Monday, November 5, 2007

Just Tell Them George Sent You...Part 2

Day two and I was out in the cold again. This was going to be a long day. My husband started working at 7am and wasn’t going to be done until 9pm. Flipping through a magazine in the hotel lobby (I spent a lot of time in the lobby) I saw an add for $25 Jersey Boy theater tickets. The only catch was you had to wait in line. Or so I thought. Since I was up and out anyway I decided why not. I got tickets for the 2pm show. Front row center I was so excited. Show time arrived and I quickly realized why the tickets were so cheap. Front row at the theater is not the same as front row at a concert. I was so close to the stage it was hard to see much of anything. At least I picked the perfect show. Jersey Boys doesn’t have much of a set (or I don’t think it does anyway) and most of the show is performed near the edge of the stage which I could see. Either way I thought it was a great show.
Later that night we headed to another place on George’s list Vivere. Located in the “Italian VillageVivere is one of 3 distinct restaurants all housed in one building. The food ranges from very traditional fare at La Cantina to the more contemporary fare at Vivere.
Our waiter was extremely knowledgeable about the menu and provided a lot of guidance with both our food and wine selections. We started with the rabbit filled ravioli ($19) in a wild mushroom and butter sauce. This was an entrée that we had split 3 ways for our appetizer.
For my main course I ordered the Scallops ($27) dusted with porcini powder and star anise served over creamy polenta and lentils.

My husband ordered the venison chop ($39) which came with a side of black truffle gnocchi and spinach topped with a blueberry reduction. This was a different combination of flavors that actually worked really well together. The blueberry really complimented the venison. Who would've thought.
His co-worker ordered the sage marinated chicken breast ($20) with turnips, beats and kalamata olives.
All 3 were superb. (yes, I sampled them all) We finished the evening with a decadent chocolate souffle.
Day 3 and I was up and out again before 9am. I did several hours of sightseeing before deciding that I couldn’t take the cold any longer. I ducked into the Fourth Presbyterian Church on Michigan Ave for a quick look around and to hopefully warm up. To my surprise they were hosting a violin concert that day. I decided to stay for awhile, enjoy the music and the warmth. What a nice respite in the middle of such a busy city.
That night we had dinner reservations at Café Spiaggia which is the casual sibling of the renowned Spiaggia. The two restaurants share the same kitchen and have somewhat similar menus and that's were the similarities end. Cafe Spiaggia is significantly lower in price, jackets are not required and the atmosphere is similar to a small trattoria in Italy.
We arrived at Café Spiaggia and were given a lovely window seat for two overlooking Michigan Ave and the Drake hotel. We selected a wonderful bottle of red wine that we enjoyed while perusing the menu. There were so many things on the menu we wanted to try so we decided to do some sharing. We started by splitting the buffalo mozzarella, figs and prosciutto ($12) appetizer and the tomato and bread soup with basil and Parmesan cheese ($8). Both were really good.
For our main course we decided to split two pasta dishes; the gnocchi with wild boar ragu ($17) and the homemade parpadella with veal neck ragu ($17). While both options were delicious we agreed that the wild boar ragu was the winner of the two. We finished off the evening with an after dinner drink and an order of the Italian doughnuts. These were deep fried balls of dough dusted in sugar and accompanied by a zabagione dipping sauce. What more can I say; they were delicious.
It might not have been the vacation I had hoped for but Chicago did live up to my food expectations. Thanks George for all your recommendations!
*Two other restaurants on george's list that we didn't get to were Volare and Chicago Chop House.

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