What is the craziest thing you have ever done for a favourite restaurant dish?
Me? I just drove 300 km one way for a pizza…and not just any pizza, but Uno’s Chicago Grill’s famous ‘Shroom Deep Dish Pizza. This pizza is the BEST pizza I have ever eaten, and if you love mushrooms, then you will LOVE the ‘Shroom Pizza. You see, several years ago, they took it off their menu and I was devastated. I even emailed the company at the time to pitch a fit and it didn’t help.
Then, a few weeks ago, hubby told me that they were bringing the ‘Shroom pizza back. You see, hubby has been working in NY State on a temp job assignment for a number of years and the hotel where he stays at is a stones throw from an Uno’s restaurant. He is typically there one evening a week for dinner and has gotten to know the staff quite well over the years. The barkeep let him know that they were bringing the ‘Shroom pizza back which he then passed along to me which was the most wonderful news I have ever heard.
So it was just a matter of counting down the days to March 18th, the day it was being re-launched in their restaurants.
I had been planning on heading down to NY by the end of the month, but on the morning of the 18th, hubby reminded me that that was day it was coming back. I quickly looked at my business schedule for the day and seeing nothing pressing, emailed him back that I was getting myself together and I would be on the road by 11 a.m.
I quickly packed an overnight bag, tossed my laptop into its travel case and headed out the door. WooHoo! I was so excited!
I get to the U.S./Canada border crossing at Niagara Falls and the conversation with the U.S. Border Guard went as follows…
Border Guard: Citizenship?
Border Guard: Where are you going?
Me: Webster, NY
Border Guard: What’s in Webster?
Me: My husband and a ‘Shroom Pizza
Border Guard: ??? (with a puzzled look on his face)
Me: Uno’s Chicago Grill is bringing back their ‘Shroom Pizza on their menu and today is the first day it is available.
Border Guard: ?? “OK..have a nice day ma’am” and he sent me on my way.
Me: You too!
In a span of 30 seconds I was cleared to enter the U.S. and then spent the next 2 hours driving through farm country along the southern shore of Lake Ontario in bright sunshine dreaming (and drooling) of what was to become dinner.
At hubby’s hotel in the afternoon, I impatiently waited for him to come back from work and after a quick peck on the cheek followed by a happy hour cerveza, we headed over to Uno’s.
The barkeep (Jess) brought us our drinks and asked if we wanted menu’s. I told her I didn’t need one as I already knew what I wanted and told her I just drove from Ontario to have the prized pan of yummy goodness, I even told her the border guard story, much to her delight.
After about 20 minutes, my much anticipated pizza arrived to loud fanfare (I think I even heard angels singing and rockets bursting)….oh wait, that was me squealing….
The ‘Shroom Pizza as you have probably guessed by now, is chock full of sauteéd baby button mushrooms (which seem to be cooked with some herbs, thyme maybe, and some white wine as the flavour of the sauteed mushrooms are sincerely awesome on their own) and if I calculated accurately, about 10lbs of mozz cheese. Oh, but there is also spinach in there, so that most definitely makes it healthy for sure, along with the 9 grain deep dish crust. Topped with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese, this is hands down, my most favourite restaurant dish EVER. I could eat this every day of the week, mind you, my arteries surely couldn’t handle all the cheese, nor my waistline. But I would die happy.
Trying to get a good photo with my Blackberry camera was challenging, especially when all I wanted to do was dive into the plate. This is a 12″ pizza, and I managed to scarf down 3 pieces before my stomach screamed Uncle. Good news though, there were 3 pieces leftover for the next day.
We joked with the Jess the barkeep about crossing the border back into Canada with the leftovers. Hubby said “what if they don’t let you back in with that? You know you are not supposed to bring cheese back across the border?” “Fine” I said “then I will stand there and eat it as there is no way in hell they are going to confiscate my leftover ‘Shroom pizza!”.
We toddled back to the hotel room, leftovers firmly gripped in one hand to be stored in the fridge overnight. The next morning, after packing up my things and heading out, I indeed wondered what the Canadian Border Guards would say about my one day folly for a pizza.
I arrived at the border crossing about 11:30 a.m. and pulled up to an empty booth (amazingly, I thought with March Break under way it would have been more hectic) occupied by a female Border Guard. I handed her my passport as she asked where I lived. Burlington I said.
Border Guard: Where did you go?
Me: Webster, NY
Border Guard: Why?, what’s in Webster, NY?
Me: My husband and ‘Shroom Pizza. Have you heard of the Uno’s Chicago Grill restaurant chain?
Border Guard: Yes
Me: Well, they brought back their awesome ‘Shroom pizza after several years in exile. Do you like mushrooms? You will love the ‘Shroom pizza
Border Guard: So you went all that way for a pizza? “So sorry honey, I came for the pizza, not to see you” she quipped.
Me: I burst out laughing
She asked a couple more standard questions, then giggled as she handed my passport back to me and said have a great day and hope you enjoyed the pizza. Oh you bet I said!
So 24 hours, 600 km and almost a tank of gas later equals one expensive pizza….but so well worth it!!!