Friday, September 16, 2011

Quick Chicago Trip

On Sunday afternoon RJ and I took off for a semi-impromptu quick trip to Chicago! RJ had Monday and Tuesday off work so we decided it would be a great time to see our long lost little brother. Before heading to the city, we dropped Harvie off at "Aunt Chelsey and Uncle Trevor's" house in Cleveland. They had some friends over to watch the Brown's game (we won't get into that game..) and one couple had brought their dog, Jack. He was such a sweet dog and wanted to make friends with Harvie. Harvie is an old man (at the ripe old age of 5) and wasn't interested in playing, but I think he liked the company. 

Check out this trick Jack can do when Hilary told him to "sit pretty", so cute!

This is what happens when you tell Harvie to "sit pretty" :


Chelsey was cooking some chicken in her slow-cooker and both dogs were hanging around looking for a handout.

So after hanging out for awhile Harvie seemed pretty comfortable there. As long as he has a friendly lap (preferably female) to sit in he's happy, so we weren't too worried about him. We took off right around 3:45pm and got in to Chicago around 8:15pm (their time). Not a bad drive at all and driving into the city at night was gorgeous. We went straight to Drew's restaurant, Brown Trout, to say hello and have dinner.

I really love the "sustainable fine dining" philosophy of the restaurant - they are all about local foods and actually have their own rooftop garden. You can check out their website here.

We were welcomed into the restaurant by the host who gave us the prime seat right by the front window. It was the perfect way to be welcomed into the city. We mentioned we were family members of Drew and they ushered us right back into the kitchen to say hello and see him in action. We got to meet the Executive Chef who was so down to earth and friendly. He told us to: "order whatever we wanted from the menu and they would bring us out some special tastes in between courses".

I love having family in high places.

We both got great appetizers and Drew brought us some special tastes in between. One of which was a pork dumpling on top of the best fancy coleslaw (of course that's the layman's description, Drew could go on for 10 minutes about that one dish!). I'm not even a pork eater but had to try a bite and the special slaw was amazing. Drew had actually come up with this dish for the menu and the sauce for the slaw was very "Drew".

For our entrees RJ got a really good piece of fish (steelhead) with Drew's special green sauce, I am forgetting the official name of it now. There was something else under the fish - I think it was a vegetable risotto. Whatever it was, it was delicious!

I got the vegetable napoleon which almost like a vegetable pie baked in a crusty outer layer of flaky pie crust - wow was this delicious.

I guess it goes without saying we got dessert - a delicious chocolate mousse with raspberries that was so good! Drew also brought us another dessert to try and the best way I can think to describe it is that it was like a vanilla bean jello-y pudding. Clearly I needed to be taking notes during this dinner as there was a lot of fancy names and descriptions that were way over my head. 

After we ate Drew brought us up to the rooftop garden - seeing where parts of our dinner came from was probably my favorite part of the evening. My pictures from up there aren't great but you can still get a feel for the garden.

This is Drew picking a cherry tomato for us to try..

While up on the roof we also got a chance to talk to the head chef, Shawn and some of Drew's other co-cooks and the general manager. Everyone was really nice and got along really well as co-workers.

Here are some family pictures our friendly waitress (Drew's friend, Molly) took for us.

As you can see, by this time Drew had gotten all cleaned up in the kitchen and changed into his regular clothes. We went straight to one of Drew's favorite local bars called "Bad Apple" and hung out for a few beers. A couple of Drew's friends from the restaurant came in too, so it was fun to get to know them better. We didn't end up checking into our motel until almost 3am (Drew is a night-owl). 

The motel was perfect for us - cheap and close to Drew's. Since it was so cheap, it was pretty "bare bones". They didn't have shampoo or a hair dryer. Since I have color treated hair (the secret's out), I use special Loreal color-safe shampoo, so I had that on hand. RJ had to use that too and he said the funniest thing after getting out of the shower: "Is my hair going to turn red now?" Husbands are so entertaining.

I had RJ go to the office to ask for a hairdryer and he said the attendant looked at him strangely and said: "no hair dryers." so we were out of luck there. I had to wear my hair wet so put it in a "braided topsy-tail". I asked RJ to take a picture for me so I could remember to do this again when I have to style and go.

All we really wanted was a place to sleep and shower, so we were happy with this place even without shampoo and a hair dryer. It was only a few minutes from Drew's apartment too, so that was great.We parked on Drew's street and walked around a little bit (to let Drew sleep a little more, this was his weekend after all).

I couldn't get over how different each building was, I loved that. It wasn't mass produced apartment buildings.. each building was unique.

This is the entrance to Drew's building (he came down to let us in).

I was so impressed with Drew's place! It was small, but the perfect space for one person. This may come to a surprise to anyone who saw Drew's room (or mine) growing up.. but it was actually pretty clean! Drew had even cleaned the toilet!

