Sunday, January 13, 2008

More openings, updates to keep you in the mix

Popular Edgewater café Pressure Billiards is adding a full-service bar soon.
(Photo: Pressure Billiards)

Here. Are. The. Latest. Updates. OK?!

Café Suron (1146 W. Pratt St., 773-465-6500) in Rogers Park has its last day of business on Monday, Jan. 14, and then it's closing for renovations, according to a manager. It will be turned over to new ownership and closed for four weeks to be transformed into a sleek, Mediterranean eatery and renamed Tas. In its new life, Tas will offer a full-service bar.

And speaking of new liquor licenses, Edgewater fave Pressure Billiards (6318 N. Clark St., 773-743-7665) is a big hit with the neighborhood crowd for its open-mic comedy shows, specialty coffees and pool. Now they're expanding the venue to offer alcoholic beverages, so the vibe will certainly change into a more nightlife-y crowd, but expect it to remain a friendly, neighborhood establishment.

J. Randolph’s and Grill, which closed at the end of 2007 with La Strada, plans to reopen across the street at 150 N. Michigan Ave. in the lower-level space once occupied by the Alumni Club. Look for it in the summer.

A new Southwestern restaurant is scheduled to open this winter in Lincoln Square at 4520 N. Lincoln Ave. No word on the name yet, but of course, 312 Dining Diva is working on that!

And I'm also on the lookout for the name of the new wine and chocolate shop opening on the 2100 block of West Division Street (if someone knows, let me know!) in upcoming months. Customers will be able to enjoy wine on premises as they shop for chocolates.

And also:

BBop Lounge (Sedgwick St., 312-981-1775), a BYOB Korean BBQ joint, has opened in the old Heat space in Old Town.

In Humboldt Park, look for NXXT Restaurant & Bar (2700 W. Chicago Ave., 773-489-6998) to debut in early February with an updated menu of comfort food. Word is that one of the partners was a former chef at Café Ba Ba Reeba! (2024 N. Halsted St., 773-935-5000).

And yet another rock 'n' roll spot, Par-Lounge (1415 N. Milwaukee Ave., 312-264-0669), quietly opened in Wicker Park in late December in the ill-fated Sweet Alice space.

If you can take the heat . . .

Ellee Pai Hong, weekend morning anchor of NBC-5 (Photo: NBC-5)

. . . get to Jake Melnick's Corner Tap (41 E. Superior St., 312-867-4908) and try the hottest wings in town. The lodge-like, Gold Coast sports bar is known for its delicious bar fare (burgers, nachos, Baby Back ribs), but now the Seriously. Ridiculously. Over-the-Top Hot Wings, made from the Guinness record-holding pepper Red Savina, are so hot that customers have to sign a waiver before they dig into them—due to the risks involved with direct consumption of the Red Savina (palate burning, eye damage and extreme discomfort, among them). Those who succeed in getting them down get a picture on their wall of fame.

One person who's certain to get her face on that space is NBC-5's weekend morning anchor Ellee Pai Hong, who chowed down on the super-spicy wings on her show Sunday morning during a segment with Jake Melnick's Chef d’Cuisine Robin Rosenberg. She ate several of the wings without batting an eye, while co-anchor Rob Elgas could barely get one down without gasping for breath and his eyes watering like mad.

Every order of the “Seriously. Ridiculously. Over-the-Top Hot Wings” is served with a personal fire alarm—a bell for the brave soul to keep on hand in case things get rocky. Jake Melnick’s staff has been trained to, at the sound of the alarm, come running with a full supply of tools for cooling off: sour cream, milk, ice cream, orange, sugar and white bread.

But, if you want to try those wings, you'll have to wait until Thursday, Jan. 17; Jake Melnick's is closed for renovations Jan. 14-16.

In the meantime, these places also offer some outstanding, but not that damn hot, wings:

Harold's Chicken Shack (1361 N. Milwaukee Ave., 773-252-2424). The South Side sensation is known best for its sauces on the side. Order it HOT to really get the juices flowing.

Iggy's3 (800 N. Dearborn St., 312-573-070). The gourmet wings at the third version of this legendary lounge are just as good as ever.

McGee's Tavern (950 W. Webster Ave., 773-549-8200). Get a dozen
of the jumbo-sized wings in Original Spicy or Hot Devil. And every Tuesday, it's 10 cent wing night.

Yakzie's Bar & Grill. (3710 N. Clark St., 773-525-9200 or 506 W. Diversey Pkwy., 773-327-1717). Go for the "Oh My Gosh!" hot wings at these Lakeview spots; Diversey location is open until 4am.

Also, check out's 2007 poll results for "Best Hot Wings" in the city.