When it became clear that a certain hard-hearted colleague was unwilling to host my wife and me on the eve of our Thanksgiving-morning flight from O’Hare to Boston, necessity dictated that we find lodging in the vicinity of the airport. And when it became clear that the Holiday Inn and Suites in nearby Rosemont, Illinois, offered not only reasonable rates but counted among its amenities Harry Caray’s World Famous Italian Steakhouse, good sense dictated that we make a reservation there (i.e. the Holiday Inn and Suites) post-haste.
Let it be known that the author’s palette is decidedly not immune to the charms of haute cuisine. Clarklewis, Le Pigeon, Navarre: I ate at, and enjoyed eating at, each of these boutique Portland-area restaurants when I lived in that city. Yet, one’s tastes begin forming in one’s youth, and the most notable quality of the restaurants at which I ate as a child was their proximity to the highway and ability to seat large-ish parties without notice.
It was for this reason that Harry Caray’s appealed to me: not only is it visible from I-90, but, with its collection of baseball memorabilia, skews decidedly “family” in terms of its target demographic. It was for this reason — more than the celebration of Caray himself (as I’m not a Chicago native) — that the meal was decidedly nostalgic in nature.
Here are some notes on the experience:
• It’s impossible to avoid the fact that prices of the meals (see menu here) are generally inflated. This isn’t particularly shocking: the restaurant has a virtual monopoly on the guests of the Holiday Inn — themselves mostly travelers — and the addition of the Harry Caray “brand.”
• My wife was decidedly skeptical about the restaurant and my enthusiasm for eating there — mostly because she has “taste.” In fact, she was pleasantly surprised by the Tuscan Salad — not only because it cost a totally reasonable $7.95, but also because the ingredients (mixed greens, artichoke Hearts, garbanzo beans) were fresh and the portion appropriate for a dinner meal.
• I had the Spinach Pappardelle, a broad spinach noodle served with, as the menu notes, ”
crumbled Italian sausage, Roma tomatoes and basil, with a spicy tomato cream.” Excellent, is the adjective I’ll use to describe it.
• There’s a bust of Harry Caray by the restaurant’s host stand, surrounded by images of notable personages who’ve had their photo taken in company of same.
• I hadn’t known, but know now (via his Wikipedia page), that Harry Caray was actually Italian. He was, in fact, born Harry Christopher Carabina, which explains why the Italian theme.
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