159 E Monroe Dr
Modern Wing, Art Institute
Chicago, IL 60604
Date of Last Visit: Thursday, July 23, 2009
The Victim: Bevin
The Damage: Unknown. Bevin paid. But assumed to be about $30 for two.
The Background: Chicago is never at the top of anyone's list of places to visit in America. But I want you to go to Chicago. I want you to love it like I do. Me, the born-and-bred New Yorker who declared, upon visiting Chicago for the first time in 1992, "Is this it? It's just one street!"
I want you to love it for it's hot and cloudless summers, where everyone takes to the lakefront or their deck. Where it's not usual to ride your bike to work or wake up at the crack o'dawn on a Saturday to go running or rollerblading or SOMETHING. And I want you to love it just as much for it's freezing cold winters, where the masses are clad in either Northface or Eddie Bauer (good to 0 degrees…Fahrenheit), where all the El stops have heat lamps and you can leave your coat on the hook under the bar. I want you to love it for its hot dogs. And its Mexican food. And its wide boulevards, air-conditioned public transport, Goose Island beer and fantastic blues bars.
And also, of course, I want you to love Chicago because of the Art Institute. One of the nicest museums in the world. (You might remember it from Ferris Bueler 's Day Off.) On this day, I love the Art Institute because it's my last day in the office for, I don't know, probably another year or so, and I get to have lunch here. At Terzo Piano, the new place.
The Entrance: Terzo Piano is big and airy and white. I admire the banquet seating at one point and say, "What color is that? Champagne? Pearl?" Whatever it is, it's lovely. (Although I can't help thinking about what my mother would say about anyone doing up a restaurant–or anywhere for that manner–in white-ish/cream-ish/beige-ish. You're just asking for punishment.)
The Menu: That's it. If you can read it. Terzo Piano is an informally formal type of place. The menu is just salads and sandwiches and pastas, really. Or at least it was when I went. It's lunch food, really. But that's what we're there for, so it's fine. (Further research shows they have an entirely different dinner menu.)
The Food: I go for the trio of burgers: a beef burger with Wisconsin colby cheese, a Wisconsin lamb burger with Capriole Indiana goat cheese, and a shrimp burger with calabrian pepper spread. Hey, I only have four days left in America, so I need to get my burger on. So I might as well have three, right? They are all nice, but the lamb burger REALLY stands out. It's rich and moist and savoury and the tangy goat cheese is a great compliment to the seasoned lamb. If anything, the beef burger is boring in comparison. (The shrimp burger is interesting. But not really burger-like.)
I like that the menu tells me where my food comes from. That's not something I saw much of before when I lived in the city. (I remember seeing Mahi Mahi on a menu once in Chicago–Mahi Mahi is native to South Florida, where I'm from when I'm not from New York or Chicago. I asked our server where the fish came from; she consulted with the kitchen for quite a while and came back to tell us it "came from a distributor.")
Ah, and I like the fries at Terzo Piano. I'm a sucker for fries with the skin still on 'em.
Celebrity Sighting: Bevin thinks Laura Linney was sitting right behind us. I'm not super-familiar with Laura Linney, but the woman I saw sitting behind us sure looks a lot like the photos of Laura Linney I've looked up on the Internet.
The Verdict: I liked Terzo Piano. Dare I say a lot?