Thursday, July 25, 2013

So Very, Very Hot Right Now.

Drop biscuit sandwich at Three Aces (Photo: Three Aces)

Thank goodness for restaurants that serve late brunch. If it weren't for them, I'd never get to indulge in fluffy, buttery biscuits, blueberry pancakes or bottomless Mimosas—unless I made them myself.

OK, so I'm being a little over-dramatic, but you get the point.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

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

Charles Joly with Sumi Robata Bar owner Jessica Kato at his launch party for Crafthouse on Tuesday. (Photo: Jessica Kato)

It's been a big year for Charles Joly, the beverage director at the award-winning The Aviary.

Earlier this year, the ground-breaking West Loop lounge won a James Beard Award for Outstanding Bar Program. Last weekend, Joly was named Best American Bartender of the Year at Tales of the Cocktail—the international bartenders' convention held annually in New Orleans.

And this week marks the official launch of Crafthouse, an impressive line of bottled cocktails he collaborated with Matt Lindner of The Drawing Room. A private industry event Tuesday evening introduced three classic cocktails (Moscow Mule, Paloma and South Side), which will be sold at select retailers soon.

Congrats to Joly on all his success!

Monday, July 22, 2013

West Town Tavern Has Shuttered

Girl Food Dinner at West Town Tavern in 2012 (Photo: West Town Tavern)

I don't like writing these stories and I especially don't like it when it's one of my favorites.

West Town Tavern celebrated 10 years in business in 2012, but Monday owners Susan and Drew Goss announced that they were closing, effective immediately:

Thursday, July 18, 2013

So Very, Very Hot Right Now.

Allium's Bananas Foster milkshake (Photo: Allium/Four Seasons Chicago)

Yeah, it's hot all right, and three of Chicago's most luxurious hotel properties fight it out (unintentionally?!) to decide which one offers the best gourmet frozen treats on National Ice Cream Day.

That gloriously decadent day occurs Sunday, July 21, and the executive pastry chefs from the Four Seasons' Allium, Ritz-Carlton's dec Rooftop Lounge + Bar and Park Hyatt's NoMI Kitchen are going all out. (July is also National Ice Cream Month).

NoMI, for example, transforms its lounge into Soft Serve Sundae School, and Meg Galus has created an assortment of toppings (cookie crumble, lemon curd, graham streusel, peanut butter fudge chunks, etc.). Each sundae is $10, and the event takes place noon to 8pm Sunday.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

UPDATE: Baume & Brix Closing

(Photo: Baume & Brix)

Baume & Brix's last day is indeed Saturday, co-owner Steve Tavoso told 312DD Wednesday, but he insisted that it is not transforming into a steakhouse called The Grid House.

He added that the name and concept have not been finalized, and he plans to have that all in order by next week.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Baume & Brix Closes Saturday

(Photo: Baume & Brix)

Eater Chicago broke the news Monday that Baume & Brix co-executive chef Ben Roche jumped ship, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that it's closing.

An Ultimate Insider dropped a dime about the progressive restaurant's fate late Tuesday afternoon to 312DD:

Bryce Caron Now At Carriage House & Working On Hot New 'Secret' Project

Bryce Caron via

When Bryce Caron was at Blackbird in 2012, he was named Food & Wine's first-ever Best Pastry Chef in the Midwest.

One year later after a little drama (including his dismissal at Blackbird), and he's pretty much abandoned the pastry category, but he says that he was his plan all along.

The talented chef's now working in Carriage House's kitchen, though he declined to tell 312DD his exact role. He's been there since February and maintains a low-key presence.

But not for long . . .

Monday, July 15, 2013

Doughnut Vault Truck Rolling Out Soon


Will those long lines finally be a thing of the past now that Doughnut Vault's rolling out a food truck?!

Time will only tell, but one thing's for certain: You'll finally be able to get those sugary sweets after 10:30am (They're usually sold out by then). There's no set date on when the truck will debut—with doughnuts in flavors such as triple chocolate, lemon poppy seed and pistachio—but look for it on the streets within a week or so.

Friday, July 12, 2013

So Very, Very Hot Right Now.

Old 1871 Oysters (Photos: Bill Werme)

Rumor has it that firefighters were feasting on Virginia-based oysters and beer the day of the infamous Chicago Fire back in 1871. While that makes for a great story, there's no one still around from those days to dispute it, so we'll run with it. Hey, it sounds pretty good!

The Chicago-based Fortune Fish Company's also a big fan of those Virginia oysters—which are plump and feed on fresh water currents loaded with sweet plankton in isolated barrier islands.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

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

Frontera Grill's Rick Bayless. (Photo: Frontera Grill)

Nothing's hotter than July in Chicago.

Rick Bayless (Frontera Grill, etc.) is apparently zeroing in on the West Loop dining scene, according to Chicago Real Estate Daily:

"Celebrity chef Rick Bayless plans to open a restaurant in the West Loop, joining a frenzy of operators hoping to set up shop in and near the fast-gentrifying neighborhood.

"Mr. Bayless is negotiating to lease space at 900 W. Randolph St., sources said. It's likely Mr. Bayless would offer Mexican food, his culinary forte, at the establishment, his first major project here since 2009."

Right now, he's not going on the record about any of this, but we'll certainly be on the lookout to see what materializes.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Cool Off With Frosty Treats During National Ice Cream Month


The heat's on and you need to cool off.

If you're not down with the rolling street carts and old-school ice cream trucks, here are some gourmet options you will love:

Black Dog Gelato: You've gotta get there early for the famed whiskey gelato bar, which sells out as soon as doors open. But if you miss out, no worries. Gelato flavors in Mexican hot chocolate, goat cheese-cashew caramel and sesame fig chocolate chip are certain to put a smile on your face.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Hit Chicago's Sweetest Spots

(Photo: Black Dog Gelato)

Have you heard?

There's a Cronut craze sweeping the nation. And while it's the dessert of the moment, we'd rather concentrate on some sweets that have been around for awhile.

But these are not your grandmothers' bakeries. Instead, we focus on chef-driven dessert spots that put Chicago dining in a new light.


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Star-Spangled Spots To Sip Suds & Other Libations

Acme Hotel’s glistening new lobby lounge feels a bit old-timey Americana. (Photo: Berkshire Room)

This weekend's a big one as we celebrate our nation's birth. And while you're saluting the flag, our country's founders and war heroes, don't forget to support some great American businesses.

With all the buzz surrounding craft beers, spirits and wines, here’s a chance to check out a number of local bar programs successfully curating superior American products into the mix.