Although it the road to Chicago was not without its challenges, the extended time in the car made it possible for this to occur:
Had I not been re-routed and detoured within an inch of my life on my way through Chicago, it wouldn’t have taken me an additional 90 minutes to reach my northern suburb destination. Had I not been a hour and a half late, Chris & I would have ventured into the city for a little thrifting and Happy Hour. Had that happened I would have missed out on the Stained Glass Wine Bar in Evanston. I would have missed this gorgeous Filet Mignon. That, my Friends, would have been tragic.
On a side note: how cute is that little copper sauce pot? Adorable.
Since I was so delayed in my arrival, we decided to skip our planned jaunt into the city, and opted for dining a little closer to Chris’s home in Evanston. Where she insists there is “no where fun” to eat.
Really? Because any restaurant with the words “stained glass” and “wine bar” in the name sounded quite enjoyable to me.
The exposed brick and rustic decor was very warm and inviting. I relaxed as soon as I walked in the door.
Being that The Stained Glass Wine Bar was in fact, a wine bar, there was a ton of wine to choose from to compliment the meal. I love having options!
When I eat out, I tend to order things that I don’t make at home. Usually things that my family won’t eat, like salmon or vegetable-infused dishes. But for some reason, that night, I felt like a steak. Odd, really. So, I ordered the Filet Mignon which was served with a charming copper pot of warm, herbaceous gazpacho, and resting on a bed of au gratin potatoes. Resting on a bed of au gratin potatoes. I just love the sound of that. I think all food shoud be served resting on a bed of au gratin potatoes. The world would be a better place.
The filet was lovely and buttery. I was definitely pleased.
Chris opted for the Sturgeon on a bed of wilted greens and cream. Sturgeon is a fish which is almost steak-like in texture, with a smooth flavor. Scrumptious. We paired our meals with a glass of spicy Malbec, and all was right with the world.
We shared a creme brulee sampler for dessert, which was an awesome trio of chai-spiced, dark chocolate chipotle, and honey-vanilla. It was incredible! But it really didn’t stand a chance of being photographed.
I went to bed a fat and happy girl.
The next day we had the entire day to ourselves, so we indulged in a lot of shopping at thrift stores. Now I have always been drawn to antique shops for furniture, jewelry, and kitchen wares. I’m a vintage-y kind of girl. But I never thought to look at a thrift store for those things, or for clothing. It just never occurred to me. Until I met Chris. Girlfriend has thrifting issues. As in, she goes as often as she possibly can. And she finds the coolest stuff. Like an unopened, new in the box, Cuisinart food processor for $12?! Please. If I found deals like that on a regular basis, I would go all the time, too. Chicago has the best re-sale shopping around.
When shopping with Chris, the time just flies by. She just has a nose for finding great stuff for next to nothing, which makes thrifting with her very exciting. It’s very addictive. So before we knew it, it was 2 o’clock, which explained why we were starving. Did we really just spend nearly 3 hours in one store? Chris mentioned this hot dog place near by that she had heard good things about. Normally, I am not a hot dog person, but Hubby & I saw a spot on this place on Food Network a few years back, so I was intrigued.
Hot Doug’s The Sausage Superstore! With a name like that, how could we not go in? Besides, we got a parking place right out front. In Chicago. Clearly, it was meant to be.
Besides, we figured anyplace that has a line out the door when it was 20 degrees (F) outside had to be good. We asked a guy in line if it was worth the wait, and his reply was an brusque “Yeah.” (With a “duh!” lilt to his tone.) So we waited. And we froze. And we waited a little longer.
Here’s my first attempt at trying to photo-document us waiting and freezing. You know, just so you can get the whole experience. And to give us something to think about other than the frostbite setting in our extremities.
Here’s my second attempt. So much for self portraits with my Blackberry. It kept us entertained in line, though. Thankfully, we didn’t have to wait long. Hot Doug runs an efficient operation.
I was immediately smitten with the naming conventions. The Keira Knightly is a Mighty hot sausage. Apparently Jennifer Gardner and Britney Spears were once Mighty hot, as well.
The Salma Hayek is Mighty, mighty, mighty hot! Salma evidently de-throned Madonna, Raquel Welch, and Ann-Margaret. Impressive.
