Sunday, April 19, 2009

My kind of town, part 1

Tuesday, April 14 Pierino flew into Chicago with a friend for a couple of days of baseball and hot dogs. This time on the outbound flight we got the whole TSA body scan because we were wearing knee braces. We was crammed into a window seat with little leg space so it only got worse.

We cabbed on to the Blackstone on S. Michigan Avenue, great rates for an old hotel that has had a major makeover. Great rooms with views of the big lake.

Our friend (retired BofA exec, I'll give you his e-mail if you want to beat him up) and I took a stroll, for me a stagger, up Michigan Avenue for 1.25 miles---we argued about the distance. It was colder than f..k.

Anyway, when we got back to the Blackstone Pierino decided that we were not leaving. This turned out to be a serendipitous decision. The restaurant downstairs in the Blackstone became a discovery. Mercat a la planxa is wonderful. We haven't seen it reviewed before.

We enjoyed screaming hot scallops served in a cazuela, a fig salad wrapped in jamon that was like a log, a fragrant barramundi, and an arroz (bomba rice) with morels. When the latter plate came out the aroma was so strong that our friend asked "what's THAT"? I guessed truffle oil, checked with the kitchen, and was right even though it's not mentioned on the menu. Ample truffle oil.

Pierino would definitely recommend Mercat a la planxta to friends for its great Catalan style tapas menu. No foams, no jellies. No reviews.

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