Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Who Runs This Town?! Billy vs. Bowles . . .

Billy Dec (left) and Graham Elliot Bowles

Marketing Geniuses? Chicago Ambassadors? Or Media Whores?!

Graham Elliot Bowles and Billy Dec are certainly two of Chicago's larger-than-life personalities we just cannot seem to get enough of.

One's a star chef and the other's an old-school clubhead turned successful restaurateur. And what they have in common is that they've both mastered the art of keeping themselves newsworthy through various ventures as well as outrageous stunts . . .

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Why Zagat Loves Chicago!

Tim Zagat, founder of the Zagat mobile guidebooks. (Photo: Getty Images)

I know how we feel about Chicago, but it's nice to be validated every now and then by an outsider that we're a world-class city when it comes to dining.

New York native Tim Zagat, who founded his eponymous mobile guidebooks in 1979 with his wife, Nina, has been coming to Chicago for more than 40 years. For him, it never gets old because there's always something new to discover on each trip.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Worth Honking About . . .

(Photo: Goose Island)

The field for local microbreweries is jam packed, so it made sense for the pioneering Goose Island Brewery to take its craft to the next level.

They're doing mega collaborations with some very high-profile chefs in town by offering custom-designed beer on tap at each restaurant.

C-House, on the first level of the Affinia Hotel, is the latest to jump on board with its own brew, and they're celebrating its debut with a launch event on July 8.

Randolph Wine Cellars Shutters; Makes Way For New Concept


Just got word Randolph Wine Cellars is shutting down July 31 to make way for a new concept this fall.

No clues on what that concept will be yet, but owner Brenda Fotopoulos calls it "a concept the likes of which Chicago has never seen before."

Thursday, June 24, 2010

What's Hot: The King of Pop, Pride Weekend . . .

Last year's "Back Lot Bash" drew more than 2,500 post-Pride revelers.

The celebration of the GLBT community has been going on all month, but it culminates in Chicago Sunday with the annual Pride Parade, taking place in Lakeview.

Now, you can't have Pride without the parties, so thankfully events are happening all over town, including the seventh-annual Back Lot Bash that occurs Saturday and Sunday in Andersonville.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Finally! A Good Reason to Stand in Line!

M Burger's signature double-stack burger. (Photo: M Burger)

This delicious bite just dropped in my inbox:

"Apple is providing M Burgers, fries, shakes and lemonades to the folks standing in line for the iPhone release tomorrow (June 24)."

Will someone save my place in line right NOW?!!!!

Chicago Restos To Help Gulf Coast


Two major events coming up soon to help those affected by the Gulf Coast oil spill . . .

Donate a minimum of $50 to Greater New Orleans Foundation's Gulf Coast Oil Spill Fund or The Barataria Estuary Foundation by July 25 (goal is to get 250 donations of $50 or more) to get an invite to a reception hosted by some of the hottest restaurants in Chicago.

Chicago Q Takes Over Old Tsunami Space


312DD broke the news in February that Art Smith's partner in Table Fifty-Two was planning something big in the old Tsunami space in the Gold Coast.

And now, Chicago Magazine's Dish has more news on what's to come:

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Some Things I'm Obsessed With This Week . . .

Ryan Poli, executive chef at Perennial. (Photo: Perennial)

A number of local star chefs showcased signature bites made from sustainable seafood during Supreme Lobster's first-ever Summer Solstice Soiree Monday aboard the Columbia Yacht Club.

And while most dishes were outstanding (I don't even want to talk about how many times I went back for seconds!), it was Ryan Poli's ingenious seafood taco that totally blew me away.

Monday, June 21, 2010

STAGE BITES: The Weekly Dining & Drinking Guide

Public Enemy performs their greatest hits at Congress Theater Saturday.

Every Monday look for the week's top performances paired with the best deals before and after the show:

Public Enemy at Congress Theater. Look for this radical, pioneering hip-hop group to diss "Arizona," "Fight The Power" and "Shut Em Down." 8pm show Saturday. Get tickets here.

90 Miles Cuban Cafe: All dinner items are under $10 at this lively Cuban corner spot in Logan Square. You get a heaving plate of meat (chicken, shredded beef or roasted pork) accompanied by rice, black beans and sweet plantains. Bring a bottle of rum to pour in the yummy tropical shakes. Flavorful flavors include mango, strawberry, papaya and the signature Guanabana. Patio and BYOB. No corkage fee! Proximity to show: Five minutes by cab/car.

