Sunday, December 07, 2008
Madame X and I just returned from an enjoyable "getaway" weekend in Chicago. The short summary: Fun. Shopping. Walking. Restaurants. Museum. Walking. Cold. Walking.
Four years ago, we enjoyed a fabulous dinner at Rick Bayless' Frontera Grill, 445 N. Clark, rated as one of the best restaurants anywhere. Our next several visits, we made attempts to return. But Frotera doesn't take reservations, and waiting two hours -- literally -- for a table is not for us. At noon Saturday, after Round 1 of shopping, we found ourselves walking in the neighborhood of Frontera Grill. Well, the wait for a table would be an hour, we were told, but we could see if there were chairs at the bar, where patrons also could receive food service. Turns out, we got the last two and enjoyed a great Mexican lunch.
Dinner on Saturday was at another place we have enjoyed previously, Volare, 201 East Grand. A friend from 30-plus years ago and his wife joined us, and we had a great time. Volare took reservations (made Tuesday) and had our table ready at the appointed (early) hour. The food was excellent, the staff attentive and professional, etc. The place was packed -- and rather noisy -- but it was a good-natured crowd.
Sunday found us at the Art Institute of Chicago, where we saw an amazing exhibition of centuries-old textiles, some maps from Daniel Burnham's plan for Chicago 100 years ago, the French impressionists, photography (including a half-dozen images by Edward S. Curtis, whose collection in Dubuque raised a local furor a few months ago) and of course Grant Wood's famous American Gothic.
Other details. Metra commuter train between Elgin and Chicago ($5 each for both days of the weekend). Swissotel (thank you, Hotwire) and no weather-related problems (though the cold and wind were a challenge).
And that's how I spent my winter vacation.