Old Stomping Grounds

We had such a wonderful day yesterday!  The weather was sunny and in the mid-40’s.  In Oak Park all their snow has melted, so it almost felt like spring was right around the corner.

As I was driving to my sisters office, I went to down a street and saw that the first restaurant job I had changed their name.  Not sure if it’s the same owners or not, but at the age of 16 I was the first bus girl to work at this restaurant when it was called Philander’s.  Now it’s called Barclay’s Grille.

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It was a high end restaurant at the time.  As a bus person it wasn’t unusual for me to walk out with $50 in tips from the servers on a Friday and Saturday night, and this was in the 1980s! 

Chef Chlumsky was the chef and he scared the shit out of me.  His standards were high, he barked orders, and he made everyone taste all the dishes so they could describe them properly.   His daughter was Anna Chlumsky, of My Girl fame with McCauley Culkin.


I was an EXTREMEMLY picky eater back then, and when it got time for Friday afternoons tasting, I looked at all the dishes and thought “there isn’t anything I’d eat.” 

  • seared ahi tuna with a sesame aioli
  • New Orleans shrimp (which I finally tried after working there a year and loved!)
  • oysters on the half shell

It was the oysters that grossed me out the most.  The Chef walked right up to me and said “did you try the oysters!”  When I said no, he walked over, got an Olympian oyster (which is about the size of a nickel) and forced me to eat it.  I thought I was going to throw up!  To this day I’ve never tried another one, although Tony loves them!  But working in this restaurant was one of the best working experiences I had, and I continued working in restaurants and bars well into my 20’s as a side job.

Hannah took the L in from Chicago, my Mom finished bowling and we picked my sister up and went to Flat Top Grill.  It’s a build your own stir-fry, and it was delicious. 

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You fill your dish with the veggies you want, pick out your sauce and meat of choice and then hand it to the cook at the front of the restaurant, who naturally cooks your dish on a flat top grill.

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I did a mix of kung pao sauce and a spicy Indian curry and it was delicious.  I went back for a second bowl, but tried the tofu horseradish sauce, and it was gross. I was happy though, because if I had just slowed down, my mind would have gotten the message that I was full from dish #1. Open-mouthed smile

We dropped Jenn back off at work – we all decided next time we do this that she take the afternoon off so she could have joined us!  I had to show this picture – one of my sisters co-workers is 7 feet tall!  He towers over my Mom!

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We went next door to my sisters office to a consignment shop.  Hannah loves her high heels!

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We went to a couple antique stores in Forest Park, then headed to Goodwill.  We bid farewell to Mom, and then Hannah and I headed to another thrift store in Oak Park called the Brown Elephant.  My score of the day?  This Circulon square pan – it normally retails for $60 and I got it for $2!  It doesn’t even look like its been used! Although who knows if Tony will use it – he probably thinks someone peed on it before they donated it.

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Hannah and I ended the afternoon at Buzz Café, with sugar free vanilla lattes and a couple treats – I got a cranberry apricot scone, and Hannah got a cookie.

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We had such a fun day hanging out, laughing of course, and walking around a lot.  Thanks ladies for a great day!

Happy Valentine’s Day!  Do you celebrate the day?  Tony and I are staying in, grilling up a steak with fresh rosemary and saving a hundred dollars by not going out to eat tonight! Open-mouthed smile

I didn’t put anything together last night, so I have exactly 20 minutes to put food together for me, both my bosses and get dressed and out the door – and GO!

Make it a great day!


39 thoughts on “Old Stomping Grounds

  1. What a fun day for you! We are staying in and having a steak dinner too, and if I get it in gear a Red Velvet cake! Happy Valentines Day to you and Tony!

  2. What a great day with the family! How crazy about that chef at the restaurant though…I would have gone crazy there as a vegan! lol!

  3. So did you ever see Anna in person?

    Looks like a fun day – you ladies are looking great! Love the Mutt ‘n Jeff shot in there. 🙂

    Happy Valentine’s Day!

    • I saw her in the restaurant once, she was probably five or six at the time, and was a child model – her pictures of her recent modeling catalogs would be posted on the same bulletin board as our schedules.

  4. Wow – Anna looks a lot like her dad! Did you ever get to meet her? I LOVE Hannah’s heals – so pretty!!

    Happy Valentine’s Day! The hubby and I are making it a low key night tonight. No going out to dinner for us tonight either – way, way, way too expensive and crowded!

  5. What a fantastic day!!!! I love make your own stir fry places! SO rock. And that man is ginormous! Josh is going to a college basketball game tonight, so Kay and I are going to live it up with a Whole Foods date 😉

  6. What a fun day! I got to go to a Flat Top Grill in the DC area once when I was visiting Little Helen – loved it. Wish our area had more fun restaurants like that. Enjoy your lovely Valentine’s dinner with Tony!

