Thursday, June 30, 2011

Star Spangled Sippers For Your Holiday Soirée

Kingford's Louisiana Sangria (Photo: John Lee)

Looking for something unique to serve your guests this holiday season? 312DD caught up with some of the city's most talented mixologists for cool cocktail recipes for your backyard bash.

And if you're a guest, you don't want to show up empty handed. Here are some recommendations for awesome boozy gifts for the host or hostess.

Have a happy and safe holiday weekend!

Gene & Georgetti Anniversary Dinner Is $15.25!


The legendary steak resto Gene & Georgetti celebrates 70 years in July, and they're doing it up big.


They're marking the milestone with three nights of what they're calling "throwback" dinners, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting Common Threads, Standing Tall and St. Vincent de Paul Center.

That's so cool of them, but what's even sweeter is that these throwback dinners are four-course, prix-fixe menus that will only cost you $15.25 per person. Woot?! And it gets better. Your meal includes two cocktails. We're talking classic sippers like Manhattans, Old Fashioneds and Rob Roys. Double Woot?!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Segal Celebrates Engagement With New Desserts

Hot Chocolate's Mindy Segal. (Photo: Mindy Segal)

Hot Chocolate Pastry Goddess Mindy Segal got engaged a couple of months ago.

How excited do you think she is?!

Well, she was so excited that she decided to share her jubilation with diners by adding a special dessert section to the menu:

July Is National Ice Cream Month!


June and its iffy weather was kinda meh, so we're very much looking forward to July, which is generally known as the best month of the year.

It also happens to be National Ice Cream Month, and boy are we gonna celebrate!

Café 676: The resto in the Gold Coast's Omni Hotel has totally revamped for the season, adding more local produce and ingredients. That's particularly awesome for ice cream lovers, as Executive Chef Daven Wardinski treks to his honey hive in La Fox, Ill., to collect raw honey from free-range bees. That's used to sweeten several menu items, including the signature 676 Honey Ice Cream.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

312DD's Top 5 Picks at Taste!

This little festival-goer takes on Manny's infamous BBQ turkey leg at Taste of Chicago. (Photo via Chicago Sun-Times)

Going to the Taste?!

Before heading over there to navigate the 59 booths serving up more than 350 dishes, make sure you check out 312DD's Top 5 picks on The U's You & Me This Morning.

From the best "oldie but goodie" to best "food on a stick," I've got you covered.

Good Luck and Happy Eatin'!

Another Way To Check Out McCartney!


If you miss out on getting concert tickets to see Sir Paul McCartney at Wrigley Field July 31-August 1, we found an alternative.

The Lakeview Baseball Club, across from the Field, is throwing a rooftop bash that's almost as good as the real deal. You won't, however, be able to see the show, but you'll definitely hear it.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Free Pinkberry For Ev'rybody!

(Photo: Pinkberry)

Here's a freebie alert, so I'm giving you one full week in advance so you can plan accordingly:

Pinkberry's officially opening July 8, but they're doing a preview event 5-9pm July 7 so you can get free froyo.

This'll be the company's first store in Illinois, and by the response I get from folks every time I mention it, people are very excited!

Don't be surprised if that line starts forming around noon next week . . .

Hidden Whistler Backyard Bar is a Hit . . .

The Backyard Bar at The Whistler (Photo: The Whistler)

So, my boy over at Urban Daddy Chicago gave us the scoop on The Whistler's brand-new "backyard bar," which opened over the weekend.

It should come as no surprise that it was a hit. UD calls it "a new tiki-tinged garden of alfresco mixology," and head bartender Paul McGee's hooking guests up with three summertime swizzles, including made-to-order Martiniques (rhum agricole, lime juice, cane sugar, absinthe, bitters, magnificent quantities of mint) for $8. König Pilsener and Bells Oberon ($5 each) are also served.

Tippling Bros. Bring 'Kegged' Cocktails To Tavernita

Tad Carducci and Paul Tanguay of the Tippling Bros. (Photo: Mercadito Hospitality)

Tavernita was supposed to open this summer, but now the innovative, Spanish- and Latin-focused restaurant project from the Mercadito team is set to open in September.

We were already excited about this latest dining option in River North, but now that we have more info on the bar program, we're counting down the days until it opens.

The award-winning beverage consultants Tad Carducci and Paul Tanguay of the Tippling Bros. are behind everything booze, which means that it's certain to be over the top.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

312DD Gets 'Honorable Mention' in Chicago Reader 'Best Food Blog' Poll!


This came as a total surprise!

312DD snagged an honorable mention in the Chicago Reader Best Food Blog poll.

