Second City Weekend

Some buds at work (props to Eddie, John and Danny, all whom since have left the company…) gave me a birthday gift card for The Second City, Chicago’s influential comedy-improv troupe. I booked the tickets along with a Dinner+Show package, including a prix-fixe dinner at Bistrot Margot on Wells.

We set off Sunday morning, stopping in St Charles, to see Grace in Wheaton, and Oakbrook to perform various returns and shopping items not demanding a special trip. REI took back the sock I ripped with my thumb – hey, none of the Smartwool ones ever did that.

An easy trip in on I290, and we made a quick stop to pick up 250 lbs of dumbbells in the West Loop from Nic from Craigslist. He had us back the car into the Public Storage garage, brought down the weights on a roll cart, and help load them. Good guy, and weights for about .88 a pound. A bargain. After I sell the dupes, my cost goes down even more.

Then we headed into the city, and fought Michigan Ave traffic all the way to the Intercontinental, at 505 N. Michigan. The valet stand out front was packed and we waited to get in. There was a line at the registration desk, and our stuff was delivered to the room quickly. The room was nice, but not spectacular. We got a good deal – only $160 for the AAA rate. Parking was almost more.

We dressed and headed down to get a cab. I thought we should not catch a cab on Boul Mich, as traffic was crawling, so we crossed the street, stopped at Walgreens for some Tic Tacs, and walked toward the Trump. You can always find a cab near a nice hotel, and we did before we even got to the hotel. He took off north, and cut at least 10 minutes off our trip.

We we dropped off several blocks short of the Bistrot as there was a street fair on Wells. We avoided paying the entrance donation (cheap.) and found the restaurant. It was a nice place, with outside seating, but the sun was beating on the tables and it was real loud with the bands and all. We sat at a little table in the front, where we were shaded, private, got a little A/C, and could see out the opened “front garage door” and watch the people.

Our server was personable and laid back, never rushing us. Our salads were a greens salad, with the best crispy big bacon chunks I have ever had on a salad. Bette had a wonderful pork tenderloin. I had the Steak Frites, butt steak with fries. The topping was good, but I liked the pork better. Dessert came along, Bette had an excellent bread pudding (not the best, but good) and I had Profiteroles, basically cream puffs, split, with ice cream between. More like ice milk, kind of grainy. They were good, but three is too many. I just ate the ice cream.

We left and headed north two blocks to Piper’s Alley. There was already a line outside the door, as seating is first come first seated at 6:10. We moved inside and stood on the stairs lined with big posters of Second City alums.

A good reason to get the “dinner+show” combo is you also get preferred seating, nice tables up front. We were there early – GET THERE EARLY – and we seated on the aisle in the third row.

We saw “Who do they think they are?”, the 100th Revue from the troupe. It was very good, and we sat behind kind of a ild dude that pushed the performers’ buttons a bit. The gentleman of color in the cast did a dynamite Barack Obama – SNL should hire him just for the election season. Everyone in the cast was great. I had one of the North Avenue Martinis, a blue thing with Vanilla Vodka. Yum. They also had a green thing called the Chicago River-I did not try one. We could not hang out for the customary post-show improv session as it was a holiday and there was a second show. Boo. But the gift card covered half the drinks, and we left and caught a cab back to the hotel.

In the morning, we went for a walk along the river toward the lake, and found “The Yolk” a fun looking breakfast place. We hoofed back to the hotel, got coffee at the hotel Starbucks, showered (in a highly-variable-pressure shower), met Chellie, and went upstairs to “The Continental” restaurant where we were in line in a crowded room–and the doorman had warned us about the $27 buffet. We decided to try The Yolk, but could see the line from three blocks away. Question: if the address is 355 E Ohio, why is it at the corner of Grand & McClurg? We turned back to succumb to the hotel, and stumbled across Mary’s Cafe, which looked empty, but was actually somewhat crowded. Reminded me of Mary Lou’s in Carbondale… and kind of the same food. I had the Italian sausage skillet. Good and large portions. Too large – burp.

Bid Chellie adieu, and checked out. They let us out underground so we didn’t have to fight Michigan Ave again. Easy trip home, and now, settling in for a new work week!

InterContinental Chicago, 505 North Michigan Avenue
Bistrot Margot, 1437 N Wells Street
The Second City, 1616 North Wells Street
The Yolk, 355 E Ohio Street (corner of Grand & McClurg)
Mary’s Cafe, 215 E Grand Ave

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