Wednesday, February 28, 2007

when chicken upgrades to prime rib

I'm not a big red meat girl. I guess you could say this is something that's become more of the case since college. I'm always that girl who will go to the nice steakhouse and order the one chicken dish on the menu, and smile as the waiter nods their head in disbelief.

At the same time, once in a blue moon I like to go all out at one of these fine steakhouses. Perhaps it's the isolatedness of my red meat encounters that make them more special. Trust me, I've eaten round after round of fabulous meats at Brazillian churrascarias, from Porcao in Miami to Mineira in Sao Paolo. When so moved, I'm all in.

Today after a long day of my training course, I was tempted to stay as close to the hotel as possible and not really put forth a lot of effort. That idea didn't last long though. I'd sent a message to the Titan for ideas of restaurants to check out in the downtown area. I figured at least some familiar names based on the recommendations would make things easier, and then I'd return back to turn in and study.

It was not long before I saw Lawry's off in the distance. Perfect. Unlike my trip to Gino's, no one looked at me in shock when I came through the revolving doors and requested a table for one. Funny, but I knew from my simple conversation with the woman at the coat check that this was going to be a fabulous meal.

I was seated in the back center of the room, situated with a perfect view out over the remainder or the room. The great thing about dining solo is that it affords you the opportunity to really watch people. The couple next to me were so engrossed in conversation that I thought they were just that, a couple. At the tail end of their conversation, I happened to catch that he'd instead been recounting the intimate details of how he met his wife.

The restaurant is laid out so that the master carver brings around a large metal cart to your table, where they prepare your meat. I opted for the smallest cut and decided against my initial restraint that a nice glass of cabernet sauvignon might be the perfect compliment. I don't know that I've ever had wine with steak before, but I was not disappointed.

I was just finishing up when a tall dark-haired gentleman came over. "Well," he said, "I saw you come in earlier, and I was mighty impressed. I said here's an attractive young lady confident enough to come out to dinner and on her own accord has opted for a steakhouse as well."

Not always the best with flattery, I'm sure the color of my face and the nice crimson shade of the house cab sauv had something in common. He went on to state he traveled often to Chicago for business from Denver. He said, "I'm going around the corner to the piano bar. I'm sure you saw it. Once you finish up here, you should stop by. I'd love to buy the Southern girl a drink."

I smiled as he walked off, and finished settling the bill with the server. The funny thing was that I began to notice different things around the room. As I exited, I caught the intense stare of the red-headed gentleman at the adjacent table. I even noticed the lingering eyes of another gentleman who was clearly on a nice night on the town with his lady.

I couldn't help but wonder... does a steakhouse truly become a meat market when one's a solo carnivorous senorita? Never realized so many guys found that so appealing. Trust me, even if that's the case, I wouldn't let that keep me from doing it all over again.

And no. No piano bar for me. CO man was nice, but not quite my type. I had noticed the bar on the way to dinner and thought it would be a fun spot to visit with good friends.

And tomorrow, it's back to poultry and seafood for me. But what a great way to add to my experience in the windy city.



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