A Theatre Week in Chicago with NeoPatrick

Old Oct 12th, 2008, 12:25 PM
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A Theatre Week in Chicago with NeoPatrick

An American Airlines special round-trip non stop from Ft. Myers to Chicago for $198 each, taxes included, got me started. Before long I had booked tickets to 6 shows, so we knew this would be a theatre week.

We booked an apartment through StanProperties. It was at One West Superior (corner of State). Our alcove studio was on the top floor -- the 52nd. What a view. Surprisingly when we arrived, the concierge gave us keys to a different apartment (same floor). Some checking and we found out they are doing some work in the building and the original apartment we were to have (which had a nicer view more to the lake than due west and a little nicer furnished) was not available. The replacement one was just fine.

We flew up on Tues, Sept. 30 leaving Ft. Myers at about 11:50 in the afternoon and arriving O'Hare at 1:40. We bought week passes for Chicago Transit for $20 each, and took the Blue Line to the loop, transferred to the Red line and ended up one block from our apartment --easy as pie, although trying to find the elevator connections at the Jackson interchange was kind of difficult. In retrospect, just using the minimal stairs would have been easier and that's what we did going back.

Most of this report is about EATING and THEATRE, just about the only two things we did. Most of you know that my partner, Lee, has Alzheimers. He travels well, but we didn't do a lot of other activity. The temperature dropped about 20 degrees the day before we arrived so it was pretty chilly for us Floridians with highs in the 50s and lows in the low 40s, and yes it still is the Windy City!

After settling into the apartment, we headed downstairs to Whole Foods right in our building and stocked up on breakfast things and some great cheeses and whole grain crackers.

Tuesday night we had a great dinner at Le Colonial, an upscale Vietnamese place with wonderful atmosphere and even better food. It's on Rush, just a few blocks walk from our apartment.

Wednesday we went to the Pizzeria at Osteria via Stato on State and Ontaria. Fantastic thin crust pizzas (we don't like the deep dish Chicago style stuff at all). One had smoked mozzerella, fingerling potatoes, and pancetta. It was spectacular. Also had a red pizza with Italian sausage.

We walked to the Theatre Drury Lane at Water Tower Place for The Buddy Holly Story. Like all the others of our generation -- we enjoyed it. The guy doing Buddy Holly was great, although I didn't think much of the book to this musical (which we had always missed during its long London run).

This evening we took the bus to see a play called Weekend by Gore Vidal at the TimeLine Theatre. An excellent production about a conservative senator seeking the Republican nomination for president in the 60's when Lyndon Johnson decides he's not going to run again for re-election. The crux of the play is about the senators son who comes home from college on the same weekend as he is about to make his bid, and the son has his new fiance with him -- who happens to be African American. Very funny and clever premise and a good play.

Afterwards we were to meet our long time friend, Kathy for a late dinner at Rosebud on Rush -- her suggestion because she had a late meeting at the Peninsula right across the street, plus it would be convenient to our apartment as well (she lives and works in Evanston at Northwestern). But when she didn't appear, I called her only to find out that she had left a message in the mid afternoon that her meeting would be cancelled and couldn't make it. Duh. Not used to a cell phone, I had mine turned off all day while we were in the shows and never even thought to turn it on between shows. Anyway, Lee and I had dinner -- and as hinted at by a few people here, it was probably the most mediocre dinner of our trip. Lee had a special eggplant lasagna that sounded great, but was mainly tons of thick breading. Yeech.

Thursday we went to lunch at Frontera Grill (modern Mexican, they call it). We had eaten at Topolabamba, the more upscale sister next door, but we liked this better, frankly.

