy, with their seasonal Big Horn S’No Angel Winter Weizenbock being my favorite of the ones sampled. It was a bit darker than I prefer, but the spice went well with the food.
The appetizer we went for was almost a dare. I mean, they were called Armadillo Eggs. Made with chicken, fresh chopped jalapeños, pepperjack cheese, “secret sauce” and seasonings, they tasted mostly like deep-fried cream cheese. You couldn’t much taste the chicken (oh yeah, I eat chicken now). But for a cheese lover, I wasn’t complaining. I love jalapeno poppers and these were a tasty distant cousin to those.
Like a lot of chain restaurants, their menu is massive. They have an ample selection of burgers, sandwiches, salads and more. My choice was the Chicken Amber Ale, a chicken breast marinated in an amber ale marinade, Porter BBQ sauce, slaw, tomato, onion crisps, roasted tomato-chipotle mayonnaise and a pretzel bun. They had me at onion crisps and sold me at pretzel bun. The chicken was tender and well marinated, and the sandwich itself was a sloppy mess with all those sauces. It ended up being a fork and knife situation by the end.
While the food was tasty and received accolades all around, there was one big problem. Most, if not all, of the burgers came out under prepared. Medium Well came out mostly pink in at least 3 situations. Luckily, the people who received the mis-cooked burgers didn’t mind the extra bit of pink, but it seems like something they should pay a little more attention to something like that.
Most of us agreed we’d still go back, and with the comic con coming up in August, I now have a place to direct my friends when we need something to eat. It’s a much better alternative to walking down to McDonald’s or ordering a $7 pizza from the convention center. I’d most likely steer them away from the burgers, just to be safe, but otherwise it’s a nice place to have a meal.
Plus you get to tell people you ate Armadillo Eggs, and that’s always worth the price of admission.