For the second time in the past month, I enjoyed a nearly perfect brunch at the Sofitel in Chicago. The main dishes they prepare are very good but it is the extra service and treats dripping from the experience that put them over the top.
As we pulled up to the door at the Sofitel, just West of Michigan Avenue, we were greeted by a very special man named Patrick. His bright, genuine smile and ruddy cheeks exuded friendliness. He bid us good morning, welcomed us to the hotel and offered to take really good care of our car while we enjoyed brunch. (He proceeded to nestle our Honda sedan between three Mercedes and a Bentley). Patrick clearly felt pride in his work and faced the world with a glass that is always half full. I have thought of him almost daily since our Sofitel visit last week and have reminded myself to channel the same energy.
The architecture of the new hotel is notable and interesting, the decor modern and clean. I could go on about the atmosphere and service but I am so anxious to get down to the true meat of this post….. the pastries. Oh, good God, the pastries. Now, I know that I have a bit of a problem with my inflated love for donuts and baked goods. But, the Sofitel pastries brought me to a new level.
Coffee is served in a French press, fresh squeezed juice is poured for each person and before your meal arrives, a basket of fresh, flaky pastries descends upon the table. I heard a soft crescendo of music and swore that there was an angelic glow surrounding the breads… manna from heaven! They are the best pastries I have eaten outside of France.
Although the indulgence in the divine sweets made me happy, it also became somewhat of a distraction. After our basket was nearly emptied and our main dishes were about to arrive, I was relieved to see the server whisk it away…. until he brought it back filled again to the brim.
This is the point in my tale when we realize I have a problem. They say you have an addiction if your need or desires affect your normal life or personal relationships. Well, does not being able to continue a conversation with your family because you are too worried about eating or not eating another pastry qualify? Is it a bad sign if you break out into a cold sweat as you see the neighboring table cleared and a dirty napkin placed over the full pastry basket as it heads to the trash? What if you honestly have visions of stashing the uneaten pastries from the table beside you in your purse before the busser comes to claim them? And if major life decisions like buying a new house, choosing to get married or having a child are EASIER than saying no to a “pastry doggy bag” offered by the server… is it a sure sign of needing HELP?!?!?
I did turn down that free ‘to go’ box of chocolate croissants, pain au raisin and mini baguettes. But, I have regretted it every day since.