Friday, April 23, 2010
Chicago with the Snobs, Day 1
I am blessed with a group of excellent friends, loosely known as The Snobs who, perhaps unfortunately, are scattered across the US and beyond. For very special occasions we've been able to gather for a few days of in-person visiting, always involving beer. Two of the Snobs were born in 1970, the year of my majority, and we decided it was worth celebrating. Chicago has several advantages, not the least of which is centrality, so there are nine of us here from the West Coast, the East Coast and the UK. The only goals are consumption and badinage, both of which we're quite good at.
Five of us managed to arrive at O'Hare virtually at once, took the El into downtown and our various hotels, then began acquiring more Snobs as we moved from Rock Bottom (loud, crowded and quite decent beer) to Piece, serving non-Chicago pizza and house beers (OK pizza, eh beer). Piece was unbelievably crowded but by great fortune we were able to ooze into a table as acquaintances finished their meal and oozed out--one of whom was actually the Rock Bottom brewer responsible for my excellent pils. From there, we El-d a few stops further north to Revolution, a new brewpub serving exceptionally good beers. At this point, Lew Bryson was to have made a surprise entrance (him being in town for Whiskeyfest), which he screwed up by gabbing about on Facebook. Everyone was pleased, though, to have an Auxiliary Snob (with a very special flask) who is as much fun as Lew. There was some initial concern that Lew's laugh would get us 86'd, but the wait staff at Revolution was tolerant and the place was noisy enough to absorb the volume.
Chicago at night is so different from laid-back Portland that it's difficult to credit. Even well after midnight, the streets were bustling, the bars packed and the El trains well-filled with people. Lots of young people out and about, dealing with the chilly air in everything from skimpy skirts to parkas. A lot of bicycles in what appears to be a very un-bikefriendly town. And Chicago is a lot older than Portland, which is most obvious to me in the tunnels and platforms of the El, amazing constructions of iron and wood with furnishings dating back to the 19th Century. All, I might add, still functioning with surprising efficiency. Two in the morning? No problem, the train back to the Loop will be here in six minutes.
The best part? We just got here and don't leave for days.