It is no secret that Chicago has endless offerings of fun and merriment for its citizens. Countless restaurants, bars and events provide the folks virtually a “24-7-365” list of things to do and experience.
But there are times that even the most ardent Chicago dwellers want to get out of the city for a short trip and experience other places and recently I traveled only a short distance and found a great spot.
Last weekend, fellow ChicagoNow music blogger James Francis Ryan of Iowa and I ventured out to Blue Chip Casino Hotel and Spa in Michigan City, Indiana to take in a concert at the Stardust Event Center and have some fun.
Blue Chip is a very easy drive from Chicago, only 58 miles from the Loop. We decided to head out on a Saturday morning so the traffic was light and the drive was good. Also, we had decided to spend the night after the concert.
Located right on Lake Michigan, Blue Chip is a state-of the-art facility owned and operated by legendary Boyd Gaming of Las Vegas.
Upon arrival, I was very pleasantly surprised by the free valet parking and the “Vegas” look to the pavilion.
One of the first things I noticed when we walked in the Pavilion was how well maintained the facility was…unlike several of the other local casinos.
We were checked into the Blue Chip’s newest hotel tower, the 22-story Blue Spa Tower that has 300 rooms and includes 60 suites. The rooms and suites in the Spa Tower are all state of the art “smart” rooms making them both energy-efficient and spacious. The view was magnificent from the room and you could see the Chicago skyline across the lake.
After check in, we were lucky enough to have an escorted tour of the property...thanks "D" Scott...where we were shown “The Loft” penthouse suite. This 1,575 square-foot suite was quite impressive and as elegant as any of the top suites in Chicago or Las Vegas.
In addition, the Blue Chip Tower is the original hotel tower which houses Blue Chip’s indoor pool, hot tubs and has a complimentary workout facility.
Next, we were also given a full tour of the 10,000 square-foot Spa facilities. This full-service spa provides a workout facility, whirlpool, steam room; massage service as well as health and beauty treatments.
GF NOTE: Use of these facilities is not complimentary but at only a nominal $8 charge, well worth it.
Once we had completed our tour, it was now time to get down to business…fun.
With five different dining options on property, it was hard to choose a lunch venue but when we saw The Game, our decision was pretty clear.
Built to look like a Las Vegas Sports Book, The Game serves as Blue Chip’s “sports bar.” One of the first things that caught my eye when we walked in was the beer special…$3.50 16-ounce Coors Light and the mountains were blue.
Our server was Jennifer and we were seated right in the middle of the establishment with plenty of video monitors to watch college basketball. We started our meal with one of The Game’s most popular items, the Buffalo Shrimp appetizer. The portion was ample…over a dozen large freshly breaded shrimp with a perfectly seasoned hot buffalo sauce and a solid blue cheese dressing on the side.
For the entrée, I decided on the Parmesan crusted Buffalo chicken sandwich while James ordered the Pitmaster Burger (BBQ spices, BBQ sauce, shaved red onion, smoked cheddar cheese, coleslaw).
Both sandwiches were big and well worth the money. I will say that the buns on each were nothing special and I did not really care for the vinegar-based coleslaw but the overall flavor of each sandwich was great with the Buffalo chicken sandwich a narrow winner.
GF NOTE: If you are into eating challenges, The Game has a KO Burger Challenge ($35.00). The KO is 40-ounces of ground beef, lettuce, tomatoes, onions and American cheese. If you can eat it in 30 minutes, it is free. In addition, The Game has 30-cent wings every Monday and Tuesday night.
Jennifer did a great job as our server and understood very quickly that we like our Coors Light and she kept them coming.
For dessert, we had the warm house made chocolate chip cookies with a very tasty handmade vanilla milk shake.
GF NOTE: If you are looking for a good place to watch the Sweet Sixteen this weekend, you might want to head out to The Game. Beers are only $2.50 and there is March Hoopla.
After lunch, I decided to get in a quick work out in the Spa. I do know it shocks the regular readers of the blog that I do actually work out. If I didn’t, this blog might cause me to gain 100 extra lbs.
The workout facility has all the latest machines and like the rest of Blue Chip, it was absolutely spotless and also has a nice view of the lake.
Next it was time for a little rest and watching more college basketball.
