We truly pride ourselves on having a staff made up of artists, musicians, gourmands, world travelers, sports fans, and more. We are a team of designers and administrators, of course, but when it comes down to it, we all share one thing in common: we're curious. Here at Crimson, we want to encourage our team members' curiosity! And we want to share the results of our team members' explorations with you, our clients and readers!
Heather Kates, a member of our design team, is renowned around the office for knowing exactly where all the best places are. If any of us need to find a restaurant that specializes in Italian wines, she knows the place. If we want to find a gourmet cocktail: ask Heather. If we're traveling to New York and need a hotel recommendation, she's the first person we turn to! She has great taste and loves exploring new restaurants, bars, hotels... essentially any place that offers incredible food, great service, and memorable experiences. So, we thought, "why not share Heather's tips on our blog?"
Welcome to a recurring series known as Heather's Hot Spots! In this edition, Heather will tell us about her recent visit to Chicago. Take it away, Heather!
Heather's Hot Spots: Chicago
A couple of weeks ago, my husband Malcolm and I went to Illinois for a baby shower. It was just a short weekend trip but how could I resist making the absolute most of it? I decided we should stay in Chicago for a night and explore a few new places!
About ten years ago when I was studying interior design, I was given an assignment that entailed designing a new lobby for the Park Hyatt. So naturally, I've wanted to stay there ever since. To be honest, the hotel really drove the whole weekend trip. Rooms typically go for $350+/night but this particular weekend they had an amazing special. I couldn't pass up the chance to finally stay there.
The Park Hyatt is in a great location, right across from the historic Water Tower in Chicago's Gold Coast. From the second you drive up to the hotel, you're met with amazing hospitality. Your bags are brought up to your room for you while the staff offers you water, coffee, or tea and a seat in their library while you wait to check in.
The room had an amazing view and a beautiful neutral palette. The bed was incredibly comfortable and the hotel offered turn down service, which was a welcome treat after a night out on the town. Coming back to fluffed pillows and cool glasses of water on our bed side tables was luxurious. The next morning we took advantage of the hotel's amazing room service and treated ourselves to breakfast in bed. The Park Hyatt's room service comes directly from the in-hotel restaurant, Nomi Kitchen, an award winning restaurant in its own right. We were expecting great food but what we got was next level service: they sent up a bottle of complimentary champagne!
Another incredible feature of the Park Hyatt: the complimentary bath products. It sounds silly, I know. But they offer Le Labo bath products in my favorite scent: Santal 33, a beautifully musky, spicy scent. Seriously, what's not to love?
If you ever have the chance to stay there, I highly recommend the Park HyattP, Chicago.
Photo Credits: Park Hyatt, Chicago
Malcolm and I love trying new cocktail bars. We really enjoy the hunt for the perfect cocktail. Prairie School was on our Chicago cocktail bucket list and we couldn't wait to try it.
Located in the new Google building in Chicago's West Loop, Prairie School gets its name from the school of architecture that emerged in Chicago after the great fire of 1871. Inspired by the Prairie School architects, many of whom believed better homes created better people, the bar is designed in a way that allows customers to see (they have floor-to-ceiling windows), hear (they've utilized state of the art acoustics), and taste the absolute best of the Midwest. The bar draws inspiration from architects such as Frank Lloyd Wright, even in the names of their cocktails.
Inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright's love of ceramics, the bar commissioned an artist to make ceramic mugs from which they serve only one kind of cocktail. Each mug has a number carved into its bottom and loyal customers can join Prairie School's version of a mug club!
The cocktails themselves were delicious: not too sweet and very clean. The bartenders are incredibly knowledgable and very approachable. This is the kind of bar you want to go to if you have questions about the menu, want to learn more about cocktails, or if you just want to try something new! The interior design was inspiring, the cocktails were delicious, and the service was impeccable! Definitely give Prairie School a try.
Photo Credits: Prairie School
One of our favorite stops was Topolobampo. Getting a reservation there is usually pretty difficult: a testament to how good it is.
Rick and Deann Bayless opened Topolobampo in 1989, a few years after they opened their restaurant Frontera Grill. The two restaurants use the same front door but that's where the similarities end. Topolo's food is daring, contemporary, and inspired modern Mexican cuisine. The dinner menu is divided into three, distinct chef selected tasting menus: the five-course "classic" and "seasonal" options, or the seven course "Perfect 7" tasting menu.
We have always wanted to go to Topolo but we were especially driven to get a reservation because they recently completed a redesign. The new decor features a warm color palette, camel colored leather booths, and artwork that features vibrant reds and oranges. The real show stopping design feature of the restaurant, though, was the undulating wood ceiling. It recalls the waves of Mexico's beaches, just as the restaurant's artwork alludes to the vibrancy of Mexico's landscape and food.
We chose the Winter Beach Vacation tasting menu. This menu features 7 dishes that each draw their inspiration from one of 7 beaches visited by Chef Rick Bayless. The menu was seafood forward, and each course was totally unique. It was truly a once in a lifetime culinary experience.
The restaurant's ambience is high end but it doesn't feel cold or rigid. It's approachable, while still retaining a feeling of luxury. Maintaining that balance can be tricky but Bayless and his team pull it off magnificently.
Photo Credits: Topolobampo
We didn't get the chance to stop by this bar during our visit but, if you're ever in Chicago and love cocktails, you have to try The Aviary. It's a one of a kind experience, trust me. The whole experience of The Aviary is a theatrical, fully immersive bar-going event. First, you have to buy tickets to be admitted to the bar (these act like a sort of deposit to hold your seat... they go towards your first drink). They make cocktails into next level art, right at your table. They even offer cocktail tastings, in courses! If you're looking for a unique, one of a kind cocktail experience, look no further than The Aviary.
Photo Credits: The Aviary