While in New York I met up with Tien for my first Shake Shack experience. I think Shake Shack opened just after I moved from New York to Chicago and I haven’t been able to try it on any of my visits back, so I was happy to finally get the chance to see what all the talk is about. We met up at the Battery Park location. I asked Tien what the “standard” order was, I wanted to try just the basic, and not base my judgement off something crazy. I ended up with the ShackBurger (single patty with American cheese, lettuce, tomato and Shack Sauce) and a frozen custard chocolate shake.
I liked Shake Shack. I liked it better than Five Guys, which I just tried a few weeks ago. It could be something to do with the way I ordered, though. I didn’t realize that a double was the standard order at Five Guys. If I was to go there again, I’d make sure to get just a single. Also, I had WAYYY too many toppings. It was so hard to eat and way too much. I did really like the fries at Five Guys, though. Tien and I shared fries at Shake Shack. They were good, but they don’t really stand out in my mind the way that the Five Guys fries do.
And then there’s In-N-Out. The holy grail. It’s hard for me to say if I liked my burger at Shake Shack more. I definitely remember a certain char that I liked on the Shake Shack burger, but I think I’d have to give this one to In-N-Out. Maybe its a nostalgia thing, me reminiscing about my days living in California, but I think I like In-N-Out better. I think the toppings are more fresh. I think In-N-Out uses iceberg? Maybe that’s it?
I must note that my burger at Shake Shack was totally under cooked. So much that I brought it back. I thought it was going to be a long wait, because there was a line out the door and they use a buzzer system, but they plucked a new burger out of the kitchen for me in about 30 seconds. I won’t hold this against them, though. It’s almost to their benefit and shows how great of service they have. The employees in the dining room were very helpful and friendly too. And speaking of the dining room, or the general ambiance of the place, I’d say that Shake Shack does win this. The space was beautiful and modern with lots of glass, metal and dark wood. It did not feel like you were in a fast food chain, which is totally the feeling of In-N-Out and Five Guys.
Anyway, I do not eat burgers that often at all, so this was a great treat for me. Also, Battery Park City? What’s up? Everything down there is brand new and there seem to be a ton of young families living there. Tien went to high school very nearby where we were eating and on the walk to the subway he pointed out all the new things. Aside from a building or two, everything is new. He said that back when he was in school it wasn’t anything…. empty lots. Crazy to think about.
To further celebrate Jen’s birthday, this past weekend Jill, Kristin, Jen, Jen’s mom Nancy and I all headed up to Kohler, WI for a pampering girls spa weekend. I’d never spent a whole day at the spa and I’d heard a lot of things about Kohler, so I was excited to check it out.
Note: You’re not allowed to take your phone or electronics around the spa. Which makes sense, because you’re there to totally relax. The photos of the spa and our hotel are from their official websites.
On Saturday afternoon we left for our 2.5 hour drive. I did not want to take my Jeep, since the breakdown was a little fresh in my mind, so I borrowed Jen and Chad’s Smart Car and drove that. Jill rode along with me. Kristin drove the others up in another vehicle just in front of us. In Pleasant Prairie we stopped for a late lunch. I’d already eaten, so I just got a small scoop of the flavor of the day: Backyard Smores. YUM.
We arrived in the late afternoon and checked into two connecting rooms in our hotel, the Inn at Woodlake. Ironically, this is no quaint inn by the lake. Well, it is by the lake, but it is a very modern hotel. All the rooms were wired up to the max. At one point we turned the TV on and Jill was in the hallway, she thought someone was in the bathroom, but we quickly realized that there were TV speakers in the bathroom!
Also, I didn’t really think about it beforehand, but every bathroom in Kohler and the surrounding areas is all rigged up with top-of-the line Kohler products. You should have seen how many jets our shower had!
While we were settling in to our rooms we cracked open a bottle of wine that Kristin brought along. Our rooms overlooked a putting green, a bocce court, an outside seating area and a small lake (I’m assuming Wood Lake). Since the seating area was empty, we brought our wine outside and enjoyed the evening before dinner. The photo above is of the seating area/event space in use, but of course, while we were out there, we had it all to ourselves. Nice and relaxing, next to the lake, which is pretty much where that guy in the back, standing up is pointing.
For dinner we took a very short drive over to Sheboygan and ate at Osteria Nonna Maria. This place was great! Delicious, down-home Italian cooking. Our waitress was Kim and her grandparents own the place. And we got to meet them. They went all out to help us celebrate Jen’s birthday. I’ll have more on this in a separate post, because the restaurant is one place I did take photos.
