chicago deep dish adventure: stop #2.

Cheeeesy.

Pizano’s was another stop on my list.  The fact that it juts happened to be about a block and a half from my hotel made it a MUST-do.  While there was still a monsoon occurring outside as I relaxed in my room, I decided to go to the market across the street to snag a couple bottles of wine and some cheese, crackers and chocolate.  Mm hmm.  That’s a solid vacation in my opinion:  your own deluxe king size bed, a big fancy flat screen, and all the wine you can drink without worrying about any kind of responsibilities.  Holla!

Well, this was around 7:00.  After almost an entire bottle and about a half a block of cheese, I had decided that I had enough of the solo TV time in bed and I needed to get back out there.  Downpour or not, I was determined to continue my deep dish adventure.  Obviously, Pizano’s was the best option because of its super convenient location.

I took the elevator down twelve floors, snagged an umbrella courtesy of the hotel, and cautiously walked through the revolving door out into the storm.  I dashed down the street, through countless puddles, and finally arrived at my second pizza destination.  Hooray!

Goose Island 312.

Upon sitting myself onto a bar seat and briefly scanning the draft options, I was a little let down by the beers they had on tap.  I opted for a Goose Island 312, as it was literally the only local beer they had on tap.  (I’m such an IPA / Porter / Stout girl, typically speaking).  The bartender was an older gentleman, and was also VERY accomodating.  I was literally the only person in the joint, but he didn’t once act annoyed that I was there.  (They are open past midnight – baller!)

I ordered spinach dip (his recommendation of the two apps I asked about), and an individual sausage pizza.  I had read on Yelp! that the sausage pizza at Pizano’s was pretty tasty, so I was excited about it.

Mmmm!

Got the spinach dip, pretty good.  Pretty spinach-y.  I liked it.  Got the pizza … they forgot my sausage 😦 but I didn’t realize this until the next morning (of course I had to take some leftovers home with me).  But overall, the pizza was still mighty tasty.  Flaky, buttery crust, prominent tomato flavor, and the cheese was awesome.  I sprinkled a little parm and crushed red pepper on top for some extra flav-ah!

To be COMPLETELY honest, I don’t really have a favorite between Lou’s and Pizano’s in terms of pizza flavor.  Unfortunately, I believe I’d like Pizano’s better had I gotten the sausage on the pizza.  The service, however, was tremendously different.

The bartender even bought my second beer and suggested I come visit him again the following night.  Talk about a turn-around from my devastating service that morning!  I should have gone … oh well.  Next time!  I’ll be back for that sausage pizza!

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chicago deep dish adventure: stop #1.

I had already marked Lou Malnati’s as a destination on my deep dish quest in Chicago.  After checking into my baller hotel (it’s baller, I just wanted to say it again), the concierge informed me that Lou’s was his favorite place to get pizza in the entire city, and that the popular joint had just opened a new location only four blocks away.

Holla!  I’m on it!

I walk four blocks in a downpour to reach Stop #1 (of course, after an entire summer of one of the worst droughts in history, my solo vacation is just a monsoon).  I run across the street, stomping the puddles as I go, and suddenly find myself standing in front of my destination.  The place is pretty big, and the front windows open up for that fresh-air-feel.  It seemed decent enough, but nothing to write home about.

I walked in, the host was pleasant, I said “just me!”, and he asked if I’d like to sit at the bar.  My boyfriend and I are both bartenders, so I do have a soft spot for bartenders surrounded by an empty bar.  I agreed to the bar seat offer, and quickly unloaded my umbrella and purse underneath my seat.

The “bartender” … (she didn’t do much of anything, which leads me to question whether or not she actually possesses this title), was slow to approach me.  Another girl sat down into a seat just to my right, (I had actually passed her walking on the sidewalk a few blocks south of Lou’s), and our bartender eventually made her way over to us.  The other girl ordered a beer (she’s clearly taking full advantage of her vacation, and in retrospect, I wish I would have done the same), and I just ordered a water.  Well, I looked at the menu for roughly five minutes, although it takes literally about 30 seconds to decide what you want for lunch, before the bartender offered to take my order.

I ordered a house salad, a personal deep dish sausage pizza, and a diet soda.  Let me excite you with this picture before i divulge into the details of the adventure:

The following describes my Chicago Deep Dish Adventure:  Spot #1:

House salad:  Umm…  well… I got a gorgonzola dressing, and it really lacked flavor – how does that happen?!  I feel as if that sums it up.

