No need to rise early. Breakfast isn't included at this hotel. I lounge around in my room until midday.
American toilets are weird. The water level in the pan is quite high, relative to the seat. I don't think of myself as having particularly low-hanging fruit. But, if I'm not extremely careful, my bollocks brush the surface. Or worse, on a hot day. Not great, if you've already engaged in some business.
Brunch rather than brekkie is today’s plan. I had a Twitter callout from Paddy Long's Beer & Bacon Pub when, Ronnie Nomates that I am, I mentioned having nothing planned today. You can probably guess why I immediately considered it as an eating option.
I get a cab to there. Much of the ride is along the lakeside. Something I’ve seen remarkably little of, considering how often I’ve been in Chicago.
In the pub, there’s just me, a tattooed barmaid and three blokes talking business. One, obviously the bar’s owner. The décor is pretty neutral. Grey, even. Though there’s an attractive old tin ceiling.
What should I do? Order a beer seems a good place to start. I ask for a Half Acre Daisy Capra. Because I know it’s local. And has a bit of oomph. I’m in need of some oomphing.
Second step is requesting a pork-themed repast of some description. That should work. A bacon burger sounds good.
It is. As I’m wiping the last of the greasy goodness from my gob, the obvious owner comes over and introduces himself. He's guessed who I am. Not difficult given my giveaway accent and galloping girth. We chat for a while.
“I’ll pour you a shot.”
“Wow, that’s bitter.”
“There’s a very small market for it, mostly older, blue-collar guys. They drink it with a beer. So little is sold, it’s only made once a year.”
I can see why its popularity is limited. Wouldn’t order a second myself.
On a chalkboard, I spot one of those things American restaurants love: an eating challenge. The Paddy Long’s The Bomb Challenge, to be precise. Five pounds of meat and a pound of chips in 45 minutes. It’s intended to serve six. The best times on the chalkboard are scarily short.
The very best is just 4 minutes and 19 seconds. That can’t be good for you. The record holder bills herself as a competitive eater on Facebook. A very competitive eater by the sound of it. Does anyone make a living out of that lark? [Dolores tells me they do.]
I wonder if Man vs. Food has been here?
After a Pollyanna Orenda - Volume 3 (a Tripel – you’re probably detecting a theme here), I ask them to call me a cab. It’s only mid-afternoon, but I return to my hotel. Where I lounge around in my trollies and watch some random baseball game.
I considered doing other stuff today. Dropping by Dovetail or Half Acre, for example. But I can't be arsed. I’ve learnt my lesson. The unrelenting hammer of experience has taught me one thing (along with causing frontal lobe trauma). Don’t go crazy.
I’ve a busy enough schedule planned. Take advantage of this breathing space, mate. Breathe in the States. Wallow indulgently in the sights, sounds and smells before they fade into normality.
I do have an evening appointment. 7:30 at the Map Room with Andrew Mason. I pick up a cab just after seven and we’re soon weaving between the traffic. Four miles or so, across town.
With just 26 taps, the draught selection at Map Room is manageable. Which is how I like it. I find decision making difficult at the best of times. I know that I’ve been here before but can’t really remember it at all.
Arriving first, I park myself at the bar, as usual. I am 20 minutes early. Luckily, there’s still an empty stool next to me when Andrew turns up. It’s pretty buzzing in here. Then again, it is Friday. We share a few beers and chat. He's a cool bloke and it's a fun time.
I don't stay out too late. It’s around half ten when I jump in a cab and head back downtown. Rocking and rolling through the Chicago night. Bright lights, big city.
I throw myself enthusiastically into bed, lulled by Laphroaig. Take me sleep, I’m yours.
Paddy Long's Beer & Bacon Pub
1028 W Diversey Pkwy,
Chicago, IL 60614.
Tel: +1 773-290-6988
1949 N Hoyne Ave,
Chicago, IL 60647.
Tel: +1 773-252-7636
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