Saturday, December 28, 2013

Chicago Bears Green Bay Packers & Cheddar's

The Bears - Packers rivalry dates back to about 1921. In my family I am a Packers fan and the rest are Bears fans. Go figure. The December 29th game this year at Soldier's Field is more than just another game. Both teams are rivals and have no problem playing in cold weather, both teams have quarterbacks that are not 100%, and if that's not enough the winning team goes to the play-offs and the losing team goes home. This should be a really great game.
Last night we decided to head north, just over the Wisconsin border to Pleasant Prairie and a restaurant called Cheddar's. For your reference we were crossing enemy lines from Illinois into Wisconsin, or Packers country. I knew that going could be a little dangerous for my Bears fan family two days before game day. Cheddar's restaurant opened in October and I heard so many good things about it and decided that we had to try it. I was told that there probably would be a line to get in and they were right.
It's called a Pain Killer! Any questions?
I pushed my way through the crowd of people to the hostess station where I was greeted by a hostess who informed me that there would be about a 45 minute wait. I gave her my name and she gave me a coaster pager. Our next move was to make our way to the bar where I was told they made the best Mai Tai's. The fact that many of the patrons were wearing some kind of Packers apparel confirmed that we were deep in enemy territory. For your information a Mai Tai is the same size as the Pain Killer pictured above and takes just about 45 minutes to consume.
Wisconsin Cheese Curds with Ranch Dipping Sauce
About 45 minutes later as we were really getting hungry the pager began blinking. We were shown to a booth in the bar section. There were many families seated in the lounge area where little ears may hear really grown-up words. In my opinion children should be seated in the main dining room for their protection and the enjoyment of the lounge patrons. The Chicago Blackhawks game was on the TV and sports fans tend to get loud at times. My only problem with the booths was that they had huge table tops and limited seating depths. I think many restaurants are learning from airlines how to cram the most possible seats in a limited space as possible. The width of the table top could have been slightly narrower and the seats slightly wider. Americans are getting bigger! I truly believe that customer comfort should be a priority, especially when dining as much as possible. A hostess can also discreetly determine if a booth is appropriate before assigning a table or booth. 
Homemade Onion Rings with homemade ranch and Cajun dipping sauces
Our waiter Shaun promptly approached and greeted us. He noted that we already had drinks and asked if we cared to order any appetizers. Prior to coming I was told their homemade onion rings were amazing. We ordered those and an order of Wisconsin cheese curds.
House salad with a croissant
After delivering our appetizers he asked if we were ready to place our dinner order. I asked about the Chicken and Waffles stating that it sounded like a strange combination to me. He said it went together like spaghetti and meatballs. I had to try it. Shaun showed that he knew the menu and more importantly the food on it. 
Cheddar’s Chicken & Waffles
My son ordered the Ribs & Chicken Tenders and was given a choice of two sides. He ordered the mashed potatoes and the Broccoli Cheese Casserole. 
Ribs & Chicken Tenders
My wife ordered the New Orleans Pasta which consisted of shrimp, chicken, smoked sausage and Penne pasta, tossed in a creamy Cajun Alfredo sauce and served with garlic bread. 
New Orleans Pasta tossed in a creamy Cajun Alfredo sauce
I soon realized why almost every table was given Styrofoam containers. It was to take home all of the food they couldn't eat during dinner. We were no exception. 
Prior to leaving Shaun asked if we cared for dessert. Are you kidding me? I thought. Prior to coming I was told that they have taster size desserts for $ .99 each. The choices are Chocolate Trifle, Key Lime Pie and Strawberry Cheesecake. We just couldn't do it. 
We each walked out with enough food for an entire lunch the next day. The biggest shock was when the bill came. It was pre-tax under $60.00 for 4 entrees, one house salad, two appetizers, and one Painkiller. With a sales tax of about 5.5%, if the phrase "more bang for your buck" was more suitable this would be it. When I left my home gasoline was $3.43 a gallon. In Wisconsin it was $3.24 a gallon, or $ .19 a gallon cheaper. This was not only a great dinner, we save money as well. 
I hate to suggest trying Cheddar's because it might get busier, and the wait time longer, but I will anyway. The food was really good but the onion rings were amazing. To learn more about Cheddar's and their other locations visit their website at http://www.cheddars.com/  
I went at 7:00 p.m. and since this is a family restaurant many of the patrons were families. By 8:30 pm. there were still people waiting to be seated but nowhere near as many as when we arrived. I will go later next time. 
In my opinion you should never rely solely on third party reviews on the Internet which often are highly critical. You owe it to yourself to make that decision firsthand or you just might miss a great dining experience.  
I was talking about the Bears - Packers game wasn't I? What shall we have to eat for the game?
Game Day Chili
How about Little Smokies Wiener Wraps or a nice Chili Cheese Dip. I'm not sure who originated this recipe (Philadelpia Cream Cheese, Hormel) but we have been making it for many years in my family. It is really good and a favorite in our family. 
Chili Cheese Dip
INGREDIENTS
1   8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 15 oz. can Hormel No Beans Chili
8-19 oz. cheddar cheese, shredded

as needed Tostitos
NOTE: You may use any one cheese or blended cheese for your dip.  
DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 350°F.  Spread the softened cream cheese in the bottom of a 8"x8" casserole oven-proof dish. Remove the chili from the can and spread evenly over the layer of cream cheese. Sprinkle your choice of shredded cheese over the top. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until the top is golden and bubbly. 
DANGER: Let it cool slightly or you will be serving molten lava. Serve warm with Scoops or Tostitos.
What are you favorite game day snacks? Please send an email or leave a comment below.
EPILOG
In case you're wondering the Packers beat the Bears 33-28 in one of the best games of the season. Well there's always next year folks.
© TMelle 2013

2 comments:

Marianne Smith said...

Hi TIm, you might want to try this....
Babes Cowboy PIe
Frozen supreme tamales, microwave until thawed, slice into circles. Line pan w/circles, then mush together to make a crust. Top with softened cream cheese.
Next mix Hormel Chilie-with or without beans w/
Mild & hot chopped peppers. Spread over cream cheese & top with shredded sharp cheddar. Bake at 350 until cheese melts & Chilie bubbles. I think I gave you the other recipe years ago. Enjoy

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your heads-up about Cheddars! Yummy ribs & fried shrimp. I ordered coleslaw as a side but they were out. Their substitute was a broccoli, cheese and rice casserole that was awesome. Happy New Year to you and your wonderful family.