Monday, October 15, 2012

My Kind of Town

This past weekend, Eli and I made a quick trip to Chicago with two other couples we have been friends with since college. One couple, Abbey and Nic, live only 3 hours from Chicago so Eli and I drove to their place with the other couple, Adam and Liz, on Friday night. After a few hours of sleep, we all piled into the van and headed to Chicago. We have made this trip before, but it was before we all became parents. So we were definitely looking forward to this trip!

On the way there, we stopped by the Chicago Temple for a quick trip to the distribution center, and a quick look at the temple for those of us who hadn't seen it. While there, the girls needed to take a restroom break, but the only restrooms were inside the temple. While we were allowed to walk through the lobby in our jeans and t-shirts, it felt so wrong! And we got several strange looks from those attending that day. Never again will I enter the temple without being appropriately dressed!

We got into the city around 10, checked into our hotel and hit the streets.

First stop? Nordstrom Rack. Yes. I made a few purchases. Since this trip was so conveniently close to my birthday, I figured I'd treat myself a bit. My favorite purchase was my new winter coat. And I needed it at that point! It was cool and rainy. Most of our shoes were soaked through after this short-ish walk, so we decided to look for rain boots at the Target across the street. But they didn't have a shoe section! Major Chicago Taget Fail, in my humble opinion. :)

So we sucked it up and walked to Pizano's for some Chicago style pizza.

This was recommended to us (by a stranger at Nordstrom Rack), and it had won a few awards. We aren't sure why. The food filled us, which was what we needed, but no one thought this place was worth returning to. So...Pizano Chicago Style Pizza Fail. But we did get some pics. So not a total loss.

After that, a short visit to Garrett's for their Chicago Mix popcorn. We snacked for the rest of our trip on this yummy stuff.

Then we headed to Michigan Ave. for some window shopping. No purchases here, but we had fun walking around the beautiful city. One thing we really noticed during this visit was the number of pan handlers. We've been numerous times and seen a few here or there, but this time there was one every couple of blocks. And a lot of them had their children with them. My heart broke every time I passed, but as I don't keep cash on me and I didn't have any food, there wasn't much I could do. The effect of our economy right there on the streets. Sitting outside the Nike store, Burberry, the Disney Store. It was so sad.

At this point, we were all pretty drained. It had already been a long, wet, cold day. We decided to rest a bit at the hotel before dinner. Once we got to the room we all collapsed. This may sound like a boring way to spend our short time in Chicago, but it was nice to rest and relax without the kiddos around. We talked, napped, laughed, and watched a movie.

Because our lunch had been so disappointing, Eli and I asked the concierge for a dinner recommendation. Best. Decision. Ever. He made us reservations at the Bridge House Tavern.

It is a river front restaurant with outdoor seating as well as a modern, yet romantic interior. On our walk to the restaurant we realized that it had gotten much warmer, so we asked to sit outside by the river. As it had been such a rainy day, no one else was outside. So we had to wait a few minutes for them to set up/dry off a table for us. They were so kind about it. While we were waiting, we saw this guy leaving.

Remember him? That's Andrew Garcia. He was on American Idol in 2010. Eli and I were huge fans. He did this awesome acoustic version of "Straight Up," by Paula Abdul. He went really far in the competition, so it was neat to see him. As he walked past, Eli said, "Hey! Straight Up?" And he said, "Yep!" And shook his hand. A neat, unexpected experience.

Once we were seated at our table, the owner came to talk to us about their new Fall menu. He was so nice and he was so excited about their food. Everything he told us about made our mouths water, and once we ordered, it delivered. Most of the menu is comprised of dishes to share, which is right up my alley. Eli and I ordered the Pig Wings (small ribs that were glazed in "BBQ Sauce". BBQ heaven was more like it. And they sat on some ranch & dill sauce. Swoon.), Spicy Chicken Avacado Roll-ups (with chipotle ranch dipping sauce), and Butternut Squash Risotto with parmesan cheese. The risotto was the most glorious thing I have ever eaten in my life. Everyone agreed. We shared with everyone else, so we also tasted a fantastic grilled cheese, mac and cheese, and a cheese plate (with assorted cheese, fruit, spiced pecans, and toasted baguettes all drizzled with honey.) Adam and Liz got their award winning burger and cob salad, which they said was delish. The day could have gone horribly and completely wrong up until that point, and the trip would have been worth it just for this dinning experience. I hesitate to mention this next part because I wouldn't want to dissuade you from going, but I will. The food and service were so excellent, that we were not bothered by the 3 approx. 10 inch rats that scurried by on the wall by the river! True story. So if you live in Chi town, or you are visiting any time soon, you have to eat at the Bridge House Tavern. If the rats bother you, just eat inside. :)

So after a wonderful night's sleep, we headed home. It was a great trip. The adult time was so needed, and getting to reconnect with our friends was even better. Thanks to all of them, and all of our parents and friends who helped make this trip possible! Can't wait to go back!


Valerie said...

Reed and I have been wanting to take a trip to Chicago. It's one of the big cities that I haven't visited yet. Maybe next time we go to Nauvoo we'll go through Chicago and spend a few days. Nice restaurant review! We'll be sure to look that up.

desertdeb said... I'm hungry. Great post. "Hey! Straight Up?" <---perfect.


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