Friday, November 9, 2007

The Friday night special

If you don't know Eric from Wicker Park's Silver Room--the purveyor of cool--then you're missing out.

If you get a chance, check out his stylish jewelry/accessories boutique in the 'hood (1442 N. Milwaukee Ave., 773-278-7130), but he's also known for putting his stamp on urban hipster nightlife.

Tonight, he's launching a Friday night party, "Show & Tell," at 343 S. Dearborn St. With DJ Duane Powell, he's spinning a tantalizing blend of nu jazz, soul, rock and whatever. 10pm-2am. $5. Be there, or your ass is square.

What the critics are saying . . .

. . . about:

The Bluebird (1749 N. Damen Ave., 773-486-2473): "Want some bacon with your porchetta? On the menu at the Bluebird, a late-night lounge/wine bar/gastropub from the owners of Webster’s Wine Bar, it’s hard to find anything not spiked with smoked pig."--Martha Bayne, Chicago Reader

Brasserie Ruhlmann (500 W. Superior St., 312-494-1900): "The steak au poivre was impossibly tender, and the flavors—the bite of the pepper crust, the richness of the sauce—expertly balanced. And while there is no lamb chop on the menu per se, there’s a luscious lamb stew, the morsels of lamb almost as soft as the cheese soufflĂ© we had greedily ordered to eat alongside it."--David Tamarkin, Time Out Chicago

Brunch: "Ruby here. The other day, a friend asked what my favorite weekend brunch spot was, and I realized: I hate brunch. The whole tradition that we follow like robots: rising early on Sunday, packing into a crowded entryway, vestibule, or sidewalk, to wait for a table where an overextended server will bring me an omelet I could’ve made myself? This isn’t dining. It’s compulsory eating, and I want my time and calories back. What is the allure here? Is it the ritual? The camaraderie? The hangover? Nothing against restaurants that provide brunch—nor those that do their best to add a little flair to it, like Orange, M. Henry, and Toast—but I’ll sleep in. And I’ll make my own French toast, thanks." --Jeff Ruby, Chicago Magazine

Old Town Brasserie (1209 N. Wells St., 312-943-3000): "Finesse? I'll say. (Roland) Liccioni knows how to fashion sauces the way Armani does clothes. Sauce merguez. Sauce Perigueux, sauce champignon ... this attention to the food-sauce connection takes years to hone, and Liccioni has never been sharper. If you never got to try his food at Les Nomades or Le Francais, this is your chance, and at easy-to-digest prices." -- Pat Bruno, Chicago Sun-Times

Paramount Room (415 N. Milwaukee Ave., 312-829-6300): "Congratulate yourself for being a member of the cognoscenti for finding this hidden boite on Milwaukee Avenue in the shadow of the Blommer Chocolate Co. factory. Chef/co-owner Stephen Dunne (Roscoe Village's Volo) and partner Jon Young (Kitsch'n) have successfully created a solid destination for upscale bar snacking, late-night dining and any-hour grazing that's not too far from the Loop." --Alison Neumer Lara, Crain's Chicago Business

A healthy approach to the holidays

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John Abels, manager of education & culinary programs and National Restaurant Association Show chef

If you're hosting a holiday party this season, why not get some tips from the experts on how to do it right?

John Abels, manager of education & culinary programs and National Restaurant Association Show chef, and Renee Zonka, associate dean of the culinary arts program and registered dietician for Kendall College, lead a special holiday cooking class for the CCFA Illinois Chapter Young Professionals Group. And they'll demonstrate with healthy, yet yummy recipes so you can impress your guests.

The event takes place on Thursday, Dec. 6, 7-9pm, at Kendall College (900 N. North Branch St.). Tickets are $20 and includes food and drink. Interested? Get tickets soon because this thing will sell out. Call 800-886-6664 for more info.

Japanese pizza?

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Do something completely out of your comfort zone tonight and indulge in Executive Chef Ozzie's Okonomyaki, or authentic Japanese pizza. Served every Thursday and Friday at University Village's Japonica (1422 W. Taylor St., 312-421-3288), the delicacy is made with eggs, leeks, onions, carrots, bell peppers, mushrooms, seaweed, shrimp and chicken on a vegetable-infused, fried flour dough pie-base.

Oh, and it's BYOB, so bring on those sweet sakes or a bottle of bubbly.

Pinot Days are here . . .

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Wine lovers should head to Navy Pier this weekend for the kickoff for the touring Pinot Days. It occurs at the Lakeview Terrace, Saturday, Nov. 10 1-4pm. This will be Chicago's largest single gathering of pinot producers ever. For $50, you'll sample more than 150 pinots from every important region in California, Oregon, New Zealand and Burgundy, and meet the winemakers who create them. You even get to take the Bormioli Burgundy crystal glass when you leave. Also, sample a variety of artisan cheeses and other specialty foods. For more information, contact 415-408-3360.