How backed up on various projects am I? Well I’m just getting to my Mother’s Day piece-and my mother’s birthday is in a 3 days, so you can look for a piece on that in about 8 months at the rate I’m going. But yeah, me and mom went to a steakhouse. I asked her where she wanted to go, and they’re a place in Ford City that’s kind of a Chinese buffet about the size of a department store (so it’s really all kinds of food). But I also suggested Outback Steakhouse in the nearby outskirt town of Calumet City . The difference being that since we’re on the South Side of Chicago, Ford City means driving west all the way to Cicero and Calumet City is just driving about 5 miles further south. In other words 10 minutes away, but of course it’s’ like night and day once you leave Chicago. Now this may not seem like a big deal, this choice, but it kinda is. And the reason is that my mom and I are sort of a team (I’m her only son, and my father died when I was 2-and I only found his other kids a few years ago).
And the BIG, BIG, BIG thing when I was young was every 2 weeks or so we would go to Ford City and eat at Bonanza Steakhouse. Today it’s called Mattson’s. But we would go out to the mall and she would take me to a now defunct store called Weiboldt’s. And besides being “our time” for a me and my mother (who had to work multiple jobs), it was pretty much the experience that created “Dave Rosenthal ; the man, the myth, the legend; the most unorthodox, unique, worldly, eclectic black guy in modern history.” That’s right I DO think I’m special and UNTIL I meet another black dude who’s half as knowledgeable as I am about the various facets of American culture I’m gonna stand on that statement! But those simple trips 10 mile away from the “black” part of Chicago to a “white” part of Chicago were crucial to my development. First of all, I was one of the few youngsters to see white people “up close” in those days. I’m not kidding you. And those trips taught me that the South Side wasn’t the whole world, that in fact, Chicago wasn’t the whole world. Most people were shocked when I picked a college over a thousand miles away and took off when I wasn’t even 18 yet, and didn’t make it BACK until 2 and half years ago. But hey, what’s 20 years between friends? Welcome back Rosenthal…
But I’m crazy about “budget” steaks. I’m reluctant to call Outback Steakhouse a cheap steak joint because I KNOW cheap steak joints. For the 8-9 years I lived in Manhattan one of my absolute favorite places to eat was a place called Tad’s. And for those of you who know it ; stop laughing. Now for you who’ve never heard of it, well, it’s a “steakhouse” in fact, tourist LOVE it. They have giant windows and the giant grill is right up front, so you see these guys flinging this meat on the fire and I promise you it’s one of the funniest sights in the world. Some tourist family walking around; you see the mother pointing out stuff to the kids, you see the kids pointing at the Disney or MTV thing in Times Square, but you see the dads mesmerized by this meat being cooked up in Tad’s windows. Anyway I loved that place. And when I came back from a year in Tokyo I think I was IN one of their steakhouses within 5 hours. My poor friends just sat there (it’s not terribly popular with the locals).
So right back to me and mom’s out Outback . Well we went on Saturday in the early evening. I told her it was going to be impossible and we’d run into the same no-seating thing we ran into last year. Sure enough we had a very smooth and quick drive. We parked in the grocery store sized parking lot (very close to the door actually), only had to wait about 10 minutes for a seat. They brought out the giant sized knives and forks and we had dinner. Foodwise my steak was great, but I thought my mom’s looked a little under done, but as you can see from the image I swiped from their website , that’s how they’re supposed to look if you don’t say “well done.” My baked sweet potato (which they FINALLY got here in the Calumet City branch) was a little TART and not that sweet, so that as the only sad part. I didn’t mean to write sad, but I was thinking it. The last time I was at the Outback was with my girlfriend last June a month before she cheat on me and left me-even though I like the place it’s still tough for me to go there. But that shouldn’t stop you!