Friday, April 17, 2015

The Week of Eating Dangerously Part 2

In our last episode, we were slowly eating our way through all of Chicago with our house guests the McGills.  Here we continue.


Just one portion of the Museum of Science & Industry
We spent most of the day at the Museum of Science and Industry.  It is one of our favorite museums in the city.  It's a Kid's science museum, with lots of historical stuff to boot, but it's really about applied science, so everything there is about how science is used to make stuff, do stuff, or create stuff.  They've done a wonderful job on all of the exhibits.  They have machinery from a real live Coal Mine, then and show how coal mines work.  They have airplanes that you can walk into and a train you can walk into and a German sub you can walk into--it's pretty awesome how participatory the whole place is. They have a tornado machine that creates a tornado that... (you guessed it) you can walk into.

The Baby Chicks
You can't see the whole museum in one day no matter how hard you try. (And believe me we've tried.)  Some exhibits not to miss include the above mentioned tornado, the coal mine (you have to pay extra and book your trip, but it's worth it) The circus exhibit is a lot of fun also, with model circuses and a couple of dioramas and goofy trick mirrors.  We also love the baby chicks, where you can sit and watch baby chicks hatch in an incubator.  It's fascinating.

Also, the Museum has one of the best food courts of just about any museum anywhere.  There's a ton of food choices, from a salad bar to a grill station, to a pasta bar, and you can get almost anything there.  They also have a lot of capacity for people.  The trick is to get there early.  Eat lunch at 11:30, so that when most people are eating lunch, you are seeing exhibits.  And that's what we did.

The Jolly Ball flipper machine
While you are in the lunchroom, make sure to check out the Swiss Jolly Ball.  It's the world's largest flipper machine (variation on a pinball machine) as certified by Guinness World Records.  It is an advertisement for vacation in Switzerland, and in it's 5 minute or so journey the pinball takes in a number of Swiss vacation sites in a Rube Goldberg-esque machine that is fascinating to watch.

Here's a pretty good video of the Jolly Ball in action.

At the end of the day we had a little snack of ice cream before leaving the museum.  They have an old-fashioned ice cream parlor (Finegan's) in the museum.  Everything is old fashioned except for their price.  And the long wait to get ice cream.  Unlike our lunch we did not time it well, but after the miles of walking in the museum and being stimulated, we needed a little downtime, so it worked out well.

Some of the awesome food at Indie Cafe.
Click picture to see it larger.
After the museum we came home for a little rest and relaxation.  We hadn't made dinner plans for the evening, so we went local and walked over to Indie Cafe, our local sushi place.  They serve both Japanese and Thai food, with a lot of very creative rolls.  It worked out well, because the nine of us that went all had different desires, and the combinations of foods there pretty much worked out for everyone.  The kids loved the Chicken Katsu, my wife loved her vegetarian sushi, and the McGills loved a whole lot of Thai food, including a simple Pad Thai and a beef curry dish.  I had a sashimi salad which was awesome, and then a couple of rolls (also great). The kids were very tired, and so went to bed right away.  It had been a long day.

In the morning the kids played video games, (Disney Infinity is ultra high on their list now)  and then around 11 am we rolled out and drove down to the Lincoln Park Zoo.  It's a great zoo, and it's free to enter, but it costs money to park.  We ended up getting a free parking spot on Stockton in front of the zoo, and very close to our lunchtime dining destination RJ Grunts.  Grunts is the original Lettuce Entertain You restaurant, and is the base stone on which the Lettuce empire is based.  They serve hearty hamburgers and American fare, and have a great salad bar.  They are also well known for their milkshakes, but strangely no one ordered one.  Grunts opens at 11:30 am and we got there right when they opened, which was great because by noon the place was packed out.

After lunch we moseyed on over to the zoo and had a delightful day looking at all of the animals.  We got to see them feed and train the gorillas, saw all kinds of exotic animals we'd never heard of before, and marveled at the sleepy lions.  (Even sleeping lions are pretty cool cats.)  We didn't see all of the zoo but had a great time walking around for a couple of hours.  We missed the giraffes, even though

After the zoo, we walked back to the car and got a chance to play on the playground.  There the kids played around and ran off whatever energy they had.  I practiced some slow motion video.  Then we went home and had a little downtime before our big blow out dinner.


The McGills know a lot of people in Chicago, so to celebrate them all, and kind of make a meeting of the minds, we had a 21 person dinner at Francesca's.  It's a local Italian restaurant and serves lots of delicious Italian food.  I had a linguine with seafood (kind of a frutti di mare, but they didn't call it that) that was really wonderful.  I didn't taste anybody else's food, but everybody raved about their dishes.  They have 3 or 4 throughout the city, and although we hadn't been to our local one, we had been to the one in Lake View.  We will definitely be back!

And that's it.  The next day, the McGills hung out with some local cousins before heading to the airport and back to NYC.  It was so much fun to get the kids together and pick up where we had left off, especially in our culinary extravaganza's.  We've already got plans to see them this summer, and I'm sure the food (and the company) will be wonderful.


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