Thursday, September 30, 2010

What Will Happen When Avec Re-Opens . . .

(Photo: Doug Fogelson/DRFP)

Word is West Loop nosh spot avec is set to open very soon, according to a tweet from partner Paul Kahan, and TimeOut's got the deets:

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Booze News You're Certain To Use

Sable's head bartender Mike Ryan and Master Sommelier Emily Wines will compete in a wine vs. whiskey challenge at the restaurant in October. (Photo: Kimpton Restaurants)

Whiskey vs. wine. How can you possibly make up your mind?!

You'll get your chance to decide which pairs best with bites during a special dinner at Kimpton's Sable Kitchen & Bar in October.

The restaurant's master sommelier Emily Wines (Yes, that's really her name!) competes against head bartender Mike Ryan during an interactive bottle battle that's supposed to complement three dishes from Sable's seasonal, ingredient-driven gastro menu.

Hungry For Hemingway . . .


This sounds pretty cool.

Noted author Ernest Hemingway was a big fan of chef Georges "Kiki" Cuisance's food back when he was cooking at various restaurants in France.

So we can only imagine how thrilled Cuisance was when he was asked to host a three-course, Hemingway-themed dinner to launch the book, "Hunting for Hemingway," written by Diane Gilbert Madsen.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Eat And Drink For Pink


Do your part to help support Breast Cancer Awareness Month by participating in the Lynn Sage Foundation's annual In Good Taste campaign.

You can choose from a list of more than 100 of Chicagoland's most-buzzed about restaurants, and donate at least $1 on your check. The promotion happens throughout the month and you can see the entire list of participants here.

The New Burger King of Chicago?!

NoMI's award-winning "800 Burger" from the first-ever "Hamburger Hop" competition. (Photo: Joseph Storch)

The competition was pretty fierce Friday night at "Hamburger Hop," Chicago Gourmet's first-ever such event to kick off the two-day food fest.

There was Sola's Carol Wallack, who's pretty familiar with this type of event as she's participated in the South Beach Wine and Food Festival three years in a row. Also, The Gage executive chef Dirk Flanigan was in the house. His burgers are killers. Stephanie Izard (Girl & The Goat), Seasons' Kevin Hickey (who won the "People's Choice Award"), John Hogan (Keefer's) and Eddie Lakin of gourmet diner Edzo's Burger Shop are also known for bringing it.

With a high-profile judges' panel that included Jean-Luc Naret, the world director of the Michelin guide, Bon Appetit's Barbara Fairchild and world-famous chef Thomas Keller, this little hamburger contest was suddenly serious business. Who would've imagined an unknown chef would win it all?!

Monday, September 27, 2010

STAGE BITES: The Weekly Dining & Drinking Guide

M.I.A. performs at The Vic Thursday.

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

M.I.A. at The Vic. The quirky and controversial British rapper first got our attention in 2003 with her big hit "Galang." Brimming with a mixture of dancehall, hip-hop and electronica, it helped define her style and has kept her in the spotlight ever since. "Maya," just released in July, is M.I.A.'s highest charting album release to date. 8pm Sept. 30. Get tickets here.

Get Ready To Loosen Your Belt . . .


. . . a few more notches.

The fifth-annual Andersonville Dessert Crawl returns this weekend and it's bigger and badder than ever.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Don Draper Would Definitely Approve . . .

Don Draper of "Mad Men" fame would have been a big fan of the Aviary's version of his favorite cocktail. (Photo: AMC)

I'm so excited about this latest offering from Aviary that I can barely contain myself.

Tuscan Foodie On Chicago Food Scene

The Tuscan Foodie doing what he does best. (Photo: Tuscan Foodie)

It's always fun to read how others view what we think is an incredible food scene here in Chicago, so you can only imagine my delight discovering A Tuscan Foodie in America, which details an Italian guy's eating experiences in the United States.

He enthusiastically focuses on Chicago's most popular and underrated restos, as he explained in this post for Tuscany's tourism bureau:

NY Times Highlights Chicago's Best


Gilt Bar, Girl & The Goat, Big Chicks, Longman & Eagle and Xoco got some major props in the New York Times' travel section.

In 36 hours, writer Fred A. Bernstein checked out these hot spots as well as a number of iconic venues.

We weren't surprised one bit that he headed to Girl & The Goat, which likely had its busiest night Saturday with the dining room and bar filled with Chicago Gourmet goers as well as "Jersey Shore" castmate Vinny Guadagnino (who showed up with two big-ass bodyguards in tow).

Friday, September 24, 2010

'Top Chef Master' Cooks For Charity

"Top Chef Master" Marcus Samuelsson (left) and Spiaggia Executive Chef Tony Mantuano.

They competed against one another on last season's "Top Chef Masters," with one taking home the title.

