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Currently Listening to: Streetcar | Daniel Ceasar
Some things just come at the right time...like this Memorial Day mini-vacay. After a long, exhausting month, I patted 4 months ago Esther on the back for booking this trip to Chicago. My best friend (of 18 years!) went to grad school around Chicago and ended up settling down here with a new job in January; I've been meaning to visit her and between our work schedules, I had a chance last week to visit her.
Chicago is known to be the birthplace of the skyscraper and many famous architects have contributed to the Chicago skyline. Some historians credit Chicago for the revival of Neo-Classical architecture in America's history and you can see the influence of America's history in the architecture of Chicago.
Janney lives in an area called West Loop and it's about twenty minutes aways from O'Hare airport and about ten minutes away from the city. She said it's a developing area and the neighborhood is nicknamed "restaurant row" for all the restaurants established in this one area; I didn't get to try any of these places yet but hopefully I can on my next trip.
Side Note: I just thought her apartment was really cute and wanted to include it in my blog. I thought it looked like this one hotel in New York I wanted to stay at and funny thing, someone else had commented that her apartment looked like a hotel haha.
It was so nice to catch up with an old friend. I'm really fortunate to have one of those friends where you can pick up where you left off even after not talking for months. We had a lot of good food planned but I ended up getting sick on my first day so I didn't get to the "food" part of the "Food + Travel" much. Janney cooked me soup and I didn't eat a lot during the weekend but here are three places I managed to try and need to mention:
Do-Rite Donuts : When I was researching Chicago, Stan's Donuts seemed like a popular donut spot but I actually ended up going to Do-Rite Donuts and it was amazing. I got the Michigan Apple Fritter, which had chunks of apple in every bite with a generous amount of cinnamon and glaze on top. Janney got the Cinnamon Old Fashioned, which was a lot less sweeter, cakey, and just as good.
3 Arts Club Cafe : This is hands down the prettiest brunch place I have ever been to in my life. I believe on Instagram, the word people use is "dreamy." It's actually a furniture store but it's also got a lovely cafe in the middle of the store. I got the RH Scramble which had soft scrambled eggs, avocado, and Texas toast; the eggs were cooked perfectly and the avocado was lightly seasoned with salt, pepper, and lemon juice. My plate was topped and overloaded with chopped chives and I LOVED it. I also got a side of bacon which had three slices of thick bacon that was peppered and a little sweet. One thing I learned: I need chives on my breakfast from now on.
Boka : This was the highlight of my trip. Boka is a one Michelin star rated restaurant and is the first Michelin rated star I've ever been to. If you're unfamiliar with what a Michelin star rating is, here is a little backstory: Michelin, a tire company, has anonymous reviewers who go to restaurants and review it for the Michelin Travel Guide.
- One Michelin Star: A very good restaurant in its category (Une très bonne table dans sa catégorie)
- Two Michelin Stars: Excellent cooking, worth a detour (Table excellente, mérite un détour)
- Three Michelin Stars: Exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey (Une des meilleures tables, vaut le voyage)
It's become a hallmark of fine dining for restaurants around the world; in other words, it was faaancy. The food, the plating, and the service!! I don't think I've ever met a waitress as graceful, poised, and kind as the one I met at Boka. They break their menu into three: cold appetizer, hot appetizer, and entrees. Instead of the 7 - Course Tasting Menu, we ordered:
- Marinated Fluke, plated with apple, sea urchin, jalapeno, and celery leaves
- Roasted Spanish Octopus, plated with fennel, kumquat, and nori
- Whole Roasted Dry Aged Duck, plated with foie gras sausage, spring onion, and rhubarb
I'm really happy and fortunate I was able to try a restaurant like this and it was truly like no other. The food was simple yet complex in flavor and textures and plated like art. Would I come back? Yes, of course. I really want to try the 7 - Course Tasting Menu BUT I would want to come back in a few years. I just don't feel like I'm experienced enough to really appreciate the food. I know it was really good but I had a hard understanding what was in my mouth and how to even explain what I'm eating.
Honesty Corner: I'm still learning how to utilize the camera...it was really dark inside the restaurant and I didn't know how to properly change the settings SO all these pictures are from my phone and not the best quality.
I decided to break up my Chicago blog into two posts because I took about 400 pictures over the weekend and I didn't want to overload everything into one. So look out for Part 2 next week!