Fooding In Chicago
January 12th - January 14
Hiya! So at the beginning of the month, I had the amazing opportunity to go to Chicago for the weekend to see a side of my family I rarely get to spend time with. I had my first exposure to room service, negative temperatures, and Hamilton on Broadway! I had a blast!
To start my flight was delayed, canceled, moved, delayed, moved, then canceled again! Though there were frustrating moments, I refuse to be unhappy in an airport. Coming from a food service background I am well acquainted with the feeling of someone yelling at me. So I try to not be a yelling person. I got to Chicago later than expected, but very grateful to the airport staff and pilots ultimately getting me to my destination safely.
Due to the late arrival of my flight my family and I missed our reservation at Aba, “the ever favorite (restaurant) of my heart”, but that's okay because I enjoyed a different Lettuce Entertain You restaurant later in my trip. Night one we decided to order room service at the hotel. Though the Trump International Hotel and Tower was not my pick for our stay, I do have to say the staff and service were impeccable (though I can’t say as much for some of my fellow guests but that's a story for later).
We started our culinary excursions in the hotel room. Can’t go wrong with pizza and Caesar salad. Both were very solid and I have very few things to say about either. The sauce on the pizza was good and the crust wasn’t soggy or brittle. The salad’s parmesan cheese was a little hard and I could’ve used a little more body from the dressing, but at the end of a long day stuck in an airport, it did the trick. Honestly, what piqued my interest most about the room service was the size of the menu, it was huge! I would’ve loved to tour the kitchen and talk to the chef, but that is just the culinary student/nerd in me.
The next day, I was determined to go out and find something yummy. I knew exactly where to go. Beatrix, another Lettuce Entertain You restaurant and the first one I had ever been a guest at. Lucky for me it was only a short nine-minute walk from my hotel, and I was not about to pay $38 for an Uber ride. So off into the cold, I went…and guess what IT WAS COLD. It was negative two degrees not accounting for a crazy windchill. I don’t think I have ever truly been cold before that trip, specifically that walk. By the time I got inside, I was sure that I had dropped my fingers and the tip of my nose on the walk, but the warm and inviting atmosphere of Beatrix was worth it. I went to the bakery and coffee shop side and ordered a large hot chocolate and a lemon burst cookie. The warm thick hot chocolate and the zesty gooey goodness of the cookie thawed my weary bones. I would find that cookie in a thousand lifetimes. I can't recommend Beatrix enough.
Fast forward through my miserable walk back to the hotel and getting ready, let's jump to dinner. My family had reservations at Terrace 16. This restaurant had a dim elegant ambiance and it had the food and drinks to match. I started with a zero-proof cocktail called the Royal Treatment - a lychee puree, butterfly pea tea, lemon simple serum, and club soda. The best way to describe this drink was a fruity bubbly Arnold Palmer. It was refreshing and beautifully presented.
We started with a plate of oysters for the table. They were fresh and the assortment of sauces added the perfect amount of oomph and surprise to each fresh light morsel.
Next, I had the Avocado Gem Salad. Little gem lettuce, pistachio, endive, cucumber, orange, with a fan of avocado, and a zesty vinaigrette were presented. The salad was fresh and light. I would’ve loved more notes of citrus and tanginess from the vinaigrette. Without it, there was very little body to the salad, but overall the salad was good.
To conclude our meal, for my entree, I ordered the Mezze Pasta. Described on the menu as a truffle, creamy, delight with braised beef and charred broccolini, unfortunately, I was slightly underwhelmed by this. The sauce was watery and the beef lacked depth in flavor. The overwhelming taste of the dish was truffle. I love truffle but this dish was lacking in anything else and danced with the ‘too much truffle' line. Overall I enjoyed the experience but this was probably a one-time visit.
After dinner, it was time for HAMILTON!!! All I can say is it was fantastic. It was great to be “In the Room Where It Happens”. The cast had me “Helpless”. Instead of seeing how many more Hamilton references I can fit in this paragraph, I will just say that it is a MUST-SEE. I am so glad I can cross it off my Broadway bucket list!
Final morning in Chicago I woke up to snow and to round off my fun food times I finished with my favorite thing in the entire world, waffles! Unfortunately, I didn't have enough time to find the best waffles in Chicago (maybe next time), so I fell into the arms of room service again and I gotta say they hit the nail on the head. A tender waffle, topped fruit, dusted with powdered sugar with the best coffee of my life. I've mentioned in other posts how I am not a big coffee person, but if I could have that coffee every day, I would be. There was zero bitterness and a sort of natural sweetness that made the need for sugar and cream very minimal. I enjoyed every sip, and I was nice and wired when I showed up to the airport shortly after.
To sum up, Chicago in January is very cold, but if you're brave enough to visit this winter, I have recommendations. If you get the chance to see Hamilton, do it, you won't regret it! Try the cookies from Beatrix Coffee Roasters and if you have time, go and order something yummy on the full restaurant side. If you stay at the Trump Tower, splurge on the coffee, but not on the 16th-floor restaurant. Instead, get yourself a reservation at Aba Chicago. Finally, the gloves at the drugstore will be your best friend if you're as underprepared as I was.
In all honesty, I love Chicago and I’d love to visit again, maybe when it's a little warmer next time.