Sky Full of Bacon

G Wiv and D4v3 post at LTHForum about a generic Greek chicken place that has just opened in Rogers Park. This reminds me of my own recent, easily forgotten experience at such a place, which raises the question— why are all these Greek burger/chicken places in business if they’re all C-pluses at best?

Stanley’s Market on Elston, famous for the great signs of Stanley on a flying watermelon (one of the signs recently blew down and was replaced, but the other survives), and well worth a stop for value-priced fruit (some good quality, not so good, but smart shoppers can do all right there), some years ago spawned a burger/chicken place across the street.

It’s reasonably attractive, in a generic kind of way, nice bathrooms if you need such in that part of the world, but it’s exactly like every other Greek burger/chicken place. Maybe the chicken’s better, but the burger is the epitome of the kind of carelessly made food that these places specialize in. A frozen burger patty that tastes of barnyard more than beef. 8 times as much starchy white bun as beef, and three times as much iceberg lettuce and styrofoam tomato, between them extinguishing both the flavor and the temperature of the meat. Frozen fries, more starchy styrofoam.

But it’s all served on china, so you know it’s a class joint. Restaurant china, the kind you could play basketball with and not so much as chip it.

Places like this exist all over the city. To my mind they’ve crowded out the possibility of better burger joints run by displaced Okies (like in California) or old Germans (like in Milwaukee). Some of these joints at least have character (White Palace Grill), a very few rise above the pack foodwise (Dengeo’s in Skokie), but mostly they define an entire subset of diner dining which is mediocre enough to seriously make you appreciate fast food chains for the few things they do right by.

To me they’re the white noise on our dining scene, everywhere, mildly annoying but not rising to the level of offensiveness— because how can you get interested enough to be angry about something that has never once stirred the passions of the people who make it?

Stanley’s Grille
1543 N Elston Ave
Chicago, IL 60622

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