Crazy as it is, we flew from Scotland all the way to Chicago for a 48hour jaunt. I love Chicago, it’s a really cool city, vibrant and happening. I would describe it as New York’s sophisticated and more reserved older sister. It’s less busy, less hectic and a lot cleaner. There’s so much to see and do, and has something to please everyone.
For our whirlwind visit we decided to take in a bit of everything. And to do this we were ideally placed at the very central Hard Rock Hotel. First night we got there, it was a beautiful evening so we went for a short walk to grab some food.
Next morning we were up first thing, to hit the shops. One of the main reasons I make an annual trip to Chicago is to shop at the Chicago Premium Outlets Mall. It’s a full day trip, so I recommend you get there as early as possible. Our Windy City Limo was bright and early, and we arrived at the mall an hour later. The array of stores at the mall are numerous and diverse, something for everyone. And the savings ensure that you have guilt free shopping.
The stores offer savings of 25 percent to 65 percent, if you join the online VIP Shopper Club you can save even more on top of the standard savings. Definitely worthwhile joining up, it only takes a couple of minutes and in certain cases you can end up saving up to 75% or more off the ticket price. If you book your trip through a package operator or use the regular bookable coach service from the city you will be given a coupon book.
Ideally you need the whole day to get round as many shops as possible to make your trip worthwhile. There’s a food court at the mall, so no need to leave even to eat.
The bargains are too many to name. Using the coupon book’s money off vouchers, I managed to snap up a Tommy Hilfiger hoodie for just £15, perfect for Scottish winters. The biggest savings are in the high end designer stores, if you stick to purchasing classics, and use your coupon book, you can do really well. For example a perfect little LBD from Armani cost £600, originally £1,400. A classically cut pair of black trousers from Maxmara £180, previously £350 and a classic black Michael Kors roomy stylish handbag originally £500, at the outlet £280.
After a wonderful day of shopping we saved so much money we decided to go celebrate at the newly opened Beatrix.
Beatrix is a neighborhood restaurant, coffeehouse and meeting place located in Chicago’s River North area. Chef partners Susan Weaver, Rita Dever and John Chiakulas have created a menu inspired by food made in Lettuce Entertain You’s test kitchen.
Marc Jacobs Vice President and Executive Partner was on hand to greet us. Marc was involved in every aspect of Beatrix – from the menu, décor, design to the staff. His vision for Beatrix was for it to be the “living room” of the River North neighborhood. And it certainly does feel like that, there’s nothing pretentious about this place.
The restaurant’s slogan is “taste over trend,” what we found were a few food trends, but Beatrix have put their own spin on them.
Our menu specially put together so we could get a taste of what Beatrix has to offer consisted of Potato salad with deviled eggs, Tsukune in a chili-cilantro sauce for snacking. This gave us a flavor of what was to come, classics with a Beatrix twist, to liven them up.
Next course, the salads of which there were two, an Enlightened Caesar salad, which consisted of hearts of romaine, capers, croutons, grana padona served in a Greek yoghurt dressing. An Emerald City Salad, which was fresh and crunchy, the kale leaves were mixed with celery, mint, romaine and pineapple, accompanied by a shot glass of kale juice. The portions are very generous, luckily the salads were quite light. If we could get such wonderful fresh produce readily available to us in the UK we could eat as healthy as this on a daily basis.
The mains were Turkey, sweet potato and greens neatloaf served with braised kale in a vegetable gravy. A wonderful take on a traditional meatloaf. And Chili and chocolate glazed salmon, served up with a smoked almond slaw and corn tortillas. Chocolate and salmon served in the same dish was very appetising! There was also a Skirt steak chimichurri served with Kennebec fries and grilled shishito peppers. The Kennebec fries were probably the best chips we have ever eaten.
For dessert there was Vanilla bean kulfi, Chia pudding, tall, dark and handsome chocolate cake. Despite being beyond stuffed at this point, we still managed to try all the desserts, and weren’t disappointed, they were all delicious, the vanilla bean kulfi proved a firm favorite.
Beatrix is a very large restaurant, with two bars, it is situated on a corner and one wall is open, so you feel as if you are dining al fresco, without actually sitting out on the pavement.
All too soon it was time to leave Beatrix, we were having such a good time, that it was difficult to go! But we had booked tickets for a speed boat trip, so we had to get out of Beatrix super fast in order to make it to the boat on time.
Turns out it was well worth it! It was very refreshing. We were dressed for dinner in light summer clothes, not ideal for a late night speed boat trip but the views of the fireworks from the lake, were simply stunning against the pitch black night sky.
On our last day, we were so sad to be leaving but no visit to Chicago would be complete without a trip to Millennium Park, to take a look at the iconic Bean. As we sat sipping our coffees taking in all that the park has to offer we bid a sad farewell to the Windy City.