However, at the end of the meal, suddenly Lee was falling asleep -- or passing out. I couldn't get him to respond. Despite his eyes open he was falling into the table and I was holding him up. A man who I thought was a doctor was on us and checking his pulse and breathing which he declared were fine, but then he told us he was the restaurant manager who just happened to have been a paramedic -- how convenient. This is the fourth similar episode in three years. The manager insisted on calling EMS, they took him out on as stretcher, and I waited 15 minutes while they worked on him in the back. He had come around and was responsive, but they took him to Emergency at Northwestern Hospital. Lots of test, all good, and they wanted to keep him overnight. I can't say enough for this hospital and staff. From emergency to the room, to the treatment, it was all wonderful.

So with Lee in the hospital, I went off to see Turn of the Century at the Goodman, the new Tommy Tune directed musical. It was fun -- but I thought good a little drawn out and fell apart in the last half (no intermission). Afterwards I had dinner alone next door at Petterino's where I had made reservations for the two of us.

From there I called the nurse at the hospital who had given me a "private direct number" and she told me Lee was sound asleep and had had a very quiet evening, eating all his dinner and being good as could be. So I went back to the apartment and went to bed.

I was up by 6 on Friday, and headed to the hospital, stopping across the street from it at the Elephant and Castle for breakfast.
Lee was fine, we saw a couple of doctors and the neurologist, and all agreed that he could go "home". The end result was the same we've had each other time -- just an "event" that is not too uncommon with Alzheimers. But when we went downstairs and got ready to take a taxi to the apartment, Lee suddenly refused. There was no way he was getting in a taxi. So we let it go and we walked back to the apartment, conveniently only 6 blocks away. We walked slowly, but he was fine. Once back at the apartment, I went downstairs and got prepared foods for a hot lunch from Whole Foods. Spent a quiet afternoon just watching television

That evening Lee was ready to go. We went to our show -- Remy Bumppo Theatre's "The Voysey Inheritance."
This is an excellent show from about 1900, in a new adaptation by David Mamet. Oddly it is all about a London family which holds financial trusts, but has mishandled funds and lost securities. Several of us at intermission laughed at the idea that they were in period costumes -- this show was about as TODAY as anything could be --a mirror to what is going on right now.

Afterwards we headed back down on the RedLine and had dinner at Quartino's at State and Ontario. We arrived for our reservation at about 10:00 and people were standing out the door to get in. We got seated and I immediately noticed that clearly we were the only ones there over 40 -- and almost the only ones there over 30. What a very young and boisterous crowd. Despite the very high noise level, we loved this place. Stacks of plates on the tables and everything comes out as it is prepared -- to share. We had some fantastic salmon on a bed of lentils, some roasted calamari and octopus salad, and a delicious rigatoni pasta.

Saturday we had matinee tickets to Million Dollar Quartet in the smaller theatre at the Goodman, downtown. First we had a great lunch at Petterino's. The show was probably the most enjoyable one of the trip. It takes place on a night in 1956 at Sun Records in Memphis, when Elvis Presley (who got his start there, but had been "sold" to RCA), Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, and the newly acquired Jerry Lee Lewis, all have a "jam session". The four performers (plus Sam Phillips, the owner of Sun Records, and a "girlfriend" of Elvis's) were simply sensational. The place rocked with all the music. Everyone in the audience was on their feet by the end (Whole Lot a Shakin').

Saturday evening we had NO theatre, but a nice quiet dinner at Osteria via Stato (where we had lunch in their casual pizzeria on Wednesday). Loved this place, and I especially liked my pork shank cooked with white beans, kale, and sage in an iron pot. I LOVE real peasant food.

Sunday we headed to Vinci on Halsted for brunch before our matinee at the Steppenwolf -- Kafka on the Shore. This is an adaptation of a Japanese story, poetic and visually stunning, but for the life of me I don't have a clue of what it really meant -- nor did anyone around us that I talked to.

