DDF, or the DansDeals Forums, will turn 10 this May. There is a vast array of knowledge shared on everything from miles to taxes and from trip planning to politics. But more than the tips shared, there is a real sense of community on the forums. Members have created businesses together and even gotten married to each other through their interactions on DDF!
There is a dedicated DDF DO board for people to arrange meetups and put a face to the usernames that they interact with. I’ve been to DOs in cities like Chicago, LA, Miami, NYC, and Jerusalem. I’ve even hosted a Shabbos lunch DO in Cleveland.
It’s been a while since I’ve gone back to Shallot’s, so I asked DDF member AJK if he was interested in flying to Chicago to break the fast. He was toying with the idea until I reminded him what he wrote about the last Shallot’s break fast DO,
“Every time I think I should sit a DO out–because is it really worth flying for four hours (even in business), to eat for three–I am very pleasantly surprised.
Had an awesome time once again, and had the opportunity to meet some cool new people and greet some familiar ones once again.
Kudos to all who made the effort to show up, thanks to Chuck and CM for the rides, thanks to super helpful Walmart associate for helping me unload just under $10k, thanks to Chuck for the cohiba, thanks to Shallots for the food, thanks to an anonymous donor for the barter, and thanks to Mrs. AJK for not leaving me while I was gone.
I am so stuffed.
And with that, he was in.
I started a new DO thread to gauge other’s interest and then used 15K Business Platinum with a 50% rebate to book a United ticket to Chicago. Thanks to my Global Services status, I was upgraded to first class in both directions.
Brand new and veteran DDF members flew in from several cities and we met up with some Chicago local members at Shallot’s.
When you’re interacting with a username for a while, you tend to develop an image of the person that you’re chatting with online. One of the best parts about a DO is seeing how somebody’s online image matches their real life image.
DDF member Henche has one of the more interesting online personas and I was excited to see how it compared to his real life persona. The stories of his online and offline antics were simply epic. He may be less of a troll in real life, but he’s just as, shall we say, interesting.
I convinced a South African native and fellow Cleveland member, DAB, to come along and take in the mileage and travel talk.
He started by ordering a duck confit dish. The waiter seemed very puzzled by the dish and ran back to the kitchen. He came back with a new menu that no longer included the duck dish.
Instead DAB ordered the corn dogs appetizer. It’s not something I’ve ever tried before or would think of ordering from a steakhouse, but they were delicious.
DAB also ordered the pulled beef tacos. They’re decent, but they don’t come close to the version made by NYC’s Reserve Cut.
Shallot’s underwent construction last year and it hasn’t quite been completed. In the past we had a lovely group spot behind curtains in the back of the restaurant, but this time we were in a side party room with lights that flickered. The ambiance was not what it used to be.
DDF member chucksterace asked for the free glass of wine that is promised on the Shallot’s website as free with every dinner. The waiter told him that the offer was over, but came back and said he would honor it. Only for him. Luckily we had a couple of lawyers in our group and they made sure that everyone got their promised glass of free wine 😉
Shallot’s sushi menu is where they really shine, the only problem is how many options there are!
Their rice crackers, which can be customized with spicy tuna, salmon, etc, are simply out of this world:
The dynamite roll is excellent as well:
The Spicy Vegetable roll is loaded with avocado, shiitake mushroom, asparagus tempura and jalapeno tempura:
We split a Delmonico steak, which was phenomenal:
And the special of the day, a mushroom and onion steak, not as good as the Delmonico:
AJK was sitting on my left and he ordered a blueberry lemon dessert that was delicious:
DAB ordered a Chocolate Panna Cotta, which is a custard that has espresso and coffee in it.
I ordered the classic Strawberry Shortcake, which despite its lack of chocolate, is one of the finest desserts you can find in any restaurant.
DDF member as2 picked up famous Romanian meats for everyone in the group. I brought back some garlic dogs, beer sticks, romanian pastrami, and brisket pastrami to Cleveland, though I haven’t had the chance to try them out yet.
as2 also drove us back to the airport. While it took our Uber driver half an hour to take us from O’Hare to Shallot’s, as2 impressively managed to take us back and navigate through traffic in half that time as my Google Location History confirms:
Global Services checkin takes you to the very front of the Pre-Check line, but unfortunately DAB didn’t have Pre-Check.
I waited in the United Club for him:
And kept waiting. And waiting…
Eventually I went to the gate at the doors were closing and he finally made it through the ridiculously slow regular security line.
With so many credit cards offering free Global Entry and Pre-Check, there’s really no excuse for waiting in a regular security line anymore. After the DO he applied for and was approved for a Sapphire Reserve card so that he could get his own free Global Entry membership along with all of the goodies that card offers.
The flight showed full in first class and anyway I didn’t have a chance to request a companion upgrade from the gate agent for DAB. Had we booked on the same itinerary we both would have been automatically upgraded, but since we were on separate itineraries it would have to be requested from the gate agent.
But there were several empty seats in first class and fewer than that amount of people showing on the United app’s upgrade list, so when the gate agent boarded the plane I asked if it might be possible to list DAB as my companion for an upgrade.
The gate agent said that she had enough people already on the upgrade list to fill the seats and I said no worries and started to walk back to my seat. But before I got to my seat, the passenger in the row in front of me decided to lash out at me for asking her that question on the plane. I calmly told him that I had nothing to lose by asking and sat back down in my seat.
However, just a minute later the gate agent came over to me and said that everyone on list had been upgraded, so she asked for the seat number of my companion so that she could upgrade him to first class to sit next to me. Never hurts to ask indeed.
And with that, another great DO was in the books.
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