At Cheeky, no two days are alike. Most of the time, you’ll find us running all over Chicago, making the nearest coffee shop our “office.”
Last week however, I had the luxury of setting up shop in one of my favorite areas, at one of my favorite hotels: the Renaissance Blackstone Chicago, located in the heart of South Michigan Avenue’s lakefront area.
I hadn’t been to this part of town in a while and I was excited to explore this area all over again. Even though it was a business day, I was inspired by this locale to seek some adventure and act as a tourist in my hometown.
Unbeknownst to many locals (i.e., me), The Blackstone is about as hip, gorgeous and “classic Chicago” as it gets. It’s also just off the beaten path enough for one to feel like they’ve truly escaped their daily grind. I had forgotten that it sits right across the street from Grant Park and a stone’s throw away from Millennium, so once my cab had dropped me off in front of the hotel, I made a point to hop across the street and (quite literally) smell the roses of Grant Park. It really reminded just how special our city’s lakefront is.
It was time to get down to business and meet my assistant for lunch for an update on the week ahead. Since we were hungry and busy, we killed two birds with one stone at The Blackstone’s culinary destination, Mercat a la Planxa, where we nibbled on Shishito peppers, quinoa salad and seared scallops. The service was impeccable (not to mention super friendly- we like that at Cheeky) and Executive Chef Jose Garces even came out to say hi. The restaurant also surprisingly boasts free Wi-Fi. Who knew? Mercat clearly understands how to keep a professional girl-on-the-go healthfully satiated while still allowing her to be productive.
Post-lunch, I had a slew of back-to-back meetings, all in the area, and even squeezed in a manicure at salon I discovered conveniently located near the hotel, Pink Polish Salon, with some of the best selection of colors I’ve seen in Chicago.
When it was time to retreat for some one-on-one time with my MacBook Pro, I checked myself into the Blackstone’s 9th floor’s “Smoke Filled Suite”, one of the hotel’s two restored historic hotel rooms. A 1300-square foot space, the original floors and much of the moldings and built-in furniture from the 1920s are still in tact. I was told that 12 presidents have stayed in this suite, including JFK. Not a bad place to call “my office” for the evening.
Once I had sufficiently soaked in the gloriousness of this landmark-turned-luxury hotel room, it was time to head across town to my final “meeting” of the day: dinner and dancing with my girls. We had concert tickets in Logan Square and wanted a restaurant conveniently located to the show. Coming from the Blackstone, I stumbled upon Logan gem, Owen & Engine, a spot I’ve always wanted to try.
The restaurant reminded me of a restored old Chicago home more than a restaurant establishment. Dimly lit, with cozy furniture, deep banquets and candlelight, we ascended up the steps to the second level and were escorted to a private room in the back. (There were six of us, so we needed the extra room.) The table was an antique dining room table and was situated right next to a fireplace…we felt so “at home.” In the spirit of getting cozy, we ordered a bunch of plates to share, such as roasted Virginia peanuts with Sriracha and brown sugar, crispy kale salad and pan roasted half-chicken with roasted root vegetables. The wine list was eclectic (a Rose from Greece!) and the cocktails were strong (I snagged a sip of my friend’s ‘Free Parking’, a gin concoction made with lemon and basil). This is why I love Chicago: an amazing culinary experience awaits on every block and in the most unexpected of neighborhoods.
We settled the tab and headed over to the Concord Music Hall, one of my favorite venues in the city. It’s serves as a concert hall meets nightclub, with a huge airy ballroom and glowing lights. I am super into indie dance music, but had only heard a couple of headliner Chet Faker’s songs. Apparently he’s an Australian DJ who has recently exploded in the states because the venue was packed. It only added to our enjoyment, as we danced our tails off late into the evening and into the early morning.
Dinner and dancing with six animated girlfriends meant a very tired Jessica come 12am. (Work hard, play hard, right?) I was so grateful to retreat to Room #916 at the Blackstone. Ending my work day amongst history, glamour, luxury and a little bit of presidential flair made for the kind of “day-in-the-life” I wouldn’t mind repeating.
She is fun, fabulous and fierce…chic, intelligent and in-the-know … but most of all, she is the kind of woman who embraces, admires, respects, smiles at and opens her heart to other fabulous chicks … now THAT’S Cheeky, darling!
Jessica Zweig hails from the lovely suburb of Highland Park, Illinois where she graduated from Highland Park High School and, quite unexpectedly, discovered one of her biggest passions as a Theatre major at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign–much to her father’s dismay. After graduating with a B.F.A in Acting, Jessica immersed herself in the arts and spent five years working in Chicago theatre, commercials and feature films. When she’s not behind her desk running Cheeky, she still works behind the microphone as a voice actor to get her artist fix.