Birthday Boy Dining in Chicago

It could be true that I had a kid for only two reasons: birthday parties and Halloween. For 13 years, we celebrated Cole’s birthday with a large kids’ birthday party and a family and friends party. You name it, we did it, from panning for gold in the living room to carnival games. No ponies, but we did have a giant lizard, which is way more fun at a boy’s party if it makes your girl guests squeal. Those were the days! We hoped they’d never end (kind of). But when Cole blew out 13 candles, we knew we were celebrating our last large-scale birthday party. Teenagers move on. What we didn’t know, of course, is that Joe would be the ultimate party pooper and move on too. He died before Cole’s next birthday.

The following year, we celebrated Cole’s birthday at a Chicago steakhouse.

And the year after that, we chose a different steakhouse to celebrate. Chop Chop! A new birthday tradition was born. We also continued to celebrate with family on a smaller scale.

On March 7, 2017, my teen turned into an adult. Turning 21 is a big deal.  PARTEE! But Cole didn’t want a party. WHAAAT!? When your dad isn’t alive to toast your first legal adult beverage, turning 21 loses some of its magic. BRUNCH! Cole didn’t want a brunch. Perhaps, a little tête-à-tête? No, thank you. I know! I could charter a plane, and we could fly to Paris and have dinner at La Soufflé. Meh. A little relieved about that one. It was time to allow 21 to be a sad birthday. But not too sad. Where there is food, there is happiness.

I made a reservation for three (including Cole’s best friend) at Everest. It’s not Paris, but it’s close. And you can Uber there. Everest offers world-renowned French cuisine. We ordered the seven-course dégustation* menu. Our beautifully presented meal was delicious from the first course through the seventh. It was also a fun and light-hearted evening. Can you imagine sharing a fancy French dinner with a 20-year-old and a 21-year-old? It takes a sense of humor. Not mine. The wait staffs. They even gave Cole the crumb sweeper from our table when he mentioned he’d always wanted one. Turning 21 also included a drink with his best grown-up pal and fine dining at his aunt and uncle’s house. It was a bittersweet birthday.

Cole loves the taste of exotic flavors and new foods. He took his first bite of caviar at the age of two and never looked back. I taste new foods with my eyes first. If it looks beautiful, I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt. The Everest left us both wanting more exotic foods paired with artistic presentation. We started saving our money for birthday number 22. 

This March 7, Cole turned 22. The weekend before and the week after, he had one fantastic meal after another. Gene and Georgetti steakhouse with best friends.  A delicious dinner made by his bon viveur aunt and uncle (they are responsible for his lust for good food and exotic taste buds). And Alinea with his mother.

Alinea. Named the Best Restaurant in America three times and the only three-star restaurant in Chicago. The whole dining experience is centered around you and your dining happiness. The menu is seasonally driven, and each course is more amazing than the one before. They incorporate surprise, emotion, and provocativeness into their presentation of the food. For god’s sake, I ate pigeon and eel and almost liked it. The service is beyond the beyond.

I took lots of pictures (slideshow below). But the composition is bit messy. Who wants to spend time composing through the lens of a camera when beautiful food is in front of you? Well. Me. But not for long. Did they judge us for our picture taking and videoing? Consider it a distraction? Not at all. They wound it into our experience, making sure there were pictures of both of us. And of course, the whole experience was picture perfect. I bet you are wondering where we will go next year.

It’s under discussion. Cole is already in research mode. Savings has begun.  His birthdays might not always be happy, but I am pretty sure they will always be tasty! 

Favorite restaurant?

Odd Loves Company,

(Mike’s Food of The Day: Monday Oatmeal Cookie Day)

(you probably knew this word. I had no idea) *Dégustation is the careful, appreciative tasting of various foods, focusing on the gustatory system, the senses, high culinary art and good company. Dégustation is more likely to involve sampling small portions of all of a chef’s signature dishes in one sitting.


Birthday slideshow from Katybeth on Vimeo.

And the best is yet to come…another fabulous birthday dinner prepared and presented by Cole’s Aunt and Uncle. Or as we fondly call them The Gourmands.


Friends Forever

Birthday Cherry Tart!

This Kid just gets better and better. And I am not biased–just ask
his grandparents!

6 thoughts on “Birthday Boy Dining in Chicago

  1. Happy Birthday, Cole. You two are quite the Epicureans. The steaks sound good to me. I’m not sure what to say about that other food other than it looks interesting and is pretty. Did Cole get enough to eat? What was the balloon all about? My daughter was willing to try most foods but for years all my son would eat was white rice, plain hot dogs, and hamburger. Drove my ex-crazy but since I could cook all three it worked for me.
    I’m going to the office tomorrow and I am pretty sure my grocery store sells oatmeal cookies. It will be like old times.
    Hope to see more of you.

    • The steaks are good and nothing wrong with them! Old times are good times. Enjoy the cookies! I hope to be here more. Thanks!

    • Thank you. He’s a keeper. Boys are great, aren’t they!! It was a perfectly wonderful celebration and I am getting my mileage out of it!

  2. Happy Happy Birthday to Cole!! Golly, time flies, doesn’t it (I can’t believe we’ve been blogging friends long enough to have watched these two young’uns grow into handsome young men!!)

    Not sure I’d have been brave enough to sample pigeon or eel, but I enjoyed your pictures and video. That smoking orange bowl looked cool! Poor Domer would refuse to be party to any meal charging such high prices — he thinks all of Chicago is exorbitant anyway, even when not compared with small-town, downstate prices. You’ve done good, Katybeth — give yourself a pat on the back (and know Joe was watching and smiling from above!)

    • Handsome devils for sure! And very good guys.
      Well, I wouldn’t order eel or pigeon but a taste of it wasn’t bad—keep in mind the portions are very small (but oddly, you leave full.) And you are not totally sure what you are eating which helps. And we were totally comfortable passing things back and forth.
      Not true! There are so many wonderful inexpensive restaurants in Chicago. The Quiche at Cellar Door Provisions is the best I have ever eaten And it’s reasonable. Chicago is a reasonable town to eat out in (not including a bar bill) if you enjoy spending money on eating out at all. Not everyone does.
      Admittedly Alinea is very expensive. We saved for a year. We didn’t go with the wine pairings because it wasn’t worth it to us and we aren’t knowledgeable about wines. This helped put it more in our price range and we didn’t feel like we missed anything. The experience (which is so hard to explain–but I tried) was worth every penny.
      Thanks. Heavenly and earthly help the whole way. Don’t they just keep getting better and better!

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