Bob Chinn’s Crab House – Wheeling, IL

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Earlier this month, Mr. Baseball and I went to visit his home town of Chicago. Well, the north suburbs to be exact (as my mom the Southsider White Sox fan always points out). Bob Chinn’s Crab House in Wheeling is a favorite of the Baseball family, and I was definitely down to try it when they mentioned Mai Tais.

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There really aren’t any tiki-ish design details to speak of, besides the basket lamps. (I spotted a bunch of these decorating the ceilings at LA’s Bahooka last weekend.)

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Bob Chinn’s feels less like a restaurant and more like a warehouse full of tables. I’d thought the first room was really big, and then they led us through another giant room, and then another!

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The hosts are all on headsets and they herd you into lines depending on your party size. Apparently, there’s a wait on most nights, in spite of the fact that the restaurant can seat more than 600 people!

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I’m susceptible to the power of suggestion, so, of course, I had to order that Mai Tai. Their version was very tart and was served up in this 27-ounce plastic tiki mug (a bit Party City-esque, but nobody’s perfect). When she brought my drink over, our waitress gave me a slip of paper and said that after you collect six or so of these Mai Tai receipts, you get your very own Bob Chinn’s fisherman jacket…Ok, then!

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I was kind of overwhelmed with the menu (lobster can be served five ways, shrimp has at least eight preparations, etc.) so I put my fate in the hands of our server, who suggested the grouper. The control freak side of me regretted that order immediately, but I ended up being really pleased with it. The fish was so flavorful and the potatoes were perfect.

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When she carded me for my cocktail (which happens pretty much everywhere), our server noticed that it was just a few days until my birthday. So at the end of our meal, this dessert—Bob’s Slice of Paradise—landed on our table. It’s a sweet potato pie (made with a purple variety from Okinawa) with a macadamia nut crust. It was definitely different—the texture was more like Bob’s Slice of Baby Food.

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On our way out, we spotted Bob Chinn himself, sitting at a table and digging into a plate of crabs. Mr. Baseball cajoled me into saying hi, which turned into a photo op and trash talk about LA restaurants, he especially had some words for Gladstone’s. That Bob Chinn is a feisty one. And check it out, he’s wearing the aforementioned fisherman jacket. Snazzy!

Bob Chinn’s Crabhouse
393 S. Milwaukee Ave.
Wheeling, IL 60090
847-THE-CRAB

Bob Chinn's Crab House on Urbanspoon

Tiki Things at Pier 1 Imports

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My dear friend Curiouslaydee tipped me off that Pier 1 Imports had a selection of tiki wares for the summer, so of course I had to go check it out.

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The Pasadena location I went to had everything in a display up front. I wasn’t too impressed with these cartoon-y signs ($17 a piece), but some of their other items were pretty nice.

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Like this “vintage tiki” sign ($10), as it’s billed on their web site, which led me to find this somewhat bizarre copywriting gem: “Having a giant, living tiki man at your doorway is one option. But these Vintage Tiki Signs are much cuter, more welcoming, and way easier to find.” Mmm…ok.

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These colorful tiki napkins and toucan plates will be perfect for the debut of my tiki bar, which perhaps may actually happen now that I’m back from gallivanting around Chicago and Orlando (with plenty tiki things to post about).

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I adored these parrot photo holders, they reminded me of their fine feathered friends from The Enchanted Tiki Room. Four bucks a pop, if I read that price tag correctly.

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I also thought their tropical table setting was lovely, especially the brocade patter on the chairs. Too bad that glass pineapple-shaped votive holder alone will set you back $30.

Tikis at Sea World, San Diego

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After our stop at Freaky Boutiki, Mr. Baseball and I joined the Memorial Day masses at Sea World. (This was part of our San Diego theme park trifecta—San Diego Zoo, Sea World and Wild Animal Park in one weekend. Crazy, yes.)

Apparently, Chez Shamu once had quite a bit of tiki influence, even a Hawaiian Punch Village, but that’s all gone now.

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Indeed, this was the only tiki I was able to spot. For shame!

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There were also these glass fishing floats decorating the park’s barbecue restaurant (whose name escapes me) and the nearby tree.
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Lastly, there was this dude sporting the Grumpy’s Tiki Hut shirt in front of us at one of the shows. You go, dude.

Anyway…who wants to guess which was my favorite animal that we saw at Sea World?  Hint: It was not aquatic. And Mr. Baseball is disqualified from guessing.