Chicago  – Day 2 of 3: State & Lake Chicago Tavern, Elysian Spa at the Waldorf Astoria, Chicago q, The Chopping Block

After a deep but far too brief sleep in my comfortable bed at theWit with the lights of the city surrounding me, I went downstairs to have breakfast at State and Lake Chicago Tavern, theWit’s on-property restaurant.

State and Lake
Waffles and bacon

State and Lake offers a large menu, with some great classic breakfast items. I went with a malted waffle, normally served with a crispy chicken thigh. Instead, I paired it with bacon (awesome) and an orange juice and hot chocolate.

After our big breakfast, it was off to the Waldorf Astoria Chicago, a very luxurious Hilton property a few blocks away. Immediately, I was impressed by the formal elegance, like a Paris mansion, with a courtyard separating the entrance from the busy street. We headed to the property’s Elysian Spa and Health Club.

Waldorf Astoria spa
The lobby of the Elysian Spa at the Waldorf Astoria

The spa was stylish and comfortable with a very nice locker room area. I got changed and had a vigorous 60 minute Elysian Massage. Afterwards, I went into the sauna and then the hot tub, both of which were wonderful.

Waldorf Astoria
A spa selfie with my Action Cam

 A nap would have been great after the massage, but it was on to lunch at Chicago q (1160 North Dearborn), q as in BBQ. With house-made rubs and special smokers, Chicago q delivers a serious Southern BBQ experience and the large space was packed on a Saturday afternoon. Award-winning BBQ chef Lee Ann Whippen specializes in smoked Kobe brisket but knows her way around a rib or two too. The Saturday brunch menu was a dizzying combination of BBQ and breakfast items. I had two of the BBQ flights, featuring their three signature smoked meats: Kobe brisket, pork and chicken. This was served with their three sauces, BBQ, vinegar BBQ and mustard.

Chicago Q
BBQ flight with kobe brisket, pulled pork and pulled chicken

To go with the great BBQ I also went with their bruled mac and cheese which was amazing, and the chitpotle smoked corn, which was quite spicy.

Macaroni and cheese with smoked chipotle corn
My sides: macaroni and cheese with smoked chipotle corn

After lunch, a quick trip back to the theWit, some time to work and rest and then it was time to have dinner. After the massage and huge lunch, I considered excusing myself from dinner and staying at the hotel to work. Boy what a mistake that would have been. We headed over to The Chopping Block, a hugely successful recreational cooking school and foodie / chef store. Recreational cooking means you are there to learn and eat, not to become a chef. The courses and programs are taught by real chefs and I found it a totally entertaining and tasty experience.

CHopping Block
The large kitchen space

We had great fun putting on aprons and working with two of their staff chefs (real pros) to prepare a meal. We made an arugula salad with celery (I chopped it!), apples paremesan and a lemon vinaigrette. Next was a goat cheese ravioli with brown butter and sage and the main coarse, a roasted pork loin with fig and pine nut tapenade. Served with this was over-roasted butternut squash (cut into perfect cubes by me) with almonds.

Chef Fred
Chef Fred at work
Pear pie
Luxury Fred’s pear upside-down cake

Dessert was a gingery pear upside-down cake and I was responsible for slicing the pears AND arranging them in a nice, round pattern, to form the top of the cake. Overall it was an incredibly fun experience. The school offers classes, fun date night activities and corporate team building sessions as well.

Chopping Bloack
With our great chef instructors

While I headed back to theWit, some of the wilder members of our group headed to Nellcote in the Randolph Street Corridor for some late-night drinks.

Next, Day 3, Little Goat Diner, Bobby’s Bike Hike, tea at The Drake.

Read about Day 1 in Chicago HERE


My Chicago “Be A Weekender” adventure was sponsored by Hilton. Check out hiltonweekends.com to plan your own adventure.