Of course, the King was represented.
The 30-Sausage Chili sounded interesting and frightening at the same time. When I showed this picture to Hubby, his response was “I’m not sure I’d want to eat 30 sausages in any capacity.” Party pooper.
What was really interesting about Hot Doug’s was the variety of sausages available, and the fact that they were made fresh, on-site. On Fridays & Saturdays, Doug classes it up a bit with about a dozen or so specialty sausages.
Like the Atomic Bomb. I like spicy food, but I’m leary of anything labeled “damn spicy.” Or “atomic bomb.”
Chris was eyeing the Foie Gras with Truffle Aioli. I’ve never actually eaten Foie Gras, and I wasn’t sure about how I felt about it being available in sausage form.
But Ribeye Steak Sausage? That was more my speed. But wait! There’s more!
In addition to all the creative sausage combinations available on Friday & Saturday, you can also get duck fat fries. What’s not to love about potatoes fried in duck fat? My heart was palpating at the mere thought.
The Jack-a-lope suggested the Bacon Cheddar Elk Sausage. I took his picture because I liked his rhinestoned bling. It’s not everyday that you see a Jack-a-lope rockin’ rhinestones, after all.
There was a lot of pressure when we reached to front of the line. Hot Doug himself is there taking orders. (I recognized him from Food Network.) He’s a jovial guy with a serious edge. Picture a kinder, gentler “Soup-nazi” from Seinfeld. He was joking around, but still intimidating. Glaring. I was just sure if I ordered incorrectly that he was going to thrust his finger outward and shout “No-sausage-for-you!” and I’d have to leave with my tail between my legs like a scolded puppy.
In the end, I pulled it together and ordered up an Elvis with Everything. That’s polish sausage with mustard, caramelized onions, sweet pickle relish, tomatoes, celery salt, and a dill pickle spear.
Chris opted for the Ribeye Steak Sausage with chimichurri, triple cream cheese, and crispy fried onions.
And of course, no full-on-gut-bomb meal would be complete without the duck fat fries. We didn’t want to be too gluttonous, so we ordered one duck fat, and one regular. Because two duck fat fries would have pushed us over the edge. It’s a delicate balance at Hot Doug’s.
A little slice of American Gothic, right in the heart of Chicago. This mural was actually in the Ladies Bathroom. It has a sign that read “Employees must wash hands. Customers should wash hands. And quite honestly, everyone needs to wash hands.” Words of Wisdom courtesy of Hot Doug.
That rib-stickin’ meal kept us full well into the evening. We saw a great band called “Verbow” which was 2 muscians: one playing acoustic guitar, and the other playing the cello through a distortion peddle. Sounds odd, but it was really very cool. I have such great appreciation for good musicianship being that I am not musically inclined. They were excellent.
The show ended at about 10:oo p.m., which is when we realized that we were starving again. We headed to my favorite Thai place in Chicago, Thai Classic. It’s safe to say that there are not a lot of great Thai places to eat in Small Town, Northern Michigan, so I had to get my fill while I had the chance. Of course, parking in Chicago on a Saturday night at 10:oo in the evening is rather scarce. We circled the block about 600 times before giving up. Thankfully, Chris has an app on her iPhone that directed us to a place called Thai Thank You. The name made us giggle, so we changed course to find it.
Luckily, we found a parking spot on the same block. Hooray! Unluckily, we walked in and were told that they were closed. Rats! We must have looked pretty dejected, because they let us order a carry out. And since I was not with my severely allergic son #2, we ordered 6 things with peanuts in them. With extra peanuts on the side. I have to get my fill of peanuts when I can, too.
I’d show you a picture of the lovely spread from Thai Thank You, but being that we hadn’t eaten in almost 9 hours, we snarfed the food before I had a chance to grab my camera. It’s probably best that I didn’t photograph us eating. It wasn’t a pretty site. We were ravenous and chucked our chopsticks after the first bite. You’re welcome.
I went to bed a fat and happy girl. Which pretty much sums up my time in Chicago: fat and happy.
Coming Soon–Solo Road Trip: the Booty, meaning the-cool-stuff-I-found-thrifting.