The Chicago Way
The restaurant selection in Chicago is endless so when my buddy told me we were headed to Hugo’s Frog Bar and Fish House for dinner with a few of his colleagues, I expected a large rambunctious spot with bar food and beer. After all, the baseball playoffs had just begun and the Cubs were contending.
I was dead wrong. The Chicago definition of “bar” is far grander than we do here in Philly.
Steve Lombardo and Hugo Ralli (yes, there is a real Hugo behind this place) opened Gibson’s Steakhouse in downtown Chicago nearly 30 years ago. A few years later in 1997, they decided to open a seafood restaurant next door. They share the same kitchen and many of the menu items including the steaks. Brilliant!
Seafood is flown in daily and Gibson’s have their own USDA Certified Beef Program. They are the only restaurant to have such a program.
They have 4 locations now for Hugo’s with one being operated here in Philadelphia.
Not bar food!
This was a fairly large group of fairly large men. Some thought we were the Bears offensive line because we averaged over 300 pounds (even with two light weights thrown in)! We started off with 3 trays of oysters. Mammoth juicy east coast oysters that were plump and juicy.
Our appetizers arrived shortly after with our first bottle of wine. They have a selection of over 750 bottles. We easily found one that we all agreed upon. I had a great chowder and had a bit of the lobster salad ordered by my best friend.
Then came the main courses. Since this was a seafood house, I naturally ordered ….seafood. My scallop dish was awesome, my buddy ordered the Chilean sea bass. We did our usual swap. The host ordered king crab legs which he shared while others had steaks and crab cakes.
Not a bad meal in the house. We polished off our third bottle of wine by the time the plates we cleared and finished the night off with a bottle of port.
The Philly Chicago Connection
I love Chicago. Take out the stuff that makes the news and it is an incredible place. The people are great and there is so much to see and do and eat!
Hugo’s Frog Bar is everything Chicago. It’s nostalgic without being pretentious, grand but simple, blue collar style with white collar trimmings. I think I love it so much because it reminds me of my hometown, Philly. It’s just bigger.
For my friends in Philadelphia, if you want a real “Taste of Chicago”, check out Hugo’s on Delaware Avenue inside the Sugarhouse Casino. It’s the only location they have outside the Chicagoland area. I guess I’m not the only one who thinks these cities have something in common.