Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Quote of the week . . .

“It’s an American bistro, which means we have no rules at all,” said Perennial partner Kevin Boehm about his new Lincoln Park restaurant set to open in March 2008. “It’s warm and friendly and prices are affordable.”

A select few local restaurant writers were invited Wednesday to get the first “hard-hat” tour of the venue (1800 N. Lincoln Ave.), which is bare bones now, but Boehm's partner Rob Katz assured us that it’s on schedule to open on time.

The restaurant/lounge takes over the entire first floor of boutique hotel Park View, which will open simultaneously. The team of Boehm and Katz are best known for Boka (1729 N. Halsted St., 312-337-6070) and Landmark (1633 N. Halsted St., 312-587-1600), but the ambitious Perennial will be the most eye-catching of the trio. Colors throughout the venue will range from dramatic seagrass tomato to festive bursts of turquoise, pink and gold. Imposing birch branches will spring from behind banquettes, while the dining room ceiling will be draped in cloth, giving the effect of a circus atmosphere. And two lounges, one private, the other public, will be ideal to chill out in with small-plate offerings near the fireplace.

And speaking of small plates, Executive Chef Guiseppe Tentori plans to buck the current trend to offer mostly robust, seasonal dishes. And with Perennial’s perfect position directly across the street from Green City Market, expect him to use local and organic produce whenever possible.


Also on the horizon is Natalino’s (1523 W. Chicago Ave.), a pretty Italian storefront in West Town that’s right near Flo, West Town Tavern and Habana Libre. It’s simply designed in deep hard wood and clean lines, and should do really well considering that there’s really no Italian restaurants in the area. No opening date yet, but by the looks of it, they’re probably shooting for January.

I'm not one to gossip, but . . .

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Hunky "The Hills" star Brody Jenner makes an appearance at Enclave this weekend, and possibly Crobar too?


Now this is too much of a coincidence!

On the season finale of "The Hills" on Monday, star Lauren Conrad kissed her former "boyfriend" and co-star Brody Jenner. Now somehow both of them have wound up in Chicago this weekend to host separate events.

Conrad is the guest of honor for the 19th Annual Holiday for Hope Fundraiser Friday at Crobar (1543 N. Kingsbury, 312-266-1900). The reality starlet will be there all night, and they're requesting that guests bring an unwrapped, new toy for the kids in exchange for free entry. The U.S. Marines will be on hand to collect all toys. Doors open at 9pm.

And on Saturday—ahem—Brody Jenner hosts a model search event for Archangel at Enclave (220 W. Chicago Ave., 312-654-0234). Doors also open at 9pm, and RSVP to rsvp@enclavechicago.com.

Let the drama begin!

(Thanks, Emily!)

This just in . . .

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Pop legends Duran Duran hit Underground (56 W. Illinois St., 312-644-7600) Friday, Dec. 14 for the official after party of their new CD, Red Carpet Massacre. RSVP at enlist@theundergroundchicago.com for guest list ASAP. Doors open at 10pm, but don't expect them to get there anytime before midnight.

Hope Simon Le Bon is on his best behavior this time around; the last time I saw him at a club (Narcisse, RIP), he was acting like he was "Hungry Like The Wolf."

Hump Day happenings

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Order the $60 cocktail tree with friends tonight at SUSHISAMBA rio.


Warm up at SUSHISAMBA rio's (504 N. Wells St., 312-595-2300) Wednesday night bash atop the sexy Sugarcane roof deck lounge. Deejays Mixin’ Marc and Alex Peace, who spin a signature blend of bangin' club hits, perform 9pm to close. Get a group of friends together and order the $60 cocktail tree (I know it's steep, but it features 12 miniature drinks!) of some of SUSHISAMBA's specialty drinks.

Also tonight, Jay Emerich of the West Loop's romantic Jay Amore (1330 W. Madison St., 312-829-3333) celebrates his 43rd Christmas party. From 6-9pm, he's offering guests complimentary champagne, a buffet and live entertainment.

Scoop on latest Lettuce project

From Chicago Tribune's Phil Vettel in "The Stew":

"We now have a name for the latest Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises restaurant, the one going in the old Ambria space (2300 N. Lincoln Park West) and featuring star chef Laurent Gras.

The restaurant, opening in the spring, will be called (drumroll): L.2O.

The name is easy to pronounce (el-two-oh, like H2O, reflective of the restaurant’s seafood emphasis) but a big pain in the patoot to write, as it includes a subscript numeral 2, plus an entirely superfluous period after the L. Most people are just going to write L2O, I’m guessing.

In addition, we’re told, the restaurant will feature modern d├ęcor with sen (a light Japanese wood) paneling, ebony tabletops, white leather chairs and white onyx accents.

The memorable line in the press release (parenthetical comments mine): 'Gras’ goal is to bring fish and shellfish from their natural state to a finished presentation (i.e., cooking them) without compromising their inherent qualities (i.e., ruining them).'

Sounds like a plan to me."

Very interesting. Seems like LEYE is updating all their restaurants these days. First there was Osteria Via Stato (620 N. State St.) adding Pizzeria via Stato to its front room. Then Frankie's Fifth Floor (900 N. Michigan Ave.) took over the open space in front of Tucci Benucch. Now this. Don't be surprised if you start hearing buzz about some of their older restaurants like Scoozi! (410 W. Huron St.) getting a facelift soon.

Rustik debuts in Logan Square this weekend

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(Photo: Rustik)


Got this random email in my inbox yesterday:

"Thanks for your patience. The opening of Rustik is being delayed by a week. We will be opening tentatively Friday the 14th of December. Looking forward to seeing you. Thanks again for your patience."

That's all that was sent, so I did a little digging and found out that Rustik (2515 N. California Ave., 773-235-0002) is a New American contemporary restaurant in Logan Square. They're not answering the phone yet, but I'm still on the case . . .

Deal of the day . . .

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At Frasca's, every Wednesday, if you buy one pizza, you get the second one free.


Relaxed neighborhood eatery Frasca Pizzeria and Wine Bar (3358 N. Paulina St., 773-248-5222) is much fancier than your average pizza parlor, but they’re also not offering your average pies.

You’ll find premium toppings on their thin-crust specialties like the Rustica (with diced prosciutto, oven dried tomatoes, basil pesto, smoked provolone), shrimp + pancetta (tomato sauce, mozzarella, wood fired red onions, evoo) and Caponata (tomato sauce, eggplant, goat cheese, red peppers, shrooms and artichokes). Or, if you’re in a creative mood, they’ll even let you build your own with fennel sausage, homemade mozzarella, Italian anchovies, caramelized onions, roasted mushrooms and other toppings.

But the best thing about Wednesday nights here is that if you buy one pizza, you get the second one at no cost. Woo hoo!

Or, if you’ve got more of a sweet tooth this evening, you might want to make your way to the Lincoln Square location of Provenance Food & Wine (2312 W. Leland Ave., 773-784-2314) for an offbeat chocolate tasting by non other than Vosges Haut Chocolat. They’re sampling three Vosges cocoa flavors and also their newest exotic candy bar, the Mo’s Bacon Bar. The “Vosges Haut Chocolat Cocoa & ...Bacon?!” event happens 5-7pm and it’s free.