Monday, February 8, 2010

Stage Bites: The Weekly Dining & Drinking Guide

Mariah Carey headlines Chicago Theatre Feb. 13-14.

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

A Raisin in the Sun at Merle Reskin Theatre. It's the 50th anniversary of Lorraine Hansberry's classic portrait of an African-American family on Chicago’s South Side in the 1950s. 7:30pm Wednesday-Saturday; 2pm Sunday (last show Feb. 14). Get tickets here.

Mercat a la Planxa: Brunch is served 11am-3pm at this Spanish sensation known best for award-winning Executive Chef Jose Garces. They're doing a number of sandwiches served with smoked paprika fries, including the burger and Shoko Club (smoked turkey breast, bacon, honey mustard, almonds on multigrain artisan bread). Pair it up with their version of the Mimosa: the Santa Caterina made with cava, orange liqueur and OJ.

Oysy: Feeling adventurous?! Allow the chef to make the picks for the sushi party tray for $32. Here's to hoping you'll get the signature Green Turtle maki that's topped with eel, cucumber, wasabi mayo and tempura shrimp.

Park Grill: If you're looking for a quick bite before the show, hit up $5 Thursdays for steamed Prince Edward Island mussels, mini burgers or the seasonal panini (right now it's local pumpkin, puree, arugula with truffle honey vinaigrette). Available in bar/lounge only. Bigger appetites should take advantage of the pre-theater menu for $30. Three courses gets you choices like slow roasted sage and garlic chicken, Woodland mushroom risotto or cedar-planked Atlantic salmon.

River North Chicago Dance at Harris Theater for Music and Dance. Annual Valentine's weekend engagement features two world premieres, including an unforgettable tribute to jazz legend Ella Fitzgerald. 8pm Friday, Saturday. Get tickets here.

Aria: You'll get three Asian-inspired courses for $41 (seasonal menu changes), plus special validated parking for $9.

Tavern at the Park: Take advantage of the special menu for you and a sig other that's only $40 per person for four courses. A warm duck salad, petite prime rib and brick chicken that's deboned and marinated in lemon are only some of the highlights on the Val's Day menu.

Sushi selection from Oysy's menu. (Photo: Oysy)

Mariah Carey at Chicago Theatre. Madame Butterfly herself performs two shows; Saturday's concert is sold out. 7:30pm Saturday; 7pm Sunday. Get tickets for Sunday's show here.

cibo matto: theWit's sexy Ital resto is right next door, so treat someone sweet to their Valentine's Day menu Friday through Feb. 15. For $75 each, you'll get a four-course feast, including four-cheese ravioli, grilled beef tenderloin and warm, bittersweet chocolate cake.

South Water Kitchen: Or, if you blew all your money on those Mariah Carey tix, we're certain your lover will settle for a nice bottle of vino at Hotel Monaco's first-floor eatery. They're offering an awesome list of wallet-friendly wines for $15, plus if you're going to the show on Sunday you get a comped cheese plate with that bottle.

Another Look at Foodie Yoga Phenom


I'm still tingling all over from an invigorating, weekend-long yoga workshop led by yoga psychologist Ashley Turner, who helped me get into one of the deepest practices ever.

She showed us how to approach our yoga practice by understanding Chakras, or the seven power points of our bodies. Through chanting, meditation, asanas and even dancing, we learned how to open ourselves to new and sometimes more unconventional experiences.

Which brings me back to Yoga for Foodies—the new phenomenon that freaked me out when I discovered it a few weeks ago.

I circled back with Yoga for Foodies founder David Romanelli, who says the New York Times exaggerated in its depiction of his concept during a recent workshop in New York, particularly this part:

"All had signed up for a strange new hybrid of physical activity: first an hour of vigorous, sweaty yoga, then a multicourse dinner of pasta, red wine and chocolate. As soon as the lights went up, dinner was served on the floor: an (almost) seamless transition designed to allow the yogis to taste, smell and digest in a heightened state of awareness."

Romanelli says the practice is more of a downtempo Vinyasa class—not so sweaty that the room's too funky for the feast that comes after. And while the New York participants did find themselves dining on the floor, the upcoming Chicago class takes place March 8 in Province's upscale private dining room with a cocktail reception, multi-course meal, wine and dessert.

He says his classes, which he travels across the country teaching, encourage students to "plug into the moment."

"You’re stimulated in another way, and that much more able to enjoy the food. Put down the cell phones, BlackBerries and iPhones and truly enjoy the experience."

And for those who feel that his classes are not "real" yoga, he offers, "Yoga needs to keep growing, with new and interesting concepts to attract more people. So many people are turning to yoga as full-time careers, so if we expect it to grow, we need to be more accepting of other styles."

While Province owner/chef Randy Zweiban won't be participating in the actual yoga class, he will be front and center during the second half when the food is the star.

"Since this is following a yoga class, I'm not going to stuff people," says Zweiban. "We're doing five small courses, appetizers and a blood orange cocktail.

"I really like this concept because the smaller the bites, the more challenge I have to bring big flavors into the mix."

Some of the items he's whipping up include beef tenderloin and a spicy Hawaiian tuna with citrus flavors. Class is $95; reservations required as the room only holds 12; bring your mat!

If that price is a bit steep, Romanelli's also doing a number of wine+chocolate+yoga workshops at Total Body Yoga in Mundelein. March 5-7. $40 per class.