The Langham Chicago

The word “slack” does not even approach the piles of neglect we’ve heaped on our poor little blog here. But I’ve been a travelling machine lately (not complaining! Just, you know, making excuses…) and here we are, a week later again.

On a flight recently, I saw a mention of The Langham, a new hotel slated to open in Chicago in summer of 2013. You may remember my love of luxury hotels from this post on Public Hotel, and it’s looking like The Langham is certainly going to hold its own here (even with it’s next-door location to the Trump!). They’re moving into the  first 13 floors of the IBM building, which sounds, well, less than appealing — but the building is actually a Chicago landmark thanks to its design by famed architect Mies van der Rohe.

With it’s River North location off of Wacker, I’m guessing there’s going to be a cocktail lounge or restaurant with some pretty serious river views and (fingers crossed!) patio seating.

But, to the important part — the design, by Richmond International. The muted grey, the Greek key patterns, the soft golds… too beautiful for words. Can I just move in now? Can I be the 28 year old Chicago-based Eloise here, please? Or even the Nanny?

Did that get weird? Sorry. Enjoy!

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// All photos from The Langham’s Website

More on The Langham:

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Helping Hands

heart-gloves-etsy> adorable gloves via this etsy shop

Every year, our mama gets us socks for Christmas. The really cozy, warm kind that we’d never buy ourselves. She says its because her worst fear is that someone is cold. And yes, she is the best.

I sometimes feel that I’m not doing enough for my neighbors in this cold and windy city. I attempted to do some research for the sake of this post to find the number of homeless Chicagoans, but it doesn’t seem that there’s anything conclusive. Honestly, though, whether the number is 5,000 or 20,000 doesn’t really matter.

I’m particularly sensitive to those living on the street when I find myself shivering and complaining in layers of sweaters, boots, mama socks and a parka.

But I’m hesitant to pull out my wallet after getting it stolen one extremely frustrating day a few years back after doing that, and equally hesitant to buy someone lunch or dinner after my burrito beneficiary informed me that he was sick of Mexican. (Seriously.)

So this year, I’ve figured out an inexpensive and easy way to help a neighbor here or there and I thought I’d share.

Duck into a Walgreens or CVS and pick up a pack of handwarmers and a pair of cotton gloves. They’re almost always near the front of the store, close to the registers, and for a few dollars, you can make someone fighting our beloved city’s bitter cold just a bit warmer and more comfortable for 10 hours.

And if you need a little extra motivation, you’ll help my mama rest easier :)

ll

“Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.”

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Quite the quote by Henri Cartier-Bresson, hmm?

Well, 9,804 to go.

I received the most amazing gift for Christmas – a Canon Rebel T3 and a lens that’s way too cool for me. I’m going to take non-iPhone pictures, guys!

I’ve spent the past week reading as much as I can and watching eight gazillion YouTube tutorials. Aperture! Shutter speed! Camera shake! ISO! So much to learn.

I need a pet pronto so that the gift-giver doesn’t get sick of being my unwilling (and often unsuspecting) subject.

On my last official day off of work for the holidays, I clomped around in the snow outside for a while and managed to snag some halfway decent shots. Get ready for lots more!

ll

Chicago Restaurant Review: Nellcote

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Could any restaurant in the entire city of Chicago be cuter?

The answer is definitively NO, it could not.

We have had the best of intentions of getting ourselves out to the West Loop for oh, the last six months now to see what all the hype was about. On our holiday seester date, we finally made the reservation and headed over on a cold and gloomy Saturday morning.

I think if we had to sum up the whole experience in one sentence, it would be, “WHAT WERE WE WAITING FOR?”

These photos do not do the decor justice. How can a restaurant be both warm and cozy and totally over the top opulent at the same time? It hurts my brain to think about such deep thoughts, but that’s exactly what Nellcote does. Gorgeous chandeliers and wainscot ceilings contrast create this warm and glowy space that we just never wanted to leave.

You’re greeted with a choice of the Times or US Magazine (naturally, I went for celebrity gossip and Ali bettered herself as an informed citizen) and if you’re as lucky as us, you’re seated with an absolutely fabulous waiter that I’m bummed is not my friend in real life. Perhaps if we keep going back enough….

We happened to be in when they were showing The Holiday behind the bar, so that was a cozy little surprise.

When we were happily snuggled in to our table with mimosas and trashy magazines/serious newspapers, I told Ali, “I’d come back even if the food tastes like dirt!”

Happily, we were a far stretch from dirt.

We were immediately served a an adorable charcuterie plate with cheeses, jams and prosciutto. As we munched away, we perused the menu and then ended up ordering purely based on our waiter’s recommendations. How do you pick just one thing when everything sounds so delicious? #whitegirlproblems

The lobster benedict had huge chunks of lobster under a blanket of smoked paprika hollandaise. The eggs were poached perfectly and melted into the hash underneath.

The simple salad served with the quiche almost stole the show – blasphemy, I know, but the champagne vinaigrette was delicious. The quiche itself was light, fluffy and so creamy.

We opted out of ordering our waiter’s recommendation of the sausage and potatoes because it just sounded like too much food (I know, who were we kidding?) but to our surprise and delight, they brought an order to our table for us to try along with our entrees. We ate every last bite of both and both will forever be tacked on to our brunch orders at Nellcote.

We sat around watching The Holiday, chatting, reading and drinking mimosas for an extra hour or two and then reluctantly headed out into the cold. We stepped one foot outside and wondered why on earth we had ever left.

We will be back for you, Nellcote! If brunch was any indication, dinner would be to die for… I’m just envisioning those beautiful chandeliers lit up at night and the cocktails arriving from behind the bar.

