My family and I spent December 22-24 in Chicago on vacation. We only live a couple of hours away so it’s a bit shocking how little we actually get to the Windy City, but this was an opportunity for us to get a hotel in the Loop and do the museum thing with the kids and my parents-in-law. And it was fun! I didn’t get to watch the Chelsea match with Chicago Spurs (we were on the train), but I did have an encounter with a lovely gentleman from north London who saw my Spurs hat and stopped me on the street to talk Tottenham Hotspur.
But what I’m here to talk about is the food. We didn’t have time to really go for broke and eat at any of the big-time (and big money) destination restaurants in the Loop, but we did eat pretty well and I was able to structure our trip to hit some of our favorite foodie haunts. Like Tottenham, some of the food we ate was really good, and some of it was... well, not as good.
OK, it’s a bit niche as far as a player ratings theme goes, but this is my blog, dammit, and there’s not a lot of time to turn this article around. This is also where Chicago Spurs fans will tell me I didn’t eat at the right places, but I’m used to it. Here are the Tottenham Hotspur player ratings to the theme of food I put in my mouth in Chicago.
5 stars: Cubano sandwich from Cafecito
Cafecito is one of my favorite cheap Chicago eateries. We don’t go to Chi-town often but when we do we seek this place out because they make some of the best pressed sandwiches I’ve ever eaten. Their cubano is life-affirming and transformational, but they have about two dozen other sandwiches that all look amazing. Do yourself a favor and hit one of their locations if you’re ever in town.
4 stars: Lemon-pistachio old fashioned donut from Stan’s Donuts
Stan makes good donuts. Hand-made, individually frosted, with good flavors. Suck it, Dunkin’ — Stan’s got your number.
Harry Kane (Community — 7.9): A wonderful performance with very little service. One goal and should’ve had two if VAR and the offside rule didn’t suck. More impressive was his hold-up play and passing.
Dele (Community — 7.2): I wouldn’t rank this as one of his best performances in a Spurs shirt, but was industrious around the box and he gets an extra half-star for that sublime finish on his goal.
3.5 stars: Shake Shack Smokeshack burger
We made the mistake of ducking in the Michigan Avenue Shake Shack on Sunday night for what we thought would be a quick burger, but weren’t considering the Bears-Chiefs game at Soldier Field that evening. What we got was a 20-minute wait in line to stand around a small table and eat with 500 of our closest new Chicago friends. Burger was pretty good, though!
Davinson Sanchez (Community — 6.9): For the second match in a row, Davi was probably Spurs’ best defender on the day, though he had a bit of trouble with Aaron Connelly on his flank. Did well to cover the gaping void left behind Aurier once again.
Giovani Lo Celso (Community — 6.9): It’s refreshing to see a player come in, show for the ball, and be a creative outlet. He didn’t play in central midfield where we all wanted to see him but he absolutely showed that Mourinho should be playing him more.
Christian Eriksen (Community — 6.8): Came in to be a better link between defense and attack than Harry Winks and succeeded unequivocally. Didn’t blow anyone away but had the hockey assist to Dele’s goal.
3 stars: Mediterranean farro bowl at Shedd Aquarium
I don’t have high expectations for museum cafe food. Usually all you can expect are bad and horribly overpriced burgers and fries, maybe a indifferently-prepared turkey wrap if you’re lucky. Instead I ignored the burgers and walked right up to the empty grain bar where I got a surprisingly competent bowl of grains and greens with fresh ingredients. Was it excellent? Nope. But it was actually pretty tasty and refreshing, which is good when you’re just trying to get sustenance into your body so you can go see the sharks.
Serge Aurier (Community — 6.0): Admittedly good going forward and created the winner with a nice flick to Dele in the box, but was again a disaster in defense, letting Mooy behind him time and time again. It’s hard to know how much of this is tactics and how much is just Serge being his usual infuriating self.
Jan Vertonghen (Community — 6.3): Whatever, he was fine, not great.
Ryan Sessegnon (Community — 5.8): It was fun to see Sess get his first Premier League start as a Spurs player and started brightly on the left before fading as the match went on. Probably should’ve scored. Replaced shortly into the second half.
Toby Alderweireld (Community — 6.6): A decently solid defensive performance, though I’d rate Sanchez a tick higher overall.
Paulo Gazzaniga (Community — 6.3): Couldn’t do anything for Brighton’s goal but had a couple of decent stops and didn’t make any glaring errors this time.
Jose Mourinho (Community — 6.4): Docked for starting a Winks-Sissoko pivot against all prior evidence, but made the right substitutes at the right time to turn the match around.
2.5 stars: Greek Kitchen gyros wrap
Sometimes you just can’t fit in the trip to Little Goat Diner or Topolobampo you were hoping for and you gotta go the fast-casual route because it’s nearby and everyone’s hungry. Greek Kitchen is your standard Chipotle/Moe’s clone, but with gyros meat wraps instead of Mexican-American food. Super salty, but flavorful and best of all quick. As my wife would say, “it filled the hole.”
Moussa Sissoko (Community — 5.6): Did some good things in the second half, but was again let down by his poor touch and decision making, especially in the final third. Put in a stupid tackle late and will be suspended for the trip to Norwich for yellow card accumulation.
Lucas Moura (Community — 6.1): I’m going to get slated for this, but I was not at all impressed with Lucas’ performance. Improved in the second half (along with the rest of the team once the midfield got fixed) and ran around a lot defensively in the first half, but his passing and touch were way, way off and most of the stuff he tried didn’t work. Not impressed.
2 stars: Free hotel breakfast
I’ve eaten a lot of hotel breakfasts in my time, and most are pretty shockingly atrocious. So when I rate the Hyatt breakfast where we stayed at 2-stars, that’s actually a compliment. It’s not haute cuisine, but it’s filling and free and has decent coffee, and sometimes that’s about all you can ask for.
Harry Winks (Community — 4.7): There was a moment in this match when Wink lunged into a challenge at the edge of Spurs’ box, missed the tackle completely, and then yelled at his teammate for not being in a position to mitigate his error, that just completely encapsulates why I can’t stand seeing him play as the deepest midfielder in a pivot. So bad even a foul he didn’t commit led to a goal. Picked up his fifth yellow card so at least we won’t have to see him on Saturday.
1 star: Eating scrambled eggs for supper at home Christmas Eve after getting off the train because all the restaurants and grocery stores closed at 6 pm and there’s no food in the fridge
No Tottenham players were as bad as having to eat scrambled eggs on Christmas Eve after a long train-ride home at the end of a vacation.
Tom Carroll Memorial Non-Rating