My three sisters and I celebrated a milestone birthday in Chicago last weekend. Two of us live here in the city, but the other two had to drive in from out of state. We booked a room in a four-star hotel downtown, and the idea was just to hang out, catch up, and re-energize. The birthday girl (from out of state) had two specific requests after her long trip. She wanted a manicure, and she wanted to eat fondue at Geja’s Café in Lincoln Park.
Manicure—no problem. Geja’s? Well. . . .
Geja’s Café is a popular and beloved restaurant that does not take reservations. Translation: a two-hour wait. And people do wait. It's a different dining experience; fun and very delicious. Geja’s turns up on lists of favorite Chicago restaurants, and it publicizes its “romantic fondue dining.” But since there are plenty of places to eat in Chicago that don't require standing in line forever, I’m not inclinded to wait very often.
One of my sisters had the idea to get to the restaurant early—before 6p.m.—so that we wouldn’t have to wait as long. We made it there by 6:11p.m. (the birthday girl checked her watch). Guess what? Eleven minutes after six isn’t early enough. So we moved to the bar, ordered our $10 drinks, had a birthday toast, and waited about an hour and a half.
When you’re waiting at the bar with your sisters for over an hour, it’s hard not to notice that everyone else in the place is on a date. But we didn't let a little romance cramp our style. We had pysched ourselves up for the wait—we’d do anything for our youngest sister—and we were getting closer to the deep-fried food by the minute.
Finally, we were seated. We spent the next hour or two dipping bread and fruits into melted cheese; shrimp, steak and vegetables into boiling oil; and more fruit and cake into melted chocolate. We snapped photos of each other and asked the waiter to take one of us as a group. We talked and laughed and celebrated. It wasn't romantic at all.
And while I can appreciate that Geja’s might be the best place for a romantic dinner, I know with certainty it is the best place for four sisters to share a precious meal together. Definitely worth the wait.