Thursday, August 13, 2009

EXCLUSIVE: Tallulah gets new owner

(Photo: Tallulah)

Lincoln Square eatery Tallulah was SOLD two days ago to Stephan Outrequin, a newcomer on Chicago's restaurant scene.

He'll keep it running under its current concept of forward American cuisine until October (that means lobster Deviled eggs stay on menu, yay!), when it'll be re-branded as French contemporary-focused LM Restaurant.

Its sister restaurant, the celebrated Eve in the Gold Coast, remains under Matt Fisher's ownership with Troy Graves as executive chef.

But 'he isn't even Mexican' . . .

Rick Bayless is chef of Frontera Grill and Topolobampo.

. . . laments Mexican-American writer Teresa Puente on over Rick Bayless (of Frontera Grill/Topolobampo fame) getting all the props for Mexican cuisine:

"Something just bugged me that a white guy was gaining so much fame for his Mexican cuisine. I'm sure his love of Mexico is genuine and he does good charity work. I'm not saying he's a bad guy, and he is a great chef. But why does the media make him the spokesman for Mexican food in the United States?"

She brings up an interesting point. Controversial and unpopular, yet this is one of those issues that writers don't usually bring out into the light . . .

First look at new Lyric Opera of Chicago eateries

Florian Opera Bistro's opulent decor includes a magnificent vintage costume from Lyric's collection. (Photo: Opera of Chicago)

When ticketholders arrive on opening night of the 55th season of Lyric Opera Chicago, they'll be greeted by two newcomers: Florian Opera Bistro and The Sarah and Peer Pedersen Room.

Florian Opera Bistro, located on the third level of the building, is the more casual of the two though it's decked out in Euro-inspired decor, including the centerpiece of a magnificent vintage costume from Lyric's collection.

The à la carte menu offers budget-conscious fare such as open-faced sandwiches (turkey with pickle, asparagus, and cherry tomato; smoked salmon with celery root and cranberries), hearty soups and salads. And the best part about it is that most items are around $7 and the average meal is about $14 per person.

Jules Guerin's famed fire curtain makes a statement in The Sarah and Peer Pedersen Room. (Photo: Opera of Chicago)

For a more formal feast before performances, guests can head to the street-level Sarah and Peer Pedersen Room, which occupies a space that once housed a bank.

Filled with Art Deco motifs—including the famous fire curtain designed by Jules Guerin—the elegant dining room complements the upscale $28 three-course, prix-fixe menu served here. Expect seasonal entrees from Jewell Events Catering like hoisin-glazed salmon with Asian rice noodles and sliced bistro steak with chive mashed potatoes drizzled with Cabernet sauce.

Only Lyric Opera ticketholders will be able to dine at both restaurants for dinner as well as matinee shows. The Pedersen Room, however, is reservation only at all times.

Official opening date is Sept. 30, before that evening’s performance of Tosca.

Piece, Love & Rock ‘n’ Roll . . .

Party like it's (Woodstock) 1969!

This weekend marks the 40th anniversary of the Woodstock Music & Art Fair—better known as Woodstock.

Of course there'll be celebrations nationwide, including right here at home. Bucktown's grooviest pizza parlor, Piece, gets in on the action with a free, daylong event that includes drink specials, live band karaoke and 1960s music (think Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Santana, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Sly & the Family Stone, Joe Cocker, The Who, Jefferson Airplane).

And if you really want to get down, dress up in your hottest hippie threads. Now, can you dig it?!

Party kicks off at 11am and ends when The Man shuts it down.

Here's where else you'll want to be this weekend . . .


Do your part in making sure no child goes hungry by attending the annual Taste of the Nation, which benefits Share Our Strength, at Ravenswood Billboard Factory (4025 N. Ravenswood Ave.). Hot Chocolate's Mindy Segal chairs this worthy cause, and she's recruited almost every celeb chef and mixologist in town. Look for appetizers provided by Michael Sheerin (Blackbird), Shawn McClain (Spring), Kristine Subido (Wave), Bill Kim (Urban Belly) and others. 6pm-midnight. $175 (general admission); $225 (VIP).

Likely one of the cheapest River North hotel restos around, Elate opened quietly this week in the stylish new boutique Hotel Felix. No item's over $12, and the sandwich-dominated menu includes a grilled skirt steak baguette and vegetarian black bean burger.

Blackbird's snappy $22 three-course, prix-fixe lunch menu's a big hit with those who work in the West Loop area, but it hasn't been updated in a while. We're excited about some new additions, particularly a grilled Tasmanian sea trout and a dessert of dark chocolate financiers with apricots, sassafras and bourbon ice cream. You're certain to go back to the office with a little buzz.


We're beginning to think Juicy Wine Co. owner Rodney Alex lies in bed awake every night coming up with quirky new events for every week. This time it's Juicy Jams, which includes deejays cranking out the rarest of grooves and his staff pouring $5 glasses of homemade sangria and $6 hand-picked wines. Deejays Aaron Dae and Derek Foreal spin. 9pm-2am. No cover.

C-House chefs Toni Roberts (left) and Seth Siegel-Gardner. (Photo: C-House)


While some local chefs get all the glory, others are undiscovered gems. One such unsung culinary star is Toni Roberts, the pastry chef at C-House. She's a genius at making every sweet treat under the sun, but we go absolutely mad over her handmade peanut brittle, berry roll-ups and salted fudge brownies. Catch her 10:30am demo at Green City Market. Free.

Believe it or not this is a helluva deal: The University Village location for Lush Wine & Spirits hooks up a family-style lobster feast served with crustacean-friendly vino. 6-8pm. RSVP mandatory. $85.


This underground brunch's been going on for a few months now, but Empty Bottle fans have always been in the loop. At the Mixtape Sunday Brunch, diners can order items from the adjacent Bite Cafe and chow down as they listen to others' iPod playlists and mix CDs. The menu's a la carte and dirt cheap, with $5 bloody Marys and Mimosas. BYO iPod. Noon-3pm.

Mixologist face-off! Sepia’s Josh Pearson and Sepia alum Peter Vestinos go head to head with their interpretations of classic and contemporary cocktails. Go retro with Pearson's classic rye drinks (Morning Glory, Brooklyn) or keep it new school with Vestinos' versions made with tequila (Lost Afternoon, The Junta Starter). All bar tips benefit the Mae Tao Clinic. 6-10pm.


And yet another restaurant throws a Burger Fest. This time it's Park Grill showcasing a special menu of burgers, including a Peppercorn-Crusted American Kobe Burger, Wild Alaskan Salmon Burger and Grilled Turkey Burger with Guava BBQ Sauce. The week-long event happens today through Sunday, Aug. 23; prices range $12-$16.