Shaken, Not Spilled

Last night I met an old friend at a highly regarded cocktail lounge. With the velvet cushy chairs and the subtle candlelight, the ambiance was fancy yet relaxed.

The cocktails were made tableside by the head bartender and you could not help but be impressed with his knowledge and skill as he crafted for me a delicious tequila cocktail. He urged me to take a sip as I waited for my tablemate’s drink to be made, so as to not miss out on the drink’s freshest sip.

I was surprised at the smoothness of the cocktail and sat back to listen to my friend as the bartender mixed a blackberry gin basil cocktail. I was even more surprised when, all of a sudden, mid-shake, a full glass of blackberry purée, liquor, ice, and basil leaves flew all over me.

Right out of a movie, I thought as I tried to wipe the blackberry purée out of my hair and off my face, clothes, and bag. I simultaneously reassured the bartender, who seemed to be borderline suicidal after the incident, that it wasn’t a big deal. Seeing as how I was wearing a dark purple sweater from H&M and out with just a friend, it really wasn’t.

Three other servers rushed over to help clean up the mess as the head bartender assured me that he hasn’t had a mishap like that in over 11 years. I excused myself to the bathroom to wipe the last few blackberry speckles off my cheeks.

A free $80 meal later, I was happy to take one for the team.

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My Foot Hurts

Dear CTA bus drivers,

I understand that sometimes the drivers of Chicago can be unruly but please note that when u stop ridiculously short, standing women sometimes fly across the bus and sometimes there are 250 lb men standing next to them that fall on them. I’ll be sending you the bill for my bruised ankle.

Sad and sprained,
Lindsay

On the Ground

I didn’t know about this one at first…..but sure enough Andy Samberg and the SNL crew did it again. HILARIOUS. My dad’s not a phone!!

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Old Town Social

Crowd

Take a handful of River Northers who’ve just got to be at the newest spot, a sprinkle of Lincoln Park scenesters excited about the cheaper cab ride, and a splash of Old Town locals thrilled to have a new night spot, and that’s the crowd you’ll get at Old Town social. My first experience at OTS (yeah, I said it…) was for a Thursday night happy hour. There were plenty of suit-wearing after-workers who took a hop, skip, and a brown line train over, and gradually as the night went on more and more people filtered in to kick off their nights. My favorite part about the crowd at OTS was that it’s a lot less douchey than a downtown spot, but a little more sophisticated than some of the bars you’ll find in Lincoln Park. Overall it was a great mix of young, old, professionals, scenesters, locals, and downtowners. Warning: as the night goes on, “crowd” becomes a little more literal and you may not be able to move.

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Space

Old Town social brings together fiery red velvet, dark wood communal tables, and bronze and black metallics to create a beautiful conversation starter of a bar. Right as you walk in to the space, a mini semi-circle bar will surprise you and a cozy library room, complete with books and a fireplace, will draw you in. The main bar area opens up to lofted ceilings and communal tables, surrounded by private nooks for two embedded into the walls…perfect place for a date! The back of the space houses a raised cocktail area with another small bar, which is perfect for a private party and a great looking spot for spying on the sea of people below.

Rebecca in the Reading Room

Rebecca in the Reading Room

Service & Management

Servers and bartenders are friendly and nice for the most part. My favorite guy is the doorman who’s always good for a joke on the way in. I have not met any owners or management personally yet, but in trying to plan an upcoming event, they have been difficult to communicate with and a little unwilling to compromise.

Food & Drink

The menu is not published online yet, so I speak of the food & drink from memory. But from what I remember, it was pretty awesome. OTS offered an extensive menu of beer and wine, as well as a selection of specialty seasonal cocktails made with fresh juice and unique ingredients (my favorite kind). For food, OTS offers upscale, gourmet bar food from a former Blackbird sous chef. I tried the grilled cheese with a side of what I think were chips fried in duck fat. Mmmm…duck fat.

Bottom Line

I’m pretty excited about Old Town Social, and I think once the hype dies down it might become one of my favorite hang-outs. As I stated earlier, it’s way less douchey than downtown and my cab ride is at least $5 cheaper. What could be better than that? I think the music needs to get better, the management needs to get a bit more organized, and the website needs to get up and running. But other than that…we’re all good. To top it all off, it will be totally easy to walk over to Burton Place for some late night karaoke. Bonus!

Facts
Address:
455 W. North Avenue
Phone:
312-266-2277
Website
: http://www.oldtownsocial.com
Email
: info@oldtownsocial.com
Neighborhood
: Old Town
Hours
: Mon-Fri: 5pm-2am; Sat-Sun: 11am-3am
Parking
: Meters and a paid parking garage
Chef
: Jared Van Camp
Owner/Management:
Chris Freeman, Chris Dexter
Open Since:
August 2009

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The Roof

Crowd
Crowd. Let’s start by saying that there was A LOT of it. I met my step-mom there after work and in total we wound up waiting an hour. Normally I wouldn’t wait this long for a bar, but the step-mom really wanted to go, and we were actually second in line with the promise of “soon” for the majority of the wait. Go figure. The actual scene wasn’t anything to brag about…just your typical after work happy-hour crowd with a few more “older gentleman” than I would have liked. There was also a GWU reunion or something which made it even more crowded. But it did seem like a fun place to come back to with a group of friends once the hype dies down.

hour long line
hour long line

Space
The view from the Roof was of course impressive, but it wasn’t as great as I had expected given all the hype. I haven’t been to any of the other hotel rooftops that seem to have come out of nowhere recently but I imagine they are similar. Walking in to the Roof there is an indoor, lounge-like section sandwiched in between two outdoor areas. The main bar area is on the right and is a long thin rectangle with two square bars in the center (around fire pits), bordered with white booths. It’s very Miami-esque. There’s not much space to stand around and most of the tables are reserved so your best bet is to be obnoxious and hover over people you think might be leaving at the bar….which is exactly what I did.

