When throwing ideas around with fellow blogger and this month's Explorer of the Month, Lauren Valenta, about a great night out event we both agreed upon planning something simple yet sophisticated. The motivation for this outing? Giving you, the readers, a sample of how you can pump up your run of the mill evening out. Tired of food chain restaurants with bland or overcooked food, spotty service and questionable choice of decor (I mean really since when does a giant cow in the middle of a bar constitute good taste) then peruse this account of our expedition out this past weekend. So ladies, dust off those pumps you've been dieing to wear and gentlemen invest in that blazer you've been meaning to get altered and prepare for a journey outside of the usual as we dot it with a bit of style. I think the now iconic character, Ana Steele, said it best raising the ordinary to extraordinary, because yes I did actually get more out of Fifty Shades of Grey than a new appreciation for the uses of a grey tie and an unhealthy Matt Bomer infatuation.
Seven Ten Lounge
2747 North Lincoln Ave
Chicago, IL 60614
Lauren and I started our evening meeting up at this posh lounge featuring lavish lanes with a swanky 60s inspired decor that brings about the wondering had the rat pack bowled in similar digs. Though the surroundings are posh the atmosphere is casual as many of Chicago's professionals venture out to seek a nightlife option free of crowded bars/clubs filled with rowdy still coming of age patrons. Gone are the smoke filled alleys, with balding bowling jockeys, peeling wall paint, cheesy bowling decals, and hoards of screaming young children fascinated with the bowling ball polishing machine. Here, martinis are standard issue along with the rental shoes and sorry folks, some traditions die hard as apparently all bowling shoes seem to follow the same basic design.The staff from the bartenders to waitresses even to the managerial staff were extremely friendly and attentive. Manager on duty, Tony was even nice enough to come out and introduce himself and give a nice welcome. Each lane is $20 per hour and is allowed up to 4 bowlers; you grab three of your friends and that's 5 bucks a pop! Tack on a $3 shoe fee and your looking at a fun night out for less than $10 bucks. Lauren and I managed to breeze through two games of bowling and marveled at the old school setup as there is no electronic score keeping, leaving her and I to question our mental math skills. A great start to the night as we chatted and admired the space noting that it would be a great spot for a party or get together. We also noted that we were lucky to get in an hour of playtime seeing as these hipsters still have league nights which starts at 7:30 on Saturdays.
DMK Burger Bar
2954 North Sheffield Ave
Chicago, IL 60657
We moseyed along a few blocks down from the mellow vibe of Seven Ten and felt as if we were transported to the hottest spot in town. I'd venture to guess we were judging by the size of the crowd all awaiting admittance to even the smallest smidgen of room in the hopes of sampling of these always freshly prepared gourmet burgers. Priding themselves on using only "exceptional quality, grass-fed beef" DMK has found an unpretentious way of making the iconic image of the burger upscale. Gone are simple toppings like pickles, lettuce, cheese, etc. Now we have stylish patties topped with things like charred balsamic red onions, Asian slaw, eggplant, and French Gruyere. The artisan of burger crafting has definitely been taken to new heights boys and girls. And what, per chance, would you price for such custom fare? Try $9 for every burger. Yes, for the same price you'd spend at any restaurant chain you could get the piece of mind of knowing you're actually eating fresh meat as well as avoid getting pelted with a barrage of crayons from the neighboring kid-friendly table next to you. Only real difference at DMK, other than a tantrum-free environment, is that fries are a la cart folks. But with fries choices such as Wisconsin Cheddar and Bacon, Sweet Potato, and one of the best things to meet my lips (I'll let you kind folks conspire as to some of the other choices) the Parmesan and Truffle Cream sprinkled fries. With flavors like these I'll fork over the extra $2-$4, what can I say I'm a big spender. Lauren and I were happy with our individual choices I, having the Lamb burger with Feta cheese with Greek salad, and she, sampling the bacon burger including jack cheese and a farm fresh fried egg. Added to shared Parmesan fries (the smaller order can feed two) and the ambrosial hard apple cider and spirits we sipped visiting DMK was a good toast to a wonderful evening. Cocktails conjured captivating conversation about varying topics from post collegiate choices to latest sitcom buzz to blogging world perks and even added a new term to store in my repertoire. (I don't believe I've ever heard of jersey chasing) Please note, no reservations folks so either get there early or prepare to get all Hunger Games over finding a spot at the bar.
As Lauren so graciously walked me to the car I couldn't help but think about this gift that comes with blogging. In a city like this two women, of different ages, different backgrounds and essentially different lifestyles came together shared stories, did some pretty fine bowling and ate a damn good meal.
Have more ideas of great hotspots around the city? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more pictures of our evening head over to our FB page facebook.com/4StarExplorer and check out these and past pictures from other events. And don't forget to "like" us!