Tuesday, 27 March 2012

JJ Goes to White Castle!

Hello Internet! Nice to see you!

I was thinking just today about the sole time I have ever been to the restaurant "White Castle".  Of course, like any cool dude, I had wanted to go since the first time I had seen "Harold and Kumar go to White Castle".  An epic journey made for the sole reason of getting some tiny hamburgers from a restaurant?  Don't I owe it to myself to see what these little burgers taste like?  But, alas, there's no White Castles in Canada!  So when would I ever get the chance?

Well, Internet, that's a good question!  Let me tell you a fateful story!  Of a fateful trip! (But not a three hour tour.  Get it!?  Get it!?)

2009! Living in Winnipeg! A summer continuing ed course in Niagara on The Lake!  Ok! I will drive and the wife and kids will meet me there and we will drive back to the 'Peg.  What an adventure!  Oh Yes!

But to do that, first JJ has to drive the car to Niagara on the Lake! Shorter through the US! So that's what I do! My own solo adventure! Leave in the morning!  Drive drive drive!

First day! Leave in morning! Border! "Where y'all headed?" "What's it to you, hick?"  By which I mean I said "Niagara on the lake, sir, taking the US route, as your American highways, like everything made in the god-blessed USofA are so superior!" 

"Go ahead."  Works every time!

Make it to Madison, Wisconsin.  Well done JJ!  Good driving!  Find a hotel.  Awesome!

Not just any hotel!  It has theme rooms!  And not just run of the mill Roman or wild west theme rooms.  Green Bay Packer theme rooms!  But what do they look like?  Luckily they have pics in the lobby! Behold!:

Inty, I know you will be disappointed, but JJ passed on the room.  Tragically, just wasn't in the budget.  But next time!  Nothing will keep me away from that luxury!

Anyways....morning comes.  What do you get, even if you aren't staying in the theme room?  That's right! Continental breakfast! With...waffles!  Ohhhhh, USA if you know anything, its how to have a waffle maker at every hotel...

Just look at this litle beauty!!!!! I found the pic on the Net!! Look, these guys even have "waffle off"!!

Eat some waffles and away I go!  Illinois bound!  Driving past Chicago! My kind of town!  I guess!  Haven't spent much time there!  About all's I know is...North side - Good/South side - Bad.  And that the highway past Chicago doesn't go around Chicago...it goes right overtop. 

When I was a kid, after a trip out East, my parents came back to Winnipeg through the Chicago route.  In a great big station wagon.  Pulling a tent trailer.  My dad got caught on the wrong side of the freeway for the exit.  With the tent trailer, he couldn't get over in time...missed it.  Then they ended up in the ghetto and we were robbed!  At gunpoint!  Not really.  I thnk they just got back on the freeway.

Back to me!  9am ish!  JJ enters the big city....gets caught on the wrong side of the freeway.  Can't get over.  Even without a tent trailer.  Wrong exit.  But where is the exit headed?  Downtown Chicago! Michigan Avenue!  Well, I have a little time, why not take a drive south down Michigan Avenue?  According to my trusty map, it runs parallel with the freeway and I can get back on later.  So, why not, indeed!

And I am glad I did!  Very pretty! Nice architecture!  Posh!  And then a little less posh.  And then a little less posh.  Uh oh! South side!  Don't wanna run into Bad Bad Leroy Brown!  Time to head back to the freeway. 

Right turn at the next significant intersection.  A few blocks and then, what do i see?  Yes, the whole reason for this post!  White Castle!  I can be just like Harold and Kumar!  But should I stop?  It's 9:30 in the morning?  Do I want a couple of sliders for brunch?  Not really hungry after those waffles...do they even serve sliders at 9:30 in the morning? But dangit, ok!  I'ma gonna stop!

Pull into the parking lot and hop out.  Set on immediately by a middle-aged African-American gentleman.  He would like to sell me a copy of "The Onion".  Which is a free publication.  And which he apparently found on the road, judging from the looks of it.  "Uhhhh....No thanks," walk past.  He follows.  Follows me into the restaurant.  Abandons me as his target and starts asking eac of the other 4 or so people inside to buy his newspaper.   I get a chance to look at the inside of my first White Castle.  So Exciting!  It's all white, and I would say resembled a bank much much  more than it did a restaurant.  Its a rectangular area maybe 15 feet by 6 feet.  The kitchen is on the other side of the rectangle's wall.  On one side of the wall on the kitchen side there is a door that looks like a vault door (employee entrance I guess?) and on the other the order window.  The order window is a Plexiglas screen with a small slot to pass money in and pass food out.

Hmmm...I remember the restaurant as looking different in the Harold and Kumar movie..." I  says to myself.

Meanwhile the woman behind the Plexiglas window starts yelling at the newspaper guy that he better get out of there.  She is also African-American.  They are all speaking with this accent . Well, not so much of an accent as a way of speaking.  They are talking like African-Americans on a US TV show.  I have spent a couple hours trying to craft this part so it doesn't sound racist.  And I hope that it deep down it wasn't.  But there was definitely culture shock.  I know it shows my sheltered life in Winnipeg and Ottawa, but I just had never been immersed in it before.  Real US Big City Urbanites!  With accents and everything!  I guess you can decide whether my reaction was appropriate.

Anyways, newspaper guy is unfazed.  Argues his case.  He and Plexiglas lady go back and forth.  He continues the sales job. She then just shakes her head and turns away.   A younger African-American man walks in.  Gets the sales pitch.  But he starts giving it back to newspaper guy.  Something along the lines of why does this guy gotta bother him when he is just trying to get some breakfast before going to work to earn an  honest day's pay. And then he finishes it off by saying "Man, you betta check yo'self!"  Tension escalating!

I was equal parts uncomfortable and transfixed.  I just wanted a slider! Or two!  
And then things got surrealler.  Up until then, I hadn't noticed a speaker on the ceiling.  But I noticed it now.  A man's voice starts blaring through it.  "Attention! You!" Describes newspaper guy.  "You must leave the property immediately! Security is on the way!"  The voice is obviously not from anyone working on the premises, but some dude watching the restaurant remotely through a closed-circuit camera.  Ahh...Big Brother, only in fast food form! Remote guy again orders ("you are the dead!") newspaper guy to hit the bricks.

This does the trick.  Newspaper guy saunters out the door and away.  I order my two sliders (they DO serve sliders at 9:30 in the morning), have them passed through the window to me and get the heck out of there.  Too much excitement for a prairie boy!

Once back on the highway, it was time to eat.  After all that drama, time for the payoff! Ohhhh, baby! If NPH could see me now!

 Meh.  They were kinda shitty.  Too much pickle. Greasy.  Doubt I would go back. 

And I recently heard that they cook their patties by deep-frying them.  Man, that's gross. 

So there you have it, Inty! Whaddya think?  Pretty great, right?

JJ out!


  1. So, you got a photo of a room you didn't stay in, but not of the White Castle? Even if the patties are deep-fried, I'm gonna hafta go to see it. (Actually, the fact they are deep-fried is also a reason to go)

  2. Here's the address!

    2140 South Wabash Avenue.

    Check it out! Google has a review:

    "Terrifying experience - I walked to this WC from McCormick Place during the _day_ and was worried for my safety. Worse, I expected to be able to eat there- nope. They have standing room for waiting customers, about the size of a walk-in closet. Even so, there are 3 security cameras and bulletproof glass protecting the cashiers. Yeah, great area."

    These google reviews are such exagerrations. Its bigger than a closet.