May 8, 2012

Saying Goodbye to the Ramova Grill

Some days, I have more reason to hate Facebook than others.

Sometimes, it's the fact that they change their interface seemingly at a whim....but last week, it was because a professional acquaintance had posted news that the Ramova Grill in Bridgeport would be closing this month.

I know what you're thinking - the Ramova Grill, at first glance, is a hidden gem - a time warp into old school diner culture. As the photos above show (and yes, I made the first of several return trips this week), it serves basic food at a pretty basic price. It's the kind of place that "foodies" would turn their nose upward at - walk inside, and you'll find yourself using terms like "hash slinger" and "cutie-pie" in casual conversation.

Part of it is the food, especially the chili, with its unique sweet-and-spicy flavoring. It's one of those recipes that I wish I had, not to capitalize on it...but to make it myself. Thankfully, a pint purchased yesterday provided a great lunch today....though I will have to come back for a bowl straight from the pot. (Unfortunately, it doesn't quite microwave well)

But for me....I grew up in Bridgeport, amongst familiar tales from Mom about how my grandmother would provide donuts for Mayor Daley, who lived across the alley. The Ramova wasn't necessarily a family hangout, but it did prove to be a regular stomping ground. My mom visited there when she was a child. My parents would take me there as an infant (providing me a bottle) and as a toddler (where, rumor has it, a waitress would feed me oyster crackers).

When I got older, I tried to make regular visits when possible....and was able to make a trip on a day off several years ago, deciding to head straight down Halsted from Greektown after an appointment. But somehow, closing a place like the Ramova Grill seems....wrong. I understand the need to move on, but there's something so wonderfully unique about the place - amidst all the more trendy, more chain-based, more polished dining places - that it feels like a definite loss.

So this week, I'm planning on heading back - I have a menu, and want to purchase a t-shirt. I also want a "fresh" bowl of chili. Because I hate saying goodbye....but if I have to, I'm going to do it as slowly as possible.

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