We lost to Eater Chicago, which is cool, because under editor Ari Bendersky's leadership, they've been doing a damn fine job. Congrats, Eater and Ari!

Props also go out to our pals at (even though some of those cats on their message boards cannot stand 312DD, but I don't give a *$(*&^%$#@#$%^!!!) as well as Sky Full of Bacon, who also got honorable mentions!

Bubbly's on Eater Chicago this weekend, y'all!

Chicago Mag's Beer Release at Map Room

Keg photo via


It looks like every industry insider in the city's going to The Gage Monday for the first-ever, pop-up, underground party.

And since the guest list is full, I took the initiative to scout out yet another bangin' bash for you to check out if you miss out.

Boogie Down Brunches Include Bottle Service

Mercadito's "Disco Brunch" includes your very own Bloody Mary bottle service. (Photo: Mercadito Chicago)

Every now and then you need a jolt to the regular routine—and we're not talking about an extra cup of coffee.

We're talking about brunch. Some folks get a thrill out of waiting in line for an hour or two at the latest brunch joint. Others drool over the prospect of pancakes stacked high and drowned in sauces and syrup. But right now, especially during the warm months, we're all about the "disco brunch" concept, which is pretty popular in Miami and New York.

They're lively, with party atmospheres, so if you've got a rowdy group of friends or family who'd get the stink eye at more civilized brunches at the Four Seasons or even Wishbone, these might be your best bet.

Mercadito, in fact, encourages loud, rowdy groups because they're easily drowned out by the deejay spinning contemporary and old-school tunes.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Paris Club’s Sexy New Rooftop Lounge

Paris Club rooftop photo courtesy of Urban Daddy Chicago/Francis Son

Our friends over at Urban Daddy Chicago give us a first look at Paris Club's Studio Paris, the rooftop lounge opening tonight:

"Find the stairs behind the first-floor DJ booth, and climb them to enter what amounts to your average artists’ garret: studio lights, a retractable glass roof, potted palms, walls made of grass, roving in-house paparazzi, a DJ and buckets of champagne everywhere—everything you require to get into your creative head space."

And speaking of UD, the editors are up to no good Thursday night with a whiskey-drinking party down the street from Paris Club at Hubbard Inn.

Whoa. Watch What You Tweet!

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

Meatyballs Mobile's Phillip Foss finally opens up about why he really got fired last year as exec chef at Lockwood.

Thank goodness his career didn't go up in smoke!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Celebrate Summer with Hot New Alfresco Spots

The spacious outdoor patio at South Branch in the Loop. (Photo: South Branch)

Today is the first official day of summer, which means it is time to get outside to drink and dine—if you haven't already indulged.

If you're at a loss, check out some of my picks for best new spots of 2011 at, including the Gold Coast's Cantina 46, Ukrainian Village's Roots Handmade Pizza and the Loop's South Branch.

Monday, June 20, 2011

'Food Lovers' Guide To Chicago' Debuts

(Photo: Globe Pequot Press)

Here's yet another dining guide for those of you who cannot get enough of what's going on with Chicago's ever-expanding scene.

Penned by seasoned journalist Jennifer Olvera, Food Lovers' Guide to Chicago checks into more than 800 restaurants, farmers' markets, food festivals, specialty food stores, watering holes and more, giving you an insider's view.

Quay Opens in Former De La Costa Space

Quay Restaurant & Bar is set to open in the space formerly occupied by De La Costa in mid-July. (Photo: De La Costa)

Last summer, I got word from an Ultimate Insider about a new project going into the old De La Costa space.

Now it's finally happening as Quay Restaurant & Bar is set to open in the long-abandoned venue in July.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Blind Item Guessing Game!


So this is pretty shocking news . . .

An Ultimate Insider tells 312DD that a popular Asian-inspired restaurant in the West Loop will close in about a month.

Apparently it has nothing to do with finances—because the spot is packed daily—but some legal issues have come to a head. But you know what?! Every project eventually runs its course anyway, and the partners are already working on the next chapter, which is supposed to be hot.

Stay tuned . . .

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Paella on Parade . . .


This sounds like one hell of a yummy time!

Chicagoist has the scoop on El Coto de Rioja's Paella Parade, as a number of local restos go head to head in a friendly competition to determine who makes the Spanish dish best. Latin- and Spanish-inspired spots like Carnivale, Emilio's Tapas, Province and Socca are set to compete, so you know this will be a good time.

