Yesterday, I talked about the fun day I had with my kids. And really, it was fun. After I posted, I went out and had more fun. Each quarter, three friends and I (all of whom live in the city except for me) go have dinner somewhere fun downtown. It’s our seasonal get together — to the point where our reservations are now under the name spring, summer, autumn, and winter.
It all started out pretty well. I made the train — and I haven’t always done that. Plus, I was reading. An actual, honest to God real book. A poorly written one, admittedly, but I was actually reading a real book like an adult. Ahhhhh.
When my phone rang and saw it was my husband, I debated not answering. Fortunately, I did. He wasn’t having such a good time in the 13 minutes since I’d left the house. He went to wake up Little Miss, who was sleeping so soundly after our day out that ummm she kind of had an accident in her bed. And she was very upset about it. OH! And the reason my husband went to go wake her up was that well, long story.
He coaches. And today (Valentine’s Day, thank you very much) he has a tournament in Bloomington. That’s like three hours from here. And he drives a mini-bus with the kids to the tournament. Smart and efficient man that he is, he picked up the bus last night from the garage place and brought it home to save time this morning.
That’s all well and good until he got the call from the high school asking if he’d taken bus number three. Yeah… the cheerleaders needed that bus last night. And he had to return it. Immediately. Thus, Little Miss was woken up from her nap. Needless to say, Mister Man and Little Miss loved the special bus ride last night. And I got to just giggle while I relaxed on the train down to the city.
When I arrived, I remembered yet again how much I miss it. As I walked down Madison, there was a guy singing his original composition “Oh Yeah, Don’t Give Her No Peanut Butter” over and over again while accompanying himself on his makeshift drumset. There’s nothing like it.
I met up with my friend at her office building and we headed over to the Gage Cafe. It’s an upscale Irish gastropub. Basically everything from fish and chips to a saddle of elk. My friend and I walked in about ten minutes early, and my first comment to her was that they certainly weren’t hurting for business.
The place is loud. REALLY loud. Loud enough that after we’d been waiting for a few moments, a couple approached me and asked if I were from around there. They wanted to know if I could recommend a place nearby that was quieter. Luckily, they asked (in my opinion, of course) the right person, and I directed them to a few places. I saw them leaving about three minutes later headed, I believe, to The Village. The third floor has a lovely quiet restaurant with suberb food and wonderful service.
When we sat down, we were in a loud area, but we were too hungry to wait the extra forty minutes for a table in the back section — where presumably it was quieter. Our waiter appeared after we’d sat there for five or ten minutes. Just long enough to say he’d be back shortly to take our drink orders.
I will say that our waiter had a really great accent. And he had stories about everything — including items on the menu to avoid, which you never hear. When we finally got our drinks about forty minutes after sitting down (Cucumber Cobbler for me, and yes it was a) as interesting as it sounds and b) as strong as the Irish like their alcohol), I realized that I wasn’t going to make the train I usually do. And I was so totally ok with that — gotta love hanging out with my girlfriends!
And the food? Ohhhh, the food. It was delicious. We started out sharing four appetizers. They chose fried chicken livers that I didn’t partake in. We all enjoyed the other three — house cured salmon with some delish caviar, the Gage fondue (and we so could have gone for another round of that), and caramelized lobster over quinoa. Funky, huh? I was really bummed that we weren’t more hungry, as the trough of fries with curry gravy sounded really good, too. Granted, they didn’t include “trough” in the description.
The entrees weren’t as easy. There wasn’t anything that jumped out at me, so I chose another appetizer as my entree. Have I mentioned that I love risotto? Yeah. The goat cheese risotto with crispy basil and escargot rocked. Everyone was jealous, although one of my friends had a fluke that looked really good.
Before our entrees arrived, we each ordered another round of drinks — plain mojito for me this time. And yes, I know it doesn’t go with risotto. Apparently the waiter did, too, as the second round didn’t arrive until my risotto was gone. Needless to say, nice waiter comped them all. And he blamed my mojito for being the cause, as the bartenders hate to make them because they take work. Uh-huh.
Ohhhh, and did I mention dessert? Usually, we all check out the dessert menu before ordering so we know how much room to save. This menu didn’t show desserts, so we had to wing it. Fortunately, we saved room. The creme brulee with mission figs was wonderful and not freezing cold for once. Our brown sugar souffle with the alcohol-y goo they poured in the middle — di.vine. And the coffee and donuts? I can’t even begin to describe them, but they’re so not what you’d think coffee and donuts would be. They’re orgasmically better. We were really glad we saved room — me, especially since I had an appetizer for my entree.
When we finally left the restaurant way more than three and a half hours after we first walked in, it was no quieter. Outside, however, it was snowing. With the sort of — for Chicago, anyway — nice weather we’ve been having lately, I forgot that it was still only the middle of February and snow is kind of normal. But my very, very nice friend drove me back to Ogilvie so I could just barely make the 10:30 train and not having to wait until 11:30 to start my trek back to the boonies.
I swear, the late night and the alcohol and the very, very loud restaurant have nothing to do with the fact that I’m without a voice today. Nothing.
How many days until the spring equinox when we can start planning our next dinner out?
Oh yeah — and Happy Valentine’s Day!