As I mentioned, I spent a long weekend in Chicago over the St. Patrick’s Day holiday. Husband and I always butt heads when it comes to booking hotels, and this trip followed suit. A few weeks before, I began to despair, yelling about how all the reasonable hotels were booked and we would just have to shell out for a five-star. Ever frugal, husband began a hunt of his own, and turned up the best of both worlds: A bargain on that five-star hotel I was whining about.
We arrived on Friday morning and took the elevator up to the lobby of the Langham Hotel. I was in love. Right on the river with windows from floor to ceiling, I would have been happy to sleep right there. Our room not ready yet, we wandered down to the Lake by Navy Pier. I am from Michigan, and spent my summers on Lake Huron, so I feel a strong connection to the Great Lakes. It was a beautiful day, to boot.
It wasn’t long before the hotel called to let us know our room was ready, and I rushed us back. Almost as beautiful as the day outside.
Again with the windows! Not pictured is a sitting area to the left of the bed, a huge entryway, and three (count ’em, THREE) closets. The bathroom was equally beautiful. That room in the back? That’s the shower. THE SHOWER.
Later, we got down to the beautiful spa area. The locker room amenities are open to hotel guests at no extra charge, and feature two saunas and steam room. I swaddled myself in the giant bathrobe and matching slippers and took full advantage of these perks.
But! Believe it or not we did not spend the whole trip admiring our beautiful room. We did go out! Mostly to eat. We began our culinary odyssey at Sable, located inside the Hotel Palomar. The restaurant is helmed by Heather Terhune, a former contestant from Top Chef, and focuses on inventive cocktails and plates sized to share or hoard. Here are some of our favorites.
At the top, you’ll see our order of chicken and waffles. We had four in our party, and it was perfect for sharing. The waffles had a donut-like consistency, and were very cake-y. One of my dining partners wished there had been more salt to balance, but they were overall a hit. At the bottom you’ll see two of our many delicious cocktails. One, the Fire and Ice, is a drink that is not on the menu. It contains sriracha, jalapenos, and cucumbers. This was definitely the favorite of the night. A big thank you to Foursquare for clueing us in to this gem.
Saturday’s festivities were of course, green. We enjoyed the dyeing of the river from our perch at the Langham and toasted with a few Guinnesses. That river turns green for real, a radioactive, completely saturated green.
We spent the rest of the day wandering from bar to bar, from green beer to green beer, with a few Irish coffees sprinkled throughout. By the end of the evening, we found ourselves at Trader Todd’s, singing Sweet Caroline with a troop of Michigan State grads who adopted me. (Yep, I’m a Spartan, through and through!) Husband agreed to let me order room service if we took the train home instead of a taxi, so we enjoyed a sandwich before tumbling into bed after the long day.
Sunday we woke up ready to eat more. Lots more. We started with a beautiful brunch at the Gage, on Michigan Avenue across from Millennium Park. I had been there before for an unforgettable dinner with two of my best friends (elk, tartare, quail eggs were all part of the experience), and I have to say, I did prefer dinner to the brunch, but there’s no getting around the fact that we loved it. Here was the best part:
Husband ordered a bloody mary, which we agreed was superior to most, and I sipped at yet another Irish coffee. Why aren’t all coffees Irish? So then we started eating.
We started with the fried pickles (my love for these has already been made public). I’d never seen them sliced and then fried, and I had to appreciate all the extra surface area to hold the batter. Our main dishes came: his shrimp and grits, and mine corned beef hash. I am a sucker for hash (yes, even the canned variety), and poached eggs so this was a no-brainer for me, and it certainly delivered. Husband’s grits were well-flavored and filling.
Feeling full, we wandered over to Millennium Park to enjoy a bit more of the day. It was another beauty.
We took ourselves home to rest and watch MSU win the Big Ten Tournament (go green!), and gathered up our strength for our next food adventure that evening. We were bent on finding some authentic Chicago deep-dish pizza. Our Yelp searching brought us to Lou Malnati’s. We ordered a small Lou and a medium Chicago Classic, in addition to a salad. You guys, we over-estimated how much we could eat, because these pizzas were monsters.
They’re each a few inches thick, and the larger one features what husband likes to call a “frisbee of sausage.” Perfectly descriptive. Not being a huge fan of sausage, I much preferred the Lou with its spinach and mushrooms. Needless to say, we enjoyed the remaining pizza the next morning before hopping our flight back to Columbus. Oh! And because we were flying on St. Patrick’s Day, Southwest offers free drinks! We eased ourselves back into adult life with twin bloody marys.
It was a whirlwind trip full of beautiful people and ridiculous food. I wish I were still there! Thanks, Chicago, for showing us such a good time. We’ll be back!