The Easiest Hour is Lunch!

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The moms say it takes a village and they are right.  School was about to start and a group of us were talking about the challenge facing us all – school lunch.  I wanted my daughter to make her lunch the night before but all I heard was “Mom, what should I make, Mom, we don’t have any xxx(fill in the blank here), Mom, I’ll do it in the morning before school(we all know that won’t happen!).  So my friend Anne started a facebook group where all the moms could post their suggestions – healthy ideas, snack ideas, breakfast, lunch, easy dinners.  And then I read a post that smacked me in the face.  Make a menu.  Like they do at the public schools.  That was TOO EASY.

OK, so who hates it when you have to pack your lunch every night?  And you don’t know what to pack.  Well, me and my mom made a menu of all the things I like and we posted it on the fridge.  It tells me what to pack like a chicken caesar salad with chips and fruit and it’s so easy that you should go to your mom and ask her to make you one too.

 

We are now in week 4.  This super easy plan is a complete GAME CHANGER.  Create a word document, add pictures, dates to cross off and DONE.  If I am traveling for work, life becomes even easier for my husband since there are no questions.

Nicole, you have changed the way we function so THANK YOU!  The bonus – Nicole shared a photo of her pantry in our Facebook group.  Super organized with clear stackable containers.  So, of course, I had to do a quick Amazon search and buy them too.  Now everyone can grab a KIND bar, a bag of dried apricots or Pirate’s Booty and get lunch ready super fast!

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On the Road Eats: Chicago

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Shame on me.  I relied on the concierge to recommend a restaurant.  My colleague and I were on different schedules so dinner was a “whenever” type of event.  The company was good, but dinner……what a shame.  Lunches – fantastic…..and yes, I spent some time picking those spots.

River Roast
Loved this spot.  We ate outside, had a view of the river and the weather was in the 70’s(yes..in November!)  Our appetizer –  the shrimp and crab toast with avocado and then for my meal, I ordered the local beet salad with ricotta and added steak. WOW..fantastic lunch and a new salad idea that I may be able to make at home!

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Star of Siam
Nope- definitely not a star. For me or my colleague. And yes, pictures can be deceiving.  The dumplings were good, fine, ok but our main dishes- nope, not good. I always order either Pad Thai or Pad See Ew and opted for the latter on this night.  Convenient to walk from our hotel but convenience doesn’t outweigh a bad meal.  I should have walked the extra block to Eataly. Sorry Star of Siam- I won’t be back.

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Siena Tavern
IMG_4848YES!!!  I chose right and can say we had a second fabulous meal in Chicago!!  I had wanted to go for dinner(instead of Star of Siam) but they had no availability and I did not have a reservation.  It was lunch and I wanted something to keep me full for my flight home but not something too overwhelming since I had one more meeting.  I ordered the Butternut Squash Tortellacci and it was the perfect lunch.  I will definitely be back to this spot.

I have another trip to Chicago early next year- any suggestions??

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On the Road Eats: Chicago

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New Restaurants, a new hotel and a dinner with a friend from high school who I haven’t seen in over 20 years!  Throw in some successful client visits and you have a great trip.

Acanto
imageI had business a few blocks from Acanto and decided good Italian was on the menu for me.  I wanted something simple but with great flavor.  Cacio e Pepe Risotto, the special of the day. Cheese, Pepper, no frills but is the perfect combination.  It would fill me up but would not be too heavy.  A simple, classic dish.  I had a table with a view of the restaurant so I was able to people watch and see the outdoor activity. Dinner menu looked fantastic….will need to remember this spot for another trip!

Cherry Circle Room
I met a dear friend from boarding school that I have not seen in over twenty years.  It was a wonderful reunion and I was happy to reconnect with her after all this time.  She chose the restaurant and what a great pick she made.  We started with drinks(mine was the Old Cuban), and then shared a beet salad with goat cheese.  I will admit I am not usually a fan of goat cheese but this was absolutely delicious, in fact, I would order it again since I enjoyed it so much.  For dinner we each ordered a main dish, I had the halibut with the squid ink pasta, added a side of creamed kale and of course we had to finish our meal with an “adult” milkshake.  I cannot wait to continue to “eat” this city with her!

