Grillin’ and chillin’

Last Friday, hubby and I got a rare overnight date night courtesy of my cousin Jenny and her family (MANY thanks!). We finagled a great Priceline bid on a downtown hotel and ended up at the Hyatt in a gorgeous room for the evening. We parked the car and headed out on foot to enjoy the surrounding environs.

After a long, busy day, the first order of business was a drink. We strolled around for a few minutes and ended up at Palomino. We don’t make it out downtown very often, but when we do, Palomino is a consistently good bet for an upscale beverage. The place is always hopping, and no matter how busy it is, there always seem to be seats at the bar. Nice. Something else I really like about Palomino – the lighting always flatters. Someone’s really put some good thought into creating an attractive ambiance…

After a draught beer for hubby and a nice glass of Pinot Noir for me, it was time to seek out some food. I suppose we could have stayed at Palomino, but we wanted to make the most of our night out and spread it around. We wandered a little more, contemplating our options. We sorta felt like Italian, but we eat so much pasta at home, it seemed better to splash out a little bit on something different. It was a chilly night, so we didn’t walk too far before ducking into the warm and welcoming Weber Grill.

There was a Weber Grill next to my apartment building when I lived in Lombard, Illinois several years ago. I ate there twice and thought it very good, but hubby had never been. It wasn’t terribly romantic, but the wait was fairly short and the aromas wafting around were very tempting, so we settled into the bar to wait for a table. Another beer and glass of wine later, we were seated and perusing the menu.

Weber Grill’s claim to fame is that they cook everything on site on, you guessed it, Weber grills. It’s like one big barbecue – ribs, chicken, steaks, wings, whatever you can throw on a grill and sear. However, the decor is fairly upscale – lots of dark wood and leather booths and a nice bar with the ubiquitous big screen tvs broadcasting the sporting event du jour.

The boring old bread plate here takes on an interesting twist – the server brought us a basket of steamy pretzel rolls that were just chewy enough and a cheddar butter to drench them with. A promising start.

Since we’d gotten such a great deal on the hotel, I justified splurging on dinner and ordered a filet mignon, medium well, slathered with a schmear of bleu cheese and herbs. My steak was darn near perfect – cooked exactly the way I like it and so tender, I hardly had to use my knife. Definitely every bit as good as the cow you get at some of the pricier steakhouses downtown. I also upgraded the standard garlic mashed potatoes to the potatoes au gratin, served in a very generous baking dish and brimming with cream and cheese. YUM.

Hubby ordered the beer can chicken, half of a juicy bird that’s been roasted upright with a open can of beer stuffed up its ass to maintain maximum moistness. Not sure who first came up with this idea and what kind of crack they were smoking, but it works. Hubby is not a mashed potato fan ā€” which I think is something of a sacrilege for an Irishman ā€” but devoured every bite of his garlicky spuds, a true testament to how good they are.

We thought about dessert for a minute, but not seeing anything on the menu that we couldn’t live without, we passed it up in an impressive display of self-restraint. Back to the hotel room, where we slept like the dead until 10 a.m. the next morning. Ah…

Weber Grill – http://www.webergrillrestaurant.com

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