The weather didn’t start off any better for us today it was still in the upper 40’s and we layered as much as we could. What happened to the 70 degree weather I saw when we where packing?!?! Lesson learned….always pack a jacket!
We grabbed a bite a McDonald’s (I know, I know…I have a rule that I don’t eat or stay in chain places especially if we have them back home, but we where hungry and it was close and quick.) As we walked to see the offices of our friends we met with last night, we stopped to admire the Chicago Board of Trade and the Federal Reserve. (Next time we come we’ll check out the federal reserve they are supposed to have a nice set up of the history here.)
After our visit (Hi Janet and Jenny!!!) we walked over to the Sears Tower and headed up to see the views from the sky deck.
I’m very impressed by how organized and smooth the process to getting up to the 103rd floor is. You go through a series of areas that have facts and history of the building before hitting a quick video then heading up the elevator. The cheapest tickets are $17 for adult and $11 for kids which will get you to the top, there’s additional cost if you want audio tours and souvenirs.
I really really recommend if you have the chance to visit this attraction. They have a whole floor so you can see out all sides of the building. You don’t have to walk out onto the sky deck if you don’t want, just be sure you’re ready to grab a spot when you see it, we had several rude people shove their way in. After we finished up we decided to jump on the hop on and off bus. It takes about 2 hours to loop around the whole neighborhood, but if you want to hit all the major stops this is a great way to see and hear about the city. It cost us $44 a person, but if you look online and book in advance then you can get cheaper discounted prices.
Our first stop was Millennium Park. We walked a few blocks away to grab a burger at Marc Burger which is owned by Marcus Samuelsson whom you might have seen on tv. Ok first of all I’m not excited that it’s in Macy’s in their food court on the 7th floor. We still thought we would try it to see if he’s as good as he portrays on tv.
We ordered the Smoky BBQ Burger $8.95 + .50 cheese (paprika, applewood bacon, homemade bbq sauce, kettle chips) It wasn’t that bad but good actually, the homemade bbq sauce was really good and chunky. They also offer a spicy ketchup for your fries which was good too.
Back over at Millennium Park we walked through the Boeing Gallery North then the Park Monument.
Next we walked over to the famous Cloud Gate which was so much bigger in person then I thought it would be. Totally awesome how it just draws you in, I could have looked at it all day! Did you know it weighs 110 tons with a 12 foot high arch with provides the “gate” to the concave chamber beneath the structure?
Near the Cloud Gate was the Jay Pritzker Pavilion which stands 120 feet high. There are 4,000 fixed seats with an additional 7,000 seats on the lawn. I loved the architecture that Chicago has and how every building and structure is so different from each other.
We walked over to the Lurie Garden which was pretty, but I expected a lot of different flowers with more color. It was peaceful to walk through the 2.5 acre garden.
Now to my favorite part of the park! The Crown Fountain consists of two 50 foot glass block towers at each end of a shallow reflecting pool. The towers project video images of Chicago’s citizens and once in a while their mouths make an O shape and they spit water in the reflecting pool. We didn’t get to see that happen, but I’ve seen pictures online.
After we watched the video’s change we walked a few blocks in over to Berghoff Restaurant. Instead of going into the restaurant part we went next door to the café. This is one of the oldest places in Chicago opening in 1898 first selling the family beer at a nickel a glass and offered free sandwiches. When Prohibition was repealed in 1933 the city issued liquor license No. 1 to the Berghoff and has done so each year ever since. When you go in move to the side and pick you menu items otherwise you’ll get yelled at for standing in line and not knowing what you want.
We ordered the Weiner Schnitzel $13.05 (Choice of 2 sides, and a pickle). For the sides we got the sauerkraut and cream spinach. I think the veal was actually chicken because it didn’t taste or look like veal. The sauerkraut was really good, but the creamed spinach had a Indian flavor to it which was different. I know that’s what they are known for, but not sure if I would go back.
Re-energized with food we walked over to the Buckingham Fountain. It was dedicated in 1927, it is one of the largest fountains in the world. Wished we could have seen it in the evening with the color changing lights. I was also shocked at how big this fountain was. When we used to watch Married with Children they show the fountain in the opening of the show and I didn’t think it was that big.
Back on the hop on hop off bus we did the whole route tour soaking up the sun and learning about all the buildings along the way.
We headed back to the hotel to rest up before heading to dinner at Top Chef’s runner up on season 3, Dale Levitski’s restaurant Sprout.
The feel of the restaurant is casual and very friendly. The hostess, waitress and anyone who brought out our food I wanted to hug at the end of the meal for making you feel special with the attention to detail most restaurants have lost now a days. We opted for the pre set menu where you chose one item from each course $65 per person.
pork : truffle : frisee : potato
speck : eggplant : lemon : cress
foie gras : cherry : corn : mustard
salmon : pineapple : soy : wild greens
pear : goat cheese : macadamia
chorizo : piquillo : picholine
mussles : sirloin : miso : chile
shrimp : dill : green peppercorn : escarole
strawberry : celery root : bacon : beet
grape : fennel : cucumber : olive : mint
ramp : hazelnut : fava : turnip
corn : truffle : pistachio : pea
crab : worcestershire : wasabi
black garlic : ramps : cauliflower : cherry
strawberry : saffron : goat cheese : almond
passion fruit : pink peppercorn : mango
chocolate : hazelnut : cinnamon : mascarpone
apricot : buttermilk : orange : honey
peanuts : brioche : truffle : caramel
The idea behind the menu is to highlight the main ingredient and list the other flavors you will find in the dish. While this may annoy some visitors, the waitress can give you a detail description of any dish you may have a question about. I thought it was fun an exciting and made me look forward to each course. We where brought some white bean butter puree to snack on before our first course came out. LOVED this! I need to figure out how to make it now. It was light as air with a slight bean flavor. Yummy!
We started with the Scallop and Licorice. Both dishes where amazing! I wished we would have had more scallops, they where perfectly cooked and packed a lot of flavor.
Our waitress then brought us one of 2 “surprise courses” a cream of potato soup. Oh wow I wanted a big bowl of this! Not too heavy or thicken it was perfect!
For the second course we had the lamb and steak. The steak was a better overall dish. The lamb wasn’t bad it just wasn’t our favorite.
Part two our our 2 “surprise courses” came next. Oh the smell of cheese! One of the best grilled cheese sandwiches I’ve ever had with caramelized onions and a prune mustard on the side to dip in. mmmmm We where also give a cocktail to pair with it, but sadly I forgot what was in it.
For the last course we had ordered the coffee and corn. I read reviews online that the corn dish was the one to pick and I loved every bite. The coffee one was good as well, which was D’s favorite.
Such a fantastic meal! I highly recommend anyone to try this place. Dale wasn’t there when we where because he was off traveling and getting inspired for the upcoming summer menu.
It was a long day, but awesome non the less! Now to bed for a good nights sleep for tomorrow’s adventure.