Scene on the Roof
Scene on the Roof

Service & Management
We had to wait awhile for a server to come by but I sort of expected that. You have to ever-so-slyly sneak into a seat so it makes sense that the busy servers wouldn’t notice. But once we got her attention she was super nice and friendly. The guys working the door definitely think they’re all that and a bag of chips, not cool. If you’re the type (like me) that gets angry when other, way cooler people are let in before you, then brace yourself for this one…

Food & Drink
Nothing really jumped out at me on the small plates menu, but that was actually a good  thingbecause I tried some dishes I probably normally wouldn’t have tried. When they say small plates, they mean small. So don’t come here for a meal unless you’re planning on spending a crapload of money. The Salmon Crudo and the Roasted Artichokes were delicious little snacks and not too heavy. Of course I had to ruin our healthy meal with a giant plate of fries, which were also delicious.- sprinkled with truffle oil and parmesan Don’t waste your time on the Roasted Sweet Pepper and Goat Cheese Crostini…you can make this at home. I was surprised at the smallness of the specialty cocktail menu- they only had about six to choose from. I started with the Randy Raspberry which consisted of Absolut, raspberry puree, lemon juice and prosecco. Wasn’t in love with it…reminded me of drinking Schmirnoff Raspberry in the dorms freshman year. So I switched over to the Blueberry Caipiroska which was pretty awesome. It was Stoli blueberry, fresh lime, blueberries, and sugar- deep in color and very refreshing.

Roasted Artichokes
Roasted Artichokes
salmon crudo

salmon crudo

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Randy Raspberry

Bottom Line
I think Roof is a lot of hype, but if you live for the scene then you  must check it out. For the rest of us, I would recommend hitting up the Roof at an off-hour like 3/4pm or later in the evening when the crowd dies down.

Facts

Address: 201 N. State Street

Phone: 312-239-9501

Website: http://roofonthewit.therestaurantsatthewit.com/

Email: askus@thewithotel.com

Neighborhood: Loop

Parking: is a biotch

Size: not too big

Chef: Todd Stein

Owner/Management: The Wit Hotel

Meals Served: no meals here….just small plates

Spirits: large beer selection, small specialty cocktail menu, wine

Menu link: http://roofonthewit.therestaurantsatthewit.com/cuisine

Open Since: June 2009

Some Bar Short and Sweets

I’ve been too busy patronizing these various bars to write about them, so unfortunately they’ll each just get a little tidbit. But here’s some bars that opened in spring- some continue to stay hot throughout summer and some have cooled off.

Market – West Loop

I went to Market for happy hour one day a month or two ago. It’s pretty sweet and the roof deck and patio seem amazing, but unfortunately it was too cold for us to hang out. The inside was sort of eh for happy hour if you’re not utilizing the outdoor section- the bar area is very thin and crowded, and the dining area is strictly closed off to reservations only.

front patio "cafe" at Market

front patio "cafe" at Market

I’d like to go back for an evening, although I hear the crowd is douchey. Seemed like a pretty good mix when I was there. The food is pretty good- with unique bites like their popcorn shrimp that actually comes in a popcorn bag-like bowl thing. The presentation of the nachos was also impressive, but the actual dish I was not impressed with. They had some melted cheese on the top of the nachos, but then hidden in the middle was like fake 7-11 nacho cheese. What’s up with that? Who you foolin’??

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Loft 610

This bar was pretty wack. It has a lot of potential- big open space, private loungy areas…but the crowd was just laaaaame. It was basically a bunch of recent grad yuppies and hipsters who are just starting to live it up in Chicago. Don’t get me wrong- if this was 4 years ago, I probably would have gone here every weekend and thought I was totally sweet. But not so much anymore. Oh, there was a skanky ass girl dancing on a chair and showing her ass to everyone. That was probably the highlight.

Ass Girl

Ass Girl

Rockit – Wrigleyville

Rockit in Wrigley was pretty much what I expected. The atmosphere and decor are very similar to the River North Rockit but without so many chonches. Probably pretty fun at night but since I don’t make it up to Wrigley much, I don’t really know. I might enjoy the less chonchy version, though…maybe I’ll check it out again some point soon…but not likely. One things for sure- they still make mean BBQ pulled pork sliders.

Rockit Wrigley

Rockit Wrigley

District – River North

District is my kind of bar. I went for a birthday party and was able to hang out in the private “library” space. It’s an awesome venue for a private cocktail party or birthday, and there’s no room reservation or rental fee. District had a large menu of specialty cocktails and beers and played really good music. One warning: DO NOT attempt to cross the inside semi circle near the bar. If you do you will get drowned in a sea of hair gel. Bar-goer beware.

More to Love TONIGHT!

It’s the moment I’ve been waiting for for over 2 months…The night I will either thank my lucky stars that I had enough sense to stay away, or the night I will curse myself for turning down the chance to become a reality TV Star.

More to Love premieres on Fox tonight at 8:00 PM Central Time where Luke Conley, former college offensive lineman, will try to win the hearts of 30 full-figured ladies.

According to today’s RedEye, the women range from age 21-37 and 180 lbs to 279. While I will 100% support these women in their quest for finding love, I’m happy to say that after hard work and a healthy diet I no longer fit into that weight category (although I might again considering Sarks and Five Guys on the corner).  It is quite flattering though that I was chosen out of the 5,000 contestants.

I’ll be tuning in tonight with some low-fat popcorn and a Fresca.