Day 3 in Chicago- July 2009 was the only free evening I had to see a play. Fortunately we were able to get two tickets to Up at the Steppenwolf theatre. The show time was early - 7:30 - and my friend was driving in after work, so I would be dining alone. I decided to see if I could get a table at BOKA, across the street and a little up (no pun intended) from the theatre. After an excellent dinner the night before at Perennial, their sister restaurant I had checked out the BOKA web site and the menu of executive chef, Giuseppe Tentori, looked great.
For our Monday night dinner, my friend chose Perennial on North Lincoln Avenue. We were delighted that it was open as it appears that, in the same way that most theatres are dark on Monday nights, many restaurants here chose not to open on Mondays.
We decided against ordering a bottle of wine as I wanted white wine and my friend wanted red so instead we each ordered a glass of wine. I chose the Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc-Viognier from California and she ordered a Babich Pinot Noir from New Zealand.
Chicago Burger Company
301 E N Water St
Normally I wouldn't really bother to write up a burger cafe but I was so pleasantly surprised by my riverside lunch that I thought it warranted some comments.
This was Day 3 of my Chicago 2009 visit. I had checked into the Sheraton Hotel and was wandering around the area. The Chicago Burger Company Cafe is located on the river side of the hotel, with tables on a patio, and more tables down on the river walk itself.
When I found myself a table next to the water's edge, I noted that the place was quite busy but I was in no hurry and wanted to enjoy a relaxing meal outside. The burger menu offers a the ability to design your own burger. You start with a choice of four basic burgers for $9.00; beef, turkey, salmon or veggie. Then you can pick one cheese out of 4 for a dollar, and two free toppings. I picked Gorgonzola blue cheese, guacamole and caramelized onions. The burger comes with tomato, lettuce, red onions and pickle and is served on a corn dusted bun. Fries are extra.
Monday, July 20th - Day 2: Visual Art, Culinary Art
We enjoyed a leisurely breakfast of yogurt, homemade granola and berries, with coffee brewed in a very impressive looking Miele Coffee maker, and set off early on our explorations. First stop was McCormick Place, the largest convention centre in North America. This was the main site of the conference, although meetings and events were also scheduled in several of the downtown hotels. I had pre-registered but wanted to pick up my registration materials and programs to check out times and places of the events I planned to attend.
This is probably my 5th time attending a meeting at McCormick Place and the third since 2001 and it seems larger and more impressive every time I come. Anyway I dashed in while my friend waited in the car. Luckily my last name starts with L because at that particular time, the G to L booth was the only one without a lineup. Within minutes the friendly people manning or perhaps one should say womanning the booth had got me my badge, conference bag and materials, and I was riding down the long steep escalators to the exit.
On Day two in Chicago, exploring Visual Arts and Culinary Arts, we chose to wander around Millenium Park and visit the Art Institute. Before beginning our exploration of the new modern wing galleries of the Institute, we visited the new restaurant, Terzo Piano, a 160 seat restaurant with indoor dining and al fresco dining on a terrace that overlooks Millennium Park. The restaurant which opened in May 2009 when the Institute opened its Modern Wing, was designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano, for whom the restaurant is named.
As I noted in my Chicago Diary 2009, this visit to Chicago is brief, essentially only four nights, so we wasted no time before setting out to sample some great food. The first restaurant my friends chose for me to check out was a Japanese cuisine and sushi restaurant, Takashi, in Bucktown on Chicago's North side. The restaurant takes its name from chef Takashi Yagihashi.
We were led upstairs to a pleasant seating area and initially seated at a corner table which was really too small to seat three people comfortably. On request we were quickly moved to a more comfortable arrangement with two tables pushed together. Our drink order was taken promptly and we were offered a selection of sesame or multigrain bread or baguette.
Chicago is one of my favorite US cities to visit - a feast for the eyes, the heart and the mind. Stunning architecture and man-made green spaces complement the natural beauty that comes from its location on the south-west shore of Lake Michigan. As I wrote on my last visit to the city in 2006, Chicago has a theatre scene that rivals New York or London - (Why Chicago dominates American Theatre, Part I and Part II) - and it is also a paradise for foodies. Reluctant as I was to leave Vancouver at this glorious time of year, I was anticipating my five day trip to Chicago with excitement.
Not that one should need an excuse for dining out but out-of-town visitors provide a special opportunity to show off our superb Vancouver restaurants, our fresh and varied edibles and our fine BC wines. For my guests from Arizona, I thought seafood was the way to start. A pleasant ten minute walk through Yaletown got us to Blue Water Cafe right on time for our 6:15 reservation. Most of the tables on the outdoor patio were already full. We debated sitting outside but the overhead heaters were on whereas the interior of the restaurant felt pleasantly cool. So we opted for a comfortably spacious booth inside.
When the sun shines in Vancouver, there is little that can beat a leisurely lunch on a patio, looking out over sparkling water. This past week I took the opportunity to lunch with friends on two restaurant patios in Yaletown, on the north side of False Creek.
The first lunch was at Provence Marinaside, on Marinaside Crescent opposite - strangely enough- a marina. It has been a while since I last dined at this restaurant, and all previous occasions, lunch or dinner have somehow been inside. But here I was, shaded from direct sunlight but feeling its warmth in the air, sipping on a glass of rosé, while I waited for my friend to join me.
There were many items on the menu that appealed, but I decided to try the seared sablefish, served with grapefruit vinaigrette, warm vegetable salad, fresh basil and fingerling potatoes. It was quite delicious. My companion's lunch was equally pleasing. I have found the food at Provence Marinaside to be consistently good and the prices reasonable.
One of my "to-dos" on retirement was to learn a new language. I have managed to acquire a smattering of Italian and a little more Spanish - though it will take a lot more than a beginner course at UBC Robson Square, visits to Mexico and my "Spanish in Ten Minutes A Day" to get me over my reluctance to try out my new vocabulary. But even more than being able to count to hundred in Spanish, new words that have entered the vocabulary of my mother tongue - computer-speak - have begun to assume a major importance in my life.
In the last three years I have retired from one professional career, moved from a family home into a downtown condo, taken up ballroom dancing as a seriously fulltime hobby and embarked on a seriously fulltime new career; namely writing for ReviewFromTheHouse and trying to develop a career in entertainment journalism. In the "old days" when you moved into a new community and took a new job, you just made new friends. Now to build a new life and a new career, it appears that you must develop Social Networks, Business Networks, Facebook communities, Twitter followers, join Xing and Zoom and LinkedIN.
So as an adventuresome individual with a curious mind, I am exploring these various networking options, and will be reporting shortly on my progress. You can find me on Facebook and Twitter but I am not very good at keeping up to the minute with either. It is really difficult to write when you have to tweet all day.
In the mean time I encourage you to check out the interview with Canadian playwright, Emil Sher, author among many things, of the thought provoking and heart rending play, Mourning Dove, that was produced by Pacific Theatre last year.