Now, Marcus Samuelsson—reigning "Top Chef Master"—teams up with Spiaggia's brilliant executive chef Tony Mantuano for a sit-down, homestyle dinner inspired by their respective cookbooks, New American Table and Wine Bar Food.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Foodie Fun Beyond 'Chicago Gourmet'

No tickets to "Chicago Gourmet?" Moonshine's annual "Rib-a-Que" is a great foodie alternative this weekend. (Photo: Moonshine)

Chicago Gourmet's completely sold out (unless you still plan to do the Dine Around deal), but no worries because there's so many more fabulous, foodie-type events happening this weekend:

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Our Very Own 'Top Chef All Star!'


Bravo TV just announced the lineup for the first-ever "Top Chef All Stars" competition, which pits past top contestants against one another.

Among the cheftestants is Chicago's own Dale Levitski, who made it to the finals in season three of the show in 2007.

No Big Surprises Here . . .

Mixologist Paul McGee (center) with staff celebrating something at The Whistler. (Photo: The Whistler)

GQ gives major props to The Whistler and Violet Hour, naming them to its annual The 25 Best Cocktail Bars in America list in the October issue.

On Violet Hour:

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Encase Yourself in This Shirt

(Photo: Hot Doug's)

This new tee may not help you skip to the front of the hour-long line at Hot Doug's, but at least you'll look good standing in it.

Owner Doug Sohn has just debuted a new online store, featuring four custom t-shirts only available on the site. Look for even more designs and apparel (hello, hoodies?!) to be available some time this fall.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Cibo Matto Chef Goes to 'Hell' . . .

Cibo Matto sous chef Rusty Kook (Photo: FOX/"Hell's Kitchen")

. . . as in "Hell's Kitchen," the profanity-laced cooking reality show made infamous by Master Chef Gordon Ramsey.

That'll be cibo matto sous chef Rusty Kook (Kook the cook?!), who's up next to endure Ramsey's wrath when the new season premieres at 7pm Wednesday.

When the Diner is NOT Right . . .


Here's a ridiculously hilarious story from Anthony Todd, who writes for online 'zine Chicagoist, of dissatisfied diners who didn't do their research before heading out to particular restos:

Friday, September 17, 2010

Sock It To Me, Baby!


This is one of those rare occasions when I cannot wait for the weekend to end.

No, I haven't lost my mind, but I think you'll get on board knowing that Monday, Sept. 20 is National Punch Day.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Local Bar Stars Compete at 'Chicago Gourmet'

From left: Mixologists Lynn House, Josh Pearson and Debbi Peak.

They're all drinking buddies, but when it comes to boozy contests, they're fierce competitors.

Five of Chicago's leading bar stars will go head-to-head during Chicago Gourmet's first-ever mixology competition.

Lynn House (Blackbird), Josh Pearson (Sepia), Ben Schiller (Boka), Debbi Peek (Bristol) and Todd Appel (Crimson) will participate in a 30-minute, "Mystery Mix" seminar where they will create a signature cocktail.

Top 5 Spots for a First Date


In a pinch on where to go for that very first date?!

The Hungry Hound offers his Top Five picks, including one of our favorite new neighborhood hangs:

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Zweiban To Open Second Province in Phoenix

Randy Zweiban, chef/owner of Province in the West Loop. (Photo: Laurie Proffitt Photography)

Last week I reported that Province owner/chef Randy Zweiban was opening a new resto in the West Loop.

Turns out I was wrong and while it's true he's working on a second location, it's in Phoenix, Ariz.!

Reads the press release dropped in my mailbox this morning:

Racing Star Rolls into Blue 13


Indy 500 hottie Danica Patrick hit town Tuesday evening and didn't dine at one of the usual suspect restaurants.

Instead, she headed to River North's rock 'n' roll-themed Blue 13 for what sounds like quite an awesome meal.

Today is FREE Dessert Day!


Everyone's on a serious sugar high now that the premiere of Bravo's "Top Chef: Just Desserts" is finally here.

To get folks even more excited about the station's sweetest reality show, Bravo's teamed up with Open Table so that diners all over the country can get a free dessert with dinner tonight.

In Chicago and the 'burbs, 100 restaurants are participating, and you can find the complete list here to make a dinner reservation.

But a few dessert-only spots are also getting in on the action from 1-3pm:

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Mark Your Calendar for More Chef Events

Mercat a la Planxa chef Michael Fiorello at last year's "Celebrity Chef Ball" at Macy's on State. (Photo: Meals on Wheels)

Fall's turning out to be major for chef-related events, from the third-annual Chicago Gourmet in Millennium Park to Meals on Wheels' Celebrity Chef Ball at Macy's on State to Common Threads World Cookout at Fulton's on the River.

And while those events are spectacular in food, folks and fun, not everyone can afford those tickets, which start at $75. That's probably why Chicago Public Radio (WBEZ-FM) decided to host its own food-focused fete, showcasing some of the city's most talked about chefs at $15 ($12 WBEZ members; $10 students).