That evening we finally were able to meet up with our friend Kathy whom we had missed on Wednesday night. We went to dinner at Erwin, recommended by several fodorites. Nice place, great atmosphere, super waiter. We split some fried green tomatoes with greens and buttermilk dressing. I had a special Lamb Shank, which frankly I thought was kind of disappointing -- not "fall off the bone" but fairly tough and rather dry. But the au gratin potatoes are worth a trip in themselves! Kathy and Lee both enjoyed their meals very much. We sat and drank and ate and talked and talked until they apologetically "threw us out" at about 10:30. Great evening.

Monday we walked over to Water Tower Place and had a "comfort food lunch" at Mity Nice Grill. Lee had meatloaf and mashed potatoes, I had roast chicken with broccoli. Good food -- too big of portions!

We then took the bus over to Navy Pier -- in all our past trips to Chicago we had never been there, so we walked it. OK, big deal. But Lee was happy as we found a Ben and Jerry's there!

Monday night -- dinner at Prosecco on Wells, near Superior. There's no sign on this place. Nice interior and wonderful food! They start you with complimentary Prosecco (I asked the waitress --"Couldn't you call this place Brunello, so we could get that instead?"). I had a wonderful special pappardelle with short ribs and porcini ragout with other wild mushrooms -- rich and delicious. We had shared a huge plate of bresaola with pecorino and arulgula. Lee had a penne pasta he loved.

Tuesday was simply getting up, packed,and dressed and off by train to O'Hare for our 11:30 flight home. I loved the new American 'priority' line for us Gold members, no waiting at all, and we whipped through security. We picked up a big Chinese chicken salad at Wolfgang Puck To Go for our lunch on the plane. Arrived in Ft. Myers at 3 PM (15 minutes early) our luggage was already on the carousel when we got there.

So other than the "hospital" excitement, it was a wonderful trip. I only gained a few pounds.

NeoPatrick is offline  
Old Oct 12th, 2008, 12:45 PM
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I am glad you had a good trip and that you enjoyed Quartino. Your report has made me want to head up to Chicago soon!
BetsyinKY is offline  
Old Oct 12th, 2008, 12:46 PM
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Patrick-Sounds like an amazing trip. Everytime I go to Chicago it's always for such a short time and after reading your report would definitely love to spend more time there.

How scary about Lee! I am so glad that he was alright but I am sure you had some anxious moments even if you had seen it before. Again, I just to compliment you on how you handle everything.

See you in SF.
paula1470 is offline  
Old Oct 12th, 2008, 12:52 PM
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Sounds like a great trip. Glad you had a great time, even with the scare. Glad it turned out well.

Chicago is definitely one of my favorite cities.
tchoiniere is offline  
Old Oct 12th, 2008, 01:29 PM
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Patrick, thank you! thank you! thank you! for this trip report - which outlines only a small portion of the wealth of Chicago theatre options.

To be honest, when I see post after post only mentioning "Wicked: The Musical" or "Jersey Boys" (although they are good shows for their genre)...IMHO, I just think people are missing the boat about what Chicago really has to offer. And I'm glad you didn't!

Despite the circumstances, I'm happy that you both had a wonderful time here.

I, too, flew into Chicago on Sept. 30 from PHX (via MDW). Told others later that summer had finally slipped away on that day.
exiledprincess is offline  
Old Oct 12th, 2008, 01:41 PM
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I always so enjoy your trip reports Patrick and since we like the same kind of food of course I am always very hungry after reading about the various dishes you enjoyed.

I am so sorry that dear Lee had another one of those episodes but it sure sounds like he was well taken care of. And of course you always take such good care of him!

Other than the incident with Lee your week in Chicago sounds wonderful! And you will soon be out here on our coast which everyone is so looking forward to as you can tell by the GTG thread.

Check the weather reports, it is getting cold here and crefloors had told me the other day that Tahoe was going to get snow.


