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The PrivateBank Theatre

March 31, 2017
  • 18 W. Monroe Street
  • Chicago, IL 60603
  • (312) 977-1700
  • Website

Last fall, Book of Mormon came to Miller Auditorium as part of their PNC Broadway in West Michigan series.  It just so happened that it was in Kalamazoo on my birthday, so when J asked what I wanted, I jokingly said Book of Mormon tickets thinking she wouldn’t really be interested.  She was interested and we got tickets and I loved every minute of it.

As we were leaving the theater, I made a remark about wondering what would be there during her birthday.  She said it didn’t matter.  She wanted to see Hamilton: An American Musical.  I knew we weren’t going to go to New York to see the show, but Chicago has a sit-down production of the musical, so I started looking for tickets to that one.

Turns out, if you’re willing to go during the week, you can still get tickets a few months out.  J’s birthday was actually on a Friday this year which was sold out, but the Thursday night show had a number of tickets in the “cheap seats.”  She said she didn’t care where we sat as long as we got inside the theater.

That theater is The PrivateBank Theatre in downtown Chicago.  The 21-story building that houses the 100+ year old theatre and a Hampton Inn sits on Monroe Street between State and Dearborn Streets in the South Loop.
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Shake Shack (Chicago Loop)

March 31, 2017
  • 12 S. Michigan Avenue
  • Chicago, IL 60603
  • (312) 646-6005
  • Website
  • Menu

We didn’t really need anymore food.  We had a pretty big dinner at The Bar Below, but we still had about an hour and a half until our show started at The PrivateBank Theatre.

We decided to go for a walk.  I love Downtown Chicago.  It’s one of my favorite places and seems almost therapeutic even though it’s loud, crowded, and loud.

I missed my turn when I was trying to get to the InterPark ramp on the corner of Wabash and Adams.  I had to go a little bit further up Michigan Avenue and back track to Wabash.

On our little detour, we noticed a Shake Shack.  Neither of us have been to the popular New York City chain and while we knew there was one (actually two) in Chicago now, we didn’t realize it was going to be so close to where we were.  We were both stuffed, but both of us wanted to see what Shake Shack was all about.

Shake Shake in the South Loop is on Michigan Avenue between Madison and Monroe right across the street from Millennium Park.  The restaurant is in the Chicago Athletic Association which, despite it’s name sounding like a fancy gym, is actually a hotel.   Read more…

The Bar Below

March 31, 2017
  • 127 S. State Street
  • Chicago, IL 60603
  • (312) 372-2987
  • Website
  • Menu

J and I are not fancy food people.  We’re much more comfortable in a bar eating sandwiches than in a white table cloth place with a Prix Fixe menu.  I like steak, but I want fries with my steak which gets you a lot of weird looks at the fancy joints.

I started looking for a place to eat in Downtown Chicago earlier this week near the PrivateBank Theatre.  I got J tickets to see Hamilton: An American Musical for her birthday which is playing at that theater.

I gave her a lot of options.  Fancy.  Italian.  Pubs.  I really wanted her to find something she would be happy with because it was her birthday.  I had it down to about three places, but there was one that she was leaning towards….so that’s where we went.

The Bar Below is on South State Street just north of West Adams Street.  It’s part of Beef ‘n Brandy which has been party of the dining scene in downtown since the 1960’s. Read more…

Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers (Oak Lawn)

March 31, 2017
  • 11006 S. Cicero Avenue
  • Oak Lawn, IL 60453
  • (708) 422-3736
  • Website
  • Menu

If you have kids, you know how important chicken fingers are. We eat a lot of chicken fingers.  Frozen chicken fingers.  Homemade chicken fingers.  Fast food chicken fingers.  Baked chicken fingers.  Fried chicken fingers.  Lots of chicken fingers.

If you’re in that situation, haven’t you ever wondered why no one has made a restaurant that only serves chicken fingers?  If you have, you haven’t heard of Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers.

We were back in the Chicago area for J’s birthday.  We typically take a long weekend around that day so she can be with her parents.  She and I usually try to get in to the city for dinner, but this year we had something even better than dinner in the city.  Hamilton tickets.

Tickets for Hamilton can be hard to get on weekends, but there are still some seats available on week nights.  I asked J if she wanted to take a couple of vacation days and go to the show Thursday night.  She did. I bought tickets.

