Welcome to Chi-Town! In November I had an amazing two days in the city for a seminar and had some free time to explore. First off was a stroll through Millenium Park and a phonomenal visit to the Art Institute of Chicago.
O'Keeffe, Pollock, Hopper, Picasso, Gauguin, Cezanne, Monet, Matisse and Van Gogh were just a few of the highlights, not to mention the iconic Georges Seurat piece featured here.
The first time I saw the Hopper piece below I was in first year university browsing through a poster sale. The original is way better.
Nighthawks - Edward Hopper 1942
Wrigley BuildingThere is so much life and vibrancy to the streets here. So hard to leave after only having one day to see the sights.
A glass of NV Mas Fi, Brut Rose Cava @ Avec.
Avec's chorizo-stuffed medjool dates with smoked bacon and piquillo pepper-tomato sauce.
Day number two. Gloomy and cold today, but it didn't matter as I was in the workshop all day. The photo above was my view as I was running on the treadmill in the hotel gym. It was so stunning that I dashed upstairs to my room to take a photo. This is the point that I decided that I just had to go downtown again for another night on the town. Afterall, I was in Chicago, why wouldn't I?
Having visited the Gold Coast area the day before I decided to go back to the Public Hotel and try out the Pump Room restaurant -once know as a favorite hang out place of Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Bette Davis, Humphrey Bogart, etc, etc. The restaurant has since been refurbished and updated with a menu by French chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten.
A look inside the Pump Room before service. After a delayed airport shuttle, forty minutes on the L train, and a short cab ride I arrived just before ten o'clock. The hostess informed me that my table should be ready in twenty minutes. Perfect amount of time to grab a Champagne cocktail at the bar.
"The Pump Room Bar"
Upon finishing my cocktail I was escorted to my table. Although I wasn't particularly impressed by the wine list or menu, the quality of the service and food made up for it. I chose the tuna tartare as my first course and the Lake Superior white fish as my main. Both were excellent.
Just as I was enjoying the last bites of my tuna a stranger from the big table next to me said hello and asked why I was dining alone. After explaining to him what I was doing there he was delighted and asked if he could sit down for a bit. I said of course and he asked me what I thought of the city, the people, and what my overall impression was. As we chatted I was blown away by this man's sincerity and friendliness. Thinking of this I proceeded to tell him about the previous day when I had my map out and was trying to figure out how to get to the Art Institute, a whopping six people stopped to ask me if I needed help finding my way. Out of the six, two actually started debating on the best way for me to go. The only other time I remember that kind of thing happening in all of my travels to big cities was in New York. I suppose one might expect the least friendly people from these metropolises but in fact, the opposite is true.
Lake Superior Whitefish with chilies and herbs, lemon confit
As we continued to talk about Chicago and what a great city it was I learned that this man was with his group of friends that he had gone to medical school with. They were all neurosurgeons and this was their yearly reunion. Once my second course arrived the gentlemen wished me a good evening and went back to his table. Only another fifteen minutes went by until another stranger from the table came to say hello and invite me to finish my glass of wine with them before we all went home. By this point I had become completely ignorant of what time it was and when I had to get up in the morning. I continued to enjoy my meal and glass of bubbles. The conversation was great. I was in the present and loving every minute of it. To think that I had almost stayed in my hotel room at the airport doing...what?!?! Life is too short for that.