Wednesday, January 16, 2008

An open letter to a few of my favorite restaurateurs

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

Dear Donnie Madia, Paul Kahan, Jerry Kleiner and the boys from Rockit Ranch Productions:

The suspense is killing us.

You've all got projects opening sometime this year. Paul and Donnie are opening their beer-focused joint in the West Loop in the spring. Jerry has been planning his contemporary American eatery in Hyde Park since last summer. And Arturo, Billy and Brad (of Rockit Ranch) recently announced a 13,000-square-foot Asian concept going into River North this summer.

The one thing you guys have in common? No NAME!

Please? Pretty please can we have some names for these places soon? Everyone is waiting.

Thanks a bunch!

Absinthe is back?!

(Photo: Steven E. Gross/Time Out Chicago)

Every absinthe needs a story, and Switzerland's Kübler has a good tale behind it, reports Time Out Chicago in this article about the once-banned spirit that was celebrated with an invite-only party at hot spot Crimson (329 N. Dearborn St., 312-923-2473) on Monday.

The Wild Brunch . . .

This is what you'll get if you check out Sinhá’s Sunday Brunch on the near West Side. (Photo: Sinhá Brazilian Catering)

So here comes a new weekly feature, The Wild Brunch.

Every Wednesday, 312 Dining Diva aims to highlight some of the best brunch spots in the city, from old-time faves to some offbeat stuff. Got any suggestions or favorites of your own? Please send them in!

The Wild Brunch for this week:

Green Zebra (1460 W. Chicago Ave., 312-243-7100). The sexy little vegetarian-focused spot in West Town quietly started brunch service in 2007, and the neighborhood fans are delighted. They're coming for Challah French toast (with black pepper and strawberries), caramelized vegetable hash (with roasted tomato vinaigrette and baked eggs) and Anson Mills grits (with Southern greens, smoked mushrooms and poached eggs). You won't get out of the door without ordering the homemade sticky buns. And if you're hungover, get it together with the GZ Bloody Mary that comes with NorthShore vodka, tomatoes and spices.

Sinhá’s Sunday Brunch/Early Supper. Ever wonder what it would be like to get a real taste of Brazil? Jorgina Pereira invites the public into her near West Side home for this over-the-top event that will put you in great spirits for the rest of the week. She whips up a different buffet every week featuring delicious items from her native country. The other best thing about her brunch par-tay?! It's BYOB, so you can bring bubbly for your Mimosas, Cachaça to make fresh Caipirinhas or vodka for Caipiroscas. There is also dancing, mingling and traditional samba dancers. They have two seatings every Sunday, and reservations are mandatory. $25 (unless there's a special event, then it's $35). 2-6pm Sundays. 2018 W. Adams St., 312-491-8200.

Tweet (5020 N. Sheridan Rd., 773-728-5576). Michelle Fire's Uptown brunch, breakfast and lunch spot is so cool. And since they first opened a few years ago, they've always been eco-conscious, offering organic, anti-biotic free and hormone-free products as much as possible. My favorite here is the hearty bowl of organic oatmeal with dried fruit and ham carved off the bone. Or do the buttermilk biscuits and gravy with Hebron Farm Amish country sausage on the side. Got kids? Ask for the activity basket to keep them busy!

Chef Julius serves up some Super Bowl treats

(Photo: A Tale of Two Chefs)

If you're ambitious enough to plan your own Super Bowl celebration (when it occurs on Feb. 3, kickoff 5:18pm), you don't want to miss hot tips from personal chef Julius Russell, whose A Tale of Two Chefs (47 W. Polk St., 312-326-1948) catering biz is taking the city by storm.

He'll appear on WGN Morning News tomorrow (Jan. 17) during the 8am hour and prepare dishes that are guaranteed to warm up your winter day. He'll also give some sweet Valentine's Day recommendations, just in case you decide to surprise your lover with a home-cooked meal.

Off-the-wall dates

Tired of going to the same old places with your sig other or someone you'd like to see as your sig other? offers these recommendations.

How sweet it tis . . .

Daily Candy introduces us to Candyality (3425 N. Southport Ave., 773-472-7800), Lakeview’s latest candy haven.

Be a wino for a day . . .


Oh, go ahead and take a midweek break with one of these wine-focused events:

Half Price Wine Wednesday Nights. An ideal date place, Café Selmarie (4729 N. Lincoln Ave., 773-989-5595) in North Center offers a large selection of eclectic wines by the bottle at half price with the purchase of any dinner entree every Wednesday.

Take a Cab. The new Sam's Wine and Spirits (50 E. Roosevelt Rd., 312-663-9463) in the South Loop spotlights Cabernet Sauvignon, the globe’s most widely planted fine wine grape. They'll have a go at a dozen Cabs from several countries, and guests will learn why this grape enjoys such demand, about its character from land to land, and which foods it best accompanies. 7-8:30pm. $45.

Taste of Spain. Guests will get a nice cross section of regional Spanish wines from Rioja and Ribera del Duero as well as tastes from lesser known areas like Jumilla, Yecla, Montsant and Bierzo. Wines such as Muga (Rioja), Felix Callejo (Ribera del Duero), Acustic (Montsant), Hacienda Monasterio (Ribera del Duero), Artadi (Rioja) and El Nido (Jumilla) will be among many others that will be poured. The wines will be accompanied by various Iberian cheeses and some delectable Spanish jamons. A portion of the $35 fee will go to the Respiratory Health Association of Chicago. 7-9pm at the Wine Discount Center (1826 N. Elston Ave., 773-489-3454).

Wino Wednesdays. The popular event at this trendy Lincoln Park lounge offers half off on bottles of wine from the “50 under $50” list, $5 Skyy vodka martinis and free pizzas from their wood-burning oven. Landmark (1633 N Halsted St., 312-587-1600).