Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Grant Achatz Named 'Chef's Choice' in the World; Meanwhile Alinea Drops Down To #15


The World's 50 Best Restaurant Awards happened Monday night in London, and one of Chicago's own served it up pretty large.

Though Alinea fell to #15 in the world (last year it was #7), its super chef, Grant Achatz, received major honors.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Hot Chicago Chefs, Bartenders Raise Charity $$$ For Two Different Events In One Evening

Chefs Paul Kahan (left), Matthias Merges

Two hot events occur Monday, April 29, but the good thing is that they're happening only minutes away from each other. That means you can attend both.

Tavernita's Ryan Poli continues his monthly pintxo party where he invites his colleagues to create and serve their take on the popular Spanish appetizer.

This time around he's gathered Paul Kahan (Blackbird) and Matthias Merges of (Yusho), who will not only create signature snacks but help with the night's playlist as well.

For $25, guests get all the pintxos they can eat as well as a chance to mingle with the three chefs. A portion of the sales from this year's series benefits Pilot Light. The event happens 8-10pm.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

So Very, Very Hot Right Now.

(Photo: Pastoral Artisan Cheese)

It's year three for Pastoral’s Artisan Producer Festival, and this time around they've gathered more than 90 vendors to showcase the best in artisanal cheese, confections, beer, wine and spirits in the West Loop.

The best part about this fest?! It's absolutely free, so if you sample something you particularly love, you can use that extra cash to spend on the goodies.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Lite Bites: What Your Favorite Chefs & Mixologists Are Up To Around Town This Week

Chef David Burke

It's Hump Day.

David Burke's garnered much success with his namesake River North steakhouse that's situated in the James Hotel. But since it's been there for almost 10 years it could use a facelift. We were pretty excited to hear about its current renovations a few months ago, but apparently there is more news, according to Chicago Real Estate Daily. In addition to a new lobby, bar and wine cellar for Primehouse, expect the debut of upscale sandwich shop Burke's Bacon Bar in the summer. That certainly makes me want to squeal, but Burke is apparently working on yet another project near Millennium Park, according to the story. He's planning a farm-to-table restaurant in a 101-year-old building at 168 N. Michigan Ave. that is set to open as a Hotel Indigo next spring. Dishes and ingredients will be locally sourced.

• Happening elsewhere, Michelin-starred chef Shin Thompson has just opened Kabocha in the West Loop. It serves small, medium and large plates with offerings such as duck confit & fennel pot stickers, asari-steamed clams and Japanese sweet potato croquettes. What's certain to be the pièce de résistance is the shellfish "aquarium." Yeah, you read that correctly. Generous portions of seafood such as lobster, oysters, scallops, prawns and king crab arrive to your table in an actual aquarium for $85. Something tells me that will be a BIG hit.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A Lil' Something For My Scotch-Lovin' Fans


City Winery switches it up from the usual vino happenings to a scotch-focused event that's certain to bring out the fans.

They've teamed up with Glenfiddich for a night of single-malt scotch whisky tasting where guests will indulge in 12-, 15- and 18-year spirits. Award-winning pianist Greg Spero should complement this evening of sheer sophistication with live musical selections. He'll debut three new compositions, each a musical description of a different Glenfiddich expression.

'Racist Bartender' Pops Up Again. . .This Time At River North's Castle Nightclub

(Photo: Facebook)

It's been awhile since we checked in on our "favorite" Chicago bartender, Jessica Harr—who infamously spewed racist rants on Facebook that were heard around the world.

Well, apparently she's scored a cushy little job at late-night River North nightclub Castle. I wonder if they were even aware of her reputation?!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Award-Winning Mixologist Josh Pearson Leaves Sepia For Hot New River North Project

Josh Pearson (Photo courtesy of Josh Pearson)

Josh Pearson is one of Chicago's most celebrated bartenders, and after more than four years behind the stick at Sepia, he's ready to move on. This is his last week at the upscale West Loop eatery.

"(It was a) totally amicable split," he told 312DD exclusively over the weekend. "I'm going to a new bar in River North."

In his new role, which officially starts May 1, he'll serve as co-beverage director and head bartender. He wouldn't disclose any additional information, but with a little digging I found out that he'll be working for this planned tri-level lounge that was once home to Swirl Wine Bar.

That Eater Chicago article from 2011 stated that the team behind Bangers & Lace also owns that project. This is apparently not true, according to partner Matt Eisler. The people who own the River North spot are completely different.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

So Very, Very Hot Right Now.

The Lobby at the Peninsula adds ramps to its signature whole roast chicken. (Photo: Peninsula Chicago)

This incredibly gloomy weather needs some brightening up, which is why we're completely obsessed with the arrival of ramps on menus all over town.

