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Saturday in Chicago (Publican, David Bowie, and baffo)

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Birthdays are extra special when they land on a Saturday. I decided to treat myself to a rare day off! People are always asking how I write this site, work a full time job, and manage my role at the Windy City Blogger Collective. To be honest, I work all.the.time. I’m out of bed by 8 on weekends so that I can put in 8-10 hours of work on Saturday and Sunday. I don’t really have a work life balance, but I love my work so much that I don’t mind. However, a handful of times a year, I will take an entire day off, which is just what I did on Saturday. Here is a recap:

I slept in. This was much needed since I have been struggling with insomnia lately. Once I got up I had a tiny amount of work to do to announce a contest on WCBC for tickets to Chicago’s Table, a benefit supporting the Shedd Aquarium. Then it was time for brunch. I was really excited to finally try Publican after hearing so many rave reviews.


Publican is know for its pork-centric menu and communal tables. The restaurant masterfully seats people at the communal tables in a way that doesn’t make it feel like you are brunching with a bunch of strangers. Charles and I were given seats beside each other on a corner. I do this weird thing at brunch and order at least 2, sometimes 3 beverages. I always need hot tea, and a mimosa in addition to water, which is just what I did on Saturday.


Then we ordered the Brioche French Toast with Mascarpone and Raspberry, and the Pimento Cheese Toast topped with over easy eggs. We also ordered a side of the maple braised bacon, which is legendary in Chicago and for good reason.


The pimento cheese toast was topped with pickles, watercress, and two over easy eggs. Charles loved that this breakfast involved pickles, while I thought they were a bit overpowering. I had the brioche french toast, which was a huge portion. I thought it was quite good, but I could have used a bit more of the mascarpone sauce. The bacon was my favorite part of the meal. It was braised in sweet maple syrup, and was crisp on the outside, tender on the inside.

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Chicago has been buzzing about the David Bowie Is retrospective at the Museum of Contemporary Art, and it was fantastic! The exhibit combines Bowie’s life story, drawings, music, and current events from the times his most epic songs were written with a large collection of his stage costumes. The show is in Chicago – it’s only US stop – until January 4th. It is an absolute must see. (photo via)

Upon entering the exhibit, you are given headphones that react to your exact location playing music and interviews. It’s a complete audio/visual feast, and a delightful way to spend 90 minutes. I have been a longtime Bowie fan, but I had never understood his work in context with the current events happening when he wrote his songs. I had no idea that the first color photos of earth helped to inspire Mr. Tom. And I didn’t realize that Bowie was one of just a few artists to make music videos before MTV existed. If you can’t make it to David Bowie Is, the catalogue is gorgeous and would make a great gift. I bought it for myself since taking photos was strictly forbidden.

Next I did a little shopping. I picked up some new black boots at Macy’s, and a wool winter coat at Zara. I plan to live in those two items all winter.

Then we went to see Gone Girl. I hadn’t read the book, but heard the movie was great. I was warned that it was a weird movie choice to see with my husband, but we both enjoyed it. The acting and story were fantastic, if a bit disturbing.

By then it was time for dinner. We didn’t have reservations, but we ended up being able to grab seats at the bar at baffo, Mario Batali’s more upscale restaurant that is connected to Eataly. I snapped some photos with my iPhone.


I started out with a Pear Salad with nebbiolo poached pears, ricotta, and candied walnuts. I really liked the presentation of this dish. The ricotta was smeared on the bottom of the plate, and then topped with the poached pears. The pears really absorbed the red wine flavor from the nebbiolo, and were the star of this salad.


Next I had the beef cheek ravioli with truffles and castelmagno cheese. Beef cheek is such a treat and it worked beautifully in this ravioli. The ravioli were topped with a creamy sauce and a generous amount of truffles. It was so good I recommended it to the New Zealanders seated beside me – they loved it too.


Charles had the short rib with parsnip puree, braised greens, and horseradish. While it was very well prepared, it didn’t really stand out from similar short rib dishes at other Chicago restaurants. I think that the Short Rib Tagliatelle at Eataly upstairs is a superior dish.


I ended my meal with millefoglie filled with a vanilla custard, served with a raspberry sorbet on the side. The pastry was light and flaky, and the vanilla custard was rich and creamy. I loved the contrast of the cool sorbet, it was a great way of completing the dish.

There you have it, a guide to having a busy, but amazing Saturday in Chicago.


Thursday 6th of November 2014

It looks like you had a wonderful day off! The David Bowie exhibit is ON OUR LIST. We only live 4 blocks away so I'll kick myself if we don't go. I also agree on the three drinks at brunch: water, black coffee and a mimosa, of course. Katharine

Katie @ Live Half Full

Thursday 6th of November 2014

Nice Birthday day! Glad you enjoyed it!


Tuesday 11th of November 2014

Thanks Katie!

Jana Meister

Wednesday 5th of November 2014

This looks like you had a fantastic Birthday and a much needed day off :)

xx Jana


Tuesday 11th of November 2014

Thanks Jana! It was a much needed day off, and I loved it!

Anne [A Squared]

Wednesday 5th of November 2014

I also enjoy 3 brunch beverages! Caffeine, alcohol, and hydration-- it's very smart. Happy birthday, friend!

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