Saturday, February 03, 2007

Grown-up big city fun

We went to Chicago to get Mark's custom Burberry suit fitted, and went to see Wicked, and out for a post-theater dinner at Avec, the smaller, less expensive Blackbird spinoff, where you sit at long tables, and feel like you can dunk your bread into the sauce on your neighbor's plate. [And, hmm, both restaurants use the same slightly annoying web site design ....]

We stayed at the Hotel Burnham, where we stayed last summer when we went to see X, but this time the poshness seemed to be much more in keeping with our activities - staying in a boutique hotel was much more congruent with getting a custom-made suit fitted, going to the theater, and eating a late post-theater dinner out, than with going to see a punk band, even when the members of that punk band are all as old as we are, and equally supplied with those middle class, middle aged accoutrements that all of us aging boomers have - teenage or grown children, taste in wine, money in IRAs, and so on.

We liked Wicked, the sets were great, the acting was good, the music wasn't exactly catchy, more like Andrew Lloyd Weber overblown oratorio, but it moved the show along. It was perfect middle schooler entertainment; after Harry Potter, what else is there? And it was a Thursday, so lots of kids there - when the lights went down for the beginning there was even a middle schooler scream. Ironic that the next day the NYT had a long article about what will the booksellers do when the Harry Potter gravy train shut down next summer - the last book comes out in July.

Avec was very good - we were seated between two women who were totally trashed and a nice young couple, both very pretty, who were very forthcoming about what they were eating and what they liked - just the way the restaurant is supposed to work. We had a small plate, the crispy marinated chicken thigh with confit fingerling potatoes, apples, roasted garlic and gribiche, and a large plate, the "deluxe" focaccia with taleggio cheese, truffle oil and fresh herbs. I had two glasses of one of those superblend wines, I think it was this one, 03 Bigi, "Vipra Rossa"Umbria (merlot, sangiovese, montepulciano), and they had the kind of universal wine glasses that have no stem.

A cold walk from the theater down to the restaurant, then we cabbed back. That was how we knew the level of trashed-ness of the women next to us - the most drunk one was able to stand on the sidewalk and smoke a cigarette (before getting in a cab) wearing a thin wrap dress, a short coat, and boots, but bare legs.

In the morning we got up and got the suit fitted, strolled on Michigan Ave., and even were able to get breakfast (at noon) at the Bongo Room, the hip Wicker Park place that was too crowded for us to get into the week between xmas and new year's. I made their cornmeal-cranberry pancakes for the Lake Julia ski trip this year - they were immortalized by being published in the NYT magazine - one of their food writers, Jill Santopietro, sent R.W. Apple an email request for a good place to get pancakes, and he sent her to the Bongo Room, irking some sensitive Chicagoans in the know, because Apple, just like a New Yorker ignorant of Midwest geography, described Wicker Park as "north of Chicago".

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