Thursday, October 1, 2009
Still scratching my head over why Taxim, a glamorous new Greek restaurant in Wicker Park, only got "one star" from the Chicago Tribune's Phil Vettel.
He apparently loved the food, from the overall tone in his review:
"Good-tasting lamb chops were nearly upstaged by their plate companions, a chewy and delicious bulgur pilaf and a fanciful skordalia that was really a vivid-green pesto of Greek oregano, pine nuts and garlic. The fascinating duck gyros were a cross between a shawarma and Peking duck -- spit-roasted duck meat lacquered with pomegranate syrup, packed with yogurt-mint sauce in soft wraps of house-made satz bread (a soft flatbread cooked on a heated dome). The roasted chicken is very good, helped considerably by assertive amounts of oregano and garlic, some yummy cooked-in-fat potatoes and pieces of ouzo-preserved lemons. The roasted sea bass is moist and sweet, graced with kisses of lemon and olive oil and propped on a bed of chewy dandelion greens, which supply a bitter counterpoint."
Yet the service was a little spotty when he returned on the weekend:
"A follow-up visit on a weekend night found a chaotic dining room and a kitchen deep in the weeds. Our appetizers arrived five minutes apart; the gap between the arrival of our entrees was so great it was like eating separate courses; and no server seemed to notice."
But did this review really warrant only one star, which translates to "good?!" Vettel's been doling out "three stars" lately like Glinda the Good Witch, so I'm just a little surprised they didn't get a little more love . . .
An observant "spy" at Gibsons spilled the beans to Bill Zwecker about actor Jeremy Piven's meal on Tuesday:
"I'm sure Jeremy Piven is sick to death about his dining habits constantly being scrutinized, but the Entourage star was seen Tuesday night chowing down on a lovely piece of whitefish at Gibsons.
The actor has avoided fish since the big 'Sushi-gate' incident—when he claimed a bad bout of mercury poisoning caused him to drop out of his acclaimed Broadway debut in David Mamet's Speed-the-Plow."
In best Chris Crocker voice: "Leave Jeremy Piven aloooooooooooone!"
Ed Debevic's celebrates 25 years in business with a two-day outdoor festival of live music, food and fun.
Two milestones are upon us: One for the kids (or the kid in you!) and the other for the grown 'n' sexy.
Pack up the family this weekend and head to Ed Debevic's for its 25th anniversary celebration, taking place at the corner of Wells and Ontario. The iconic burgers, fries and shakes shop is doing it big with live music (Nicholas Barron, Lynne Jordan & The Shivers) and games, plus treats from Gino’s East Pizza and Mitchell’s Soda Shop. Noon-10pm Saturday; 11am-9pm Sunday. Free.
And pioneer of the famed Randolph Street Restaurant Row turns 18. The sexy Ital Vivo—whose magnificent elevator shaft VIP room has played host to the likes of Michael Jordan and Oprah—gets its shine on Thursday with a party certain to attract the city's most glamorous. Get there early (5-7pm) for the comped cocktails, bubbly and apps, and stay until the lights come on. 5pm-2am Thursday. Free.
More anniversaries, plus other happenings this weekend:
The Roots may be the hottest hip-hop band on the planet, but when it comes to live house beats, they'd better stay in their lane and let Mr. A.L.I. take over. The local groovemasters—with a strong international following—headline Cuatro's fourth anniversary party. Deejays Timmy McAllister and Andre Hatchett spin underground house. 9pm-2am. Cover varies.
Through Saturday, Blind Faith Café, known for using locally grown and organic products in all dishes, celebrates its 30th anniversary by inviting guests to decide what they want to pay for their dinner entrées. Woot?!
Chi-Town's own Bubbly Girl returns home for a book-signing, bubbly-filled bash at Pops For Champagne. Party includes a signed copy of The Bubbly Bar: Champagne & Sparkling Wine Cocktails for Every Occasion, apps and cocktails. 6-8pm. $25. RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve your space.
Hip-hop legend/journalist/sneaker freak Bobbito Garcia hits Chicago for a rare set at Coup d'Etat/The Shrine. Get there by 9pm for a Ciroc vodka tasting. 9pm-2am. $7 in advance; $10 at the door.
Lucky to have Friday afternoons all to yourself?! All October you should head over to the Palm Court at The Drake for Catwalk Fridays. The producers have put their spin on what would've otherwise been another ho-hum afternoon tea. Local upscale boutiques showcase their best; you get to nosh on scones, finger sandwiches and pastries, plus sip tea. Two shows every Friday at 2pm and 3:15pm. $29 (reservations required at email@example.com).
Food and football! Chicago Bear Israel Idonije (from left), D.C. Crenshaw and Jen Patterson will host new Comcast show "Game Time Dine." (Photo: D.C. Crenshaw)
The 13th annual Eli's Cheesecake Festival happens this weekend, benefiting the New Horizon Center for the Developmentally Disabled and the Greater Chicago Food Depository. Think all things cheesecake, including the Jesse White Tumblers flying over a giant Eli’s Cheesecake; a culinary pavilion with local chef demos; and cheesecake Olympics, with cheesecake eating contests, cheesecake bingo and cheesecake hula-hoop contests. The festivities happen right in the parking lot of Eli's Cheesecake. 9am-5pm Saturday; 11am-5pm Sunday. Free.
Now to all things beer. The Midwest Microfest happens on the plaza at Park Grill. You'll get to sample eight of the best breweries in the Midwest as well as enjoy $2 pulled pork sandwiches, mini burgers and beer-braised brats. Noon-7pm. Free.
Whether you're a football fan or not, you're likely to have balls of fun at this party celebrating the debut of Comcast's Game Time Dine. Happening at Old Town Social, the event includes mingling with the stars (including Bears star Israel Idonije), a sneak preview of the football-oriented food show, plus comped apps and cocktails. 6:30-10pm. Free.
And Primehouse's first-ever OktoBEERfest kicks off tonight. Through Wednesday, Oct. 7, guests will get four courses paired with a different local microbrew each night. Sunday's event features the home brews of Executive Chef Rick Gresh, followed by Two Brothers Beer (Monday), New Holland Brewery (Tuesday) and Goose Island (Wednesday). Peep Rick's entire menus for OktoBEERfest here. Each event starts with a beer-focused reception 6:30-7:15pm. $55.