On Friday night Justin and I decided to drive to Chicago for dinner. We're young and free right? Oh, I mean old and totally oppressed, but no matter. Drove to Chicago Diner we did. 24 hours later we were entering Chicago.
It was dark and there was a sudden rain as we crossed whatever that bridge is. I blasted Sufjan Stevens' Chicago to set the mood. We were sort of stuck in traffic so the mood was dampened somewhat, only to be totally revived when I saw the most welcoming sign outside the diner "Veggie Parking". This must be the place.
We veggie parked and were met with a packed house and 1 hour wait. I didn't mind because people were actually nice. Like, everyone was just standing in the freezing rain just sort of waiting. No one was trying to muscle their way in with "Do you know who I ams?" or sucking their teeth. Well, just me actually. Just out of habit.
We were finally seated by a cute waiter who was really friendly and apologetic about the wait. We ordered The Rain Salad, BBQ Wings and a Quesadilla with mushrooms, onions and spinach. Everything was wonderful, the wings (expertly made of seitan) were sweet and spicy, the salad was fresh and crunchy, the quesadilla was perfectly greasy in a good way. My entree was pan fried panko coated tofu off the regular menu, it came with a huge helping of garlicky sauteed swiss chard and mashed sweet potatoes, as well as a warm crunchy corn muffin. Totally perfect. Totally worth the drive and the aching butts. (Butts were aching not because we were anally assaulted at the Chicago Diner, rather from the long drive)(Sorry I just said anal assault while talking about food, unless you're into that sort of thing).
I left our gregarious waiter a cookbook and took back to the swanky hotel 2 pieces of cake - Cookies and Cream and Chocolate Silk. After consuming those for breakfast the following morning we returned to the Chicago Diner for second breakfast (I have a limited imagination and Zebra Stripe wasn't open for brunch). Brunch was just as exquisite as dinner. I had the Scrambled Tofu special with Roasted Root Vegetables. The tofu was a little bland but not in a bad way, I think it was sauteed with a touch of sesame seed oil and tossed with a few sesame seeds. I can see why they wouldn't want to make it to flavorful, because they serve it with several dishes and you wouldn't want to overwhelm the other flavors. Justin had the Biscuits with Tempeh Hash and I stole a lot of his while he wasn't looking. As we were leaving we were told that our gigantic cookies were on the house. Is there a thing better than cookies on the house? The whole experience left me optimistic about the future of vegetarianism, and dare I say, the future of the world at large.
We went to Quimby's books and bought the place out then the long drive back to NY, which was decidedly less exciting as no new vegan adventures would be awaiting us. For instance, I had instant oatmeal for breakfast today.
I suppose I should confess that I have had unkind words for Chicago in the past. Maybe the words "corn fed city" have passed through my lips. Maybe I once said it was a bunch of hicks running around totally surprised that they were in a city. I don't know why I say stuff like that. It's really rude. And it's untrue, or ,ok, even if it is true, it's not a bad thing.
Chicago is now my second favorite city.
Barack Obama for president!
Through a series of folly and mishaps we ended up in a hotel in The Chicago Sun Times building. Swank.
Yum. (and this is what I look like after a 19 hour drive)
Cookies and Cream Cake against a Chicago skyline backdrop
Chicago River from the hotel