1. I crossed yet another restaurant off my Chicago bucket list last weekend, continuing on the momentum I already established earlier in the week. I was in Avondale on Saturday around lunch time and had six miles worth of burned calories to replenish, so after years of meaning to go, I finally stopped into Honey Butter Fried Chicken.
I think if I learned anything last week, it was that I should put more faith in restaurant reviews. I’ve heard amazing things about Honey Butter Fried Chicken, and as I thought with Au Cheval, I figured it’d be good, but I didn’t think it’d be mind-blowingly fanatstic. Once again, I was wrong. Holy smokes, was that the most delicious fried chicken sandwich I’ve ever had in my life. The biscuit and the chicken tasted great on their own, but then they put honey butter on top of it, and…*heart-eyed emoji*. Wowza. I was a little nervous about ordering the corn muffins, because I find you never really know when you buy cornbread if it’s going to be northern cornbread (i.e., sweet, and therefore delicious) or southern cornbread (i.e., authentic, but not even half as tasty due to the lack of sugar). To my delight, Honey Butter Fried Chicken serves northern cornbread, so the corn muffins tasted as good as they looked.
It isn’t the most CTA-friendly restaurant in the city, but if you happen to be in the Avondale area, I’d definitely recommend stopping by.
2. I was in the West Loop on Friday afternoon, walking down the Restaurant Row stretch of Randolph soaking in the sunshine and mostly just feeling happy. When I got to Randolph and Peoria, I saw Leña Brava, and thought to myself, “Oh, that’s Rick Bayless’s new restaurant!” I don’t really keep up on celebrity chefs in Chicago, but Rick Bayless is a familiar enough name that seeing he opened a new place caught my eye in the RedEye a few months ago.
Since it’s wintertime (not that you’d know by being outside on most days, but that’s beside the point), a lot of restaurants have those extra, temporary doors set up outside their main doors to keep the cold out. There was one at the restaurant immediately west of Leña Brava (which I later learned was Cruz Blanca Cervecería, another Rick Bayless establishment), and through the plastic windows, I saw two people leaving Cruz Blanca. I blinked, and thought, “Hold on…”
Then, as I walked past the temporary entrance as these two individuals left, and OH MY GOSH YOU GUYS, ONE OF THEM WAS RICK BAYLESS, LIVE AND IN THE FLESH AND RIGHT NEXT TO ME.
I have never in my entire life seen a celebrity of any variety, on any location on the “obscure” to “obvious” continuum of fame, in the wild, so this was A Big Deal as far as I’m concerned. And while I suppose it’s not particularly coincidental or even surprising that I saw Rick Bayless walking out of one of his establishments during a non-meal time on a Friday, it sure felt special that immediately after thinking, “That’s Rick Bayless’s new restaurant,” he magically appeared in front of me.
3. My brother’s college doesn’t hold regular classes for most of January, but rather does one of those winter term things where you take a special class for three weeks, or, once in your college career, you take the whole month off and come back when second semester starts in late January. My brother opted to take the term off this year and spent two weeks in New York City to do some volunteering relevant to his career goals and Broadway show viewing relevant to his interests.
While I consider myself to be a fan of Broadway shows, I, honestly, don’t really keep my finger on the pulse of the goings on on Broadway…like at all. I usually become aware of a show because I accidentally hear a song from it somehow or because everyone tells me I should be into it (see: Hamilton. Fortunately, everyone was right on that one.). But if you asked me what shows are popular on Broadway right now, I couldn’t even begin to guess. I learned from my brother’s Facebook posts while he was out in New York that a show called Dear Evan Hansen exists and, apparently, is the second most popular show on Broadway right now after Hamilton. I saw the soundtrack pop up on iTunes last Friday under New Music (which, as far as I’ve ever noticed, doesn’t happen all that often for Broadway soundtracks), and saw it was also one of the highest albums on the iTunes charts as well, so I figured I should give it a listen. It’s nothing like Hamilton, but it was amazing. I could listen to You Will Be Found forever.
And now I want to go to New York to see the show.
Have you ever seen a celebrity out and about in the real world?