Grand Lux Cafe

As you may have noticed, all my Tasty Travel posts don’t just concentrate on the food. I share stories. Stories about my travels and about my life. I think this gives you an opportunity to know who I really am. I also wanted to provide a contrast between personal and foodie life. Here I share a true “travel” post as I talk about being a tourist! 🙂

After my graduation, the family decided that we would be tourists for a couple of days before they had to fly back home. I stayed behind since I tried looking for a job in the US. That obviously didn’t work out as planned but I’m completely fine with how things turned out since I’ve always wanted to come back home and help out my family. So going back..of the 4 yrs I’ve lived in Illinois, I actually haven’t seen much of the state. People always ask me what’s there to see in Chicago and I always admit, with such disappointment, that I have not seen much of the famous city. It wasn’t too late after all.. the solution: Chicago CityPASS. My younger brother and I knew about the pass from using the San Francisco equivalent over spring break (might blog about the eats from that trip if I find photos). It’s definitely worth the money since it includes 5 attractions (at a discount) which you can spread out through the validity period of 9 days. Each pass for each tourist city is different. I’ll talk about the San Francisco one when I get a chance to blog about it.

Here are some photos from that day. We went to the Museum of Science and Industry. I’ve been to many museums. It’s an interest I share with my dad. Museums aren’t for everyone since I know it tends to be boring after a while. But my dad and I take forever to roam around in these. If I had all the time in the world, I would definitely read all the descriptive texts of all of the displays. And this museum, I have to say, with all of my heart, is hands down, my FAVORITE museum. It is just full of interesting facts and exhibits from war time history to crazy invention ideas for the future.

These blocks made music when moved!

Solar roof. Energy saving appliances. Eco-friendly furniture. Sorry picture taking wasn't allowed inside!

After the museum, which literally took the whole day, we went up the John Hancock Tower. On the 94th floor, those with a fear of heights should suck it up because anyone would want to look down and admire breathtaking views of the city. Audio guides were provided which I was surprised to soon find out that the narrator is David Schwimmer. I then realized, after watching a special on him once on tv before, that Chicago does have a special place in his heart since it was here that he co-founded the Lookingglass Theatre Company. The guide was very informative, guiding you from window to window with different facts and stories of the buildings and other infrastructures from each view.

Now if I just made you bored with all this travel touristy talk, don’t leave just yet! I’m just about to get on to the food! The Grand Lux Cafe. A friend of mine recommended this place to me a while back but I’ve never been able to try it since it’s always been full. I warned my family that I would have the same fate as my previous attempts if we didn’t plan ahead so I knew there was no better strategy than beating the crowd. During an odd hour when it’s just time for afternoon tea, my family and I walk in to the restaurant wanting an early dinner. If this is the first time you’re hearing about Grand Lux Cafe, you would know it’s sister restaurant, the famous Cheesecake Factory. Therefore these two are somewhat similar in concept. It is similar in that the menu is extensive and full of variety, there’s something for everyone. The dessert menu is impressive..not studded with several cheesecake flavors, although Cheesecake Factory cakes are offered.

As experienced Cheesecake Factory diners, we knew the servings would also be generous at Grand Lux Cafe. So for 4 people, two entrees and two desserts were enough.

The Entrees: Cedar Planked BBQ Salmon with Mashed Potatoes, Corn Succatash and Crispy Onion Rings.

Madeira Chicken- Chicken Breast Topped with Asparagus, Mozzarella and
Mushroom-Madeira Sauce. Served with Mashed Potatoes.

Reviews: These were good. Honestly, nothing spectacular but they were good and tasty. The salmon was cooked well and the BBQ sauce was tangy enough to provide a good flavor. My only complaint though was that the smoky cedar flavor was lost possibly due to the use of the sauce. However, the onion rings were gigantic rounds of fried perfection. The chicken was not the texture I was expecting since I thought a crispier outer shell would have worked better for the dish but then again, I’ve never had chicken prepared this way before. For both dishes though.. the mashed potatoes were delicious scoops of buttery starch. And I’m one to be more critical when it comes to basic techniques such as cooking mashed potatoes.. which I think is frequently overlooked. This they have perfected.

The desserts: Molten Chocolate Cake. Red Velvet Cake.

Reviews: These people really know desserts. The chocolate cake was nice and gooey in the center, not skimping on the chocolate, nope, not a single sign of chocolate selfishness. It was a perfect marriage paired with the ice cream, which cannot be seen in the picture since we focused on the cake. The red velvet. Of how I wish I didn’t have an obsession with you! I’ve had the red velvet cheesecake at the sibling restaurant and loved it. I had high expectations for this one and I was not disappointed. The perfect red velvet cake that is the base of the cheesecake I’ve tried once before was basically the entirety of this dessert. Finally, I get to try just the cake and it was delicious, even more so this time around since I was able to savour its full flavor.

So Grand Lux Cafe- food is delicious but not outstanding. I would go there for the desserts. And Chicago. I miss you already. I wish I got to know you better throughout the 4 years. I realized that this might be one of only two genuine Chicago posts since my other ones are in restaurants based in the suburbs. So until next time my windy city!

My favorite picture taken from the John Hancock Observatory

Grand Lux Cafe
600 N. Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 276-2500

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