Every wedding has to have a good story. When I was the best man in brother’s wedding, we went golfing at 6 AM before the ceremony. He damn near flipped a golf cart. The grass was still wet from the morning dew and he was going a little too fast looking for his bar. He slammed on the breaks and turned the wheel. He did a pretty good donut and got a couple wheels off the ground, but it stayed upright.
For my wedding, my brother and I got the bright idea to run to Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood to get cinnamon rolls for the morning. Not a bad idea…except rush hour had just begun.
My mom called to see if they had any rolls left. The lady who answered the phone said they had three dozen left, but they were closing in 50 minutes so we had to get there before then. Sounded like a challenge that we were about to take.
Ann Sather’s has four locations in Chicago. They’re a “Swedish” breakfast place. They also have pretty good cinnamon rolls. I don’t remember which show it was, but I saw it on the Food Network. The rolls looked good on TV, so I had no reason to assume they weren’t going to be good in person.
The restaurant we chose was the location on West Belmont just east of North Clark Street. Our hotel was on the extreme south side of Chicago near Midway Airport. For those of you not familiar with the city, Belmont and Clark is on the far north side. It was only 14 miles, but even on a good day, that’s a half hour drive….and it wasn’t a good day.
We got stuck in traffic on Cicero just trying to get to the Stevenson Expressway. Once we got on the highway, we were fine until we got to the I-55 merge with I-90/94. Chicago has a really, really bad interchange known as “The Circle” where I-90/94 (Kennedy Expressway) merges with I-290 (Eisenhower Expressway). We were stuck for a very long time. It was only ten minutes before five and we still had five miles until we made it to Ann Sather’s.
I was ready to give up, but my brother picked up the phone and called. He must have gotten an owner or manager or something because he asked the guy if he could wait for us. We were on our way and we’d only be fifteen minutes or so late. He agreed and we continued to fight traffic.
Once getting off the Interstate at North Avenue, we had to make our way down a fairly busy Halsted Street. We didn’t have a GPS, so my brother pulled up maps on his Iphone and I was reading off street names as he was following along.
Finally, about 5:15, we turned the corner to Belmont. The neighborhood looked really familiar. It took my just a few seconds to realize that this was the neighborhood I used to frequent with a buddy of mine who is a DJ in some of Chicago’s premier nightclubs. This was a pretty trendy area that had a few good music shops.
Anyway, we drive slowly, to the chagrin of the people behind me, looking for the restaurant. I couldn’t find street numbers, so it was pretty tough. Fortunately, my brother finally spotted the sign partially hidden by a tree. There was no parking on the side of the street I was on, but there was on the side of the street the restaurant was on. There was also an alley, so I whipped into the alley and turned around then pulled up in the loading zone and turned on my four ways.
My brother hopped out and banged on the door. Nothing. He pulled out his phone and made a call. The guy answered and said he’d be right there. We both assumed that he was just inside the store waiting, but he came down from an upstairs apartment.
I didn’t get to see the inside of the restaurant because I needed to watch the car. A few minutes going in, my brother came out hopped back in the car and told me he must have been a pretty good B.S.er. Without even trying, he walked out with two dozen free cinnamon rolls.
Apparently, what happened was my brother thanked the guy for coming back and explained to him that I was in town from Michigan to get married. They got talking and turns out, the guy lived in Charlotte and knew the Lansing area fairly well. When it came time to get moving, my brother asked how much and fully intended to give the guy a pretty good tip for coming back, but he refused and offered them as a wedding gift.
After getting the rolls, it was back into rush hour traffic. This time, I was expecting worse because we would be heading out of the city. Did I mention, that we only had an hour and a half before the rehearsal started….and it took us an hour and twenty minutes on the drive in? J wasn’t freaking out. She was grateful we went to get breakfast for everyone.
The rolls has to wait till the next morning. By the time I woke up, my family had already eaten the ten of the first dozen. When I got up, I went to grab the rest and get them to Js bridesmaid’s and the rest of the groomsmen.
I grabbed a couple for myself first and they were everything I had hoped for. Sure, they probably would have been better fresh, but these were still really, really great cinnamon rolls. We all had microwaves in our rooms, so we were able to soften them up. They were light, flaky rolls with just a little bit of frosting. They actually gave us extra frosting, but I didn’t dig into that. I brought it to the girls’ room. In fact, J just told me she broke off just a little piece of cinnamon roll but she was eating the frosting right out of the little plastic cup. It was that good.
I’m so glad we made the trip out to Ann Sather’s for the cinnamon rolls. They were delicious and a good start to what turned in to a great day. We were kind of rushed heading into the city during rush hour on a Friday. I am grateful to the guy at the restaurant who decided to give us $40 worth of cinnamon rolls for free. Sure, they were just going to toss them because the restaurant was closed for the day, but it’s also $40 of cinnamon rolls that we were willing to buy. Next time, I hope to have enough time to actually sit down and enjoy a great meal and this great little north side restaurant.