We made ourselves available for Happy Hour at the Rocks Lounge right off the casino floor. Rocks’ was hosting a blues band and has a great selection of craft beers.
GF NOTE: All Blue Chip bars rotate their selection of craft beer each month and there is no beer priced over $4.00 per pint.
For dinner, we had made reservations at Blue Chip’s signature restaurant, William B’s Steakhouse. This steak and seafood house is also designed along the line of a Vegas chophouse.
The martinis were flowing for the crowd as we walking into William B’s and with a top end price of only $8…they should have been.
Our server Carrie was both knowledgeable and pleasant and in keeping with the “And They Called It Pork” creed, we started off with the BACON-wrapped scallops served in an Herbed Beurre Blanc. They were magnificent. Large and perfectly cooked, the sauce added just enough citrus hints to complement the scallops.
As for an entrée, I ordered the 10-ounce Delmonico steak (sliced rib eye) served on a bed of roasted red pepper mashed potatoes while James ordered the 7-ounce filet with asparagus and mushroom Florentine. Both steaks were perfectly cooked medium and had good flavor while each side dish was also excellently prepared.
In addition, we ordered a side of lobster macaroni and cheese and it proved to be a winner. Curled pasta with a browned panko crust covered in large chunks of lobster…very nice.
For dessert, Carrie recommended the pecan pie with carmel sauce. As a native Texan, I take my pecan pie seriously. This pie is not made in house but by Mike’s Pies and I can tell you Mike knows how to make a pecan pie. The was outstanding and the only thing that would have made it better would have been having it warmed with a side of ice cream…I might ask for that next time.
After dinner, William B’s manager Patrick Cullars stopped by our table while making his rounds of the patrons. Patrick has a fully stocked humidor for the cigar aficionados out there.
Now it was time to get ready for the Kansas concert in the Starlight Event Center. For a complete review of the Kansas show, see ChicagoAtNight’s blog post.
The experience of the concert definitely made me want to see another show at the venue. Besides all the pre-concert festivities, the Starlight Event Center has excellent sound and the buckets ($15 buckets of 16-ounce cold beer) were a home run.
After the concert, it was time to make our way to the casino floor for a few games of chance.
Unlike other casinos I have had the opportunity to spend a little time in, the people at Boyd Gaming have stepped it up a notch or two. First, even a non-smoker should feel fairly comfortable in the casino with the smoke-eating system that Blue has installed.
Also, Blue Chip has video screens throughout the gaming floor, even right above the table games allowing sports fans to gamble and watch their favorite games.
Blue Chip has all the normal table games including craps. Hundreds of slot machines surround the floor with everything from penny slots to $100 pulls.
I would also like to point out that is easy to find a $5 or $10 table even on a Saturday night where it seems most other casinos are upping their minimums to $25 during the evenings.
Once you are done with the games of chance, It’s Vegas Baby should be your last stop of the day. An homage to the late night Las Vegas showrooms of the past, this club features live entertainment with a dance floor. This is a very popular spot and there was a line to get in even at midnight. It’s Vegas Baby is open until 2:00 am Wednesday through Saturday.
Of course, what would a full day of fun and beverages be without a late night, completely 100% bad for your body, snack? Nelson’s Deli is open 24 hours and will be there to fulfill your hunger. Gregg recommends the chicken tenders and fries.
Overall, the Blue Chip experience was outstanding and I highly recommend that you take the short trip down I-90. It is not hard to tell that the employees take pride in their work and provide a top level of service. The food and amenities were all well done and the prices are very reasonable.
This weekend trip would be great for a group to get out of town for the night. Blue Chip hosts several events, like the annual Brewfest in April, making the Blue Chip not just a casino, but also a destination.
Well that is all for today folks…enjoy and stay classy.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “You guys might not know this, but I consider myself a bit of a loner. I tend to think of myself as a one-man wolf pack. But when my sister brought Doug home, I knew he was one of my own. And my wolf pack... it grew by one. So there... there were two of us in the wolf pack... I was alone first in the pack, and then Doug joined in later. And six months ago, when Doug introduced me to you guys, I thought, "Wait a second, could it be?" And now I know for sure, I just added two more guys to my wolf pack. Four of us wolves, running around the desert together, in Las Vegas, looking for strippers and cocaine. So tonight, I make a toast!
COMING UP NEXT: Lagniappe