Editor's Note: Whether you're a tourist or an office worker in downtown Chicago, you can get sick of eating at chain restaurants all day. So we've started a series to get you the lowdown on where to find a great and affordable lunch.
The Rosebud restaurants are hard to miss when you're hanging out in downtown Chicago. Rosebud Steakhouse is known for serving one of the best hamburgers in the city, and lots of people eat at Rosebud Theater District before seeing a show... in the theater district. But what you might not know is that they have a tiny carry-out only restaurant called Rosebud Express that serves soup, salads, sandwiches, and pasta. It's not listed on their website, either, so it feels kind of like a secret sibling that nobody likes to talk about.
Egg salad is easily one of my favorite sandwiches, because apparently I love cholesterol, and it reminds me of picnics. The egg salad sandwich ($6.50) is like the comfort food recipe I love, with lots of crisp bits of celery and a little bit of sweet pickle relish. Sadly, there's too much bun. On the menu it's described as being piled on a croissant, but I got a slightly stale giant puffy white bun instead. If the egg salad was on two pieces of white bread, it would be perfect. It's oddly expensive, too; I'm used to egg salad sandwiches being one of the cheaper items on any sandwich menu.
For an Italian restaurant, the Italian sandwich ($6.75) is a little sad looking, sort of like me after an episode of this season's Breaking Bad. It's a standard salami, capicola, and mortadella sandwich with provolone. They've thoughtfully put the vinaigrette on the side so your sandwich doesn't get soggy by the time you get back to your office, which is always a nice touch. Otherwise, it's a textbook Italian sandwich, a little skimpy on the meat, on a soft and chewy Italian roll.
I think there's a secret law in Chicago that says all sandwich restaurants have to include an Italian beef on their menu. Otherwise, they're made fun of by all the other restaurants on the playground. And if there's an Italian beef sandwich on the menu, there's got to be an Italian beef and sausage combo ($7.50), right? The beef on this guy is unfortunately dry, and so is the sausage. The jus soaking the bread is delicious, though, and if Rosebud Express served gravy bread, I'd be all over that like a foam finger on Miley Cyrus.
Chopped salads confuse me, but that's no surprise. Lots of things confuse me. Every version of a chopped salad ($8.50) seems different; Rosebud Express's version is topped with chicken, shrimp, cucumber, chickpeas, tomatoes, and roasted red peppers. You don't usually see shrimp and chicken playing together. It's not bad, per se, since there's plenty of shrimp and the chicken is moist, but the combination seems funny to me somehow. The tomatoes are mealy, but otherwise everything else makes for a standard lunch salad.
Most of the people visiting Rosebud Express for lunch seemed like they were coming for the convenience of a fast lunch. If that's what you need, it's a pretty serviceable place to eat with no surprises. The problem is, I like surprises.