Female. Lives in United States/Illinois/Chicago, speaks English. My interests are Food, Restaurants, Cooking, Baking/Travel, Dining Out, Raising Children.
This is my blogchalk:
United States, Illinois, Chicago, English, Female, Food, Restaurants, Cooking, Baking, Travel, Dining Out, Raising Children.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Delicious Dinner and Downtown Decadence

This year, Win outdid himself and got me an amazing Mother’s Day gift. As you may remember, we recently had several weeks of sleepless nights transitioning our Lima Bean into her new “big girl bed.” Lima wasn’t sleeping well and I wasn’t sleeping well and this made for some very cranky, sleep-deprived people in our house. Win recognized my intense need for a break from the bedtime craziness and gave me the perfect Mother’s Day gift…a night away at a hotel!

So one day, a bit after Mother’s Day, I headed to downtown Chicago for a decadent day of shopping and relaxing while Win watched Lima. It was incredibly fun to stroll in and out of the stores on Michigan Avenue without a toddler in tow and to get to linger wherever I wanted.

When evening arrived, I went back to my hotel. Win had booked a room at The Drake, a fabulous Chicago landmark. On top of the serenity of the room, the hotel also offered a cocktail hour in its beautiful tenth floor lounge. It’s been a long, long time since I enjoyed a late afternoon cocktail so I was all for stopping in.

The Drake serves cocktails and hors d' oeuvres in their lovely lounge overlooking Lake Michigan. Pictured above are my view of the lake, my gin and tonic and my full plate of cheeses, fruits, veggies, dips and other snacks. The silver bowl was full of a nice assortment of nuts until I got there and ate half the bowl. All by myself. As I popped the 12th cashew into my mouth, I questioned the wisdom of eating this much but then I thought “Hey, this is my special day out on the town and I can eat all the nuts I want!” I reveled in that thought, polished off the gin and tonic and then went downstairs to dress for dinner.

While much of my day was spent enjoying Chicago solo, Win was meeting me for dinner. We knew we wanted to go to a steakhouse that night, but we hadn’t completely decided which one. So I consulted The Drake’s concierge and she reviewed the options. She said Gibson’s was the most famous steakhouse and it’s received the most critical acclaim. Rosebud was also excellent, and a bit less crowded. Her personal favorite, The Saloon, was much more low key but she found the steaks to be outstanding and she highly recommended it. We had been to Gibson’s and Rosebud before and loved them, but we were eager to try The Saloon this time around.

I’m really pleased that we did. The Saloon is in The Seneca Hotel and it’s a dark, masculine-feeling, clubby steakhouse. While it is perhaps the most low key of the three steakhouses our concierge mentioned, it was bustling the night we went.

I ordered Shrimp Cocktail for an appetizer and it was potentially the best shrimp I have ever had. Fresh, fresh, fresh and plump and delicious. There wasn’t much the chef did to make the shrimp cocktail so outstanding, but the quality of the shrimp was remarkable.

Win started with French Onion Soup and he loved that as well. It had pieces of prime rib in it for an extra unique, rich flavor.

The Saloon presents a selection of meats to you when you arrive so that you can see the quality of meat and evaluate different cuts before making your selection. Our server was helpful in discussing why she likes certain cuts over others and what makes some more or less flavorful. Win, a meat-eater from birth, went with the Bone-In Rib Eye. Rare, of course. He enjoyed this delicious meat with Pepper Jack Potatoes Au Gratin.

I chose one of The Saloon’s daily specials, a Stuffed Filet Mignon with Grilled Artichokes, Parmesan and Garlic, served over a bed of Creamed Spinach. This was awesome. The filet was cooked perfectly and the artichoke, Parmesan and garlic stuffing was flavorful and dynamic. The creamed spinach was exceptional and it was just the right amount. I always love creamed spinach at steakhouses but find that the side dish portions are always just gigantic for two people. This method of incorporating it into the dish was excellent. I really enjoyed this filet mignon.

We were too full for dessert, so we walked back to The Drake and enjoyed a glass of wine in their lounge. After appreciating Lake Michigan at night and savoring a nice Cabernet, I got to enjoy a night of peaceful sleep at the hotel.

Great day of shopping, an early evening cocktail, a delicious dinner and a peaceful night’s sleep…ah, the decadence!

The Drake Hotel
140 East Walton Place
Chicago, IL 60611
Telephone: 800-55-DRAKE
Web Site: http://www.thedrakehotel.com

The Saloon Steakhouse
200 East Chestnut Street
Chicago, IL 60611
Telephone: 312-280-5454
Web Site: http://www.saloonsteakhouse.com/index_n.html