Basically it is one living area and Drew has it divided into a music area and a sleep/hang-out area. As you can see, it has some great windows and built in books shelves.

Here is the kitchen:

Here you can see Drew's hang-out area with his futon on the left and his music area (and great sized closet) on the right.

Here's the bathroom:

After hanging out at Drew's place for a little while we headed out for lunch. Drew wanted to take us to a local fancy-hot-dog type place (apparently they had great veggie-dogs!) but it turned out it was closed on Mondays. We walked around the corner and found the Goose Island Brewery and Restaurant and decided to eat there.

When Drew had his bicycle accident a few weeks ago, his glasses got really scratched up so he doesn't wear them very often. Instead, he wears his prescription sunglasses. If that isn't very Drew I don't know what is.

 I have a thing for good sweet potato fries so ordered those as an appetizer. They came with this curry ketchup that was soo good!

After having lunch we walked around a little bit and went back to Drew's so he could show RJ some of his recent recordings. He's been playing with a new band, including Billy the drummer from his other band who recently moved to Chicago too. While they were listening to these and "jamming" I decided this would be the perfect time to check out the thrift store I spotted down the street from Drew's place. Score!

One of my favorite things about the city is being able to walk everywhere and the pretty scenery you see while walking. In the above picture you can see how there is always a side-walk for walkers, that was so nice. After getting my shopping trip in, we decided to walk to the beach. We knew it would be about a 30 minute walk, but decided to walk anyway. We couldn't have picked a better time to visit - it was 80 degrees and sunny but didn't feel too hot because it was so breezy (windy city and all). 

The beach was beautiful! It was so neat seeing the city line by the water.

These next two shots we got with my handy self-timer:

The guys brought a frisbee to toss around while I enjoyed the sand and tried not to get hit.

A few action shots..

I think we're all thinking the same thing after those shots..
Drew needs a belt.

After hanging out at the beach for awhile we started walking and ended up taking a cab. We went back to Drew's to rest for a little while and decide what we wanted to do for dinner. Earlier in the day I had already said I really wanted to try some legit city sushi.. so the guys obliged and we decided to go to a place called Coast. It was a BYOB place so we stopped at the store to get a few 6-packs first (don't worry, we had a lot leftover).

We had some awesome sushi and various side dishes (seaweed salad, ceviche, dumplings).. everything was so good!

After dinner we went back to Drew's and by this time it was a little after 10pm. Drew and RJ really wanted to go to a local Blues Club they had gone to together back in February when RJ was out there for Drew's birthday. I am officially "old" because after staying out so late the night before I could not picture staying out late the next night too. I also knew the two of them didn't need this old lady slowing them down while they were in their element, so had them drop me off at the motel. I knew if I was in bed and asleep by 11 I'd be much happier the next day. 

Here's a picture of Kingston Mines I got earlier in the day:

The next morning I was up and ready to go by 9am and needless to say the guys needed at least another hour in bed. The nature of Drew's industry makes his lifestyle very late-night and late-morning. When you don't get out of work til 11pm (at the earliest!) that is just how it works. RJ is a night owl so fits into that lifestyle really well. I'm more of a morning person, so I actually loved getting up and walking around solo for a little while. I found myself some good coffee and picked up an Egg McMuffin for RJ (to lure him out of bed). It worked and we were packed up and off to meet Drew around 11. 

We picked Drew up and went to a little cafe for lunch that was so good! I wish I could remember the name of it because I definitely want to go back. It was another beautiful day so we got a table outside.

I got the best lunch - hummus with fresh veggies and pita bread and a salad that was soo good! Drew got a grilled brie sandwich (yum) and RJ got a grilled veggie sandwich. Everything was so good, this is my kind of meal. I could eat this for every meal!

 When RJ went in to pay he came out with a little surprise.. cupcakes! Another thing I loved about Chicago was the friendly people. RJ mentioned that we were visiting from out of town so the cashier gave us some cupcakes from their bakery - on the house! It was so nice and these cupcakes were so good. The cashier asked RJ where we were from and after RJ said Cleveland, the cashier said:

"I heard a little rumor about Cleveland. I heard it rocks."

After lunch we had just enough to take Drew back to his place and relax for a little while before heading out. Next time I definitely want to see the Art Institute and also see Aunt Sheri & family. This was definitely a quick trip but we're so glad we went - it was so great to hand-out with Drew and see him in his element. We're so proud of him, he's really doing great out there.

Harvie did great at Chelsey's - I think he could stay with them forever and be happy as a clam. Thank you so much Chelsey and Trevor for taking care of him for a few days! 

Already thinking about our next trip to the city..

1 comment:

  1. How FUN!!! Any of your regular followers not following this blog too are missing out! You're such a great writer! It's especially nice to be albe to "hear" the posts in your voice now. :-D