Après Noël in Chicago

Bonicelli Fresh Meal Delivery

I have always thought about taking off after the Christmas festivities have died down.  Well, this is the year!  My husband Mark and I enjoyed time with the families and created a few new traditions (including make your own pizza on Christmas eve – and day – see the Pizza Fritta video).  We got rid of most of the debris (including the wrapping paper and bows) and now we’re in Chicago.  We have a room with a view at the Renaissance Hotel on Wacker overlooking the Chicago river and a gorgeous view of the city and river walk.   This was surprisingly inexpensive – $169 per night.

There are a few restaurants that have been on my radar.  We went to Table 52 Friday night. Loved it!  The executive chef, Art Smith, is one of Oprah’s former personal chefs.  The food is traditional southern with a twist.  The decor is warm and casual – yet elegant.  It’s a small room – maybe seating 40 to 50 people. We started with Deviled Eggs and a  Beet and Red Curry, Cashew, Dill Oil, Serrano Chili, Etchola Pizza.  Both were perfect.  The pizza was wood fired and one of the best and most unusual pizza combinations I’ve had. (I know – more pizza!)  Mark had Southern Fried Catfish  with Tasso Ham, Maitake Mushrooms, White Corn Grits, Crispy Okra.  We both loved this entree – especially the crispy okra.  We also shared the Three-Cheese Mac.  Divine!  All in all – a great experience.

Saturday Morning we went for pancakes and Crepes at Wildberry Pancakes and Cafe – a very short walking distance from the hotel and across the street from the beautiful Millennium Park.  We had their Bliss-Berry Pancakes and Crepes.  A little sweet for me – but very well done.  It’s a sunny venue with a very efficient and friendly staff.  After walking around the city in the balmy 45 degree weather we headed to Blackbird for an early dinner on the recommendation of our friend Jeanne.  Blackbird has a austere, white linen decor with a menu to match.   The food was lovely.  I had oat dumplings (a seared gnocchi really) that I absolutely loved and Mark had perfectly done hanger steak.  I have to say though, the crème fraîche. maple, sea salt “butter” served with potato bread is what I’ll remember.  Sometimes it’s o.k. to fill up on the bread!


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Buon Appetito and looking forward to next year!


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