Fun tip – Nellcote’s NYE party sounds like an absolute blast! http://www.eventstand.com/event/nellcotenye for tickets.

ll

Randolph Street Market

Randolph Market Scene

 

Last weekend Laura and I made our second appearance at the Randolph Street Market, home to Chicago antique dealers, indie designers, vintage collectors and unique crafters.

I think it’s important for us all to acknowledge that I was having a really great hair day that day.

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But I digress.  We marched ourselves through rain, wind and the west loop and headed to scoop up last minute Christmas presents and hopefully score some jewelry while we were at it.  We had only been during the summer when the parking lot was jammed with vendors and empanada hawkers, so while we weren’t quite sure what to expect.  The pared down, indoor-only venue was certainly less overwhelming, but we still had a great time perusing vintage Chanel and pawing our way through bins of antique necklaces.  Can’t wait until next time!

Randolph Market Jewelry

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Epic Burger

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Don’t get me wrong, I’m incredibly late to the Epic Burger game, but as I (never, ever) say, better late than never!  The other night, not in the mood to cook – gasp! – I walked down to the closest Epic Burger which unfortunately for me, is pretty damn close.  Their menu is pretty straight forward – pick your patty (all natural beef, turkey, portabella or grilled chicken) and pick your toppings.  I went for the beef, cheddar, whole grain bun combo and it was delicious.  With additional frills like grilled or raw onions, fried egg (choose your yolk’s runniness!) and crisp bacon, there’s a good chance I might have to stop in again.  I mean…if only to take in the full lanscape of options!

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Life in Pictures

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A new furniture rehab project making it debut in the near future!

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A Cupcake ATM in my neighborhood you say? Check out the sprinkles by you for this awesome creation.

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A view of the harbor from the south-shore on a typically windy Chicago day.

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A quick canoe pitstop for a glass of smuggled white wine.

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Candyality Chicago style truffles – so cute!

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Quite possibly the biggest tree I’ve ever seen….and quite possibly the only plaid shirt I own.

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Stuffed shells with ground turkey, sun dried tomatoes and parmesan cheese, topped with a white wine and lemon cream sauce.

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A long hike on a warm fall day – yes, that is a murse I’m wearing.

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A beautiful bridge at sunset.

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Our chilly (I can’t believe it just snowed in early- [okay fine, mid-] November) skyline.

Chicago Restaurant Review – RPM!

(I wanted to name this post RP-YUM but I’m pretty sure Ali would disown me.)

As Ali mentioned, we had one of the most incredible dinners last week and I have been seriously lagging in sharing the delicious details.

After reading the menu online basically all day, we were pretty excited come Friday night. We often text each other just to make the other one want whatever food we’re craving and it was a bit out of control before our visit. Proof:

I’d heard great things about RPM, of course, but I have to admit — despite the drool-worthy photos on the website, I was a bit of a skeptic. I thought that at least a part of the rave reviews HAD to be just Chicago celebrity hype. Let’s be clear, though, as an ardent fan of Team Rancic, this in no way deterred my desire to check it out. I’d suffer through some mediocre pasta for a Giuliana sighting at a beautiful restaurant with a fun scene, no problem.

Wellllll, I’m happy to report that I was totally and completely wrong.

As I suspected, we found the restaurant was beautifully decorated and the people watching killer, but the food stole the show.

House-made ricotta, so simple but definitely my personal favorite. Like a happy fluffy cheese cloud from heaven.

Prime beef meatballs… Smothered in Parmesan and served in the skillet they baked in, these tasted like Giulianas cute little Italian mother was firmly planted in just around the corner in the kitchen rolling these little balls of love by hand.

We chose the tuna carpaccio to break up all of the rich foods with something a bit lighter and were awfully happy with that decision. The freshest, smoothest tuna, so deeply colored it almost looked like salmon with little sprinkles of black garlic for the most interesting hint of flavor.

This might surprise you, but I can count the number of times Ali and I have ordered dessert in the last 5 years on one hand, and that’s because the number is one. We’re not mad at it, we’d just rather have another glass of wine or more fried olives. The Affogato float came highly recommended by a trusted source, however, so we went for it. A grown up float with an intense bottled coffee poured over creamy vanilla gelato, this was the absolute perfect ending to a fantastic dinner.

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  • Fried olives
  • Chicken liver on toast
  • Lobster caprese
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Pork chop as big as my head for the manly man at the table
  • Spaghetti carbonara

RPM, we will be back! Sneaking in early on a weekday to the bar area to try a few small plates without the months-long wait for reservations may be our new tactic, but I’d honestly sit on the curb in the  alley outside the kitchen if someone would just be so kind as to hand me a cup of that ricotta and a spoon.

RPM Italian – The Look

Our RPM Italian dream has finally come true.  One warm September evening, Laura and I thought to ourselves, what could be the harm in just calling them to see when their next rezzie was? As it turns out, others had the same idea, because the next available weekend reservation was in November.  We snatched that bad boy up, marked our calendars and began the countdown.

With November creeping up, we eagerly looked forward to our hot date with mouths watering and menus favorite-d on google.  While I’d love to tell you about the delicious eats, I think it’s more important to tell you about the real event – what we wore!

Only kidding, I’m not crazy, we had the bolognese, I know who the star of this show is (food!).  But since Laura is out of town on business – and she holds the pics – the best we can do is give you a peek at the outfits.  Sorry to disappoint :)

 

L&A

Life Lately

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sunrise over the lake // homemade chicken tortilla soup // teachers strike // super authentic in my new Guinness tee straight from Dublin

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date night outfit // “wig shop” at Untitled // Moscow Mule, fave drink ever

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Wrigley! // coffee in one hand, vino in the other // skyline and el tracks