The Grand Lux Cafe: Chicago

Thursday, April 28, 2016

The only meal we ate in Chicago was lunch.  Before leaving Heather's apartment, she asked her roommate for lunch recommendations.  She told us we HAD to go to the Grand Lux Cafe, located on Michigan Avenue (aka the Magnificent Mile).


LOCATION: The restaurant is actually located on the second floor and is assessable through a door on the right side of the building (the the view pictured). 

 ATMOSPHERE:  The Grand Lux is beautifully decorated throughout!  There was definitely a mix of Italian and Modern and I loved it.  There was also huge windows throughout the entire cafe.  No matter where you were sitting, you had an amazing view of Chicago!

SERVICE:  The staff was great!  The host, server and food runner were all very pleasant.  Our server was great and very friendly.  He also knew the menu very well.  I had some questions about ingredients and he was able to answer all of them.

EFFICIENCY:  When we walked in there was one group ahead of us making a reservation but after that we were seated right away. Our server came to greet us within 2 minutes and got our drinks to us quickly as well.  Our food took approximately 15 minutes which is reasonable for what we ordered.  We also had bread delivered almost immediately after we placed our order.

PRICE: My first thought when walking in was, ummm ... how are we affording this?
  Once we were seated, I immediately grabbed a menu to look at the prices and Heather and I were pleasantly surprised.  It was a little pricier than I usually go for lunch, but it was definitely reasonable.

This was the view from where Heather and I were sitting.

FOOD: I got Fettuccine Alfredo which was delicious.  Of course, I forgot to take a picture before I started eating, but it looked amazing when it came out.  The only thing I wasn't crazy about was the shrimp.  They were just too big and way too expensive ($1.00 per shrimp).

Would I recommend the Grand Lux?  Absolutely!  We really enjoyed our meal, the service was great and we just loved the atmosphere.

Rating:  A

Chicago, Illinois {2013}

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

In 2013, my friend Heather got an internship in Chicago which was over right before Thanksgiving.  I flew out there to help her move back.  Our adventure driving from Chicago to Maryland was interesting, to say the least.  We never made it to Cleveland (which was our planned stop) and I'm pretty sure the woman at the hotel we decided to stop at almost called the cops on me.  Let's just say, I don't think I'll ever be using again, but I'll share that story in another post.

Today, I'm going to share the 8 hours that we spent in Chicago before heading out on our adventure.   My flight from BWI was at 6:15am.  I was obviously thrilled to be waking up at 2:45 in the morning.   The flight was on time and really smooth, thankfully.  It also went by surprisingly quick, though really it was only 2 hours long.  I arrived at Chicago Midway at 7:15 (time change) and Heather picked me up from the airport.  We headed to her apartment to drop my stuff off and chill out for a few minutes before playing tourists.

Unfortunately, it was super cloudy and we didn't think it would be worth it to do the Sky Deck at Willis Tower, so we skipped that.  We did head to Millennium Park to see the Bean, of course!

We walked around the rest of Millennium Park as well. I really want to visit Chicago again when it's warmer and all of the fountains are going.

We decided our next stop should be Navy Pier.  Unfortunately, they were doing construction so it was a bit underwhelming.   We did spend some time inside getting warm and buying my souvenirs.

After Navy Pier we walked Michigan Avenue and stopped for lunch at the Grand Lux Cafe which I will be writing about tomorrow.  Love that place!!

Cafe 4: Knoxville, TN

Friday, April 22, 2016

LOCATION:  Cafe 4 is located right in Market Square in downtown Knoxville. 
4 Market Square
Knoxville, TN 37902

ATMOSPHERE: Cafe 4 is a very modern looking on the inside with plenty of covered outdoor seating as well.  There are tons of window seats overlooking Market Square for those who want to view but not the heat.  We had one of the window seats which was perfect.

SERVICE: The service was excellent!  Our server was very friendly and very efficient.  I could tell he was busy but if I hadn't worked in a restaurant I would have never noticed, he did a great job.

EFFICIENCY: Again, they were very efficient.  It was fairly busy but we were seated right away.  Our server was at our table taking our drink orders within two minutes and the drinks came fast.  We ordered right away and my "appetizer" came out within 5 minutes and the rest of our food took another 15 minutes. 

PRICE: The price "rating" was $$.  I thought it was very reasonable but southern and northern prices are definitely different.  I think my entire check was under $25.00

FOOD:  EXCELLENT!  My appetizer was a delicious fruit, yogurt and granola parfait made with fresh fruits.  For my meal I got a Hickory Burger with bacon, cheddar cheese and bbq sauce. I ate every last bit, which for me is saying something.

I really enjoyed my experience at Cafe 4 and would definitely recommend it to anyone visiting Knoxville.


Nashville, Tennessee

Thursday, April 21, 2016

I had very high expectations for Nashville which may be part of the reason I didn't like it as much as I thought I would.  Also, we didn't do much planning or research.  For example, we looked up both the Country Music Museum and the Grand Ole Opry and it seemed like the Grand Ole Opry was more expensive but it wasn't (long story) so we chose the Country Music Museum which I totally would have changed.  I would like to go back to Nashville and plan a few days and do a bit more research.

We got there later at night after going to the UofT football game so I was very tried but we wanted to do some live music.  My first impressions were that the city was very dirty, but maybe that was just at night because it wasn't too bad during the daytime.  We started out the next day having breakfast at a place called the Frothy Monkey which ended up being a good choice.  After that we just kind of wandered.  There really wasn't as much to do as I thought there would be.  We ended up going to the Country Music Museum and Hall of Fame which was OK.   We had lunch at some random place and then headed out to see the Grand Ole Opry building.  I really wish we had done the tour.  We ended up leaving Nashville earlier than planned.  We were going to stop by the Blue Bird Cafe but decided to just head back to Knoxville where we relaxed and got some sleep.

As I said, I think if I had done some research before we went, I may have enjoyed the city a bit more, but as it was, I enjoyed Knoxville way more.

University of Tennessee Football

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

As I shared last week, Heather won tickets through work for the University of TN opening football game verses Utah State.  She asked if I'd be interested in going and I definitely was.  I have never actually been to a football game before.  I never went to JMU's games and I know that college ball is a big deal in the south so I knew it would be an experience - and oh was it ever. 

I have never seen something quite like it.  The tailgating was insane and Neyland Stadium was huge.  Ours at JMU was nowhere near that size (at least not when I went there, they've since added to it).  We didn't stay for the whole game but Tennessee was kicking ass and it was a lot of fun to be there. 

I love the panoramic thing on my phone!  This picture was taken half before a touchdown and half after, I think it's so neat!

Hayley Larue Design