Steve’s Birthday Week, part 2: Chicago fun

I’m in Chicago right now– for work, the Conference for College Composition and Communication– and I need to get ready for my full day of conference activities in a few minutes here. But before I head over to the conference and give up my free internet connection at Panera’s, I thought I’d post a bit about the “fun part” of my trip so far.

We (meaning me, Bill H-D and Steve B) drove into town on Tuesday. After spending several hours in the car (literally) going over a tit-for-tat/crazy email exchange I had with some one at work, we checked into the Congress Plaza Hotel, which I would describe as a lovely dump of an old hotel. Not elegant, but it works for us.

Dinner Tuesday night was at Frontera Grill, which is one half of celeberity chef Rick Bayless’ restaurant empire (the other half if is the much more expensive Topolobampo). Basically, it’s high-end Mexican food, and oh yes, it is very good. We began in the bar, where the three of us and three other folks (two from work, Heidi and Linda, and one from Australia, Clair) shared a table about the size of a large hubcap in the bar. We started with some appetizers there, including some excellent tamales. Then Steve and Bill and I ended up with a table. Here’s Bill and me eating (sorry about the sad quality of my camera phone):

Bill and I both had “small plate” orders of Ceviche; in addition, I had Enchiladas de Pato, which were duck enchiladas, and Bill had Huaraches de Huitlacoche, which the menu describes as “grill-seared, corn masa flatbread topped with black beans, Tracey’s huitlacoche (corn mushroom), roasted winter vegetables, tangy tomatillo salsa, sunflower greens and homemade fresh cheese.” By “corn mushroom,” they mean this moldy stuff that grows on corn. I tried a piece of it, and I have to say it was excellent– very earthy and mushroom-y like.

Here’s Steve B:

He had the special for the evening (and arguably more manly meal), ribs.

Oh, and the celebrity chef himself, Rick Bayless, was wandering around the restaurant. He was surprisingly short and skinny, if you ask me.

All in all, a great dining experience, and, considering what it was and how much we ate and drank, it wasn’t even that crazy expensive.

I’ll have to update some more Chicago fun later; now I gotta work….

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