Deep dish pizza:  After I waited nearly ONE HOUR, no joke, it was just … okay.  Here is the story:  The girl next to me ordered right after me and had her pizza FINISHED by the time I got mine.  The bartender had to tell me three times that a manager was figuring out the situation (that’s about the only talking she did to me), and fiiiiinally a manager delivered it.  Now, I’ve been in the restaurant industry for eight years.  When someone’s food is clearly taking a very long time, a manager always addresses the guest, Imageapologizes, offers some sort of pleasant gesture (such as comping the meal, or at least half-ing it, etc.), and reassures the guest that they are doing their best to correct the situation.  This manager dropped my pizza off at the end of the bar, so the bartender could retrieve it.  There were two of us at the bar, and my neighbor girl had an empty plate.  Who the hell do you think the pizza goes to?!  This is not a difficult situation to correct.  So, my bartender brings it to me.  She checks back when I’m waiting for a box for the remaining half, and said “worth the wait, isn’t it??”  Well, no.  It was not worth my wait.  This is my vacation and I would rather not spend it waiting for your kitchen to fix their shit.

Service:  After much thought, I am going to rate this service as abysmal.  My soda came after I had finished my salad, and I had to ask twice for it.  My water sat empty the ENTIRE time I was there, except for the very end when I was ready to go.  Not having a manager address the fact that a small, six-inch pizza took nearly an hour was really just the icing on this shit-filled cake.  Do your job, man.  You’re in guest service, why don’t you offer some decent service to your guests.

Disclaimer:  I am NOT generally a complainer.  As I’ve mentioned, I am a bartender, and I know exactly how this shit works.  This service was definitely in the bottom 10% of my all-time rankings, and the pizza was just okay.  I brought half of it back to the hotel, and I just surrendered and gobbled the whole thing down as soon as I got back.  The crust was suuuuper greasy, but still a little too crunchy, and I had to add a shit load of crushed red pepper and parmesan cheese.

Overall ranking on my deep dish adventure:

Food:  6.5

Service:  1.0

Atmosphere:  4.5

It looks taaaaasty! …but greasy…

Lou’s did not prove itself in this adventure.  If I ever decide to eat there again, I’ll get delivery.  Or I’ll sit at a table with a real server.

Now I’m going to go shopping … and get a beer!  Cheers to solo vacation!

Much love,

Sara

i’m ridin’ solo…on vacation!

VACATION! WOO HOO!  SOLO VACATION! …what?  That’s right, I’m ridin’ (actually flyin’) solo to one of my favorite U.S. cities this Sunday…

ooh la la.

Chicago.

Why am I going alone?

Because I am an independent human being that is capable of enjoying “me” time in a different city.

Trust me, I LOVE my boyfriend, and I would LOVE for him to join me on this adventure … but his current situation, (he cares for his elderly father on a 24/7 basis), does not allow him to go on vacation with me.  Not in the last year and a half … and not right now.

So, being the stubborn individual that I am, I decided to book a solo vacation.  And I.  Could.  Not.  Be.  More.  Excited.

I’ve got the following in mind, and PLEASE let me know if there is anything else I should add to my list:

  • Giordano’s (I’ve been here three times before, and I love it)
  • Yolk (for breakfast)
  • Al’s Italian Beef
  • Hot Doug’s
  • Billy Goat Tavern
  • Morton’s (The O-riginal)
  • Spacca Napoli
  • The Purple Pig
  • Haymarket Brewery
  • Revolution Brewery
  • Goose Island (I’ve also been here a few times)
  • The Art Institute
  • Mary & Leigh Block Museum of Art
  • Lincoln Park Zoo
  • the Newberry Library
  • Symphony Center
  • Garfield Park Conservatory
  • Chicago Cultural Center

Fat and happy is really what I’m going for …

mm hmm….

…and I’m also staying in a GORGEOUS hotel in the Golden Coast neighborhood that is 4.5 starts.  A king deluxe room all to myself?  Oh, you’re too kind.

I feel that an awesome adventure lies ahead, and I cannot wait to start.  I’ve also experienced some dramatic career changes within the last couple of weeks, so I definitely feel that this is the ideal time to get away and clear my head.

If you’re ever wondering whether or not you should just take a weekend to yourself to get away, then why don’t you just do it?  It may be the best thing you’ll ever do for yourself.  I’m looking forward to sharing my first solo vacation with everyone!

Much love,

Sara