Monthly Archives: August 2015

Hotel Dining: Chicago Mini Tour

Chicago - Travel

A while ago I introduced the idea of making your city, wherever you happened to be, a place where you could explore, the same as if you were on a vacation or trip. Personally I like to call them adventures and adventures that involve food are my kind of adventures.

Just recently I went out to dinner by myself. I was at XOCO in Wicker Park. It was good. I sat on the patio with a book and enjoyed a meal before running an errand and going back home. Not something I do all the time, but something that, when I have the funds, I enjoy doing.

Eating out is one treat that you do allow yourself when you travel. When I travel I have eaten out at fancy spots, as well as gone to the convenience store for the microwave meal and a box of cookies (try cooking a microwave pasta dish with instructions only in Swedish).

Luckily I live in Chicago, and it happens to be one of the best cities to eat out in. Yes I may be biased, but there are too many great places to count. This time, I’m writing about the underrated but very delicious hotel restaurant.

Normally when you go out to eat and you are at home you don’t choose a hotel. And when you travel, choosing the hotel as a place to eat feels like a cop-out. “I want to go where the locals go” you say. “A real, authentic spot, tucked away…with no tourists.” So the hotel doesn’t always win out.

Here are five places that not only have excellent food, but they give off a “tucked away” vibe as well as a “bustling local hot-spot” vibe. And depending on your mood each is equally valuable.

Let’s start in the order I discovered these wonderful restaurants. The Pump Room is a favorite among my friends, and is among one of the notable restaurants in the city. It’s made a name as one of the best spots in the city to eat dinner and enjoy cocktails. Any night of the week is a good night to visit Pump Room, you’ll never feel like it’s too early or too late (some restaurants don’t have the right vibe early in the week—others aren’t quite right for a Friday either—not so with Pump Room) and you’ll always get a spectacular meal. I was privileged enough to try some of Chef Ross’s creations at a menu presentation and each bite was more spectacular than the last.

Both W Hotel locations came out of nowhere for me. I’d never been to either hotel up to that point and didn’t know what to expect when I went to eat their new menus but I was pleasantly surprised—or more accurately pleasantly floored by what I tasted. The W Hotel City Center presented a menu inspired by tastes of South America—I still remember the vanilla ice cream and chocolate dessert garnished with tiny woodland mushrooms to this day. It made a refreshing change from the endless iterations of pork belly and bacon and was a menu honed enough to do more than generally claim that it was ‘farm to table’.

The W Hotel Lakeshore location boasts a beautiful restaurant, quiet and perfectly tucked away for when you want that kind of thing. The food is spectacular from the perfectly cooked scallops to the slices of fresh bread that came with a divine concoction of warm house made honey butter. Everything was presented in a way that wasn’t trying too hard and managed to be just enough to make sitting at a hotel looking out over the water on a cool, Chicago spring evening the perfect way to end a Tuesday.

If the W Hotel Lakeshore is where you go to escape, then NoMi Garden and Kitchen is where you go to see and be seen. In the summer especially, the beautiful rooftop is always busy—in Chicago it must be—we make the most of our short, sweet summers before hunkering down for winter. Sushi Heaven. That’s what NoMi Garden is. An oasis of seafood made to perfection.

The Westin Hotel in River North hosted the Windy City Bloggers for a happy hour and their outdoor space is a garden oasis in the middle of the city. It’s also inspired by a Japanese garden and is an amazing terrace space for an event or wedding. The Westin (and I am loathe to give away this secret!!) has a house made limited addition whiskey, as well as the most scrumptious sangria you will ever taste. Stop by the bar on the way home, or better yet an evening get together. This hotel is the perfect ‘rest stop’ for just that—a relaxing experience by the Chicago River in a peaceful space.

Home is Where the (Heart) Hare is

Chicago - Interiors
coffee maker

iCoffee Opus

Moving four times has given me a unique perspective about packing up and moving to different neighborhood every so often. The neighborhoods have different flavors; each period of time has a distinct beginning and end. There was a different reason for each move and each period was a different period of growing. Three years is a relatively short time in a person’s life, but I am a very different person than I was—or maybe just more of myself.

In the first two apartments I lived alone—something I found very valuable but was unable to keep up. The third apartment was with roommates; too many roommates to tell the truth and the space was never clean enough for me.

Now I’m living with my sister, and it’s a happy medium, someone to split the bills with and who knows me.

Cleaning up and unpacking is the least fun aspect of moving. Packing is really no fun either. Both jobs seem to grow in size the longer you keep them up. Two weeks after the move we are 90% settled in. There are a few more books to put on shelves and a couple more pictures to hang, and the dining table has become a collection for all sorts of random items but we’re getting there.

living room

Logan Square Living

One of the first things to make me feel finally at ‘home’ was when I unpacked the coffee maker. The iCoffee maker is the perfect compromise for those who want to drink good quality coffee—but don’t always want to go through the trouble of getting out the Bialetti or the French press. The reusable pod means I get a good cup of coffee (whatever that means to me—in this case it’s Intelligentsia La Perla Oaxaca) with the convenience of a pod coffee maker.

My favorite thing about this coffee maker is actually not one of its functions though those are all good. It’s got a blue light that glows under the spout and in the water tank, so it looks like it belongs in another world, a space-ship coffee maker. The blue light is my favorite.

It’s made mornings in my new home very comfortable and for that I’m very grateful.

This post was sponsored by iCoffee; all thoughts and opinions are mine.