Monday, November 14, 2016

Chicago - Quick Trips

We needed to get away for a bit, my birthday was last week, and Rob wanted to look at a sailboat on Lake Michigan so we went up to Chicago to visit our friends in the city. I thought I'd use the birthday card to try a new restaurant. The kids are pretty loyal to Chicago Diner, but we promised to go at least once while we were in town so they reluctantly tried Arya Bhavan, "healthy" vegan Indian place
Josie and a vegan mango lassi!
 They were won over pretty quickly by the mango lassi. It was a big treat since lassi usually is made with cow's milk. I tried a sip and was a bit sad I didn't order one myself. The drink was cloyingly sweet and velvety smooth with fresh mango flavor, not mango juice or imitation. Heavenly! Then the appetizers appeared and I was distracted.
We ordered the Mixed Basket appetizer with samosas, aloo tikki, vegetable cutlet, mirch pakora, dalvada, potato vada, and lilwa ni kachori.
 I didn't get anymore pictures of the meal because we were too busy eating and talking. I may be ruined for any Indian restaurant food because I felt so good after this meal. Indian can be pretty greasy, but not at Arya Bhavan. Even the fried foods were perfect, which made we wonder if they use an air fryer that is all the rage on vegan blogs these days. My only complaint was the lack of spice. We love spicy food and the spices is what made Indian food my favorite for many years. The food was still flavorful, not bland, so if hot foods intimidate you, try Arya Bhavan. The waitress was very sweet and even gave the kids dessert samples to go. 
Josie sharing the vegan mango ice cream sample which didn't even make it out the door. 
I'm so grateful they gave us the dessert bites because I mistakenly told the kids to pass on the healthy desserts and wait for Chicago Diner the next day. I think the kids would eat at Arya Bhavan again just to eat the lassi and ice cream. Everything on the menu is easily identified as vegan and many items are labeled as gluten free. I would definitely go there again and it is conveniently located about ten minutes from our friends' house. I would love to try the buffet on Saturdays, they deliver, and also cater.

After dinner we hung out with our friends and their kids talking about the election. It was good to commiserate and interesting to see hear the kids' views. My kids are 9, 12, and 16 and our friends' kids are almost 5 and 7. They are all very politically aware and very concerned about the future of the planet, their friends/family, and so many other issues. 
Josie went with me to vote early. The kids always go with me to vote, but she was extra excited this time since she was very interested in the presidential race.
We had fun and we were full of hope.
Rob, Todd (our friend), and Parker all went to a black and white showing of the latest Mad Max film, while the rest of the kids and Todd's wife, Katherine, and I talked more about world events, travel, watched the kids put on a magic show, and the adults drank a bit of wine. This was just what I needed after the week of doom and depression.

The next morning, Rob went out early to check out the sailboat while I slept in for the first time in a long time. We all, except Katherine, went out to Chicago Diner for brunch. I always prefer the newest location since it has more room and we could more easily sit eight people together.

Vegan poutine with the optional vegan bacon bits and jalepenos, which shouldn't be optional because it makes the dish. 
 Parker and I knew we had to order the poutine as a nod to Canada, where we hope to live the next four years. It was so good and I really need to make a version at home.
Dema enthusiastically digging into his cinimon roll french toast.
Josie coveting Dema's dish.
Josie's country benedict.
 Josie (and Parker) is obsessed with the cooking shows on Netflix, which influenced her menu choice of Country Benedict. She really enjoyed it, but she was also sad to miss out on her big brothers' sweet dishes. This worked out well since halfway through his french toast, Parker was wishing he had picked savory. They switched plates and problem solved. We'll have to order accordingly next time so they both get a bit of sweet and some savory. I was very happy with my pierogi quesadilla. I didn't get a picture, but it was filled with perfectly sautéed mushrooms, just enough sauerkraut to add tanginess without overpowering the dish. I fished my food satisfied without being uncomfortably full, but then the kids wanted to order their famous shakes to go.
Josie went with the vanilla chai vegan milkshake which was my preferred choice over the the rest of the kids' chocolate chip cookie dough flavor, which was way too sweet.
As I predicted, the kids couldn't finish their shakes and I ended up feeling more than slightly sick since I didn't want them to go to waste. Good and a very rare treat, but next time maybe one shake to go for the entire family.

We were able to walk off the brunch a bit at Katherine's event. She owns two toy stores in Chicago and she was helping out a friend who is opening an online business and musicians, tattoos, a bouncy house, a magician, etc. to promote it. The kids were most interested in the fancy tattoos.
Josie's first tattoo of the day, a gymnast. Very fitting. 
Dema got a green darth vader, Parker went for a rainbow peace sign, and Josie had a second tattoo of a rainbow heart with an arrow. Very telling for all of their personalities.
Josie loved the tattoos so much, I think she might have some real tattoos in her future.
We were sad to have to leave so quickly, but Parker had to get shot the next day in a short film and my sister was sweetly taking care of the dogs and we didn't want to put her out. We vowed to take more short trips since all three kids are homeschooling this year so we have more flexibility.
Parker's movie magic gunshot wound.

No comments: