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 🙂

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Chicago Restaurant Review: Nellcote

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nellcote-chandeliers

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nellcote-lobster-benedict

nellcote-quiche

nellcote-sausage-potatoes

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.

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The Air & Water Show By Sea

 

 

I love the Air and Water show. I do not love the crowds at the beach.

This year, I crossed a major To Do off of my bucket list, and joined 18 friends on a boat for an incredible summer Sunday that I will never, ever forget. There’s a thumb in the picture of me diving into the water in my shorts and tank top (we thought it was going to be too cold to swim), but you better believe that happened.

 

Quartino’s New Second Story Outdoor Patio

> Photo via Eater Chicago

Thanks to this handy tip from Eater Chicago, I was raring to check out Quartino’s new second-level patio. Quartino is a long time DEUX on our list. (How do we not use that pun more often?) It’s the perfect spot for happy hour with the girls or a loud group dinner. Wine by the carafe? Cheese by the mountain? Olives by the bucket? Exceptionally reasonable prices? Yes, please!


Ali and I twisted arms, bribed and threatened with bodily harm last week so the girls would drag themselves out on a Tuesday (read: proclaimed, “new outdoor patio at Quartino!” to an extremely receptive and enthusiastic reception)  to experience it for ourselves, and while it was much smaller and far more narrow than the above picture lets on, it was absolutely lovely. In the future, I’d stick to a smaller group of two or three, but the five of us spent a great evening catching up over chilled white wine, grilled octopus and gorgonzola dolce, blissfully perched above the madness of State and Ontario.

FYI: It’s first come first serve, and we had to specify that we wanted to sit upstairs.

Cheers to another al fresco dining option, Chicago!

Crisp

Yesterday, I desperately wanted to check out Frog & Snail.

Hangovers, diets and friends in town all hijacked my dreams and no one would go with me to Frog & Snail. Stay tuned, I will prevail!

However, I still turned out the big winner of the day because I finally, finally, tried Crisp. I’ve wanted to go forever and just haven’t, for whatever reason, and the super casual vibe was perfect for a lazy Sunday night. This is not a new restaurant – located in Chicago’s East Lakeview neighborhood, it opened in 2008, which makes it practically a hundred in Chicago restaurant terms. A number of friends have enthusiastically recommended it and there’s some 987 reviews on Yelp contributing to a solid 4 out of 5 star rating.

One magnificent meal later, I am a Crisp believer, and after reflecting on that meal of righteousness basically all morning, I become a Crisp evangelist. Go immediately, bring your friends,  visitors, your family, get takeout… just go partake in the glory of those sweet and spicy Korean wings. (That said, do not take a first date as it is impossible to look even remotely good eating this meal.)

Our meal:

JB dunked everything into the Buddha Sauce, I went for Allison’s Atomic. Crisp is BYOB, but you’ll be parked at a community picnic table, so unless it’s a tall boy or something, I wouldn’t bother. If you’re in the mood for alcohol free and sickly sweet, go for Diet Cream Soda!

We split the Original Bad Boy Buddha Bowl, which is a cute name for the traditional Korean bibimbap with 8 different chilled veggies and a fried egg over hot, seasoned rice. The combo of hot and cold works so well, I promise, and the whole mess is that much better with added hot sauce of your choice. This thing is huge – probably 12″ around, and thankfully, they’re displayed when you order so you know what you’re getting into and aren’t tempted to order one per person. That being said, this would be a great choice for a vegetarian, or sans-egg for vegans.

And the star of the show: the wings. I went for 6 – which is really more like 12 as most bars and restaurants cut the wing into two pieces – with the Seoul Sassy sauce.

In the words of the great Rachael Zoe – I die.

(Those would be unlikely words to cross Rachael Zoe’s lips in this particular instance, as I imagine it’s unlikely she often digs into a tray of fried chicken, but we’ll call that her loss.)

Super meaty, very light breading, extra crispy and perfectly moist. The Seoul Sassy sauce was delicious – the website warns not to call it teriyaki but um, it tastes exactly like a very good teriyaki marinade with garlic, soy, sugar, sesame and ginger. Sorry, Crisp!  That’s a compliment in my book.

JB went for the Crisp BBQ Sauce, and in my constant quest for over the top flavor, this is definitely the sauce for my next trip back. And the one after that, and after that… It is reminiscent of a traditional barbeque but with a deep, smoky heat and spices that make the sauce definitively South Korea, not South Carolina.

