Thursday, September 24, 2009

New Bar Lands in Old Bennigan's Space on Mich Ave.

(Photo: Courtesy of Urban Daddy Chicago)

Remember that old abandoned Bennigan's space on N. Michigan Avenue?!

Looks like it found a new tenant in Sweetwater Tavern and Grille, from the guys behind airplane hangar-styled The Boundary.

Says Urban Daddy:

"This spot offers the same plethora of sports-tuned flat-screens, stacked stone walls and exposed-joist ceiling ambience. But instead of a hangar, this is more of a…let's say lounge in a private airport.

"We can already imagine a crew of flight attendants gathered around a communal table, snacking on bacon-wrapped Cajun shrimp, sipping cocktails like the South Water Blue (Stoli Blueberi, lemonade, Blue Curaçao and a splash of champagne) and giggling about their next layover."

Too much of a good thing?!

(Photo: Courtesy of Urban Daddy Chicago)

The last time I hit up neighborhood brunch/lunch joint Jam, culinary king Giuseppe Tentori (Boka) and the mad eccentric Graham Elliot Bowles (graham elliot) were in the jam-packed house.

Too bad I missed out when the Chicago Reader came through, as I would've loved to have seen the look on the reviewer's face when these dishes came out:

"Early notices touted (chef Jeffrey) Mauro's sous vide malt custard French toast and eggy plates fashionably loaded with pork cheeks and belly, which gave me the impression that this was going to be the sort of brunching meant for blanketing uneasy stomachs and pounding heads. And indeed Mauro's egg sandwich, a French roll with slabs of meaty braised pork cheek covered in a lava flow of egg yolk, has a restorative quality, marred only by a cloying sweet-and-sour peach ketchup—a rare case of sugar failing to help the medicine go down.

"Buckwheat crepes stuffed with braised lamb are plated more successfully, with perfect spheres of Asian pear, but biscuits and gravy with satisfying chunks of rough-cut cotechhino sausage are nearly undone by a gray shiitake gravy that looks far less appetizing than it actually is."

This made my day!


From Bill Zwecker in Thursday's column:

"Dance legend Mikhail Baryshnikov has been all over town: signing his new book Merce My Way at the Museum of Contemporary Art, dropping by the Joffrey to watch a rehearsal of 'Othello' and reconnect with old pals Ashley Wheater and Lar Lubovitch, and then dining at Art Smith and Julie Latsko's Table Fifty-Two."

Bargains Galore at the Bar, Brunch . . .

Texas de Brazil just launched a new budget-friendly bar menu in the Beijos Lounge. (Photo: Texas de Brazil)

Just in time for your fabulous fall outings, mega churrascaria Texas de Brazil launches a new bar menu in its colorful Beijos Lounge.

Instead of doing the full-on meat madness with traditional gauchos serving tableside, you can dig into an antipasto platter (with smoked salmon, olives, hearts of palm, manchego cheese, prosciutto, grilled provolone), meat sampler (chicken breast, Brazilian sausage, garlic picanha, served with chimichuri sauce and a basket of warm cheese bread) or share the Meat Sampler for Two. Prices range $8.99-$14.99.

To celebrate the new menu, 312DD's teaming up with Texas de Brazil for the next FREEBIE FRIDAY, going down Friday, Oct. 2. One lucky person following me on Twitter will win dinner for two (that's $44.99 per person!). Tax, tip and booze are on you.

Get ready for more this weekend . . .


The Loop and Gold Coast locations for McCormick & Schmick’s now offer 10 Under $10—lunch only selections featuring local ingredients and regionally inspired dishes. You can go just about every day for the sandwiches, wraps, pastas, entrée salads and a few soup/salad and soup/sandwich combos.

We still cannot believe someone became famous for writing and singing a song called Birthday Sex, yet Grey Goose Entertainment honors local singer Jeremih as a "rising icon." It's happening at Rumba in honor of the Chicago Football Classic Game. 9pm-2am. $15 in advance.


Here's another great deal for you, o' faithful readers: Mention 312 Dining Diva tonight at Nacional 27, and you'll get a comped Bacardi Dragonfruit Mojito. Of course you'll wanna stay for Nearly Free Fridays, which includes $2.27 all-you-can-eat paella and Latin apps. 5-7pm.

Continue celebrating Oktoberfest with the Prost! on Paulina pub crawl. It kicks off at 6pm at Frasca Pizzeria and Wine Bar with $3 drafts of Sam Adams Octoberfest, free slices of Frasca's Sam Adams Octoberfest beer-crusted pizza (one per customer) and a German Brat Pizza (woot?!) for $10. The crawl continues on to Shire Public House, Fizz and The Pony.

Help raise money for the city's neediest inner-city Catholic schools at the third-annual Big Shoulders Fund Ball at the Museum of Contemporary Art (220 E. Chicago Ave.). Your $85 ticket ($100 at door) includes a buffet, open bar, live music and more. The Big Shoulders Fund Auxiliary Board, made up of more than 120 young professionals, hosts the event, and you can still get tickets here. 7:30-11pm.

Former Thrillist editor Dave Andrews and Chef Stephanie Izard judging last year's Rib-A-Que Smokeout at Moonshine. (Photo: Moonshine)


Socca hosts the second-annual Rib-A-Que Smokeout at Moonshine, with more than 16 local restaurants competing to see who's on top when it comes to the finger-licking grub. Judges include Stephanie Izard (Top Chef, The Drunken Goat) and 312DD. Also, specials on cocktails and beers. Noon-6pm. $25 in advance; $35 at door.

Chicago Gourmet is finally here! The two-day event also happens Sunday, and includes tastings from a number of high-profile local chefs. Get the entire list of participants here. $150 a day.

Head to the South Halsted location for Lush's annual Oktoberfest. They'll be grilling out and sampling various beers. 5-8pm. $15.


Vital Bridges, which provides meals for more than 500,000 people living with AIDS/HIV in the Chicago area, hosts the season's first Culinary Series event. The brunch at Anteprima includes passed hors d’ oeuvres, buffet, Mimosas and Grey Goose Bloody Marys. Get the $75 tickets in advance here. Noon-2pm.

And yay! More freebies! Mention 312DD for complimentary piping hot Cheddar biscuits, plus one Bloody Mary or Mimosa during brunch for the next two weeks at Red Canary. It's brand new and includes Banana Belgium Waffles (with house-made bourbon vanilla syrup), Lemon Ricotta Crepes (with fresh strawberries and blueberry compote) and a Sausage and Basil Frittata. 10am-2pm.