So, the next morning we headed over to the Kohler Waters Spa. Our hotel offered a free shuttle to anywhere in Kohler that we wanted to go. So convenient. And there was no wait either. When we had the concierge call, it took about 3 minutes for the shuttle to arrive. I was not getting a massage until 11:00, but decided to head to the spa early with everyone. If you were getting any services there you were able to hang around the spa all day and take advantage of the relaxation pool with a waterfall, whirlpools, sauna, steam room, rooftop relaxation room with a huge whirlpool and fireplace, and refreshments like fresh fruit and nuts throughout the 4-story building.
We checked in, got our robe and spa slippers, changed into bathing suits, put everything else into our lockers and then headed our separate ways. I spent a couple hours on the rooftop reading a book on a luxurious lounge chair nearby the fireplace. I switched off between reading, napping and taking dips in a whirlpool all morning. The funny thing is that in the hotel the night before I was reading a Kohler magazine and saw a photograph. I held the magazine up and proclaimed, “I want to go to there!” Guess where I was the next day? Yeh, I spent almost the whole day in the room I had seen in the magazine. So awesome.
At 11:00 it was time for my massage. I didn’t know what kind I wanted to get, so I got the massage sampler. This was 50 minutes of several massage techniques in sequence, including warm stones, stretching, ah-shiatsu (barefoot massage), and sinus pressure relief. I loved the stretching and the warm stones. The barefoot massage was .. uh interesting.. The therapist actually stood on the massage table and held onto bars that were attached to the ceiling while she massaged me with her feet! It was interesting. You couldn’t really tell it was feet. I had a hot compress under my neck and a cold compress on my eyes at that point and really you just feel the pressure the same way you do with hands/arms/elbows. And yes, she did wash her feet right before the procedure!
At noon we all met back up for lunch. We’d pre ordered lunches when we checked in. I had a salad and a glass of wine. Actually, I think everyone got salads. After Culver’s, an Italian dinner and birthday cake the night before, we needed to detox with vegetables!
So everyone else was staying up in Kohler until Monday, but my vacation time from work is severely limited for the rest of the year because of all the vacation time I took for our wedding. So, I needed to head back home in the Smart Car on Sunday. I’d originally planned to leave after lunch, but I realized there was nothing I really needed to be home for. Dallas wasn’t even there, he was in North Carolina. Plus, I was having so much fun at the spa, I didn’t want to leave. Everyone else had afternoon spa services scheduled, but I didn’t because I had planned to leave. I decided to just hang out for the afternoon. I laid around and did more napping and swimming and reading and loafing around. Not a bad way to spend an afternoon!
When everyone was done with their spa services we all met back up.. for… you guessed it! More laying around! The spa was just so relaxing and beautiful. I never wanted to leave! But, alas, I had to get on the road at some point. I took a shower at the spa and we all left to go back to the hotel. I quickly packed my things and was about to fly out of the room, but oh man! Kristin and Jill were setting up a cheese plate to have pre-dinner snacks and wine. They were eating at the Whistling Straights restaurant. Fancy! I guess my wallet wasn’t going to miss that, but they do have an awesome looking scallop dinner on the menu that I would have loved to try. Oh well.
My drive back to Chicago was pretty uneventful.. until I got close to Chicago. I left Kohler around 6:15 p.m. and expected I’d be back to Jen & Chad’s by 9:15. Around the part where the tollway ends and merges to the Edens I hit some major traffic and was stuck there for something like 70 minutes. More than an hour. Just stopped. Crazy. It did give me time to call my dad for Father’s Day, though! I had seen him a week then and given him a gift (Kona Brewing beer label tshirt of the beer we had at our wedding!), but it was still nice to chat quick on the actual day. Anyway, I didn’t end up getting to Jen and Chad’s to get my car til late, I didn’t get home til after 11 p.m. I was so tired! Monday morning came early!
Despite the drive home, I had a fantastic weekend. I loved hanging out at the spa. Yes, it was way pricey, but I only got one service and then just enjoyed the free amenities. A big thanks to Jill for coordinating every detail of the trip! She was so organized and prepared that I told her she should be applying for event planner jobs! And happy birthday to Jen. Remember, 40 is the new 30!
P.S. Fun fact I just learned while looking up “Kohler, WI” on Wikipedia:
Many people in Wisconsin refer to drinking fountains as “bubblers,” because the first Kohler drinking fountain was known as “The Bubbler.”
Scooter’s Chocolate Frozen Custard, Lakeview, Chicago
Figures, now that summer is almost over, Dallas and I went to Scooter’s Frozen Custard for the first time. On Saturday we had dinner and then it was so nice out, we went for a walk and ended up at Scooter’s. The frozen custard was good… I don’t know if I’d say it’s as good as Kopp’s or Culver’s, but it’s definitely closer to our house!