Thursday, November 15, 2007

Exclusive: Ready for Rebar?

While the world is waiting with baited breath for the opening of Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago, I'm waiting for their red-hot lounge, Rebar (401 N. Wabash Ave., 312-924-7600), to open.

It's scheduled to debut this winter on the property's second level, and expect the ultimate backdrop: floor-to-ceiling windows throughout, views of the Chicago River and the city skyline punctuating the lounge’s contemporary d├ęcor.

Rebar's also introducing an extensive mixology program with emphasis on the use of fresh juices and mixers. And the wine list is heavy on Champagne and sparkling wine, and aims to complement the shareable menu created by Executive Chef Frank Brunacci.

Just some of Brunacci's dishes include the salmon, caviar, cucumber sweets and lemon crystals; scallop mi cuit with black truffle and potato sauce; and the Kobe carpaccio with parmesan and parsley mousse.

Rebar, a shortened term for “reinforced bar,” is a steel rod used in support of concrete buildings. There are more than tens of thousands of tons of rebar utilized in the construction of the Trump hotel. So, that's where the name comes from.

Chef Julius brings out his wild side

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We've always known that chefs can be a little crazy, but this one is actually embracing his um, creative side. Chef Julius--whose alter ego is Chef Tiki--is skilled in the very detailed techniques of French and Spanish fare. But he's known around the country for bringing on his wild side as Chef Tiki through his interpretations of Cajun/Creole, Caribbean and Latin fare.

You'll be able to catch Chef Julius as he showcases his catering company, A Tale of Two Chefs, at the Urban Livin' Harvest at Home Show at the South Shore Culture Center (7059 S. South Shore Drive) on Nov. 17 11:30am-8:30pm. He'll be doing demonstrations all day, plus giving out gift certificates, samples and recipe cards. Bet he'll give Emeril Lagasse a run for his money. Admission is free.

These guys want to upgrade your nightlife

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The principals behind Table4Ten

With all the people complaining about first class not being what it used to be, these guys should come in handy.

Table4Ten, a Chicago-based premier concierge and VIP hosting company, aims to bring back high stylin' and big ballin' in a way we've never seen before. Owners Justin Brown, Morris Gershengorin and Imran Hussain believe they've discovered the missing link for those looking for an “insider” experience while traveling to foreign locales or looking for entertainment in their resident cities. From elite bottle service and dining reservations to booking private jet travel to providing security, clients are offered a top of the line experience based on their individual needs and desires for luxurious treatment in their daily lives and or travel.

Tonight at Enclave (220 W. Chicago Ave.), they're debuting with an
over-the-top party with a jet set theme. As guests enter the venue, Lamborghini and Bentley cars will line the red carpet to give guests a sneak peak of what’s inside. Waitresses will be morphed into flight attendants, while doorman and bartenders will be pilots for the evening. The party takes off from 8:30pm-2am, and prompt guests will be able to enjoy complimentary Level Vodka cocktails from 9-11pm.

Wanna be in the mix? Guests must RSVP to

Beaujolais is back

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Pops For Champagne celebrates Beaujolais Nouveau Day tonight.

It's really not as pretentious as it sounds: a bunch of onephiles standing around waiting for the once-a-year release of a nouveau wine. Oh, well maybe it does.

Regardless, Beaujolais Nouveau Day is kind of a big deal as the wine is traditionally released for sale worldwide on the third Thursday of November each year. Beaujolais nouveau is a red wine made from Gamay grapes produced in the Beaujolais region of France. It's the most popular vin de primeur, fermented for just a few weeks then officially released for sale on the third Thursday of November. The wine is generally dominated by fruity, ester flavors of bananas and pear drops.

To celebrate its arrival, Pops For Champagne (601 N. State St., 312-266-7677) is offering Joseph Drouhin 2007 for $6 a glass and $30 a bottle all day Thursday, Friday and Saturday (Nov. 15-17).

Sepia bartender wins big

Big congrats go out to Peter Vestinos, Sepia’s bartender extraordinaire who just won the “Chicago Iron Bartender Competition,” hosted by the US Bartenders Guild, Sante magazine and Absolut spirits. He beat out some tough competition (from mixologists from Martini Park, MK, Nacional 27, Otom) with this winning recipe that you can recreate at home:

The Ramble on Cocktail

1 oz puree of blackberries, blueberries, strawberries sweetened with 1/2 oz agave nectar
2 oz Plymouth Gin
1/2 oz Campari
1/2 oz fresh lime juice

Shake and strain into rocks glass, garnish with mixed fresh berries.

The seasonal cocktail is not available at Sepia (123 N Jefferson St., 312-441-1920) right now, but Peter assures us that it'll return real soon. In the meantime, he'll be happy to make your a specialty cocktail from the restaurant's extensive list.

Glamorous steakhouse now open for lunch

Everyone's talking about the expensive prices at Brasserie Ruhlmann (500 W. Superior St., 312-494-1900), the glamorous new French-flavored steakhouse opened by the team behind Japonais across the street.

So if you're one of those folks, you'll be happy to know that they just launched their lunch program yesterday. "It wasn't busy," admitted co-owner Miae Liam about their first day, "but the food is amazing."

I guess that's a good thing that they weren't busy on their first day so they can get all the kinks out before the crazy holiday season kicks off. Nevertheless, I peeped the new menu, and even though the prices aren't for the average Joe, I'm sure you'll find it a little less daunting.

Salads range from $8-$14, with the specialty Ruhlmann Chopped Salad (with chicken, ham, peas, endive, swiss cheese and chopped Bibb lettuce in a basalmic reduction) sounding yummy as hell. Sandwiches were reasonable as well, but you get just a little extra special something with the $19 Le Burger Ruhlmann prepared with Black Angus ground sirloin, braised beef and caramelized shallots.

Even the main courses are reasonable for a spot like this for lunch: Ranging from $21 to $42, the Hanger steak Delouvrier is only $26.

This isn't your run-of-the mill lunch destination, but if you're looking to treat yourself . . .

Deal of the day . . .

SoPo (3418 N. Southport Ave., 773-348-0100) is one of those tight little neighborhood lounges where you can actually have a civilized conversation without screaming over the table to your companions. The music serves as the perfect background accompaniment--except on the weekends when deejays come out to spin the usual hip-hip and contemporary rock mixes.

Anyway, if you're up in the Wrigleyville area tonight, start your night off here for the Thursday special of $3 martinis and $2 Amstel Light draught. You won't find a deal like that anywhere in the Gold Coast.