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.
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.
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.
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.
Tuesday, July 21st- Day 3. Chicago riverside, food and theatre.
For my last two nights of this trip to Chicago I was booked into the Sheraton Chicago Hotel and Towers on E. North Water Street. The hotel is located on the north side of the branch of the Chicago River that once drained into Lake Michigan. This was the headquarter hotel for the Canadian Society of Clinical Chemists and next day's Canada Party would be hosted in one of the Sheraton ballrooms.
My friend dropped me off at the hotel around ten on her way to work. I thought that they may not have a room ready for a rather early check-in but luckily I was wrong. I was surprised to see only two people working at the desk and a couple of people in each lineup. One was for Starwood members and one the regular check-in. Both seemed to be taking a long time to deal with their current customer. It was probably only about 5 minutes that I waited but it seemed a lot longer.
When I finally got to the desk my check-in took only a couple of minutes and I rode up to my room located on the 21st floor with a good view of the city.
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.
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.
I had a great sleep, curled up among a variety of pillows on the comfortable Sheraton bed and woke at my usual 6 am time, full of energy. I decided to have a leisurely breakfast and then go down to the Link cafe and take care of my on-line check-in for tomorrow before heading over to the conference centre.. This is a terrific feature that the Sheraton has - they don't charge for Internet access using the computers in their Link Cafe. Unusually for me, I did not bring my laptop on this trip, so I forgot to check wether wireless Internet access using one's own laptop is also free.
Anyway it was simple to check in with United on line and print my boarding pass. Then I decided to check my email - and found an urgent message sent late yesterday with an apology for the late notification, telling me that I should be at the opening of the Plenary Session for the morning, as a short presentation of the CSCC award winners would be made and we were supposed to be there to stand and be acknowledged. Hmmm. I looked at my watch. It was 9. 20. I had missed it. Oops.