Friday, November 16, 2007

Say hola to new Thanksgiving tradition

If you're tired of the same-old traditional turkey dinner you've had every year since lord knows when, then keep reading:

Zocalo's Executive Chef Dudley Nieto is teaching a class on how to prepare a Mexican-American Thankgiving dinner tomorrow.

Participants will learn how to put a Mexican spin on the traditional American Thanksgiving feast with Nieto's recipes like a guajillo-marinated turkey in ancho, chiles pasilla stuffed with cheese, and crema de flor de calabaza (squash blossom soup with roasted spaghetti squash and a hint of mole poblano).

The class is $45 and includes a sampling of all the recipes, plus complimentary warm cinnamon-infused tequila ponche. It's 11am-1pm at the restaurant, 358 W. Ontario St.,312-302-9977.

Have a fabulous weekend!

'Music & Martinis' make me wanna holler

Say woo! for the weekend!

It's almost time to unwind, and you're probably making those post-work plans now. Have you checked out Miracle Entertainment's monthly set yet, which happens at Bella (1212 N. State Pkwy., 312-235-6359)?

If not, you might wanna head over there this evening for the "manager's special" for only $20: a buffet dinner and unlimited martinis like the peach sangria, vanilla espresso and strawberry cheesecake.

The party starts right after work at 5pm and keeps going until the last man (or girl) is standing at 2am. Deejays Malik Shabazz, World and C-Vicious spin delightful tunes of hip-hop, reggae, soul and funk.

Hell, I might wind up over there myself.

We're still waiting . . .

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Rock star restaurateurs Paul Kahan (left) and Donnie Madia are two of the partners behind a new trendy beer-focused eatery opening in 2008.

. . .on a name for the new pork and seafood restaurant located at 845 W. Fulton St., and owned by rock star restaurateurs Paul Kahan, Donnie Madia and Terry Alexander.

The new establishment, which aims to open next spring, plans to serve rustic Belgian-inspired fare designed to complement beer. Executive Chef Kahan and Chef de Cuisine Brian Huston have developed a network of purveyors to supply the restaurant with hand-selected, sustainably harvested fish and seafood as well as sustainably raised heirloom pork to anchor a menu of simple yet eclectic fare.

The extensive beer list developed by Eduard Seitan features an eclectically diverse international list of ales, lagers, stouts and ciders. Similar to Blackbird (which is celebrating its 10th year anniversary in December) and avec, the restaurant is another design partnership of Donnie Madia and Thomas Schlesser. Developing . . .

Carlos' gets big props

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The European butter-poached lobster tail at Carlos'.

Big congrats go out to Carlos', the contemporary French cuisine sensation in Highwood. Proprietors Debbie and Carlos Nieto were just named one of 10 BEST restaurants in the nation by Zagat (Also, in 2006, Carlos' was named #1 for food in Chicago by Zagat ).

It's a major milestone for Carlos', which is also celebrating its 26th year in business this month. During November, they've been featuring special menus and chefs of the past 26 years.

They've also been highly regarded for their foie gras, which is a decadent preparation of both hot/seared (under a glass dome) and cold/terrine (on top of the glass dome). It's an amazing appetizer that's worth the drive and sure to satisfy any goose or duck liver lover. It's a bit pricy at $23.50, but worth it. If you're not into the foie, then head here for their popular Monday Night “No Corkage Fee” with your best bottle(s) of wine and pay no corkage fee, while enjoying Carlos’ a la carte menu, or special eight-course degustation menu which costs $90 (or $130 if paired with Carlos’ wines). 429 Temple, Highland Park, IL, 847-432-0770.

What the critics are saying . . .

. . . about:

Between Boutique Cafe & Lounge (1324 N. Milwaukee, 773-292-0585): "At $18 the lobster trifecta—a trio of bisque, risotto cakes and fresh lobster salad—is the most expensive thing on the menu; the bisque is ethereal perfection, rich, light and ever-so-slightly sweet."—Martha Bayne, Chicago Reader

Le Passage/The Drawing Room (937 N. Rush St., 312-255-0022): "In general, I don't think 'clubsteraunts' really work, so it will be interesting to see if the Three Headed boys can pull it off. They've had great success with neighborhood sports bars, but the Le Passage/Drawing Room hybrid is a different beast altogether. Will clubgoers care that a fancy chef planned the menu? Will foodies want to mess with the hassle of a 4 a.m. club?"—Sarah Preston, Chicago Magazine's "Last Girl Standing"

Macello (1235 W Lake St., 312-850-9870): "The show is part of it, of course, but the result is one of the better pizzas in town. Particularly the Barese, a holy trinity of silky prosciutto, fresh mozzarella and burrata (think creamy mozz). The prosciutto stays perfectly moist since it’s added after the pie is pulled from the oven and just before a last-second drizzle of bright olive oil."—Heather Shouse, Time Out Chicago

Riccardo Trattoria (2119 N. Clark St., 773-549-0038): "Riccardo Michi was an executive chef with the Bice restaurant group for many years, and Lincoln Park locals are thrilled to be getting Bice-quality food at neighborhood-trattoria prices. Michi's robust, rustic cooking is first-rate and attitude free; he's as happy to make a rich spaghetti carbonara as he is tripe Florentine, a dish that has developed something of a cult following."—Phil Vettel, Chicago Tribune

Table 52 (52 W. Elm St., 312-573-4000): "Behind the popular six-seat food bar—no reservations required—a wood-burning oven turns out beautifully browned macaroni and cheese; crisp, thin-crust pizzas, and glorious, hot, goat cheese biscuits that arrive unbidden at every table."—Laura Bianchi, Crain's Chicago Business