Wolfgang Puck Express
O'Hare Airport, Chicago, IL
Wolfgang Puck Express Website
Review by SuSu, MaceVindaloo
Though there are many pitfalls to O'Hare Airport (like who's the dingdong who made it out of glass so it's always too bright and too hot, especially without any curtains or blinds??) but one thing they do semi-well is to provide a lot of eateries on the boarding gate side of the airport. These places are not restaurants or food courts; some do have seating, but it's mostly take-out food of varying quality so you can take your fare with you to the boarding gate and sit and wait for your flight to take you home.
One such good place is Wolfgang Puck's Express restaurant, which are now located in malls, supermarkets, casinos, airports, train stations, hotels, etc. You can get wood-fired pizzas, focaccia style sandwiches, hot meals like meatloaf, and salads on the go. The fare is generally California cuisine, as Puck is considered one of the creators of that genre. He's classically trained, and applied local ingredients and considerations to create the fresh, colorful, well-presented and proportioned cuisine that defines a whole sector of cookery. No one has been able to escape the effect of Puck's influence on American cooking, not even at an airport kiosk!
Offered are what he calls his "favorites" -- including the pizza in the brick oven that takes 7 minutes to cook. It's not a lot of time, but people still wonder if they have enough time to wait for it, and will often choose another type of pizza to order instead. Better to get one of the sandwiches, which are made all day by a short woman who cuts off the edges so that the things line up properly when wrapped. That's to demonstrate they are made "fresh" but they are actually cellophane-wrapped and stacked in a deli display on a "self serve" basis, along with the salads and bottled drinks. It did bother me to watch her cut off the ends, then throw them away! I was under the illusion that being one of Wolfgang's places, they'd save those for the salad croutons ... welcome to American mass feeding and lowest common denominator talent help.
But the food actually is good. Heads turned as we walked back down to our gate, and people asked where we got the pizza. Actually, we did the same thing -- we saw someone walking with a pizza box that smelled good and walked from the direction he came, to see if we couldn't find the source ourselves. And a whiff of the stuff is mouthwatering -- we noticed it immediately when we landed in the airport and regretted not being able to grab some pizza before meeting our party at baggage claim.
But others who live in other cities will be able to find this fast-food take-out place even in some grocery stores. Food stores in the US are evolving quickly to be more like malls, more "all in one/ one stop shopping" type of places, including banks, drycleaners, pharmacies, bottle stores, and even take-out food nestled amidst the traditional grocery items. It's actually not a bad thing, in that though it kind of flattens America in a cultural sense, it's also elevated to a large extent. Heck, if I could get pizza this good from my local drycleaner, I'd buy it there, for sure!
As Wolfgang says, "Live, Love, and Eat!"
Disclaimer: The opinions and observations noted are the property of the author. Neither Wookieehut nor any associates makes any claims or lucre from the posting of this report or review. This webpage is presented by Wookieehut.com. Enjoy!