What the-? Grand Tour

Life as we know it didn’t exist before the invention of pad thai. Can you imagine where we would be if there was no pizza? What would be the point in going on if you could never eat fried chicken?

Of course, there are millions of people in the world that would be happy with a bowl of gruel if it were guaranteed they’d get it every day. You know, the kind of people who really mean it when they say “I’m starving to death.” But that’s beside the point in much of America, which has no allegiances when it comes to taste, much less allegiance to people who don’t talk ‘Merican. The point is to get exactly what you want, exactly when you want it—fuck everybody else. Which is why restaurants like Grand Tour exist.

That’s the Lincoln Square sports bar that replaced the regrettably named Paddy O’Splaines, another sports bar that briefly made a nuisance of itself before dying, unlamented.

Grand Tour is a sports bar of marginally better imagination having been dreamed up by the same owner behind Wrigleyville’s Red Ivy and Quay on the riverfront. Mainly that’s because he’s enlisted a credible chef, Roger Herring, formerly of Socca, to implement a dubiously conceived global menu that features cheffy takes on incongruous things like pad thai, “flatbread” (aka pizza), and fried chicken, each dish denoted by its country of origin, plus a monthly three-course, $33 prix fixe “tour” of one particular national cuisine. Last month it was Greece, this month Mexico, featuring a tomatoey shrimp cocktail, a mound of barbecued pulled pork shoulder with a few fried tortillas, and a persuasive tres leches cake.

An early menu featured a Thai interpretation of sweetbreads, and a whole pig face (China, for some unknowable reason), but both dishes have disappeared from the menu indicating the current clientele isn’t as worldly as hoped, opting for more familiar options like steak frites and sausage pizza.

The two German offerings illustrate the polar extremes to which Herring goes to execute his culinary world order. One is a swollen soft pretzel, salty, golden brown, and elastic in the interior, served with a crock of mucilaginous beer cheese and a blob of coarse mustard. All in all a fairly faithful representation.

Then there are the “pretzel prawns,” two long, head-on crustaceans jacketed Han Solo-style in crushed pretzel batter before taking a swim in the deep fryer. Spinnst du?!? historically Deutsche Lincoln Square cries in unison. Why would you do such a thing? The critters are reduced to mulch, and the only thing that retains any structural integrity are the chitinous heads themselves. On the other hand, the potato salad is pretty good, vinegary and tossed with big bacon lardons.

But really, you’re probably here to watch some form of athletic competition, anyway. Soccer, most likely. If the Hawks are playing out of town Jim Cornelison, who has a stake in this massive endeavor, might show up and belt out the Anthem before the flat screens light up and everyone concentrates on what really brings us all together.

Grand Tour, 2434 W. Montrose, 872-208-7246, grandtourchicago.com