Sorry if you get this post twice in your email, I hit publish by mistake before I was done!
Tony and I took a 6AM flight from Logan to Midway which let us explore the most in day one without having to pay for a hotel the night before.
It was early and after checking into the hotel we started by walking down to Millennium Park… Well actually correction, I started by walking us in the wrong direction (north vs. south). It was a good mile uptown before I said to myself, hmm the lake seems to be on the wrong side!
I have to admit, seeing a real metropolis distracted me from my usual sense of direction
After doing the embarrassing tourist turnaround, we made our way to the park
They have a very cool outdoor bandshell where an orchestra was performing! Also, what makes Millennium Park even cooler was that 12 years ago it was a wasteland of parking lots and railways and now is one of the greatest urban parks out there! Per Google this is what is used to look like:
Projects like this always go beyond budget and have a ton of corruption behind them but the results are still so amazing and great for a city. Down with parking lots up with parks! Roar!
We walked past the smells of Taste of Chicago (I decided to pass on sausages and hot dogs in exchange for finer snobby dining) and made our way to Buckingham Fountains. We had lunch reservations at 1:30 and it was mind over stomach!
Also a sad but gross display, Toms are comfortable BUT nothing including Toms will be comfortable in 95 degree weather as you walk around for miles being a tourist. My feet cried for flip-flops and I’m pretty sure these shoes lost 10 months of wear from me pressing in the back.
Finally it was time to walk over to Blackbird for our reservations. I was super excited after reading about it on yelp, blogs and Anthony Bourdain’s love for Chef Paul Kahan. I’m an impressionable foodie…
I opted for a 3 course special, I think it was like $25 bucks or something. My first course was great. kombu cured fluke with spring mojo verde, spruce tips and lardo. I love cured salty fish, its the little Jewish gal in me. After the first course, I was excited for the main entree…
Yup.. that was it. My cat could vomit up a bigger plate of food! Give me a slice of bread with it at least. Those are small thin pieces of wood-grilled sturgeon with some kind of sour white sauce on the side. It tasted great but I was hungrier afterwards then I was before it.
Then there was the terrible service. It’s not that our waiter was rude, he was quite polite and seemed like a nice fellow, but each course took over 35 minutes to get there. I get it that when you sit down things take a while to get started but you usually don’t have to wait 35-45 minutes between each plate.
Before the dessert came out, I was wondering if the chef drove out to the woods to pick the blueberries himself. We got there at 1:30 PM and it was 3:30PM on a Friday. The place was mostly empty so it wasn’t that they were swamped with orders. Finally after staring for 45 minutes at my mostly empty plate, this came out. No apologies, no explanations, as if I really have nothing better to do than sit and stare at an empty plate for 45 minutes. Don’t get me wrong, the blueberries with hay ice cream, smoked honey meringue, thyme were delicious, but I was starting to get a splitting hunger headache.
Tony got a burger that he claimed was tiny but it looked like a meal fit for a king compared to mine. Luckily he had some fries that I stole as my plate became empty fairly soon.
Two hours later and more hungrier than before we walked back to the hotel for a nap.
Artsy parking lots?
After nap time we went to a random sketch comedy thing I found on GoldStar comp tickets. I highly recommend if you’re bored with nothing to do and want to go out check out the comp section.
We walked around Wicker Park, a sort of Williamsburg wannabe. I loved all the shops, and restaurants and could have started a new home there and been happy.
Luckily for our second meal of dinner. It did not disappoint! Cumin, a modern Nepalese resturant was just what we needed to regain our confidence in Chicago dining.
I went with cauliflower florets deliciously cooked in nepalese spices with tomatoes and ginger-garlic paste and Tony went we a chicken curry dish and we had ourselves a happy feast!
So day 1:
- Lots of walking, Toms are bad for 95 degree weather
- Chicago is fun to explore, especially millennium park
- Don’t eat at Black Bird unless you’re not very hungry and have 2 hours to sit and stare
- If you’re in Wicker Park, check out Cumin! You must, you must! It was so good. Looking at the pictures is making me drool!