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Chicago was great! (long...)

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Chicago was great! (long...)

Chuck | Sep 20, 2003 03:03 AM

It took more than 50 years, but I finally got to see a game at Wrigley Field. It was an amazing experience. Been to the Polo Grounds, Ebbets Field and Fenway, but this was something very, very special. I could not get over how small the park was and how electric the atmosphere was. It seemed people were hanging from every rafter, building, etc. Also, loved Addison Ave - Reminded me of the South Bronx ...in a good way.

Enjoyed a good "Chicago/NY" strip steak at Harry Caray's. The first one came out too well done, but within 7-8 minutes, a floor manager returned with a beautiful medium rare steak. Good stuff. My wife, who does not eat red meat, had their Chicken Vessuvio. They season their food extremely well.

We loved just observing Harry's place in action - it was packed on a Monday night and the staff was very professional. Got a good feel for a "traditional" ChiTown place. They comped us for desserts for their mistake. A nice, but hardly necessary gesture.

Went to Gino's East for our first deep dish pizza experience anywhere. Sorry, not for us. Spent the past 50 years ordering thin and well done NY Stle pizza. Perhaps there was a better example to have chosen than Gino's East, but for us it was the crust we did not like. Now, if there is a place that utilizes the traditional pizza dough we're familiar with? We do like NY Scilian pizza and that's thick, but the texture and taste of the crust is very different.

Had a nice array of appetizers at Ben Pao. We wanted to try a Lettuce Entertain You operation. Good service, nice looking place, but that music.....

Went to Weber Grill for lunch. Interesting place. Service was very good contrary to some comments I'd read on this site. Interested to find that they do cook your burger as you wish. Chili's refuses to serve medium rare. I say get yourself a quality purveyor and you won't have to worry about E-Coli! Anyway, enjoyed Weber Grill's berry crisp with an excellent vanilla ice cream very much.

Thanks to ChiTown Chowhound Greg - La Scarola was very good. Sure seemed to us like a good example of a neighborhood restaurant - Something I was encouraged to get out and try! Quite a distance from our hotel. Had not had such great brick oven Scilian bread since Italy and when I lived in NJ (Newark is famous for this type of bread).

La Scarola's red sauce was wonderful and their portions huge. There was a great crowd, a very friendly owner who talked but watched everything like a hawk. The service was very good - big local crowd and the owner knew them all.

Planned on going to Bistro Margot, but while visiting the shops in the Water Tower, a salesman said we should try Le Colonial on Rush Street. This was a very interesting place - Viet/French so they said.

The place was really nice looking - not fancy, but very very classy. Only had 6:30 and 8:30 seating left when we called for a reservation so I figured it just might be as good as this guy said.

Well, it was pretty good. We ordered an appetizer of shrimp wrapped around sugar cane. You make a wrap with a variety of other ingredients and use a hoisin type soauce. It was very good. Also ordered two main dishes (Roast Duck and a beautiful lemon grass roasted chicken) and a lemon tart.

Both roasted meats seemed to have first been air dried (Chinese Style?) so as to yield crispy, fat free skins and moist meat. The half chicken and half duck were succulent and crisp and the same time. there were very good sauces taht accompanied both offerings.

Be forewarned if you decide to try it, these particular dishes had virtually nothing else on the plate - Around $18 each. Not cheap, but its in a high rent area.

You guys have a really beautiful city - For a moment we thought we were back in Victoria, BC. The flowers in ChiTown were amazing! The streets, so clean, the cab drivers, tour bus guides, the bus drivers and the citizens were all so friendly. Great variety of interesting architecture, too. Boy, that Trump Building is going to be quite an addition to the skyline, too. And, it is replacing the only ugly building we was in the entire downtown area.

Finally, a word about our hotel - The Homewood Suites By Hilton on Grand. This place was amazing! First of all, you literally get an apartment for the same price of most other similiar rated places. But the kicker is that you are entitled to a hot and cold buffet breakfast each morning with a wide array of fruits, juice, quality breakfast meats, rolls, etc.

No! The eggs were not cracked and scrambled to order, but have a heart. There is a beautiful dining room with a professional wait staff serving you coffee and keeping the place clean. Terrific stuff.

But, that's not all....They also have a Manager's Evening Buffet (M-Th) where they have salads, hot and cold items, draft beef, French (yes!) white and red wines, etc. This buffet is free, too! So, if you wanted to save a ton of money, you could literally eat 2 of your 3 meals there - they have no problem with any of that. I saw people taking stuff to their rooms in containers provided by the wait staff.

For us, we were on a food mission to we only had breakfasts at the hotel. But for a family, its an incredible deal. I highly recommend the place, if you guys have guests visiting the city. We had a special Official Visitors Guide Rate - $129 per night. Most others paid around $180 and it was still a terrific deal at that.

We had a terrific time in Chicago. Sadly, we never did get to try one of your famous "Salad Dogs." Maybe next time?

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