happy birthday! (to me!)

Monday, December 5, 2011

My birthday was last week after Thanksgiving and Cory and I took advantage of having my Mom in town so she could babysit and we could get a night out on the town! I'm such a weirdo about hiring babysitters, so we usually just bring Bitsy everywhere we go. But not my birthday night! We had a fabulous, awesome, fun time... and didn't worry for a second about the baby!

So, Cory, being the sweeeet husband that he is, surprised me by planning out a perfect birthday! All he said was to dress up 'cause he was taking me somewhere nice! ... And then we pull up to Elysian Hotel for Michelin 2-starred dinner at Ria
Nice is not the word to describe this place. Swanky is more appropriate. So, if you're celebrating something big or you just have lots of fancy dinners and you're in Chi City, you must go to Ria. Seriously, best meal of my LIFE! Best champagne of my LIFE! The whole place was a feast for the eyes, the meal was just scrumptious and thinking about it makes me sad that it's over! I want to go back and start all over with the champagne course ;)

But, back to the whole 'feast for your eyes' part. Walking in, I knew I was going to love it.  
And the dining room was so beautiful. I love the textured walls and the artwork, especially. It was so open and airy ... and I could eat all my meals there from now on. Please and thank you. 
I know you're dying to hear the dinner details. Get ready, it was some incredible food. We started off with my new favorite champagne ever of all time, Leclerc Briant, and a halibut mousse amuse bouche. Yes, halibut mousse. And it was fantastic. While we were finishing up our first glass of champagne, our waiter came to warn us that we shouldn't leave to go to the bathroom or anything because the white truffle risotto was about to come out-- and you have to eat it immediately, "because of its delicacy." He said that if we missed those first few minutes after it's served, they throw it away and make a completely new risotto from scratch! So, when it was served, the truffle waiter (yes, the truffle waiter) came to the table with some fresh white truffles and grated them on top of my risotto. Let me tell you, I have never had anything like it. Nothing can even come close to comparing. Ohhh mmmm! My mouth is watering just thinking about this risotto.

Next, was lobster and Wagyu beef for Cory and striped sea bass for me. And, surprisingly, the sommelier advised me to have a Pinot Noir with my fish! I am very much not a wine snob; I really had no idea what to do when the waiter poured a little vino in my glass before he serves it (apparently, I've now learned, you're just sniffing for a vinegar-y smell). But this wine completely made the meal. It was the perfect complement to my fish and I wish I'd remembered what it was! I'd tell you, and then you would need to go buy a case. Or two. 

Anyway, I thought, how could anything be better than the risotto? And then I had some of Cory's Wagyu. It actually melted in my mouth! Literally! Good thing Cory split it with me! ;) The waiter, who was actually really funny, came to check on us (like anything could've been wrong! The meal was beyond amazing) and we started talking about how I'm a lush much I love champagne. The next thing we knew, he was pouring us both a "taste" (which was really 3/4 of a glass) of $45-a-glass Pommery champagne. The hint of strawberry shortcake is what makes it his favorite champagne -- he says he drinks it for breakfast. Why not? 

Dessert was a surprise choice from the waiter, and came with two glasses of Cattier champagne (which is the winery down the street from Dom Perignon, in case you were wondering ;). My dessert was chocolate, and heavenly... but Cory's pear dessert! I don't know what they did to those pears. In fact, I don't even like pears... but this was one of the best desserts I'd ever tried. 

The best thing about Ria, besides how amazing that meal was, is that they have a posh lounge where they serve their fabulous champagnes and you can just stop by for a glass (or two or three) of champagne and a pear dessert! We will definitely make our way back for some Leclerc Briant.
Then, we rushed out of the beautiful Elysian Hotel to make our way to the theatre district for the next part of my birthday celebration!
 Cory got us great seats to see A Christmas Carol at The Goodman Theatre! Since by now, you must have picked up on how much I love Christmas, you know I loved it! 
 Poor quality iPhone pic... oh well!
 The show was great; the casting was a little funny! Bob Cratchit was white, Mrs. Cratchit was Asian and Tiny Tim was Indian. Very multi-cultural, that Cratchit family. I honestly loved every minute of the show even if Cory was dying to go at intermission. He told me it was true love that was making him stay. What a sweet guy!
 After the show, we walked back to The Elysian, where our car was valeted. We took a cab from the restaurant to the theatre, which was a really good idea! Parking would've been a hassle when we were already pushing it on time, and most likely we'd have had to pay for 2 valets. Plus, walking down State Street was so beautiful! There were theatre lights flashing all around and Christmas lights twinkling on the trees. We crossed the Chicago River and saw all the buildings lit up at night! This sealed the deal for us-- when our lease is up on our place up here, we're packing up and moving downtown. I want to feel like I'm in the city, not just near it. 
 After our walk, we got in our car and drove back home to our Bitsy, who was very sweet and snuggly. It was a perfect birthday! I had such a great time :) Thank you, Cory!! 
What have you done that was amazing and fun for your birthday? Any recommendations on where to go for Cory's birthday in April? We're thinking Alinea!


  1. Ahhh the food sounds amazing and the whole evening, perfect! How kind of Cory to plan so WELL!! LOVE the photos and your writing is beautiful!

  2. No kidding! He did a great job planning out a perfect birthday for me! :) Thanks, Meg!