Back from Chicago: Continued

    We took a lot of pictures on our trip, so to avoid gigantic posts I’m splitting it up a little.  The next thing we decided to do was head over to “Millennium Park”.  I had been here before but Nicole and Molly hadn’t.  We went there and saw “The Bean”, and walked around exploring the gardens etc.  The park was really busy and there was some sort of electronic music thing going on.  It is definitely a place to check out if you are in the city.

More gratuitous Chicago shots after the jump, if you’d like to see.

People play in the water.  I find it sort of gross.

A cool little spot in the middle of a big garden.


     The same day we did the park, we also went to Chinatown.  The Chinatown in Chicago was pretty lame.  I am aware that generally they are all the same, weird shady products, skeptical foods and food handling, and plenty of cheesy trinkets, but the Chinatown here was pretty small and wasn’t all that exciting.  San Francisco ‘s was way cooler.
     My favorite part of any big city is the little neighborhoods  around the downtown area.  Wicker Park was cool and I wish we were able to have spent more time there exploring.  Nicole and I want to go back to be able to spend more time in areas like these.  There was another place on Nicole’s Urbanspoon account called “Big Star”.  This place was really cool.  It’s a cash only place so be prepared for that, they did have an ATM on site.  The place served really awesome tacos and had a great selection of beer and top notch booze.  We were there at around 3pm and the place was packed.  They had a big outdoor area and the front of the place was open faced.  Riot Fest was the same weekend in Chicago so there were definitely concert goers on the premise.  

Nicole enjoyed a refreshing margarita… 

…while I enjoyed a crisp Racer 5 IPA.

    Wicker Park was a cool area.  It was loaded with all sorts of shops, some commercial, others unique and local.  Molly and Patrick had heard of this place called “T-shirt Deli”.  It was a gimmic place that wraps your shirt in paper like a sandwich and then they give you a bag of chips.  Funny concept, terrible shirts.  They were so bad, we were in and out in like 5 minutes.  We left Wicker Park with way more left to see, so we will have to go back.
   We went to another little place in uptown Chicago called “Hop Leaf”.  I looked it up on . I couldn’t get any pictures while we were there because it was so dark, but it was worth going to.  It was a lot like the “Blue Monk” here in Buffalo, in fact, it was almost the same. The place had really great food and great tap selection.  The bottle list was more like a novel.  At this point, I was super happy because I did not get to indulge in as much beer as I would have liked.  There was a great little beer garden out back that we were able to eat in, but it was so incredibly dark that I could even see the menu yet alone get any pictures.  The Blue Monk in Buffalo makes better food.

Taken from Hop Leaf’s website.  5148 N. Clark Street, Chicago IL.

    Uptown Chicago was pretty cool and was another area that I wanted to check out in more detail.  Molly and Patrick grabbed food at a popular destination called “The Wieners Circle”.  It’s a dive but the intrigue lies with the foul mouthed African american ladies that will insult you any chance they get.  They were indeed graphic and filthy, to the point where I don’t feel right posting exactly what we heard them say, but it was hilarious none the less.  Unfortunately the food was disgusting, Molly and Pat could not finish it.  Luckily I passed on the experience knowing that we were headed to “The Hop Leaf” after, but it was something I originally wanted to do and try.  If I didn’t discover Hop Leaf, I would have eaten this food also.

Taken from “The Weiners Circle” website.  2622 N.Clark Street, Chicago IL

Just ordered…..(Thanks to Molly and Pat for allowing me to post these pics!)

…..after tasting it….

Back From Chicago: Part 1

    The Chicago trip ended up being a lot of fun and we ended up doing most of the touristy things that I hadn’t done in past trips there.  I normally hate doing touristy things, and I still do, but it was still fun.

You can read more about our trip after the jump if you’d like to…

     On E.Ohio Street there is a breakfast place called ‘Yolk”.  Nicole and Molly had places to eat saved on their Urbanspoon accounts, and this place was on Nicole’s list.  We arrived on a Sunday morning where we stood outside to wait the 45min-1hour projected wait time.  The menu items looked amazing, and it totally looked like a place worth waiting for.  There were so many things on the menu that looked amazing that its unfair to chose even a few to spotlight.  Check it out here.  We were able to sit outside in a beautifully gardened area on an amazing sunny morning.  It couldn’t have been better.  I ordered the Carnita Egg Sandwhich which was pulled pork sauteed with a pineapple mango salsa, topped with goat cheese and a fried egg on a pretzel roll with home fries and fruit.  Nicole went with the Irish Benny which was an English muffin, corned beef hash and sauteed tomato, topped with two poached eggs and homemade hollandaise sauce.  Molly had just created her own omelette, while Patrick ordered one of the more ridiculous/awesome items, “The South Beach”.  This consists of a half of a pineapple, filled with yogurt, diced pineapple, fresh strawberries, granola and walnuts.  As if this weren’t enough, it also came with a giant muffin.  This food was awesome, and the portions were truly american.  We loved this place so much, that we went back for breakfast the second day because there couldn’t possibly be better breakfast anywhere else.

    For the next touristy thing, we were headed for “Navy Pier”.  There was a ridiculous amount of things at this destination to keep people of all ages occupied.  With a giant Ferris wheel and tons of carnival like trinket shops, Navy Pier is definitely a place that you go to once, and then have no desire to ever see it again.  The city views at this place made it worth while, especially from the top of the Ferris Wheel.  The pictures we snapped are a little washed out because we went during prime sunlight.  One of things we really wanted to do was the architectural boat tour down the river, through the city.  If you ever go to Chicago, I highly suggest doing it as you get to see some magnificent views of the city.  Its about 30 bucks a person for an hour ride.  There is also a bar, so if you are like Nicole and I and prefer doing most activities with a cocktail in hand, then its a definite plus. 