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Pastoral Artisan Cheese, Bread & Wine
imageI have known about this spot for a while but never stopped in for lunch.  Since my hotel was so close it was the most convenient place for me to grab a quick bite – eat at the hotel and get some work done before my next meeting.  It probably took me ten minutes to make a decision because of all the great options.  I finally chose the Sinfully Healthy sandwich-  roasted local turkey, Fromager D’Affinois, mango chutney, whole grain Dijon mustard and field greens on cracked wheat.  What a perfect sandwich!  I enjoyed it so much I have been buying the cheese with a fig preserve to eat on crackers at home.  As a side I picked up the bacon potato salad which I thought I would love but it was just not my thing.  Good thing there are numerous other sandwiches I want to try so I can return again soon!

Renaissance Chicago
 Love when I have a great experience at a full service hotel.  The doormen were great, the concierge was fantastic, the front desk was awesome and I had access to the lounge for a quick breakfast.  I had an upgraded room and even had a view.  Hope this hotel is available at a decent price the next time I am in town!!

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On the Road Eats: St. Louis

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I like St. Louis.  It’s a quick trip by plane, the people are super nice and there are lots of great dining options.  I stayed in Clayton at a new Hampton Inn(good service, brand new, still trying to figure things out) but ventured out to find some good local options.  I even had a few minutes to explore a great boutique!

DeMun Oyster Bar
My first stop – lunch.  I had a private dining experience at the oyster bar.image
I walked in at 11a and had the whole restaurant to myself for a full 45 minutes.  It was a rainy day and due to the slow (nonexistent) lunch crowd, I got great service.  I ordered the oyster chowder(which was more of a broth) but the flavors were nice.  Oysters, bacon, potato- I enjoyed it even though it was not exactly what I was expecting.  I grew up in the Northeast so in my mind, chowder should be thick and comforting and warm you from head to toe.  Then I ordered the shrimp po’ boy, recommended by the bartender, and it was good. Simple and good.  I hope that the dinner crowd is a bit more lively.

Brasserie by Niche

photo 1If I could return tomorrow, I would.  I drove over to the Central West End and was excited to try this spot.  I love French food.  I had a glass of red and the braised beef for dinner.  Ask for Layla at the bar- she will make great recommendations.  Dinner- Delicious.  Braised beef, bacon lardons, potato puree, glazed carrots, I didn’t need anything else.  I wish I had put this on my list three years ago to try but then I probably would have kept coming here rather than trying other spots.  This makes my lunch decision easy.  Niche Food Group, who own this restaurant, own a spot in Clayton called Pastaria.  Been there before- time to go back.

Half & Half
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It was recommended to me on Chowhound that I try the donuts. And who am I to decide to have a healthy breakfast when the sugar and citrus donuts are a highlight on the menu?
So, I order my coffee and donuts and decide this is a great way
to start the day!

 

Pastaria
My third visit.  I love this restaurant.  This restaurant is located in Clayton, next to Niche, the fine dining restaurant. I usually sit at the bar and watch them cook.  Pizza or pasta- choose a side.
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I always get the same thing- the Strozzapreti with the Pastaria bolognese. And now they offer a lunch special so I was able to try something new, a chopped salad.  Romaine, chickpeas, pistachios, pepperoni, red wine vinaigrette- Fantastic!  If in Clayton, this is usually at the top of my list for a casual spot with great food!

Lusso
sid-princess

A fabulous boutique located in Clayton right down the street from the Ritz Carlton.  Clothing, jewelry, a  selection of gifts and home decor. I collect Sid Dickens plaques and luckily for me, they had a large selection.
Stop in….super nice and wonderful items!

 

 

Have any other recommendations for me the next time I am in town?
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