C-House Chef Spotlights Yummy Local Beer

Nicole Pederson is the executive chef at C-House. (Photo: C-House)

Through the end of the month, you can treat yourself to the delightfully special supper paired with local suds at C-House.

Executive Chef Nicole Pederson has whipped up a three-course deal for $39 that features seasonal dishes and exceptional Midwest beers. You'll start with Goose Island's seafood-friendly Matilda, which complements the steamed mussels and Littleneck clams paired with root vegetables, espelette aioli and spiced Matilda-infused broth.

Monday, September 13, 2010

David Carrier OUT at Kith & Kin

(Photo: Andrews Braddy Photography)

Effective immediately, Chef de Cuisine Andrew Brochu has been bumped up to executive chef at Kith & Kin, relieving David Carrier of his duties.

This shocker came over the weekend as online 'zine Hungry Magazine broke the news about one of the hottest new restaurants in Lincoln Park:

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Two Scoops For You . . .

Randy Zweiban, chef/owner of Province in the West Loop. (Photo: Laurie Proffitt Photography)

Some Ultimate Insiders tell 312DD to expect some hot new openings on the horizon.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

What Do They Think of the Mayor's Retirement?!

Ina Pinkney, a.k.a. "The Breakfast Queen. (Photo: Ina Pinkney)

Love him or hate him, everyone's got an opinion of Mayor Daley's shocking announcement Tuesday that he wouldn't seek re-election in 2011.

It was all the buzz around town, particularly business owners, who will be severely affected by the changes.

Chicago's bar and restaurant owners took to their Facebook and Twitter accounts to express their views, and here's just a sampling of what some of them had to say:

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

My Friend's 'Downfall' at Big Star

Big Star's newest addition: the Sonoran Hot Dog. (Photo: Freddy Love)

Brand spanking new to the menu at Big Star is the Sonoran Hot Dog ($6), a bacon-wrapped, all-beef sensation stuffed into a toasted Mexican bolillo roll and topped with chile mayo, yellow mustard, jalapeƱo sauce, pinto beans, onions and tomatoes.

Of course, one of my friends was bold enough to finish the whole damn thing by himself, and he almost didn't make it. I was 10 minutes late to the Labor Day gathering, so I missed out on the action . . .

Get Ready For MeatyBalls!

Chef Phillip Foss and his Meatyballs Mobile truck. (Photo: The Pickled Tongue)

It's finally here.

GrubStreet introduces us to the Meatyballs Mobile, a new foodtruck concept by former Lockwood Executive Chef Phillip Foss.

The truck, which travels to the Loop, Lincoln Park, Wicker Park and other parts of the North Side where it's certain to be a big hit, specializes in kosher meatballs. Foss's wife, Kenni, describes them as "four balls big enough to be part of a freak show" on a bun for $8.

Here's the current menu:

Rockin' Taco Closed Due to Robbery

(Photo: Rockin' Taco)

Some soulless person robbed Lakeview's awesome-est taco joint, Rockin' Taco, early this morning.

The owner posted this to his Facebook page:

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Congrats are in Order . . .

A first look at the cover of Grant Achatz's biography, "Life, on the Line: A Chef's Story of Chasing Greatness, Facing Death, and Redefining the Way We Eat."

Alinea super chef/owner Grant Achatz has completed his bio, Life, on the Line: A Chef's Story of Chasing Greatness, Facing Death, and Redefining the Way We Eat.

It's not out until March 3, 2011, but you can pre-order it here.


Thursday, September 2, 2010

Does 'Minority Nightlife' Get a Bad Rap?

Veteran club deejay Vince Adams (a.k.a. DJ VA) writes an open letter to defend Chicago's minority nightlife scene. (Photo: Vince Adams)

Vince Adams (a.k.a. DJ VA) has worked Chicago's night spots as well as a number of clubs around the country since the mid-1990s.

If you've ever frequented the likes of Green Dolphin Street, The Shrine, Funky Buddha Lounge or Bon V, you've likely seen him behind the 'tables.

While he's that guy who usually has a big smile on his face, these days he's none too pleased with how minority nightlife is getting a bad rap.

He writes, in an open letter, on his blog:

One Last Hurrah!


Face it. There wasn't that much to complain about when it came to the weather this summer.

Most days were filled with sunshine and spectacular warmth, allowing us to indulge in alfresco drinking and dining anytime we wanted.

And though it's a bit gloomy as we go into the homestretch of Labor Day Weekend—the unofficial end of summer—it's promising to clear up for the next several days.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

'Yelpers' Review Yet-Opened Grahamwich


Just a couple of days ago, we were giddy because chef Graham Elliot finally unveiled a rendering of his highly anticipated Grahamwich, which is set to open in River North.

No actual opening date has been disclosed yet, but mysteriously the restaurant somehow has two "reviews" already on the Yelp site: