The good news: Chicago was fantastic. Everything about it, with one exception, (see bad news). It’s a sort of mini-New York, but calmer, quieter and more polite – they even stop at Stop signs. Incredible buildings, great galleries, interesting museums, nice people, perfect weather. All-in-all nine wonderful days.
The bad news: the food. Amazingly bad. In nine days, we hit about a dozen restaurants, and only one you would think of going back to. OK, so we’ve been spoiled by Nice and Villefranche, but you never in your life saw such theatrics – glamorous hostesses, chatty waiters, (“Good evening, I’m Matt and I’ll be looking after you this evening”), poster-sized menus, incessant iced water top-ups, (not by Matt), all building up to cold, bland, half- cooked crap.
Perhaps I’m being a bit harsh on Tempo, which did excellent but obscenely large breakfasts, and the Bistro 110, but please, don’t even go near to Devon Seafood Grill, Bice, Italian Village, Ditka’s or the Art Institute Restaurant. Their chefs should be dragged forcibly to McCormick and Schmick – the one we went back to, twice - to see how it should be done.
But those buildings – we’ve got stiff necks from gazing at them. Because of the great fire that flattened the city centre in – was it 1871? – they’re all relatively modern, but different, from the mock-Gothic Chicago Tribune to the mock-funnel Trump Tower (right). Collectively, they make excellent backdrops for views of Lake Michigan.
More later – we haven’t finished with Chicago yet.