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Here come the elephants! I left Birdland this morning in the capable hands of Michael. My husband will watch out for all the critters, collecting eggs, feeding our feline, canine and avian friends.

This morning, he helped me pack the car, and then we took our customary walk around the yard.

He promised to water the flowers I planted just this morning. Gayle brought them over a few days ago, and I tried hard to get them all in the ground before my trip.

There are a few more to plant, and I told Michael he could plant them wherever he pleases.

We have rival flower beds, but I figured that if he goes to the trouble to tend them while I’m gone, he gets to choose.

Rounding the corner by the hummingbird feeder, we saw a green spike coming out of the ground, like a green tusk. “Elephants!” we both cried in almost the same moment. We had planted the giant bulbs of elephant ears (also called affectionately “Ears”) so long ago that we had forgotten to expect them, and here they were, thrusting out of the ground and ready to unfurl before I get back.

I said my goodbyes and started the first leg of my journey, which I’m calling “Mary’s Fabulous Train Trip.” I gave myself plenty of time to get to Union Station in Chicago, with a scheduled stop at Pink Salt, the Fulton Gallery restaurant where our middle son, Dylan, is the sous chef.

After getting hugs from Dylan and Palita, the chef, I sat down, and Dylan brought me iced tea of chrysanthemum flowers. Three tiny rosebuds floated at the top.

Dylan sat with me, and we began to catch up, but no sooner had I updated him about his brothers, then Palita set down a plate of pork belly and rice with a garnish of cucumbers shaved lengthwise. It was delicious!

Something about those flexible ribbons of crisp cucumbers refreshes the whole plate.

I told Dylan that this was my dinner, even though it wasn’t yet 4 p.m. If you’re in Chicago, go to the Fulton Galley, a food hall in the West Loop.

In addition to a bar, you’ll find five small restaurants lined up like books on a shelf. The shared dining room is spare, wooden timbers holding up the archaic ceiling, comfortable booths and long tables, each set with bottles of water and glasses.

Order at the counter, and your food will be brought out to you.

Pink Salt is, of course, my favorite, but you’ll want to check out the other offerings, too.

Fulton Galley is a restaurant “accelerator,” which means they have chosen chefs who want to try an interesting concept in a supportive space before they have to invest in a building.

The chef/owners have a year to iron out kinks and try out their concepts.

Each of the five restaurants has a distinct menu, and, just like at the food court at the mall, you don’t have to restrict yourself to only one of the restaurants.

Pink Salt is Thai street food, but if someone in your party has a hankering for bagels, pasta, tacos or rotisserie chicken, the other restaurants have you covered.

Sitting in the dining room, I got a chance to see the easy compatibility of the kitchens. At one point, Palita came back from the rotisserie next door with the giant head and tail of a red snapper on a tray.

She smilingly displayed it to the folks in her kitchen. “Nice!” said sous chef Dylan. Later, he told me, it was their “family meal,” a special dinner they cook for the kitchen staff.

Well, I didn’t even get to Union Station yet, but I will send more next time.

Dine in beauty; tour in peace; blessed be.

Mary Lucille Hays lives in Birdland near White Heath when she’s not traveling around. You can follow Pink Salt on Instagram (@pinksaltchicago) and learn more about all the restaurants at Fulton Galley at You can follow Birdland on Instagram (@BirdlandLetters) and Twitter (@BirdlandLetters). Mary can be reached at or via snail mail care of this newspaper.