Friday, February 22, 2008

Word . . .

A rendering of what ZED451's rooftop lounge will look like when it arrives this spring. (Photo: ZED451)

. . . is that ZED451 (739 N. Clark St.), the hip dining spot where the culinary team not only prepares the cuisine, but also serves it tableside, will have its grand opening in mid-April. I'm also getting excited about the two-story glass atrium, 451 Lounge, which is comprised of a wine bar, an indoor fire pit, a fully exposed kitchen with chef counter seating and a “green” roof top lounge with an outdoor fireplace.

Last Girl Standing Sarah Preston reports that Wicker Park indie lounge Celebrity bites the dust, making way for Aberdeen at 1856 W. North Ave. on March 8.

Marcus Samuelsson's much-anticipated seafood restaurant C-House (166 E. Superior St.) aims for a late-April debut in the new Affinia Chicago Hotel.

Juicy Wine Co. (1658 N. Milwaukee Ave., 312-492-6620) is getting in the brunch biz on Saturdays with the 5 Buck Brunch. Beginning March 1, Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago chef and instructor Michael Wilison and his students will whip up weekly specials for $5 each. One of the signature dishes is sure to be the Orange Waffles with Harold's Fried Chicken. They'll also have Bellinis, Mimosas and Bloody Marys. 11am-4pm.

And look for the team behind high-end night spots Manor (642 N. Clark St., 312-475-1390) and RiNO (343 W. Erie St., 312-587-3433) to enter the culinary world as they're shopping for a space in the city to open a restaurant right now. Also, their super-duper VIP lounge Stay opens on the top level of Manor this spring.

What the critics are saying . . .

. . . about:

Il Fiasco (5101 N. Clark St., 773-769-9700). "(New chef Eric Aubriot) hasn’t overhauled the menu by any means, but his presence can be felt in every section of it. His rich, twice-baked Gorgonzola soufflĂ© was in a different class from other appetizers offered (many of which Aubriot kept from the previous menu): The cheese was balanced by red wine–poached pears, and the dish had a bigger flavor—and was more sophisticated—than its peers. His crisp corn cakes, topped with a mushroom sauce that had a robust earthiness (a flavor that was missing when I tried the mushroom pizza back in August), similarly impressed. And though it was odd to see french fries listed under appetizers, they showed off Aubriot’s years of experience; he only lightly seasoned them with truffle oil, so you won’t smell like a forest all night but you will remember why truffle oil became big in the first place."—David Tamarkin (Time Out Chicago) Read it all here.

Rockwell Lounge (710 N. Clark St., 312-787-2675). "The old Narcisse space has gone all dark slate, moody blues and sheet metal. The front area houses a cordoned-off seating area while the bar sports two stripper poles and a catwalk for drink-ordering entertainment. Downstairs features much of the same paired-down and muted cool-tone decor, with more modular seating and an additional, pole-free bar. The crowd falls somewhere between those who frequent the neighborhood's ultra-lounges and folks who appreciate Chicago's grittier rock joints."—Fred Schlatter (Chicago CitySearch) Read it all here.

Stretch Run Sports Club & Grille (544 N. LaSalle St., 312-644-4477). "Either barbecue ribs ($8.95) or hot wings ($8.95) will add some life to your meal. A layer of Sweet Baby Ray's sauce coats meaty, tender ribs; sizzling hot sauce blankets the wings. The latter arrive with the usual celery sticks and choice of blue cheese or ranch dressing."—Laura Bianchi (Crain's Chicago Business) Read it all here.