It’s been a couple years since I have run a marathon, and even longer since I had a hamburger at the Bad Apple. My friend Meghan, on a bad leg, crushed the Chicago Marathon in 5 hours. Even in spry youth, I had never crushed a marathon in less than 8 hours. At that pace, it’s no longer clear who is crushing what.
In her honor, Meghan’s boyfriend and old school Chicago eating expert, Rob, invited us to one of the city’s legendary hamburger homes, the Bad Apple. They accommodated our party and the beer service began. Their list has some neat beers, and must be about new stuff because I had never even seen Pipeworks on draft before.
Meghan’s mother Mary was in town to support the run that weekend and we met for the first time. The night before I had a stress dream about Syria. It was like Xoco and Kobani intersected in the stress sector of my subconscious. Not wanting to make a weird impression on Mary, I held my tongue while we destroyed the cheese curds.
They were golden and fluffy, some of the best cheese curds I’ve ever eaten. As any marathon runner will tell you, one of the most stressful scenarios would be self-defecating in public on race day. To celebrate overcoming those odds, Meghan got a Hot Brown. These poutine fries, rich and complex, are named after a famous sandwich from Louisville, Kentucky.
The burger was pretty unbelievable. The grass fed LaFrieda beef was perfectly pink and juices oozed out into the pretzel bun with every bite. I got the Slow Burn, meaning my burger was topped with spicy chiles that had been cooked down in dark beer. The flavors intensified but never into the orange zone, nevermind the red zone. On our way out, the chef joked with Meghan’s mom Mary.