HOW GREAT IS CHICAGO?!
is what I wandered around exclaiming while my local Windy City pal Chelsea ushered me from one snack to the next. After an overwhelming week in NYC (I get it – it’s great, it’s amazing, it’s so fun, but seriously everyone there seems so rushed/stressed/constantly on the phone), Chicago was just the ticket – wide open spaces, the friendliest people, incredible food, and no need to use elbows to barrel onto public transport.
A delicious reunion with my UniSG ladies, featuring…
A guided tour of Plant Chicago, a circular economy-inspired food business incubator, closed loop building, urban farm, and aquaponics facility that hosts a little farmers market on Saturdays, selling local produce, maple syrup, honey, seeds and other good stuff. They’d just opened the Whiner Beer Taproom inside the space, where you can taste a flight of their microbrews made on site. I liked the barrel-aged wild saison Le Tub and the apple kolsch dubbed Et La Tête.
The Belly Mac – combining Japanese noodles, Thai curry and melted cheddar – at bellyQ. Plus, their Vietnamese cinnamon doughnuts with blueberry jam (insert drooling emoji).
Brunch at Lula Cafe, where I really struggled to order the spaetzle (apparently it’s pronounced spay-tsuhl?), mixed with gruyere, black walnut pesto and creme fraiche, plus winter squash, maitake mushrooms and a fried egg.
Walking through the Logan Square neighbourhood – and stopping at Gaslight Coffee Roasters along the way – to reach the 606, an elevated, converted railway track that carries you across to the Wicker Park area.
Waiting in a really long line, but then getting to see a breathtaking view of the city at Cindy’s Rooftop. They do this burrata salad platter that is really mostly burrata with some chicory, cucumber and citrus vinaigrette. Try the Grey Garden cocktail – a mixture of vodka, white vermouth, jasmine tea, lemon and crème de violette. It’s housed inside the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel, which is worth seeing even if you can’t make it upstairs; a Venetian Gothic building constructed in 1893.