Big Star, Kuma's, Trotter's, Sunda Hit 'Lolla!'

Graham Elliot Bowles is the newly tapped culinary director for "Lollapalooza." (Photo: Graham Elliot)

Will the munchies eclipse the music at this year's Lollapalooza?!

It certainly looks like it as newly tapped Lolla Culinary Director Graham Elliot Bowles has assembled an astounding culinary line-up to match the three-day fest's hyped headlining musical acts.

Bowles, whose eponymous River North resto first set up shop at the festival in 2009, has personally rallied some of the city's favorite restaurants to join him August 6-8 at the festival.

Thus far, Bowles’ 2010 Lollapalooza culinary line-up reads:

Chefs Prepare for 'Summer Solstice' Soiree

Inovasi chef/owner John des Rosiers (Photo: Inovasi)

You might not be up to anything exciting for Summer Solstice, but a number of Chicago's hottest chefs will be aboard the Columbia Yacht Club Monday doing what they do best.

They're participating in Supreme Lobster's industry-only event and serving up signature dishes of sustainable seafood.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Dad is King of the Scene This Weekend!


How come Dad always gets the short end of the stick when it comes to his big day?!

Wack-ass ties. Cologne that smells more like shoe polish. And frou-frou brunches fit for a queen, not a king.

Not this year. Instead, give him what he really wants and take him to an event like the annual Classic Car Brunch at McGee's Tavern.

In its fourth year, CCB occurs Father's Day (June 20) and showcases the muscle cars of his wildest dreams. Look for classic cars to line Webster Avenue at Sheffield all afternoon. There's a bonus if you've got a muscle car to flex yourself: Park it and you'll get brunch for free. 10am-3pm Sunday.

Leave the corny Father's Day stuff to Mr. Brady. Poppa won't preach if you treat him like this:

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

'Chicago' Mag's 'Hot List' a Definite Must Read

(Photo: Longman & Eagle)

Stumbled across Chicago magazine's "Hot List," a monthly section highlighting the restaurants everyone's buzzing about right now.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Party Continues All Over Town for Champions!

Blackhawks players spraying the crowd with Champagne at Roof Friday. (Photos: Roof/theWit)

Blackhawks team captain and MVP Jonathan Toews and 15 of his teammates arrived at Roof Friday night with the Stanley Cup and were joined at 12:45am by actors Vince Vaughn and Kevin James.

The teammates stood on the outdoor bar and passed the Cup from player to player as they sprayed the crowd of screaming fans with bubbly.

STAGE BITES: The Weekly Dining & Drinking Guide

Dennis Leary headlines Chicago Theater as part of the weeklong "Just For Laughs" festival.

Every Monday look for the week's top performances paired with the best deals before and after the show:

Just For Laughs at various Chicagoland locations. Tuesday through Saturday, some of the country's funniest comedians hit the stage, including high-profile stars Ellen DeGeneres (7:30pm Wednesday), Cedric The Entertainer (8pm Friday) and Dennis Leary (8pm Saturday) at the Chicago Theater. Events will be held at large-scale venues as well as more intimate comedy clubs. Get entire schedule and tickets here.

Atwood Cafe: Small plates like the Graham Cracker Fried Calamari or bourbon-infused chicken and pork sausage pair well with hand-crafted cocktails. Or head here after the show for Atwood After Dark for $5 glasses of vino and apps like the Shrimp "Corndog" and B.L.T. with crispy pork belly. Proximity to show: Two blocks south; five-minute walk.

It's Time to Dance Again!

A scene from the nightclub in "The Last Days of Disco."

Caught the late-1990s film, "The Last Days of Disco," on the Style Channel Sunday and it totally made me nostalgic for nightclubs pre-bottle service again.

The movie's crammed with juicy club scenes that make me yearn for a place to go where everyone's deliciously glam and obviously having a great time on the dance floor.

Chicago's Limelight and Shelter—dance clubs that raged in the late 1980s and 1990s respectively—are two of the spots that come to mind in comparison to the movie.

Incidentally, some reunions are reportedly underway later this year.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Samuelsson's 'BBQ Bootcamp' Certain to Sell Out!

"Top Chef Master" Marcus Samuelsson (Photo: C-House)

Now that he's been crowned "Top Chef Master," Marcus Samuelsson is gonna be one red-hot commodity.

