21 October 2008

A celebration dinner at Gibson’s in Chicago

Our daughter ran the Chicago Marathon in October. This was the second time she ran it. She beat her first time, but she doesn’t run competitively. She’s one of the charity runners. She ran for the Leukemia/Lymphoma Society.

After she completed the run, she went back to her apartment to rest. Then we met her for a dinner to celebrate her accomplishment. Gibson’s Steakhouse is less than two blocks from her apartment, and she commented that she’d always wanted to eat there. So as my wife and I walked over to her place, and as we passed Gibson’s, we stopped in to see if we could get a table.

“Sorry,” we were told. “No tables are available until after 9 p.m.” We didn’t think that would work for Tovah. After all, she’d just finished running 26.2 miles. We figured she’d want to eat early and go to bed. As we turned to leave, my wife thought to ask about the outdoor tables. “You’ll have to check outside,” was the answer.

Well, we did check outside, and much to our delight, we discovered that we could get a table in a half hour. So we strolled over to Tovah’s apartment, got her, and strolled back just in time to be seated. The weather on the day of the marathon was stunning. It probably was a little too hot for the runners, but it was perfect for an early evening dinner al fresco.

Like any expense account steakhouse, Gibson’s features huge portions and breathtaking menu prices. Like consider this: “Big Porterhouse” = $93. Or this: “Medium Australian Lobster Tail” = $82.25, or with ‘turf’ = $115.

Fortunately, since this was not an expense account meal, they have a section of the menu called “Bar Food” which offers a nice selection of reasonably priced items. My wife went for a half rack of baby back ribs, only $12.25. My daughter ordered the prime rib French dip, only $13.75.

I split a Caesar salad with my daughter and I had a veal chop. Ok, so that wasn’t in the ‘reasonable’ category. It was a nice sized chop, but it was $37.50.

In terms of flavor and quality, we all thought our meals were very satisfying. The service was great. Our server was attentive without hovering. We weren’t at all rushed. In fact, there seemed to be tables open outside almost the whole time we were there.

But the best part of the meal was the ambiance. Across the street was Mariano Park, a little triangular haven of trees, grass, benches and tables bordered by State Street, Rush Street, and Bellvue Place. It was filled with families and lovers and people enjoying the balmy October evening. There was a steady parade of fancy cars, limos, and motorcycles to watch.

After we finished our meals, we walked Tovah home. We hung out with her for a little bit and then left so she could get to sleep. As we walked by Gibson’s, there were open tables on the sidewalk, but it was still jam-packed inside.

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