Checking Out Mixologist's 'Bar Aid Project'

Logan Lavachek of Duchamp Chicago. (Photo: Logan Lavachek)

In early May, 312DD introduced you to Logan Lavachek's Bar Aid Project, a cocktail-focused blog tracking her progress recreating 80 classic alcoholic beverages.

And this week, on WCIU-TV's You & Me This Morning, we caught up with Duchamp's ace mixologist to actually make some of the spirited sippers.

Here's the video!

Secret Raphael Saadiq Show at The Gage!

Raphael Saadiq performed a secret supper club show at The Gage Wednesday. (Photo: Columbia)

Man, when I found out R&B/soul singer Raphael Saadiq was going to perform at The Gage Wednesday night, I tried everything I could to get in.

Alas, my contacts didn't come through, but the event sounded absolutely fabulous.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Shhhh. . .Gage's New Monday Party Is 'Semi-Secret'

The Gage's downstairs private dining area. (Photo: The Gage)

Well, now that I let the big ol' cat out of the bag, I might as well give you the rest of the details.

Every last Monday of the month, beginning June 27, The Gage and next-door sister restaurant Henri will throw one helluva party in The Gage's basement private dining room.

Saturday is International Sushi Day!


If you follow me on Twitter @Audarshia, then you know how obsessed I am with @Foodimentary's useful "food of the day" tweets.

I typically keep my postings about the "food of the day" on Twitter only, but this particular day deserves a shoutout on 312DD!

It's International Sushi Day on Saturday, and to celebrate, RA Sushi's giving away its signature Tootsy Maki from 11am to 7pm. It comes with Kani kama crab mix, shrimp and cucumber rolled and topped with crunchy tempura bits and drizzled with sweet eel sauce. To get it, you must "like" RA Sushi on Facebook and print the offer from its page.

That's the only freebie I could find for International Sushi Day, but the occasion also gives me the opportunity to gleefully list some of my fave sushi spots in the city:

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Cool Things To Do On Dad's Big Day . . .

McGee's "Classic Car Brunch" in 2008. (Photo: Freddy Love)

I had a rad dad.

He was the type of guy who'd lock himself in his basement art studio for hours listening to Miles Davis and sipping on scotch as he painted African-inspired artwork or penned radical poetry. He'd design the biggest and best kite on the block and then take my brother and me to the park to test it out. Or he'd sneak off and bring back new pets—much to Mom's chagrin—ranging from baby sharks to hamsters to an exotic talking bird.

Now Dad wasn't the type of guy you'd take to a run-of-the-mill brunch on his special day, so we had to be creative every year or we'd bore him to death. So naturally I always keep that in mind when people ask me where they should take their dads (or significant others, etc.) on Father's Day.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Paul Kahan Gets Knives Past TSA at O'Hare!

Paul Kahan (Photo: Battman Studios)

I'm still in awe of how Blackbird head honcho Paul Kahan got past TSA Monday with a bunch of sharp objects. He tweeted:

"Flew outta O'Hare today. Forgot I had four huge chefs knives in carry on bag. Got patted down for wallet. Knives went through."

I mean, we all know who he is and that he's not a potential threat to anyone on the airline, but the fact that he got FOUR large-ass kitchen knives past security without even a beep is scary, no?!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

GT Fish & Oyster Launches Lunch & More Openings

Gnocchi with Black Squid Ink, Carrot Lobster Broth, Prawns and Fava Beans at GT Fish & Oyster (Photo via Krebs' Foodspotting page)

This is exciting news for those who work in the River North area.

GT Fish & Oyster's lunch program starts Monday. Now you don't have to wait until 4pm to dig into the luscious lobster roll, various seafood pasta dishes and mussels.

Unfortunately for the first week or so, the entire food menu won't be available, but if you're going for a liquid lunch, you'll be able to order all the cocktails.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Sip 'n' Shop with Adam Seger Drinks at Whole Foods

(Photos: Adam Seger)

Well, this makes perfect sense.

Top mixologist Adam Seger's hella obsessed with using fresh and local ingredients in his cocktails, so he must be like a kid in a candy store at Lincoln Park's biggest Whole Foods Market, where he's in charge of designing their new alcoholic beverage program.

In addition to having access to all the produce in the store, he'll also use spirits from local distilleries like North Shore Gin No. 6, Koval Rye Chicago, hum Botanical Spirit, Koval Chrysanthemum-Honey Liqueur, Death's Door Organic Vodka and Templeton Rye.

The new menu launches this weekend, so if you're there shopping, you should check it out. There's nothing like stumbling through the grocery store with a cart in one hand and cocktail in the other.

