Sunday, December 16, 2018

Seen in Chicago

Trip date: Oct 2017

Another friend with a work conference, another invitation to join for some afterwork/weekend fun. Yes, thank you!

A direct flight on Alaska Air from Seattle to Chicago got me into town just in time for dinner. I grabbed the train at O'Hare and for $5 was downtown in 45 minutes. From the station it was just a quick 5 minute walk to the Kimpton Monaco located in the Loop.

I met Lorraine at the hotel and we headed out for the night, first stop Maude's Liquor. I'd come here on my last trip and like it for a well made drink while in the West Loop. The bar is small and gets busy so we were standing for a bit until a couple of barstools became available.

Our main event of the evening was drinks and dinner at The Office, a 14-seat speakeasy underneath the Aviary. Unlike upstairs, the vibe here is old-school classic, many cocktails contain antique or hard to find spirits.

We sat at the bar and had a lovely meal and our bartender Alyssa served us excellent drinks. Both of us thought the dishes would be more the size of small snacks, but it was all quite substantial and delicious! The steak tartare, and the steamed mussels really stood out.
And the signature ice cream sundae dessert was very fun! Drinking booze and making sundaes, excellent adult entertainment!

And just to gild the lily on the evening, we walked over to the newly opened Blind Barber. Is it a barbershop? Is it a cocktail lounge? Depends what time of day it is! Better suited for us, the shop was closed but the bar hidden behind was open for one last nightcap. Very fun space!
The next morning I worked from the hotel before meeting Lorraine and an ex-employee of mine at Au Cheval for lunch. The restaurant doesn't take reservations so we waited across the street at Haymarket Bar with a glass of wine.
It wasn't long before we were enjoying this spot's decadent fried chicken, fried bologna sandwich, and the BURGER!!! The restaurant is busy, kind of a diner style, and has very rich and excellent food. I hear it's a fun late night place as well.

Strangely for all the times I've been to Chicago I had never been to the Field Museum. Lorraine had heard about the Jurassic World exhibit so after lunch we grabbed an Uber and headed to the land of the dinosaurs.
I have to say, I thought the exhibit was really fun and very cool. There was an animatronic T-rex, the Gentle Giants pen, the raptor pen, and a cool creation lab.

Of course we also saw SUE in the museum's main gallery!

We also spent some time going through the various halls of taxidermied animals, it's an amazing collection! In fact The Field has over 19.5 million specimens from around the world!
Unfortunately we had gotten to the museum late in the afternoon and we didn't have a lot of time before they closed. We had to do a very quick walk through the Ancient Egyptian exhibit, but I'd love to go back and spend a day at this incredible museum!

That evening we met my friend Jesse for drinks at Prairie School, a stunning mid-century modern cocktail bar fashioned after the architectural style of the same name. It had just opened and was the creation of Jim Meehan, owner of New York's PDT. I'm very glad we had a chance to drink there as the bar closed in May sadly, after just 8 months.

Lorraine and I headed off to Elske for dinner afterwards, what an awesome spot this is! The outdoor courtyard is cozy with a fireplace and deerskin throws. The menu is modern Danish. The food is delicious! Highly recommend!
Avec has been dishing out their paella for years now, and I'm here to tell you it is still as delicious as ever! A 1/2 order of that along with salad and the well-known dates stuffed with chorizo in tomato sauce made for an excellent lunch the next day. And it was perfect fuel for our post lunch shopping at Eatly and Bloomingdales.
That night we started with very posh drinks at The Milk Room. This tiny 8-seat bar is inside the gorgeous Chicago Athletic Association building, and serves drinks made with rare and antique liquors.
I have no idea how they find these spirits or how often they have to change the menu because they run out, but the drinks were excellent and it was fun to try a few things. It's a spendy cocktail spot though, with prices starting at $26 and going much, much, higher.

From here we went to pretty much the opposite bar to meet my friend Beth. Moneygun was packed with hip drinkers, and offered a menu of about 30 "classic" cocktails, all priced at $10.75. The three of us then walked around the other side of the building where we entered into what looked like a loading dock; we were dining at Oriole!

It's obvious why Chef Noah Sandoval's restaurant was awarded 2 Michelin stars! Everything was perfect, from entering the warehouse and being greeted with a little amuse drink, the stylish main dining room, the service, the dishes, and of course the food!
Some of my favorites from the 15 course menu, with wine pairings, were the caviar with sea urchin, the king crab with chicharrones, the pork rib, and the pasta with truffles.

But honestly, everything was fantastic and Chef Noah is both a gifted chef as well as super personable (he heard me talking about going to Sayulita and slipped me a note with his favorites places!)
After our desserts and mignardise, they sent us home with an individual sized hazelnut pear tart boxed up, it made a great snack the next day! Chicago has so many great restaurants, and I haven't been to all of them for sure, but Oriole ranks high on my list of dining experiences!

Hard to believe we were hungry the next morning, but we were! And we had an excellent brunch at Roister, Chef Grant Achatz's casual eatery, where the fried bologna sandwich lived up to the hype. 

A little shopping along the Mag Mile, and a quick day drink at Sable Kitchen & Bar was all we had time for before grabbing an Uber to the airport.
Chicago never disappoints!

All photos here.


  1. Love Chicago there is so much to see and do and EAT there ;)

    1. Right??? It's non stop for fabulous restaurants!


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