He's a New Yorker, but Chicago's also claiming him seeing as his C-House restaurant in the Affinia hotel is one of the hottest seafood spots to open in years.

The BBQ Bootcamp was a huge success last year, but look for it to be even more hyped this summer.

Mark Mendez to Step Down at Carnivale

Chef Mark Mendez (Photo: Carnivale)

Some shocking news, folks, on the chef front.

Mark Mendez is stepping down as executive chef of hot Latin resto Carnivale.

From his blog:

Six Sweet Scenes This Weekend . . .

Zoë Kravitz headlines a show with her rock band, Elevator Fight, at Debonair Social Club on Sunday.

When your dad's a legendary rock star and you're a gorgeous girl, you basically have two choices: become a model or launch your own singing career.

Zoë Kravitz, a breathtaking beauty who happens to be the spawn of rocker Lenny Kravitz and Lisa Bonet, chose both.

We'll see if she has the chops when she performs at a benefit for Autism Speaks with Philly-based band Elevator Fight at Debonair Social Club Sunday.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Former Graham Elliot Mixologist Lands at Blackbird

Lynn House, award-winning mixologist (Photo: graham elliot)

Lynn House is having one hell of a month.

The award-winning mixologist, who was formerly at Graham Elliot and The Drawing Room, was featured in the June issue of Ebony.

And now she's got a hot new gig, according to an Ultimate Insider.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Rap Stars Serenade Kanye West on His B-Day

Lupe Fiasco (left) and Common at Buca di Beppo Tuesday. (Photo: Barry Brecheisen-WireImage/Getty)

The Rush Street location for Buca di Beppo played host Tuesday to not one, not two, but three major hip-hop stars as Kayne West celebrated his 33rd birthday.

The mega star was serenaded by Lupe Fiasco and Common, who led students from the Kanye West Foundation in singing "Happy Birthday."

First-Ever Hotel Thrillist Takes Over Miami

Red The Steakhouse chef/partner Peter Vauthy (left) and Gotham's John Suley before Hotel Thrillist's first-ever BBQ Showdown. (Photo: Justin Namon)

Once again it's a crappy, cold and rainy day in Chicago, so I took the opportunity to reminiscence over a fabulous trip to Miami last weekend.

The two-night party hosted by Thrillist took over the spectacular Fontainebleau, transforming it into the first-ever Hotel Thrillist.

More than 150 social influencers, media types, VIPs and lucky sweepstakes winners from across the country indulged in a number of cool events, ranging from mixology and deejaying lessons to beach yoga and an afternoon cocktail pool party.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Dine Out for Gulf Coast!

The Publican is one of four Chicago restaurants participating in "Dine Out for Gulf Coast." (Photo: Bob Briskey Photography)

It's really a horrible situation down on the Gulf Coast after the massive BP oil spill, and many families are suffering.

A number of high-profile chefs and restaurants across the country have joined forces for Dine Out for Gulf Coast, which will benefit the Gulf Coast Oil Spill Fund.

Following are the Chicago restaurants participating June 10-12:

Friday, June 4, 2010

Let The (Festival) Games Begin!

Do Division Street Fest revelers at SmallBar. (Photo: REP3)

When it comes to the neighborhood street festival, no city beats Chicago. Each event offers its own distinct personality of the neighborhood's residents and businesses, particularly the restaurants and bars.

Take, for example, Do Division Street Fest, which goes down this weekend on 10 solid blocks in Wicker Park.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Anthony Martin Replaces Rick Tramonto at TRU

TRU Executive Chef/partner Anthony Martin (Photo: TRU)

THIS just dropped in the inbox:

"We are excited to announce that Chef Anthony Martin, who joined the Tru team in 2008 after working with Joel Robuchon in Las Vegas, is now the executive chef/partner of Tru Restaurant. Chef Rick Tramonto is moving on from Tru and Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises to follow other culinary pursuits. Our other founding member, Executive Pastry Chef Gale Gand, will remain a partner at Tru.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Zapatista Outpost Set to Open in Lincoln Park

South Loop location for Zapatista. (Photo: Zapatista)

An Ultimate Insider exclusively tells 312DD that the stylish Mexican flair and fare of Zapatista is set to move into the space recently vacated by Emilios Tapas at Clark and Fullerton.

The Lincoln Park location marks the third (also in South Loop and Northbrook) and plans are underway to open by late summer.