Here's the list created by Seger and hum Ambassador and Advanced Mixologist Jenny Kessler:

Sola Goes All Out To Help Employee in Need

Sola's Carol Wallack with Jason Skorup. (Photo: sola)

Jason Skorup—a friendly, yet towering presence known for charming guests at sola—has fallen on hard times due to an illness that's left him with mounting medical bills.

And while he's moved back to his native San Diego, his colleagues at the delightful North Center restaurant have not forgotten about him. Owner/chef Carol Wallack has come up with two ways to help him by creating a cocktail in Skorup's honor as well as a fundraiser.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Perennial Virant Brunch Debuts This Weekend . . .

Perennial Virant Pastry Chef Kady Yon makes sticky buns for new brunch menu. (Photo: Kevin Boehm)

Kevin Boehm, co-owner of Boka Restaurant Group's Perennial Virant, went a little nuts on Twitter Wednesday, as he tweeted a bunch of photos of dishes to expect on the new brunch menu.

Some of the highlights we're looking forward to:

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Put An End to 'Flash Mob Muggings' NOW


These so-called "flash mob muggings" that have happened in the Loop and Near North Side in recent days have everyone on edge because of their violent nature and sophisticated misuse of social media.

And with the attacks happening in prominent areas frequented by tourists, diners and clubgoers (most of whom are carrying/wearing valuables), any one of us can easily become a victim.

These cowards are descending upon their victims in groups of 15 or 20, beating and robbing them. And while I'm certain the Chicago Police Department is on the case, and is doing everything they can at the moment, we must also be proactive so that we do not also become victims.

Chef Chides Resto Over Bad Service

Ryan Poli of Tavernita.

What happens in this day and age when a chef has a bad experience at another restaurant?! He blogs about it, of course.

Such was especially the case when Tavernita's Ryan Poli (who's also set to compete this summer on Bravo's Rocco's Dinner Party) took to his tumblr to express his thoughts on a not-so positive experience at dinner Monday:

Lawry's New Evening Concept Goes Casual

Pastrami Panini with Horseradish Havarti & Sauerkraut (Photo: Lawry's The Prime Rib)

You know Lawry's best as that spot you go to for business dinners and family gatherings. It's had that rap for a long time (37 years to be exact), but now the iconic prime rib restaurant is working on loosening up its image.

They're hoping to do so with the launch of the Evening Ale & Sandwich Bar, which happens daily (Saturday at 4:30pm; Sunday at 3:30pm) with a casual menu of sandwiches, bar snacks, appetizers, charcuterie and local cheeses. They've also expanded the beverage menu to include cocktails, local beers and even the Lawry's Signature Brown Gown Ale on tap.

Lolla 'Chow Town' Headed By Graham Elliot Again

(Photo: Graham Elliot)

Eater Chicago got the scoop on restaurants serving up at Lollapalooza's Chow Town, and of course the list is tight.

Graham Elliot returns as the popular music fest's culinary ambassador, and he's bringing along even more of his culinary pals along for the ride.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Two Hot Chef Charity Events To Hit . . .

(Photo via San Francisco Examiner)

Think of it as Make-A-Wish for foodies.

Prominent Chicago chefs Rodelio Aglibot (formerly of Sunda and BLT Restaurant Group) and Todd Stein (Florentine) have gathered some of their chef friends to create In Chef's Hands.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Moe's Cantina Showcases 'MasterChef' Season

Joe Bastianich (left), Gordon Ramsay and Chicago chef Graham Elliot are judges on FOX cooking competition show, "MasterChef." (Photo: FOX)

The hit FOX amateur chef reality competition MasterChef returns June 6 with Chicago's own Graham Elliot of the eponymous upscale River North eatery (as well as his namesake sandwich shop).

Apparently, there are some Chicago contestants on the second season, so Moe's Cantina in River North is getting in on the action with viewing parties every week through the end of the season.

Pinkberry Is Coming To Chicago!


This just in from Eater Chicago:

"Making its foray into the Midwest, Pinkberry, one of the country's largest frozen yogurt operations, will open shop in Chicago this summer . ... Pinkberry will take over the former 1,200 square foot Berry Chill flagship location; it, however, will get a complete overhaul making everything unique to Pinkberry. ... Apparently the signage is going up this afternoon, so expect some drool to start appearing on the window this weekend."


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Most Delicious Story of the Day!


I can barely contain my excitement over this new story from Time Out Chicago.

Apparently, they've created a bike tour where they scope out the best doughnuts in the city.

Of course, Dinkel's is on the list, but where is Doughnut Vault, which they recently reviewed and awarded five out of five stars?!

Oh well. You know where it is!