At the Lobby at the Peninsula Chicago, for example, Chef de Cuisine Lee Wolen incorporates the seasonal, onion-like ingredient into his signature roast chicken dish that's been a hit on the menu since it debuted last fall. It also comes with juicy morels and marbled potatoes.

Lite Bites: What Your Favorite Chefs & Mixologists Are Up To Around Town This Week

A recent "Discovery Dinner" party at Storefront Company (Photo: Tyler Curtis/Storefront Co.)

When will spring arrive?!

Bryan Moscatello is gearing up for the next Discovery Dinner Series events at Storefront Co. Guests will be savoring Moscatello's seasonal dishes while sipping Double Cross Vodka, Goose Island Beer Co. Vintage Collection and the Italian beers 32 Via Dei Birrai. The events happen through May; call the restaurant for reservations.

Brandon Wolff (La Madia, one sixtyblue, Signature Room) is the new toque at Tre Soldi, the latest project from Jack Weiss (Coco Pazzo). What's certain to be one of the standout dishes on the Roman-style menu is Carciofi alla Giudea, a traditional, double pan-fried artichoke with mint-and-anchovy infused oil. The restaurant is set to open in early June.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Today's Nightlife: Is It About Music or Mixology?!


I'm trying to gauge people's minds on where they stand when going out on the town.

Is it about the music or the mixology?! The mix master or the mixologist? I feel as though the deejay culture—well at least in Chicago—has taken a back seat to Chicago's ever-growing cocktail culture. What used to be carefully curated musical programs at night spots are now focusing on craft beers and booze.

Time Out Chicago Announces 'Eat Out' Winners

Fat Rice photo via Time Out Chicago

This may be Time Out Chicago's last Eat Out Awards—considering the publication laid off 90 percent of its staff last week—so I thought it would be a good idea to give props to this year's winners.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Chris Curren Named Executive Chef within The Fifty/50 Restaurant Group

Chef Chris Curren (Photo: Blue 13)

Well, that was quick.

Just last week, I wrote that Chris Curren had resigned from LGN Group, which owns Stout Barrel House & Galley. Now comes word that he has a new gig as executive chef of The Fifty/50 Restaurant Group (The Fifty/50, Roots Handmade Pizza, West Town Bakery & Diner, etc.).

Phil's Last Stand Owner Makes 'Bigoted' Jokes On Facebook

Hot dogs from Phil's Last Stand (Photo: Phil's Last Stand)

Well, this was weird.

Phil's Last Stand is a popular, late-night burger and hot dog stand in Ukrainian Village. Owner "Fat Phil" is a colorful character, but did he go too far on Facebook when he described an encounter over the weekend with a customer of another ethnic group:

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Reward Yourself With These Tax Day Specials

Tavern on Rush's petite filet Mignon is $15 on April 15 and comes with bacon-cheddar mashed potatoes and spinach. (Photo: Tavern on Rush)

Got your taxes done?!

Great! Now it's time to celebrate with some dining and drinking specials around town:

Brasserie by LM/LM Bistro. Wind down the long, taxing day with $4.15 Kir Royales made with creme de cassis and champagne. If you're expecting to pay out more $$$ this year, you might need a few of these!

Carnivale. Those dining at the Latin fusion restaurant for lunch or dinner on April 15 will get a $15 gift certificate to use on the next visit. It's valid through May 31.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

So Very, Very Hot Right Now

Maple slab bacon at Tavernita brunch (Photo: Tavernita)

With marriage equality a heated issue in the media today, our LGBT friends and family need our support more than ever.

I'm not going to get all preachy, but one chef is giving us the opportunity to celebrate our differences with a brunchy good time this weekend.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Lite Bites: What Your Favorite Chefs & Mixologists Are Up To Around Town This Week

Chef Chris Curren (Photo: Blue 13)

Rain can be such a pain . . .

Chris Curren is no longer executive chef at Stout Barrel House & Galley in River North. He gave no additional information for his departure, stating on Facebook Wednesday for fans to "stay tuned for the next stage of my career in the next few weeks. It's going to be exciting!" I wonder how this announcement will affect LGN Group's upcoming beer-focused restaurant in the West Loop. Curren was charged with handling that project as well.

• If you weren't lucky enough to get tix for the annual WhiskyFest, you've got a chance to win a pair at a Templeton Rye Whiskey dinner on April 11. That happens at Local Chicago with a four-course dinner paired with curated cocktails from mixologist Katie Sauer. Templeton Rye Master Distiller Keith Kerkhoff will also be in attendance. The dinner is $80 and reservations may be made by calling the restaurant. It starts at 6:30pm.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Arami Boasts First-Ever Private Label Sake In City

Ichi No Torii, Arami's own private label sake (Photo: Arami)

With all the beer- and bourbon-focused restaurants teaming up with breweries and distilleries, this makes perfect sense.

