Sunday, August 9, 2015

More from a Chicago Weekend July 2015

Holly covered the Rock and Roll Chicago Half Marathon in our last post. Here are some other highlights from our recent weekend in Chicago.

Rock and Roll 10K

While Holly ran the Rock and Roll Half, Dave joined a few friends in the Rock and Roll 10K. This was the first R&R 10K in our area and we originally guessed it would run the first 6 miles of the half course, giving us a nice tour of popular Chicago landmarks. Silly us....... We were given the last 6.2 miles of the half course which meant our start line was a mile away from the main start and our view was of a less-spectacular part of the city. We got to "enjoy" not having enough porta-potties at the start, with most never stocked with paper.  For Dave the course was ok for a one-and-done since we are "local" and do not frequent that part of town. If we came to town planning that the 10K would hit Chicago's highlights we would have been mad.

We watched most of the Andy Grammar post-race show and we actually enjoyed most of the songs. He's the kinda singer that you've heard their songs but had no idea who sang them.

Our room came with a guard dog. We named him Spartacus.
Virgin Hotel

We used to book our weekend accommodations. We have discovered that if you read ALL the reviews of a hotel offer, and our familiar with your destination, you can figure out where you could be staying. After much investigation we found we had a decent offer available for the new Virgin Hotel. This is the first ever hotel for the record label / airline.
It was a wonderful experience. The staff was very pleasant and very customer focused. We were asked why we were in town and responded that we came in for the race. After being in the room for ten minutes a staff member visited to give us a Kind Bar and bottle of water with a hand written card saying good luck.

Our room was spacious given the very different layout of a two-section chamber. Your shower is actually part of the room and not in a separate bathroom. The mini bar is not a rip-off and guests can enjoy free drinks at social hour each night in The Commons Club. By free, we mean whatever you want (we think within reason) so the signature cocktail menu was not off limits. The restaurant decor was a mix of modern with kitschy casual. We did not seem to fit-in with the other clientele: model types, GQ fashionistas, and ladies dressed up for a big night out. But what was nice was the staff never gave us odd looks or made us feel out of place. If you need a quick ride and the car is available you can get a lift in the Tesla (we did - fun!). The hotel also has a rooftop bar (which you know we love) but it was a bit small and cramped for our taste with few outdoor seating options.

Food and Drink

Places we visited during the weekend:

Cerise: Rooftop at the Virgin Hotel. Beer list was lacking and it was a bit small compared to other rooftops. We didn't make it to the lower-level indoor bar, but we all need goals.....

Three Dots and a Dash: the basement tiki bar was able to accommodate our (then) group of five for 90 minutes at a table. We had fun finding out the guys at the next table flew to Chicago just to visit this bar. We delighted them by pointing out the bar's founder moved on to open another tiki bar in the city's north side. We came home with some unneeded drinking vessels.

Bottlefork: We stopped here for a drink before dinner and enjoyed the outdoor communal table. The beer list was unique, but not deep. The cocktail list looked tempting and the food that passed by looked great. Maybe next time we will spend more time here.
Weber Grill: Our friend Charlie said he loved Weber Grill during another visit to Chicago so we figured we'd get a ressie for our party of nine. As "locals" we often forget about Weber Grill since the city always buzzes about new restaurant openings. The food was great and reasonably priced for being in tourist central. We discovered a local beer we liked from Off Color - Scurry Dark Honey Ale.
McCormick and Schmick's: We went here for a few reasons: 1) Too early to go to bed, 2) Weather was awesome, 3) Patio on Wacker looking at the Trump Tower and Wrigley Building, 4) $50 gift card leftover from Christmas. Specialty Berry Mule was nice.
The Common Club: Virgin Hotel's second floor bar serves most day-parts with food and great cocktails. The crowd is a bit fashionable, but there's enough casual around to make anyone feel welcome (board games, comic books, light fixtures made of toys).
Jake Melnik's: Frequent readers are not shocked we stopped here. Great food and beer list just two blocks away from the madness of the Mag Mile. Everyone in our party enjoyed their food including BBQ sandwich of chicken, pork, and brisket and Jake's famous chicken wings. Be sure to try the PB & J wings.
Howells and Hood: (Another shocker) Stopped to have beer on the patio (over 120 on tap to pick from) but then the deluge arrived when the waitress brought our drinks to the table. Headed inside to keep out of the massive downpour.
Pizano's Pizza: We had problems here last year when they lost our reservation for 16 people and we had to make other plans rather quickly. A voicemail left for the owner ended with a personal apology and a gift card. Now Pizano's is on and they worked with us as we switched our headcount a few times. Folks enjoyed their pizzas and huge bowls of pasta. The generous gift card covered all 10 people with a few bucks leftover.

First Draft: Dave discovered this Printer's Row location last year and wanted to share his find with friends. Great beer list with unique options like a cucumber wheat and grapefruit radler served over ice with vodka, The poutine and burgers were excellent.

Fortunately we had a pretty successful weekend.

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