Monday, June 1, 2009

Day 13: The Grind

You know how my plans tend to fall through a lot? Well yesterday I was so exhausted from prom that I fell asleep on my couch around 6:00 PM and I woke up in my bed at 9:30 this morning with no recollection of how I got there. That is my way of saying I slept through Old Town yesterday. My sincerest apologies, especially to Liz because right now I'm dead last in the friendship competition. I will visit you eventually, I promise.

Going to Avondale may seem like a cop-out since I ate Polish food in Avondale last week, but I'm going to tell you why it isn't. The Polish part of Avondale is sometimes considered a separate neighborhood from Avondale, sometimes called The Polish Village, and sometimes called Waclawowo. Or at least I think that it is separate. Please don't be mad at me if that was misinformation, and today really was a cop-out. So, because I needed to go to actual Avondale I went to a cafe there called The Grind (not to be confused with the show on MTV that was previously hosted by a shirtless Eric Nies, who was also on "The Real World" and "Confessions of A Teen Idol. That last bit was just in case you are ever questioned about MTV mini-celebrities when you are a contestant on Jeopardy) located at 4613 N. Lincoln Avenue:

Erica and Caroline (my dates for the day) told me that this was where we were going to meet our future husbands because apparently one of the women who wrote a review online met her husband here, so I was totally pumped to meet the man I would spend the rest of my life with! The food was good, but sadly I did not make any romantic connections...

To get to The Grind, I took the number 8 bus north until the Lincoln/Fullerton stop, and then I took the number 11 bus north on Lincoln until the Wilson stop. Sidenote: the Halsted bus was completely empty when I got on, but within about three blocks it got uncharacteristically crowded. But, since I was seated towards the front I got a first-row seat to the people-entering-the-bus show. This family-- a mom, dad, and a kid in a stroller--entered the bus about a mile after I did. The mom had about four teeth and the dad was carrying a toddler in his arms, but pushing an empty stroller, which I thought was sort of weird. So, the dad has the stroller sitting in the middle of the aisle so no one can walk through, but he lets the kid stand on this counter-like thing in the front of the bus. The dad lets go at some point just as the bus is lurching to a stop. The kid falls off of the counter-thing and directly into a woman in a wheelchair's lap. The dad picks up the kid (does not apologize because he is rude) and laughs as the kid bites one of the plastic handles that people hold onto when the bus is moving, which is disgusting in at least two ways. Then, he lets her walk on the ground. The kid proceeds to walk up to the lady across the aisle from the woman in a wheelchair and pulls up her skirt. The mom notices this, picks up the kid (does not apologize because she is rude) and puts the kid back in the stroller, just as a man with a practically no hair and a Hitler-looking mustache walks on the bus. As the mom is putting the kid into the stroller (finally, because the stroller is taking up room anyway) she bumps into the Bald Hitler. Then a brief fight breaks out between the dad and the Bald Hitler because the Bald Hitler "intentionally" bumped into the mom because she and her four teeth were so good-looking that the Bald Hitler could not control himself. The bus driver then kicks the mom, the dad, the kid, and Bald Hitler off of the bus, as they yell and curse. As the doors close the spectators starts to applaud, and the bus driver takes a bow and continues driving. Next time I'm bringing popcorn.

Even though none of us met our soul mates there, The Grind was a really great little cafe. It is very artsy and cute inside. The walls are covered with pictures of punk-rock people:

But of course, my favorite part of the decor was the dessert and pastry bar that is the focus of attention (or at least the focus of my attention) when you walk in:

It looks so delicious...

The food is mainly vegetarian, with the exception of a tuna sandwich. I was sort of surprised at this, and possibly a little disappointed, however when I actually ate my sandwich I could hardly tell. It was so flavorful and yummy that I did not notice:

It was tomato, lettuce, smoked mozzarella, and this pesto sauce that was really good, probably because they make it fresh there, all on ciabatta bread. The salad came with all of the sandwiches, and it is just a simple lettuce and cucumber salad, but you get to choose from three dressings. The one pictured here is balsamic. I think it was the pesto that made me not care that there was no meat on the sandwich. It was really good pesto.

