Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Off the Map: Honey, Of Course We Have Cinnamon Rolls

Cinnamon Rolls -- Ann Sather, Chicago, IL
Ann Sather

NATO is slowly ruining our lives.

Despite the fact that the conference does not begin for a full 24-hours AFTER we leave Chicago, the city has preemptively shut down the museums, the double-decker bus tours, and, well, almost everything.  Officers toting clubs and bullet-proof vests are stationed outside anywhere we wish to go, and we are slowly becoming disgruntled with the entire situation.
"Land of the Free" Means LET US TAKE A BUS TOUR
As we are on our way to Andersonville to taste Ted Allen's Best Thing I Ever Ate WAKE UP CALL dish, the cinnamon rolls from Ann Sather, Ginger becomes suddenly paranoid that, like the rest of the Chicago province, Ann Sather will be closed.  Therefore, she rings up the establishment, and the following gem of a conversation takes place:

"Hi, are you open today?"
(with obvious diner noise in the background) "Yes...."
"Do you have cinnamon rolls?"
(pause) "Honey, OF COURSE we have cinnamon rolls."
If She Worked at Avec, She Would Have Followed Up This Comment with "Duh"
Ginger hangs up the phone and is greeted by Vodka's mocking laughter.  "You know they're pretty much known for their cinnamon rolls, right?  You essentially just called up Junior's and asked if they had cheesecakes."

"Why didn't you warn me?!" Ginger demands.

"I thought you were just making sure they were open.  I didn't realize you were planning on going into a whole line of questioning."
After All, How Would You Interpret the Phrase, "I'm Going to Call and See If They're Open"?
It is on this idiotic note that we enter Ann Sather's doors, no doubt with figurative "We're the dopes who asked if you served cinnamon rolls" plastered on our foreheads.
Feel Free to Hand Over the Whole Tray
We are escorted to our table and served by just about the only non-passive-aggressive waitress we have encountered so far in Chicago (the only other one being at Walker Brothers Pancake House -- clearly, the genuinely cordial people all work in diner-like establishments).
Meaning They're Probably from New Jersey Originally
As we peruse the menu, we notice that the famous cinnamon rolls are served as a side dish with any of Ann Sather's breakfast entrees.  Actually, they are served as one of two sides.  And even better (worse?), the serving size is two cinnamon rolls.
To Confirm, This Is the Serving Size of a SIDE DISH
So just to add that up, the average Ann Sather customer apparently consumes a full breakfast entree, a side dish, and TWO cinnamon rolls.  We need to move to Chicago stat.
Although Not Really, Because Half the Town Hates Us
In truth, we are somewhat horrified by this lack of portion control (Ginger may or may not have called it "inhumane"), so we ask our waitress what size platter we should order if we only plan on eating the cinnamon rolls.

"Well, that's two," she says, pointing to the next table over, where a family sits around heaping plates of pastry goodness.
Ann Sather: Where Arteries Go to Die
We decide to limit our gluttony and order one roll each, and they arrive hot and laden with white, sticky goo right out of the oven.  Instantly, we are in love.  Unlike their ugly stepsister, the sticky bun, these rolls feature nothing but sugar, dough, and cinnamon for miles without a pesky nut in sight.  Seeping our forks into the middle of the rolls, we gently pull away the brown sugar circumferences which we find inside.  Dipping the forkful into some of the sauce which has seeped over the corners, we taste.

And at last, we have found a 5 star Chicago dish.
At Last Our Love Has Come Along
The cinnamon rolls' dough is a perfect tender texture, the goo warm and pleasing without being overtly sweet, and the cinnamon undertones creep out of each consecutive bite.
Dear Ann Sather, Please Move to NYC
While some such desserts are so overpoweringly sweet that they make our teeth hurt before we are halfway through them, these cinnamon rolls are pretty much perfect.  Were we not against physical labor of all forms, we might have come up with a way to cart a boxful home with us for future consumption.
Is This the Type of Establishment Where Licking One's Plate Is Frowned Upon?
After we pay our massive $8 bill (once again, our desire to leave a good tip renders us incapable of doing math.  It is at such times that we are reminded that it is a miracle we get through life at all), we shuffle out of Ann Sather and onto our next Andersonville location.

And with those cinnamon rolls, Chicago has finally crept its way into 5 star Best Thing I Ever Ate territory.  And we didn't even need a cocktail first.

Ann Sather's Cinnamon Rolls: 5 stars*

*Certifiable Best Thing We Ever Ate


  1. I can see why these got 5 stars. I now have a strong desire for an excellent cinnamon roll. Too bad I don't live in Chicago.

  2. My husband and I moved to a suburb of Chicago 4 years ago and we love it! We have lived all over country (and out of the states) including Seattle, San Diego, New York, Charleston, Austin, Orlando, Atlanta...he was in the military. I have to say that Chicago has some of the best food around. As a pastry chef and foodie I couldn't be happier here. I'm surprised you haven't been entirely pleased with Chicago's food scene. It's a foodie's paradise! Of course if you're only visiting establishment's you've seen on the Food Network that may be part of the problem. Eat like a local and you'll be more than satisfied! ;)

    1. I will add that Ann Sather's Cinnamon Rolls are one of my favorites but it may be a good thing you didn't attempt to take any home. They don't travel well...you either need to eat them all within a day...two days max or freeze them.15 seconds in the micro, top with more glaze and enjoy. I don't recommend freezing them though. If you do you should defrost and heat them individually. Never put these rolls in the oven...ever. They will dry out.