I have already lauded the wealth of art and culture in Chicago. I love this city and have yet to understand why it is known across the globe, yet so few people have actually been there on holiday. I say this without ever having visited when the weather was nice enough to enjoy the classic architectural tour along the Chicago river.
We had a special treat on this visit, being able to share a meal with Joseph the Butler. Ok, not just a meal, but crab cakes by the fire place in the cosy, wood paneled bar at Ralph Lauren on The Miracle Mile. Leave it to a butler to get you the best table in the house. Not only is it a pleasure to be with Joseph, but he shared some great local tips. Like, sending us to the Richard Grey Art Gallery on the 29th floor of the John Hancock Tower, turning me on to the insanely expensive, but eye candy-licious Ikram store/art gallery/restaurant, giving us a heads up about the regular, dependable programming at the Blue Chicago Jazz Club on Clark Street and reminding me to take Mr French to the Chagall wall. He also recommended taking the water taxi to Chinatown and cycling along the water. We didn’t get to see it all on this visit, but his ideas are at the top of my list for the next time we head west.
We felt super cool when we found ourselves in the hipstery hip Wicker Park neighborhood with its used record stores, haute couture bike bags and peanut flavored cappucinos. After not buying any albums in that part of town, Mr French went into some serious lp withdrawal, forcing us to hike through the (FREE and fantastic!!!) LIncoln Park zoo to Dave’s Records on Clark Street, where we also dove into a total dive called Frances’ that has been serving locals since 1938! When we whined that there were no desserts on the menu, the very charming girl next to us leaned over and and whispered, “Molly’s Cupcakes”, its next door. And so it was! Featuring très français inspired cakes like an eclair cup and a crème brûlée cake.
The one tour that has been on the top of my list since our first visit a year ago, is Frank Lloyd Wright’s The Robie house on the University of Chicago campus. This time we made it and I really recommend making the trip to Hyde Park for a visits. I then made a point of showing Mr French the gothic Rockefeller Memorial Chapel and the modern Mansueto Library. The library looks like a crystal Easter Egg buried in a luscious lawn, light streams into the reading reading room, enlightening the space as the books stacked below enlighten the mind. After the visit, we made a bee line for Obama’s favorite rib joint, Ribs N’ Bibs on S Dorchester.
On the morning before his flight, we took Mr French downtown to see the Chagall Wall Joseph had mentioned. Taking a Chicago classic (the downtown monumental art tour) Mr French made it an original by walking into random buildings, leading us to the reverent interior of the Chicago Tribune and the astonishing mosaics of the Marquette building.
The more we visit Chicago the longer the list becomes for our next visit; The Girl and Goat, Tru (another Joseph recommendation), and A10 in Hyde Park for restaurants, a visit to Frank Lloyd Wright’s studio in the ‘burbs, an afternoon at the beach with skyscrapers soaring above, and more spontaneous incursions into the lobbies of downtown’s architectural gems, as well as the art gallery district and the Pilsen neighborhood (and yes, those are my personal notes I am posting so it will be easy for me to look up the next time we are in Chicago, because there is sure to be a next time!)