Friday, December 21, 2007

S'more winter openings

In dining news: Shinobu (1131 W. Bryn Mawr Ave., 773-334-9062) is the latest to roll in on the sushi scene in Edgewater. Lincoln Park brunch fave John's Place (1202 W. Webster Ave., 773-525-6670) branches out with a second location in Roscoe Village at 2132 W. Roscoe St. in January. And Just Indulge (1755 W. North Ave.), a cute little dessert and ice cream shop, opens in Bucktown in February.

Just for the noel of it . . .


Just wanted to bring to your attention this very festive cocktail being offered by Prost (2566 N. Lincoln Ave., 773-880-9900) throughout the month. If you love the nog, then you'll dig this German lounge's version that they're calling Hoochnoggin. It's only $7, and so rich (with chocolate syrup, heavy cream and whiskey) that you won't even need that pumpkin pie.

Also, if you're dreading watching Christmas Vacation, Miracle on 34th Street or A Christmas Story this year, head a couple blocks down to Delilah’s (2771 N. Lincoln Ave., 773-472-2771) for something completely different. They're showing the wild-ass flick Santa Claus Conquers the Martians on all their flatscreen monitors, and it should go down well with all those whiskey selections they offer. Sunday, Dec. 23 at 6pm.

And finally, if you're in a singing mood, then get ye to Davenport's Piano Bar (1383 N. Milwaukee Ave., 773-278-1830) for Cabaroke, a non-stop event where you can have at all the old Christmas standards in front of a crowd that will egg you on. The back room offers recorded tunes, while you'll get it live in the front showroom. Hosted by the "Queen of Karaoke" Alma Mendoza. 10pm-1:30am tonight. $2 cover for front room; no cover in back room.

Campagnola moving down the street?

The windows are papered over at the original location for friendly neighborhood Italian eatery Campagnola (815 Chicago Ave.). But have no fear, they've been working for months on a second location a few blocks down at 1245 Chicago Ave., scheduled to open in January. The new space will offer fans a new concept with 25 tables in an open dining room, plentiful bar seating and a view of their handcrafted, woodburning pizza oven.

UPDATE: New restaurant is going to be called Wild Geese.

What the critics are saying . . .

. . . about:

Bluprint (222 Merchandise Mart Plaza, 312-410-9800): “The rock crab starter ($8) is a beauty: a loose disc of lightly dressed crab crowned with avocado and accented with a pool of red pepper coulis. A nice kick comes from the Kalamata olive purée dotting the plate. Crispy, hot short-rib potstickers ($7), packed with tender, slow-cooked meat, were killer on one occasion, but lacked depth of flavor on another. Order them anyway (ignore the bland Asian slaw) and hope for a good day.”—Alison Neumer Lara (Crain’s Chicago Business)

Cafe Mediterra (728 S. Dearborn St., 312-427-2610): "The combo kebab platter—beef, chicken and kefta, or ground lamb—was enough for two people, if not three, when you factor in a generous serving of rice of the day. The cubed meats were nicely charred around the edges, and the vegetables had a roasty, smoky flavor. We also loved the sausage and tomato flatbread, a pizza-style item that would work for an appetizer for two people or a light supper for one. Its Roma tomatoes, ground lamb and Mediterranean spices won't leave you mistaking it for Italian, that's for sure."—Robin Mather Jenkins (Chicago Tribune)

Macarena (618 S. State Rte. 59, Naperville, 630-420-8995): “The duo (of John Borras and Jose Marcial) successfully executes mango 'caviar'—a classic (Ferran) Adrià prep—with juice congealed to yield balls of fruit essence served in small circular tins. Adrià-esque skinless 'ravioli' pop open in the mouth with intense flavors of peach, chocolate or squid ink. Similarly, the crispy shells of 'liquid empanadas' encase warm vegetable broth; a splash of piquillo pepper sauce finishes the dish.”—David Hammond (Time Out Chicago)

Mythos (2030 W Montrose St., 773-334-2000): “Loukaniko ($9) pork sausage arrived hot, juicy and char-grilled crisp, fragrant with anise and orange rind. Potato and zucchini keftedes ($9) reminded us of savory vegetable doughnuts served with a mild skordalia. Creamy tzatziki ($6) was rich and full of garlic and cucumber flavor, tender chicken souvlaki was served with OK rice and, despite their faded color, sweet peas. The big broad beans called gigandes ($6), however were served in a humdrum tomato sauce and arrived just warm.”—Monica Eng (Chicago Tribune)

Pepitone’s (5437 N. Broadway, 773-293-3730): “Smothered chicken breast really hit the spot: topped with plenty of mushrooms in a goat-cheese sauce and served with garlic mashed potatoes and grilled asparagus that helped counteract its richness. . . . Portions are generous, and weeknight food and drink specials offer some real bargains—don’t skip the portobello mushroom caps with melted goat cheese, which you’ll vacuum up in no time.”—Rob Christopher (Chicago Reader)