Erica ordered Sue's Bagel, which is similar to what I had, but it was on a bagel. Actually, reading the description on their menu, I kind of wished that I ordered Sue's Bagel instead of what I ordered... but no matter:

The bagel contained the pesto from my sandwich that made me swear off men and switch to loving garnishes, but it also contained baked goat cheese which is awesome. Also, this salad had a raspberry dressing. Or at least, I think it does. The online menu does not mention dressing types for side salads. Also, Erica ordered a Red Smoothie:

The Red Smoothie contains raspberry, yogurt, honey, and orange juice. I did not taste the smoothie because I am a moron, however the reviews, and Erica, tell me that it was very good.

Caroline ordered the Italian Med sandwich:

Actually, reading the ingredients of this sandwich makes me kind of want to cheat on my sandwich and Erica's sandwich. The Italian Med contains hummus, feta, artichoke salad, cucumber, and lettuce on the same ciabatta bread that my sandwich was on. If only this sandwich had a little bit of pesto...

Caroline also ordered a drink:

The drink is not on the online menu, so I can not be certain about the name of the drink, but if I remember correctly, it is called a Lemon Fizzy. I think it is basically just lemon juice with sparkling water, but I think you can order it sweetened. Caroline not order it sweetened, which I think she regretted, but I tasted it and it tasted pretty good. Very refreshing, but not as sweet as lemonade or as a lemon-flavored soda. Not that I've ever tasted lemon-flavored soda. Why don't they sell lemon-flavored soda?

Remember how I said that the dessert bar drew my attention from the second I walked into the cafe? Well, this chocolate chip cheesecake dessert kept calling my name throughout all of lunch. So I felt like I owed it to the cheesecake to buy it:

So, I did. The cheesecake part was really good. Very rich in flavor, if not exactly creamy. But the crust was sort of weird. In theory it was a regular crushed graham cracker crust, but it tasted kind of like granola. Maybe it was granola... but it was not a very good crust. Maybe I would have liked it better if I knew what it was.

I do not know exactly how much we spent as a group because we all ordered separately. However I know that my meal, between the sandwich and the cheesecake was about $13.

After lunch, we still weren't sick of each other! So, to celebrate this achievement, we went to the stores across the street from the restaurant. My favorite was this comic book store. I wish I remembered the name. I'm going to guess that its name was "Comic Book Store." So, we walked into Comic Book Store and immediately, I knew what it felt like to be Leonard from The Big Bang Theory:

Although, I guess Leonard would never have taken the action figures out of the boxes. Anyway, this store had some pretty ridiculous collectables. Some of the highlights were The Chocolate Mpire:

But my personal favorite had to be P.J. Sparkles. If you hug her, she lights up with LOVE! Only a few people can do that:

Oooh! And her party dress becomes a nightie! I don't know anyone who can do that!

So went my day in Avondale: sandwich and cheesecake, P.J. Sparkles, and 45 minutes of playing 20 questions in the Old Town School of Folk Music while listening to a 20-something year old try to play "A Whole New World" on what I can only assume was a dying cat. It was a good day.

Considering how unreliable I am, I may or may not have a post tomorrow. May Project is winding down and there a few... um... requirements... that may need to be tweaked just a little bit. If I do go out for food tomorrow, it may finally be to Old Town. But now that I said that, I totally just jinxed myself...

One more thing: I have decided that I will continue this blog after May Project is officially over. Whenever I go out to dinner or lunch or some place interesting, I will tell you all about it. So, keep checking back, or even subscribe to my RSS feed or become a follower of my blog. That way you can passively stalk me instead of actively stalking me. Trust me, passive stalking is way more fun. Until next time, happy eating!

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