Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Travel

November 7, 2012

Chicago - Still that 'Toddlin' Town'

(Continued)

For lunch I headed across Michigan Avenue to The Gage, a gastro pub with an amazing list of hand-crafted beers. I liked the lively Chicago vibe of the place named for the Gage Group of late 1800 buildings whose facades were designed by Louis Sullivan in collaboration with Holabird and Roche, a Chicago architectural firm.

A couple of Gage menu items that enticed me included vindaloo mussels and a copious venison burger with all the fixings. 24 S. Michigan Avenue. Phone 312-372-4243 or http://www.thegagechicago.com/.

With a couple hours to spare, a friend and I popped into the Art Institute of Chicago, founded in 1879. I had no idea the place was so huge (it has eight buildings totaling a million square feet, nearly 500 employees and 300,000 works of art in its permanent collection).

For those in a hurry, the visitors guide suggests a list of 12 works that include Seurat’s "A Sunday on the Grande Jatte," Van Gogh’s "The Bedroom," Marc Chagall’s "America Windows," Dali’s "Venus de Milo with Drawers" and Grant Woods "American Gothic."

Armed with the museum’s audio guide, I wandered along on my own and an hour and a half later, sensed that I had merely touched the surface of the holdings.

As I waited for a table at the Palmer House’s Lockwood Restaurant, I sat in the lobby, abuzz with activity, due partly to the presence of a film crew making a documentary. Sitting on a cushy sofa, I took in the eye candy of the 141-year-old grand dame of a hotel’s four-diamond rated elegance. They just don’t make them like this anymore crossed my mind as I gazed at its famous frescoed ceiling.

Dinner at the Lockwood (where the brownie was invented) proved memorable from start (an amuse bouche of cauliflower mousse with foie gras) to finish (wild Alaskan halibut with trumpet mushrooms and artichokes) followed by pear fig tatin with Port ice cream.

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