LoveItaly is offline  
Old Oct 12th, 2008, 03:58 PM
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Good report Neo. I am glad Lee is fine.
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Old Oct 12th, 2008, 04:24 PM
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Enjoyed your trip report, Patrick. I'm hungry now. Quartino's and your iron pot dish at Osteria via stato sound great. I'll see if I can check them out when I am in the Windy City. Glad Lee is okay and that the medical system worked well.
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Old Oct 12th, 2008, 04:41 PM
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Thanks for the report, NeoPatrick. I always look forward to reading them.
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Old Oct 12th, 2008, 04:56 PM
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Thanks for the report, I always look forward to reading them, and as a Chicago resident this one was especially fun and helpful. Glad to hear Lee's episode resolved, and that the care was good at Northwestern.

I have seen or am seeing many of the plays you mention. Turn of the Century is later this month. One of my new pet peeves is theaters dispensing with an intermission. I was so annoyed with Goodman doing it with Trip to Bountiful last season that I actually emailed them. The response was that the director didn't want to interrupt the fragile storyline, etc., no natural break, etc., but frankly, I think imtermissions serve other purposes for te audience!
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Old Oct 12th, 2008, 05:21 PM
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I must say that after an hour and 40 minutes with no intermission, that was about the longest men's room line I've even seen.

I'll be curious what others think about Turn of the Century. Perhaps my perception was a little cloudy with worrying about Lee in the hospital, but I really don't think so. They just didn't seem to know what to do with the story after the first half. But it was still a very enjoyable show (although Rachel York is wonderful and Jeff Daniels really is no singer.)
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Old Oct 12th, 2008, 05:59 PM
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We are fortunate to live within driving distance of Chicago and have enjoyed many pre-Broadway shows there. We visit Le Colonial every single time we are in town. I love the ambiance and the food. The bar upstairs is a great way to start the evening. Thanks for the tip on Prosecco. Based upon what you ordered, it sounds like my kind of place! So sorry to hear about Lee. God bless you for your devotion and care. We should all be so fortunate to have someone like you in our lives.
Maggi is offline  
Old Oct 12th, 2008, 06:34 PM
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Bookmarking, but....
I live in NE Indiana and visit Chicago fairly often, but your report makes me want to go NOW! And I'm hungry, too.
Glad you had a good trip, sorry about the detour to the hospital, but glad it wasn't for any longer than it was.
Thanks for the specific restaurants and theaters. We really should do more when we are in Chicago than shop!
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Old Oct 13th, 2008, 04:33 AM
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Thanks Patrick for a great report.

I have bookmarked Quartino's and the Million Dollar Quartet. What a fun day that would be! Maybe we can get to Chicago sometime before SNOW time.

Glad Lee is fine.
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Old Oct 13th, 2008, 02:36 PM
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I loved Turn of the Century, it was great fun. The story could use some work and wish they would've done more singing and dancing. Rachael York is very talented.
My big treat...meeting Tommy Tune, who directed the play!
We want to see Million Dollar Quartet, rave reviews all around on this one.
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Old Oct 13th, 2008, 02:56 PM
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Bookmarking to read later!
TDudette is online now  
Old Oct 14th, 2008, 10:38 PM
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Patrick, I loved your trip report.
I am glad that Lee was OK.
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Old Oct 15th, 2008, 10:21 AM
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You're making the theatre selections in Chicago right now sound better than those I'm trying to pick among for New York. Food sounds terrific too. I share your love of peasant food--and Lee's love of meatloaf. Regardless of how superdupey a place may be, if there's something peasanty on the menu, that's always my pick. And my favorite things to cook are also peasant things, especially those in a single giant pot, like Pot au Feu, Bigos, Cassoulet, Carbonades, ec, etc. Thanks for another fun report. Don't know when we'll be in Chicago again, but whenever, we'll have your suggestions along.
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Old Oct 15th, 2008, 04:26 PM
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Great report as usual.

You are an angel.
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Old Oct 15th, 2008, 05:35 PM
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Thanks for sharing. I enjoyed your report as always. Sorry about Lee, but it sounds like overall you guys had a very good time.
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