After what will probably go down as the least attractive half hour of my life spent demolishing all six (fine, twelve) wings, fighting for my fair share of the coveted egg yolk in the Buddha Bowl, and looking around desperately for something else to squirt Allison’s Atomic sauce onto, my handsome and gracious date rolled me and my greasy fingers out of Crisp and home to curl up into a very bloated and happy state, already dreaming up my next trip back.

 

Blowtique

I have super-fine, fairly uninteresting hair.

I’ve never gotten a blowout before yesterday because frankly, I didn’t see the point. My hair is already incredibly straight, and whenever I’ve asked for more volume when getting my hair dried after highlights and a cut, I absolutely hate the result – it always looks cheesy and fluffy.

But when I heard about Blowtique opening in River North, I had to give it a try.

I had dinner plans at Sunda with JB last night and since I already had a dress, I thought not spending money on a new dress would be a good excuse to you know, spend money differently.

The experience was nice – the girl that did my hair was super sweet, the place was really cute, and I was in and our in 35 minutes flat for $40 including tip.

Here’s my result: my hair in the morning and post-blowout… I wasn’t blown away (excuse pun) but I thought it had a little more movement and wave than usual.

*please excuse incredibly awkward self-pics… how do you guys do it?!

What do you think? Worth it? Do blowouts just have a better result on thicker, longer hair or do I just need to keep trying until I find a blowout that works for me?

Happy Friday!

Beautiful photo >via

Wellllllll, another day, another dollar. Another 5 days, that is, (so $5?)  and now it’s Friday and we’re so looking forward to a relaxing weekend. We’re heading out of the city to spend the weekend with our family and we’re counting down the seconds until we can be lounging on the patio with the fam, listening to music and catching up over an oversized glass of wine.

The summer is flying and its way too easy to forget to take it all in, so we intend to make the most of this relaxing weekend – that means reading, baking some goodies for the baby bro, and lots of time in the sun.

Cheers 🙂

  • Despite TOC’s fairly skeptical review, we love this idea and will be stopping by soon to support a great cause. Panera opens a pay-what-you-can cafe in Lincoln Park
  • The coolest mani ever – Astrowifey’s CTA nails!
  • FaceMath: the only Tumblr that has even come remotely close to our love for soyeahduh
  • We’re prettyyyy pumped that Taste of Chicago is both smaller and shorter this year. While it’s still not our cup of tea, you can try Asian Carp for free if you’re headed over to Grant Park! (Major WTF on that one)
  • We could listen to Lisa Eldridge talk about pretty much anything all day long with that fabulous accent, but this video tutorial for a simple bronzed look is perfectly summery and especially worth the watch – we’ll be recreating as soon as possible!

Turkey & Feta Burgers

I don’t know about you, but every time my windows are open and I get a whiff of that glorious grill smell from one of my 2,695,597 Chicago neighbors, I’m guaranteed to spend the remainder of the day majorly craving a big fat burger. (Sorry, veggie friends!) However, since I don’t want to be a big fat anything, especially during bathing suit season, I save the burgers for special occasions. Our mama happens to make the best burgers in the world, so it’s worth waiting for. Or, you know, that one I ate last night after a few Corona Lights at a friend’s pool. Summer Sunday night totally = special occasion, right? 🙂

I feel like a lot of flavor can make up for a lack of finger-licking grease pretty darn well, so I make some version of turkey burgers just about once a week with various combinations of spices and add-ins. Last week, I made turkey burgers with reduced-fat feta mixed in, topped them with green olive tapenade and served with arugula and tomato salad. They were pretty awesome, if I do say so myself, so I thought I’d share.

Fancy cell phone photo via moi


Turkey & Feta Burgers

Makes 4 huge or 6 normal sized burgers

  • 1 package of ground turkey (I use 93/7 – but do 99/1 if you’re feeling extra healthy!)
  • 4 oz. crumbled reduced-fat feta cheese
  • ½ cup finely diced onion
  • 1 tsp garlic
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes (or to taste)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
  • Green olive tapenade (optional)
  1. Combine all ingredients, mix with your hands. Form into patties. Grill over medium heat until cooked through.
  2. Top with green olive tapenade if you’re into that kind of thing.
  3. Enjoy!

Life Lately

Aaand it’s Monday again. What? How does that always happen?

This week is going to be a doozy with work but then I have a 3-day weekend coming up – worth hustling a bit more than usual this week! I hope you all had a great weekend. Here’s a few snapshots of my life lately:

1. Views on my run this weekend in the burbs. 2. Must. stop. eating. popcorn! 3. DIY decor for the best mama in the world – more to come on that one! 4. Making brunch 5. Ali’s widdle helper 6. Design in unexpected places 7. Bright lights on Lakeshore Drive 8. Morning walks to work