Usually when I head downtown into the city when I come to Chicago, I go to the Art Institute which tends to preclude me going to one of the restaurants I like. I tend to get to the museum in the late morning, and it's just too inconvenient to leave mid-visit for lunch and then return back afterwards to the rest of the paintings. This time, though, I decided to change my schedule a bit and took the L in to arrive around 11:15 so that I could go to The Berghoff for a very early lunch, and then go to the Art Institute after, which is only about two blocks away.
The Berghoff is a Chicago classic in every true sense of the word. It's been there on Adams Street for a long time. No, seriously long. For 119 years, since 1898.
It's a German restaurant, and you really feel a sense of heading back into time when you walk in, though there's nothing musty about the place. It's just Old World. They keep it as fresh as reasonable, although walking back in -- I haven't been there in decades -- was totally family. The only surface differences I noticed is that they now have women waitresses, and all the waiters were under the age of 60.
(Yes, it's empty here, but remember -- I said I got there a little after 11:15. The place was much more full by the time that I left...)
The Berghoff makes its own beer, so I got a couple of samplers of the Original and the dark. They also make their own bread, and give you a sort of "snifter" of pumpernickel, rye and some other. And I ordered the bratwurst, which I love. It was all delicious.
Great to be back.
And then on to the Art Institute. It's quite an amazing place, as I've mentioned. Not just for the collection, which is remarkable, but how meticulously and thoughtfully it's all laid out.
When I was there last time, one of their famous paintings, American Gothic, was touring on loan. I was hoping it would be back by now, but I was told I was three days too early, that it wasn't due until June 11. However, when I got to the American Paintings of the early 1900s area...it was there! Huzzah.
But the real treat was that they have another famous American painting on loan right now, that I had no idea was there. It's owned by the Paris Museum, and rarely seen in the U.S. -- in fact, it hasn't been at the Art Institute in 60 years. But when I walked up the stairs to the American section, I saw a big sign for it.
I think there's a good chance you'll probably recognize it. (Please excuse the reflection of the glass.) --
In the little description for "Whistler's Mother" next to the painting, there's a a great quote from James MacNeil Whistler. It turns out that he acknowledged it was probably his best painting, not just his most famous, and he was pleased by it. The quote was something like. "When you're going to do a painting about your mummy, it's such a good thing when it's so nice."
All in all a good day.
And it's rare when the elves taking care of the homestead ever get jealous, but they did today. In large part, though, that's because they really love pumpernickel.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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