We decided to drive to J’s parents when I got off work at Midnight on Wednesday.  We prefer to wake up in Chicago rather than get up early and drive.  I’m still wide awake after getting off work, so the two hour drive doesn’t bother me.

We got up on Thursday and wanted to get an early lunch.  J and I were leaving to head in to the city around 4:00 because we didn’t want to take a chance with traffic.  With light traffic, we’d get downtown around 5:00.  With heavy traffic, it could be closer to 6:00.

I sort of slept in because I still couldn’t fall asleep when we got to J’s parents.  When I rolled out of bed around 11:00, J asked if I wanted to go pick up lunch.  I asked if she wanted chicken and she knew exactly what I was talking about.

Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers has been open on Cicero Avenue near 111th Street just inside the Oak Lawn city limits for about a month.  This location is the second Illinois location with one in North Riverside opening before this one and one in Naperville coming soon.   Read more…

Fresh Fish and Fry

March 30, 2017
  • 3140 S. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard
  • Lansing, MI 48901
  • (517) 882-7007
  • Website
  • Menu

An impromptu trip to Lansing means an impromptu trip for dinner.

A co-worker and I decided at the last minute we needed to go to Lansing to get something.  Our bosses approved, so we hit the road just before 4:00.  Our task was wrapped up by 5:45 and we were  heading back to Grand Rapids.  My co-worker noticed I missed the on ramp to I-496 and asked where I was going.  I told him I was going to pick up some chicken.  He didn’t seem to mind.

We drove from downtown to Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.  As we passed Popeyes, C.W. thought I was going to pull in.  I told him I had a better idea and went just a little bit further up the road to a local, well know, and very popular you buy, we fry place.

Fresh Fish and Fry is on Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard just to the north of Holmes Road on the southwest side of Lansing.  The joint is a small building with little parking in a heavily commercialized area of MLK Jr. Boulevard that has both a Popeyes and a KFC.

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Green Door Distilling Company

March 26, 2017
  • 429 E. North Street
  • Kalamazoo, MI 49007
  • (269) 929-7341
  • Website

J and I have really taken advantage of grandparents coming to visit lately.  Last month, when her parents were in town, we went out to dinner at The Union.  Our plan that night was to go to Green Door Distilling afterwards, but they were closed that night for a private party.

This weekend, my mom and aunt came for a visit.  We grilled chicken and steaks on the grill then we asked if we could sneak out for an hour or so.  They were fine with a little one-on-one time and didn’t have any qualms about putting the kids to bed, so J and I finished our date night from a month ago.

When I grill, I usually stand outside and drink while the food is cooking.  I had already had a couple of beers while I was grilling.  I wasn’t drunk by any means, but if we were going out to drink some more, I didn’t think it was a good idea for me to drive.  I asked J if she wanted to drive and she didn’t really want to either, so we called an Uber.

Green Door Distilling Company is in Kalamazoo’s Northside Neighborhood on North Street at the intersection with Wahlbridge.  The building looks like it was kinda mashed together at sometime in the past.  There are three distinct buildings that are all connected together.  In a previous life, this building was Artwear Apparel.  Just looking back at previous Google Streetview photos, you can see the work that has went into unifying this building in to one harmonious space. Read more…

Anna’s House (Kalamazoo)

March 22, 2017
  • 4700 Stadium Drive
  • Kalamazoo, MI 49008
  • (269) 372-3900
  • Website
  • Menu

I’d really like to think I’m a pretty observant guy….yet somehow, this one totally got passed me.

I really had no idea Sophia’s House of Pancakes had closed.  I really had no idea that Anna House bought the place.  I really had no idea that there was a major renovation being done inside this building that I drive by several times a week.  It wasn’t until the sign went up and I saw that familiar “AH” that I finally figured out something was going on.

We knew that getting in to Anna’s House on a weekend is going to be tough for a while….and possibly forever, so we had an idea.  Let’s stop in during the week.

L will be starting kindergarten next year and Kalamazoo Public Schools held their kindergarten orientation last week.  We went to check out her new school, sign up, and take a short school bus ride.  We were done at the school a little before 11:00 and L wanted to “check out the new restaurant.”  We were all hungry so why the heck not?

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