West Town sushi spot Arami worked with Tojii Hibino of the Japanese-based Ohmuraya Brewery to produce Ichi No Torii (translates to "The First Gate")—the restaurant's own private label sake.

We'll Be Sippin' On A Saturday At 'Pinot Days'

Photo via Uptown Magazine

Who wouldn't want to spend an entire afternoon sipping some of the best wines in the world?!

Pinot Days returns to Navy Pier 2-5pm April 20 and you don't want to miss out on sampling up to 150 domestic vinos from the likes of the Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast. There will be 60 producers in the house.

Bartenders Aim To Raise $250,000 For 'Just One Shift,' Providing Clean Water Worldwide


I'm a little surprised that so few Chicago bartenders are participating in Just One Shift, a project happening at restaurants and bars nationwide to raise $250,000 so that people everywhere have access to clean water.

The event goes on all this week and three local bartenders have signed up to generously donate their tips. Here's where you will find them:

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Christian Gosselin Is Out As Boarding House Executive Chef

Former Boarding House chef Christian Gosselin

It's been less than four-and-a-half months since The Boarding House opened and there are already some major changes happening.

The most dramatic is that Christian Gosselin is out as executive chef as of April 5.

Boarding House partner Alpana Singh exclusively told 312DD of his departure:

Thursday, April 4, 2013

So Very, Very Hot Right Now

Megan and Don Draper toast to a great "Mad Men" season. (Photo: AMC)

Football fans look forward to Superbowl Sunday. Movie enthusiasts live for Oscar night. And if you're like me—a classic cocktail connoisseur—your night is this Sunday: the return of "Mad Men."

The 1960s-themed show is so great that you wouldn't want any distractions during the two-hour premiere. You don't want to hear anyone talking when Roger Sterling delivers one of his wickedly awesome one-liners.

But there's an event that kicks off at PUBLIC Hotel Sunday that just might tempt me to mingle with other like-minded folks.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Lite Bites: What Your Favorite Chefs & Mixologists Are Up To Around Town This Week

Sprout chef Dale Levitski celebrated his 40th birthday during a surprise party on Monday. (Photo: 312 Dining Diva)

Let's get on with it: Bring on spring.

Dale Levitski (Frog N Snail, Sprout) is experiencing an especially busy season. The former "Top Chef" finalist turns 40 today (April 3), celebrates the first anniversary for Frog N Snail on April 5, and recently transformed the menu over at Sprout. Levitski has been spending much of his time lately at Sprout, where he's turned the menu into a multi-course, prix-fixe experience for $65 per person (an extra $35 with wine pairings). The menu is seasonal with the signature, whimsical accents that originally put Levitski in the spotlight. There's a lot of game on the menu (think foie gras, rabbit, exotic fishes), but also a few inventive preparations with vegetables. And to continue the celebration of his 40th bday—and Frog N Snail's anniversary—Levitski's special event takes place on April 5 where diners get to "choose their own adventure" for $40. They'll get an appetizer, entree, dessert and complimentary glass of bubbly.

David Morton and Michael Kornick (Ada St., DMK Burger Bar, FishBar) are moving fast with their plans for a chef-driven BBQ joint in Little Italy. The name for the project is County and it takes over the space formerly occupied by the iconic Italian eatery Gennaro's. MK Executive Chef Erick Williams will oversee the menu. Look for items such as Texas-style brisket, smoked lamb shanks, veal breasts, Kansas City-style spare ribs and a daily signature cocktail when the restaurant opens later this year.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Sequins, Chefs & Socializing For Good Causes


A few very stylish soirees go down this week, and you'll want to know about them if you consider yourself a fashionable foodie.

Looking to meet some of Chicago's most fabulous movers and shakers?! Head to Cru Kitchen & Bar at 9am April 5 for Sequins For Breakfast. The event is meant to empower women and proceeds benefit Bright Pink. Attendees, of course, are encouraged to wear their best sequins, and nothing is too dressed up. The first 50 guests get a memorable swag bag. Purchase the $35 tickets right here.

While Sequins for Breakfast caters to the well-dressed woman, Common Threads' event at belly Q targets dapper dudes. Fashion Rocks showcases hot spring looks from haberdash with delicious food and libations to satiate. There will be cooking stations from the likes of David Burke's Primehouse, Spiaggia, Carriage House, Frontier and Jam, plus local craft beers, live fashion installations and kegged cocktails. Tickets are $150 and available right here. 6:30-9:30pm April 7.

Quite a few events are happening concerning the ambitious and first-ever Fête: A Weekend-long Festival of Food & Design April 4-7. There's a food-and-design market featuring notable chefs and designers; tours around the city; a one-night only pop-up restaurant featuring food from Pecking Order, Ruxbin and Trenchermen, as well as other events. Proceeds benefit mobile produce market Fresh Moves, and ticket information may be found right here. Times and venues vary.