food + drink

Up on the Roof

We have our own roof garden at the hotel!


AUGUST 2017 – Most people wait in line on the first floor of the Chicago Athletic Association hotel in anticipation of getting whisked up to the roof to step off the elevator into Cindy’s, our beautiful restaurant in the clouds. But if you’re part of the kitchen team who works at Cindy’s, you have a new reason to get excited to ride the elevator to the top floor: We have a new rooftop garden!

A few weeks ago in early July, the amazingly awesome Sara Gasbarra, who owns Verdura Gardens and works with restaurants, hotels and other businesses in Chicago and Nashville planting urban gardens, joined the chefs up on floor 13.5 (a.k.a. the roof). On that day, we installed about 20 boxes that came from Glowpear and used dirt from Good Dirt to plant and seed a bunch of lettuces like little gem, bibb and red oakleaf; cherry tomatoes; Serrano chiles; six different types of mint including chocolate and pineapple mint (that are being used behind the bar); thyme; basil; tarragon; wood sorrel; lemon verbena; sage; tangerine lace marigold and so much more – including a custom drip irrigation system to keep the plants all hydrated whenever they’re thirsty.

You know we love working with local farmers and purveyors to get as much seasonal food as close to home, but how cool is it that we now have our own garden to get things even closer to home? Working up there gives all the chefs a break from the hectic pace in the kitchen and we get to enjoy a little bit of Zen while getting our hands dirty. Then we get to use everything in delicious ways: opal basil flowers and tangerine lace marigolds with burrata; lemon verbena in jams and compotes; lettuces in salads; wood sorrel and oxalis as garnishes and more. You’ll just have to come visit us at Cindy’s to see all the amazing ways we’re using our own hyper-local produce.

Please note: the rooftop garden is closed to public and tours will not be offered.

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