Travel Log: First full day of our Chicago Trip

   Yesterday was totally ruined for us with that air plane ordeal.  It had to have been one of the worst airline experiences ever, but on the plus side, I’m glad it was discovered and that we didn’t die.  There was a pressure leak in first engine and it was leaking fluids.  They told us that it would be a half hour wait…..4 different times…..every half our…which equals 2 hours.  This wait would not have been too bad had they not all packed us onto the airplane first.  I could have gotten some food, maybe a beer, and dealt with the delay. But no.  We were just sitting on the airplane the entire time.  Nicole read an entire book, while I made it through a majority of my book:

A pretty decent read if you find David  Byrne  interesting.  Otherwise you will find it insanely  pretentious and you won’t make it through more than a few pages (like Nicole).  I have enjoyed most of it so far.

    We arrived in Chicago around 8-ish and there was no way we were going to make our dinner reservations at a roof top place for dinner.  I was already annoyed.  We arrived at our hotel room shortly after getting off the Rosemont exit on the Blue line.  We are staying at the Hyatt right around the corner from the subway station, and I honestly can’t believe how nice the hotel is.  It looks like its from the future and there’s a sushi bar with fire places.  It’s one of the more unique hotels I’ve stayed at.  
    We dropped off our things and we immediately took off to get downtown.  This day was terrible so there was only one way to deal with that.  Pizza.
We had read awesome things about this place when researching pizza in Chicago.  I’ve had Chicago style pizza in past trips here, mainly ordering to a hotel room from a local mom & pop place, and it was really great.  This was my fist time going to one of the more “famous” pizza destinations.  We were able to sit right down when we arrived and we ordered the “The Malnati Classic” Pizza.  Nicole is right.  If you go somewhere that has a great reputation, and they have a menu item that they point out as being the best thing they make, just order that.  The pizza takes 30 minutes to cook, its something that’s just understood.  These pizzas take time.  The Malnati Classic is made with lean sausage, extra cheese, vine-ripened tomato sauce, on a butter crust.  It was really good.  I figured it was just going to be pieces of sausage. No. It was like a gigantic sheet of sausage that covered the whole top of the pizza. The one thing I noticed from the other Chicago style pizza that I had eaten years back, was that it was not as thick (cheese wise).  Not that I needed more cheese (I need to diet as soon as this trip ends).  The pizza was really good.  I consider myself an expert on pizza, and have a history making all types from the many pizzeria jobs I’ve had and my continued pizza making at home.  I give this place a solid 8 out of 10.  Very good.

    It’s supposed to rain all tomorrow so we are going to be doing most of our outdoor things today.  I’ll be bringing the SLR for some better pictures.

Chicago Bound

   Nicole and I are in the airport on our way to Chicago.  I should have some really great pictures from this trip as we plan on getting a lot in.  More to come, go Bills!

Local Restaurant Review: "Canvas@1206"

     One thing I always wanted living in this city was a little Jazz bar.  A place to go and get a cocktail while listening to live Jazz.  Its not a common thing here in Buffalo like it is in other cities.  I remember visiting Chicago one year and spending an evening at “Andy’s Jazz Club and Restaurant” eating dinner, listening to the finest local Jazz musicians, and wishing we had a place like this in Buffalo.  Although “Canvas@1206” is far from the famous “Andy’s”, it is still a breath of fresh air and another nice option for nightlife here in this city.
    We had gone on a Friday night, about two weeks back (I’m late posting this) around 7pm and it was pretty easy to get a table.  The bar and restaurant atmosphere is retro/old-school, but not in a way that gives off any impression that it’s trying too hard.  Everything is just right.  From the gold speckled bar, to the capiz chandelier lights, and jazz artist wall of fame, its an atmosphere I found myself comfortable in.

    After a Manhattan, we sat down for some dinner with our friends, Molly and Patrick.  The menu was interesting but I immediately noticed more of a “Lunch” menu than dinner.  There were not many standard entrees but more a plethora of sandwiches.  One thing that looked awesome though, was the giant crab cake.  Molly and Patrick ordered that for an appetizer, and Nicole and I ordered the Bacon Swiss dip with chips.

The Bacon Swiss dip was one of the more delicious things I’ve eaten in a while.  The chips were not standard tortilla chips, but a type of chip that I’ve never had before,  more of an air-crisp.

The giant crab cake was pretty tasty as well, but I was glad we got the dip.

    For the main course, Pat and I ordered the Fish fry.  I rarely get out to a place on Friday nights to take advantage of any fish fry options so now I had the importunity to.  We had the option to add goat cheese mashed potatoes as a side, so i jumped on that also.  Nicole ordered the pork chop with the goat mash and a vegetable.  Molly had ordered the broiled fish with Cajun seasoning.  My fish fry was pretty good.  I couldn’t find anything wrong with it.  It was cooked perfectly, the breading looked as if it were fried in clean/fresh oil, and it was decent sized.  It could have used some more seasonings though.  That was the opinion of everyone at the table.  Nicole’s pork chop and vegetables tasted like a “pork chop and vegetables”.  There wasn’t much flavor.  The goat cheese mash just tasted like plain mash potatoes.  Everything was cooked to perfection, it was just bland.

    Would I go back to Canvas@1206? Most definitely.  The quality of the food was very good and everything was cooked nicely.  The bar was fun to sit at and a great place to stop in and grab a drink.  The crowd consisted of people from all age groups. I’d love to go back when there is music playing on the stage.  This is a great addition to the city.

Canvas@1206 on Urbanspoon

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