  7. What a fun, fun day. Blech to oysters! I love all kinds of things, but I draw the line at oysters, and I’m not even picky! Your mom is too cute standing next to that giant of a man!! haha

  8. I’ve never had an oyster, and I’m not about to start now.

    We pre-ordered a heart shaped pizza for tonight’s dinner and I bought some treats at the fancy grocery store (mini key lime pie, mini lemon tart, chocolate cupcake, mini chocolate cheesecake).

  9. Build your own stir-fry is one of my favorites! I especially like Mongolian BBQ. Loved seeing the pictures with the other lovely ladies–looks like a great time! Happy Valentine’s Day!

  10. Just the THOUGHT of oysters makes me cringe. Enjoy your Valentine’s Day with Tony!

  11. Happy Valentine’s Day! 🙂 We’re going out for dinner at a place we’ve been wanting to try…should be fun! I’ve only been there for cocktails before, and their cocktails are amazing!

    I am learning to like oysters…still not my favorite, but I can now eat them without gagging. 🙂 I think the best experience I’ve had with them was eating them out on the bay, purchased right from the folks who harvested them. With superfresh oysters, I was a little less freaked out by eating them raw! We also grilled some…those were definitely way better, especially with BBQ sauce!

  12. What a great afternoon. OMG Vat, if we lived in the same city, I KNOW we’d be “thrifting buddies”. I LOVE the thrill of the hunt. What a SMOKIN’ (why am I capitalizing so much today?) deal on that pan. and hey, if someone DID pee on it? Well, pee washes off! Enjoy it! 🙂 Happy Valentine’s Day! PS: I’ve never met a 7 foot man. wow!

  13. Looks like such a fun day – Happy Valentines!

    To answer your pintrest question, yes, I have a board simple for my own, A Life From Scratch pins. I rotate what recipes are featured on the board daily. Hope this helps!

  14. I had so much fun at lunch Biz! I told my co-worker you would probably post a picture of him and he said people stop him on the street to take a picture!

  15. I love people’s thrift store fears, so funny 🙂 I am glad you had such a great day and the weather looked perfect!

  16. The first time I ever ate raw oysters was on a date with a chef. I lied to him and told him they were my favorite thing of all time and later, when I returned from the bathroom, imagine my horror at seeing a dozen raw oysters at my place setting. Too egotistical to be honest, I dug in and thankfully, I loved them so much I quickly polished off my plate and asked for another dozen.

    Who knows why we like somethings and not others. My nephew hates bananas, which is just unimaginable to me.

  17. Happy Valentine’s Day Biz. My husband bought me 3 beautiful roses and I made him a card and a heart shaped pizza. Thought I would buy one for $8 but then thought, why not make one….going to put it on my blog when I finish here. Come check it out.

    Sounds like you girls had a great day, I love going thrift shopping and there are so many popping up here! Just saw a couple more, must check them out. Really like that pancake pan, you got a deal on that one.

    No, no, no oysters for this girlie either. Ish!!!!

  18. Those are some high heels! lol Have a great Valentine’s Day!

  19. I can’t imagine having to try all those dishes either! I am still semi-picky to this day. I love the heels Hannah has on, I’m a heel girl myself. Being 5’1″ I kinda’ have to be…lol!!! I can work all day in them and other people just hate them. Hope your Valentine’s day was great!

    • I can’t walk in anything higher than an inch – just never have been able to get away with heels! When Hannah lived at home, I sometimes would come into the basement and she’d be standing folding her laundry in high heels and a prom dress!

  20. I love it when you tell a story from your past, that was enthralling! Can’t believe you worked for a famous chef with a famous daughter! That’s too cool. But that 7′ tall dude, WOW! I just didn’t even know that happened. lol. He looks totally normal until you scroll down to the bottom of the page and see your tiny mom-haha! Glad you all had such a wonderful time.

  21. What a fun day. I can’t eat oysters either. It’s a texture thing and I know you’re just supposed to swallow them but I can’t do it. I’m curious what you came up with in 20 minutes for you and your bosses. I’m sure it was delicious. Have a great weekend!

  22. Hannah needs to model. Seriously. Aren’t there modeling agencies in Chicago? Wow – the fresh beauty and lil’ sassy smile is breathtaking. And I thought I had pretty girls. Nice Mom. Very nice. ::grin::

    And that pan hasn’t been used. Look at the bottom. You’re such a bargain finder. I need to channel you here in Sterling. We never get anything that good. Oh, and Pooldad is of the Tony School of Thought – he won’t let me buy cookware/kitchenware either. I had my hands on silicone [yes, swoon with me] SILICONE cupcake pans and he made me put them back. The man obviously has no idea how expensive those puppies are new. Well, I saved the 50 cents/pan, but it cost us purty at the retail outlet. 😛

    And so where’s my invitation for spicy ::shit:; and cheese? I’m waaaiiitttting. Otherwise it won’t be a basket you find in your car – it will be me. ::giggle::

    Tell Tony I said nicely done. So sweet. Hugs to you all my friend. Love you!

  23. Ah, Oak Park! What a great way to spend a beautiful day. I will be hitting you up for places to go once I have my trip booked. David has promised we will go “someday”.

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