Chicago is my favourite city in North America — in the USA — second to Toronto, Ontario. Chicago is a bastion of culture, theatre, arts, restaurants, food, architecture, cafés, music, corrupt politicians, bizarre temperatures, and people gawking under the Marilyn Monroe statue ala “The Seven Year Itch.” Well, the latter three do not make for great pleasure. However, the abundance of food and great places where you can get your fill of satisfaction are main attractions that have kept me in the fair city for over fifteen years. When I had moved to Chicago from New York City, I did not initially find the place fast enough, hip enough, or current enough. In some regions of the city, people wore Jheri curls. Drivers stopped on green lights and went when the lights turned red — simply backwards. Pedestrians meandered as if they had been converted into zombies, of which I discovered were tourists in total awe of the city’s splendor. Fast forward to the present and Chicago has quickly risen to New York City standards as a hub of cultural activities. Downtown has expanded and seems to be continuing to grow by leaps and bounds. Nightlife is staying open until the wee hours of the morning and that also means being able to go to any restaurant at any time of night rather than rambling through an empty refrigerator for a late night snack. Yikes! That is a bit too much like my refrigerator. And with the reverse migration of those who had fled to the suburbs years ago, Chicago proper has indeed become a hub for a lot of entertainment.
With the growth spurt of Chicago taking off, the skyline is seeing the addition of more skyscrapers. One such skyscraper that has resulted in Chicago boasting three of the tallest buildings in North America is Trump Tower. Walking distance from Michigan Avenue and State Street, this Tower of Babel reaches high towards the blue, grey steel reflecting more blue which gives the building an ethereal look. To me, the things that make Trump Tower so appealing are the restaurants — Rebar and The Terrace. Several friends and I usually gather for a bit of communion after work on a monthly basis at any local haunt. Having been to Rebar and loving it, we wanted to return to Trump Tower to go to the sixteenth floor to sample the bill of fare at The Terrace. The vista from The Terrace is magnificent with so much old architecture staring back at you while you ponder menu items that make your eyes pop out of your head and swing about on springs. We all had drinks, which were the most reasonably priced items on the menu. The appetizers were Wow! and the entrées were on the up of triple digits in price. One friend had a glass of red wine because her husband told her to behave. Another had a beer since she is more of a connoisseur of ales. One other friend had water so that he would not teeter about on the bus ride home. A fourth had a mixed drink called a lagoon because she is experimental with mixed drinks. I had a Glenlivit scotch to maintain my snobbery. While all of the drinks are pretty much commonplace, the lagoon was a sight to behold. This green drink contained light rum, dark rum, grenadine, pineapple juice, some other flavoured liquor, and a sniffer full of smiles in it. I think I would have floated down from the sixteenth floor terrace like a sheet of paper on a light breeze had I drank that. We were all quite happy. We got to say that we went to The Terrace and had drinks.
Because we are not of the ilk that can compete with the average college jock and sorority girl in binge drinking, and making complete fools of ourselves is way beneath our station, we wanted some food so that we would not stagger about downtown like bumbling pratts. So it was down to the second floor we went to Rebar. Ah, happiness abounded as we ordered more drinks and our share of Japanese food. Yes, there is something fantastic to be said for enjoyment at a Japanese restaurant in a building as apple pie as Trump Tower and us waiting for someone to scream from the kitchen, “You’re fired.” But this was not over-the-counter Japanese fare like that which you purchase in the frozen section of your local corner store. No, I can imagine some chef doing his thing with rice, eel, avocado, wasabi sauce, ginger, and his imagination. For drinks, we partook of more wine, an electric lemonade, beer, and water. Okay, so the electric lemonade was not a concoction from a carton with garnish and a lemon wedge. Insert lion’s roar. It was a bit reminiscent of a cross between a mojito and Mike’s Hard Lemonade, ever so refreshing, oh so delightful, and oh so much of it. Let me just say that the bartender must be an oracle when it comes to making drinks because he or she did not prepare any of the mixed drinks such that the first skosh nips at the back of the jaw. The alcohol was hidden well; that is until you stood to walk. With the complementary olives and spiced nuts, we had edamame, tempura shrimp, a garden roll with tempura asparagus, crunchy shrimp roll, and California roll. I am sure that if any of the others were like me when they got home, they went to bed promptly and slept like they had been anesthetized. I dreamed that teddy bears at their picnics cursed my name because I had so much fun at Trump Tower — but it was mostly because I was laughing at their picnic baskets being empty.
Donald Trump may be a bit of a laughable individual, but the presence of his building in Chicago means two things: Rebar and The Terrace. When I am in my chi-chi mood and want to perpetrate like I am more than just a statistician, I will ride the lift to the sixteenth floor and sit outside watching the beauty of downtown while sipping a scotch — keeping in mind that a scotch will no doubt be all I can afford without complaint. But when I want something of substance and within my budget, I shall retreat to Rebar and work my chopsticks on some sushi while delighting myself on some liquid love from the bar. Ambience, great service, and fantastic food, what more could one want? The answer would be a ridiculous wealth of money so that you could at least fake once like you have enough to pay for a $200 entrée at The Terrace and still have enough money to get cheese on your hamburger afterwards. Go to New York City if you want to see a play, have a truly good brunch, or live in what can feel like a prison cell with a lease price of no less than $2000. Go to Los Angeles if you want to rehearse how to be a plastic actor or actress. But come to Chicago if you want great real estate, arts, entertainment, and fine cuisine — brought to us thanks to the manoeuvering of corrupt politicians. And if you are a manager and have to fire an employee — You’re fired! — you can make yourself feel good afterwards by going to Rebar and having some sushi, a lagoon, and wrapping up with a goblet of electric lemonade. Then you will know all the good things that make Chicago so wonderful.