Happy Monday! I hope everyone had a fabulous weekend. I had a fairly low-key, but fun one that included a leisurely brunch at my favorite Nepalese restaurant with a friend, a long walk through my neighborhood (so many gorgeous magnolia trees!), a fantastic dinner with Diana at a new-to-me restaurant in Oak Park, and another round of the Chicago Food Swap (see my goodies from last month's swap here).
I spent most of the last week buried under piles of final writing portfolios and end-of-the-term paperwork, emerging only for the occasional student conference and (admittedly excessive) trips to Starbucks. Thankfully, I made it to the other side... final grades have been posted and students have been sent on their merry (or not-so-merry) way. I am officially on summer break! Wooooo-hoooo! :-)
I'm kicking off my three months of freedom with an awesome giveaway from Gooey on the Inside. Diana introduced me to this amazing cookie butter back in December and I haven't looked back since... there may have even been a small incident at the beginning of the year that involved having to instate a mini moratorium on a jar of Earl Grey-Maple Pumpkin Spice Gingerbread cookie butter after I spent a day eating it straight out of the jar for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. ;-)
I was recently contacted by Vapiano to see if I would be interested in visiting their newest Chicago location. Considering I missed out on their big opening party last year and the fact that I still hadn't managed to make it down there (bad me!), I was definitely eager to check out what they have to offer.
Vapiano is a German casual restaurant chain offering Italian food; their primary focus is pizza and pasta, all of which is made to order. Their newest Chicago location is perfectly situated for business people and tourists alike - downtown, right across from the Palmer House (in the old Carson's building!). Having worked in that area for a little over seven years, I know Vapiano is definitely a welcomed addition to the neighborhood, as there is a plethora of fast food chains and high end restaurants, but not many fresh casual options. It is the perfect spot for those days in which you don't have a ton of time/money, but want still want to sit down in a nicer environment (bonus: it has an adorable/hip European vibe).
The restaurant is divided into individual stations (pizza, pasta, salad/soup, dessert/bar) - upon entering, you're issued an individual chip card that you scan at the individual stations each time you order something. At the end of your meal, you scan your card at the register up front and pay on the way out (similar to Foodlife in Water Tower Place). The cards definitely make visiting with a group extremely easy, as everyone has their own individual billing cards, so there's no scramble to try to figure out how to split the bill at the end of the meal.
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