Deep Fried Chicago: Bangers & Lace
I've been on notice for quite some time that Bangers & Lace in Wicker Park puts out exceptional sausage. But it wasn't until recently that I took the time to look over the rest of the menu. Turns out their deep frier is also put through its paces—so much so that I had to be extra selective on a recent visit. It's not often that a restaurant deep fries more than this column can handle, but any time my hot oil cup runneth over is a win win for everyone.
To be honest, I expected the Chorizo Deviled Eggs ($5.00)—essentially a deviled scotch egg with some chorizo tossed in for good measure—to be way over the top. I was pleasantly surprised, though, by its subtlety. Save the addition of deep fried crunch from the breading, the dish plays it straight, with the chorizo's presence a mere whisper. A little more salt would perk things up a bit, but paired with a few beers, I doubt you'll notice.
The Po' Boy ($11.00) is a rather inspired take on the New Orleans staple. At its core, a po' boy is about spotlighting incredibly fresh and lightly breaded seafood, frills and distractions notably absent. Taking that idea and grinding it into the sausage context, the sandwich features two pucks of roughly chopped and beer battered seafood, with large chunks of sweet shrimp carrying most of the flavor. A buttery top-split bun, borrowed from the East Cost, provides the base, while shredded iceberg, thinly sliced red onion, and a guacamole-like remoulade/aji all do a great job staying the hell out of the way of the seafood main event.
Overabundance of fried items or not, I can't think of any way I could've justifiably avoided the Foie Gras Corn Dog ($13.00). And once I got over the sticker shock of what were essentially two concession stand sucker sized fried orbs, I'm so glad I made the plunge. Although the foie is wrapped with both flavorful garlic sausage and brioche corn breading, its rich flavor dominates in the best way possible. The fig preserves and brown butter caramel were so good I contemplated taking the leftovers home in a doggy bag. One word of advice: be sure to eat this as soon as it gets to the table, as the molten foie center quickly renders the stick handles moot.
The show stealer by a wide mile, the Chili Cheese Dog ($6.00) tastes even prettier than it looks. Housed in the same bun as the Po' Boy, the uncured hot dog, sausage chili (with actual rounds of cured sausage!), sour cream drizzle, and vibrantly pickled red onions work together to create the best non-traditional chili cheese dog I've ever tasted. Too bad the cheese curds, the dish's only fried component, were as lackluster as they were puny. Nevertheless, they were barely missed, and I'd order this dish again in a second, with or without curds.
With at least four more fried items on the menu to try, it looks like a follow up trip to Bangers & Lace is well in order. I'm looking forward to sampling the rest—especially the Crispy Corn Nuts—if I can tear myself away from the Chili Cheese Dog, that is.