Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Fat Cat leads Nightlife Poll

312 Dining Diva's poll to pick the best new night spot to open in '07 is off to a great start, with Uptown's retro martini lounge Fat Cat (4840 N. Broadway St., 773-506-3100) holding on to a strong lead.

Agree? Disagree? Cast your vote now at the bottom of the page.

Webster's Wine Bar still open, Bluebird is next big thing

If you've driven past pioneering wine bar Webster's (1480 W. Webster Ave.) recently, you probably noticed a lot of construction going on over there. Have no fear, says owner Tom MacDonald, adding that they're just updating the interior to compete with the newer bars out there.

Tickets are also still available for tonight's annual Champagne tasting at Webster's, where guests may walk around sampling more than 30 Champagnes and sparkling wines for $50. Starts at 7:30pm.

And speaking of new, I talked a group of friends last night into going to MacDonald's brand-new wine-and-beer-focused lounge Bluebird Bistro & Winebar (1749 N. Damen Ave., 773-486-2473), which is only about five minutes away. It was actually refreshing not to see a bunch of familiar beer and wine brands on the menu, as Bluebird specializes in offbeat libations. Those really looking for something offbeat can indulge in the 12 or so bio-dynamic wines by the bottle only. I didn't really eat, but my friends noshed down on the fiery chicken wings (accompanied by grilled citrus fruit) and what appeared to be the most popular flatbread that night, the one with tomato, basil and pine nuts with calabrese salami, arugula and fresh mozzarella. Mmmmmmmm. Wish I hadn't eaten so much earlier.

Also, try to get here during the week because the weekends are complete madness.

Are you cool enough to get in?!

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One of the Tuaca Body Art Ball performers

If you're in tight with one of our fabulous local bartenders or servers who's been invited to the Tuaca Body Art Ball, then you might just be lucky enough to get into this exclusive party happening Sunday, Dec. 9 at the Park West (322 W. Armitage Ave.).

The Body Art Ball is an invite-only, private event hosted for the hundreds of area bartenders and servers who have helped to make Chicago one of Tuaca’s top markets. I've never heard of it, but Tuaca is apparently a super-premium, brandy-based Italian liqueur. The brandy is fused with ripe citrus fruit flavors, and sweet aromatics, most notably light vanilla. Want to get an invite? You’ll have to buddy up to your bartender to get into this hot show that includes performers painted in body art, cocktails by Tuaca and plenty to eat.

Doors open at 8pm; show starts at 9:10pm sharp.

'Survivor' star on a roll with RA Sushi

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Mookie Lee and his winning RAVU Roll, which is on the menus at all RA Sushi locations through December.

Remember a few weeks ago when all those former reality show contestants had to come up with creative sushi rolls for a RA Sushi contest?

Mookie Lee—who was on "Survivor Fiji"—won for his RAVU Roll, which was named after his tribe on the Emmy award-winning show. The RAVU Roll is made of tuna, spicy salmon, unagi, scallion, avocado and cucumber, topped with tempura bits and drizzled with eel sauce and wasabi mayo. If this sounds yummy to you, it's $10 until the end of the month at all RA Sushi locations, including the one at 1139 N. State St., 312-274-0011.

And finally, $3 from the sale of every RAVU roll goes to ACTIVE Chicago, Lee's group that provides underprivileged children the opportunity to participate in organized athletics and programs within the Chicagoland community.

Silver Room expands (sort of)

Eric Williams' hip accessories boutique Silver Room (1442 N. Milwaukee Ave., 773-278-7130) has been a Wicker Park staple for a number of years, and also served as sort of a hipster hangout for deejays and other nightlife industry types.

So like in the early 2000s, he opened Square One, a stylish cafeteria offering inexpensive comfort food, down the street from the boutique. Alas, it didn't last that long, but he's decided to have another go at it with a low-key juice bar tucked inside Silver Room.

Longtime owners of the South Side's venerable Soul Vegetarian (203 E. 75th St., 773-224-0104) have been working on the space for a few months, and plan to offer smoothies, teas, juices and some light vegetarian bites when it opens later this month.

Deal of the day . . .

Two noteworthy events demand your attention—especially if you're totes looking for unique holiday gifts:

The How's Your Drink: Cocktails, Culture and the Art of Drinking Well booksigning party happens tonight at Le Passage/The Drawing Room (937 N. Rush St., 312-255-0022), with an appearance by author Eric Felten, whose Wall Street Journal column covers the craze over cocktails. You'll find 50 extensively researched (yeah, I bet!) and time-tested recipes that's certain to thrill the cocktail connoisseur. Event happens tonight 5-7pm with drinks featured from the book at a special price.

And tomorrow get to the 900 Shops (900 N. Michigan Ave.) for the mall's annual holiday party featuring all sorts of deals from many of the boutiques and specialty shops. You'll also get complimentary cocktails and tasty lil' bites from Frankie's Fifth Floor Pizzeria, King Cafe, Blue Water Grill, Rockit Bar & Grill, The Drawing Room, Lux Bar and American Dog. It occurs 5:30-8:30pm, so RSVP to by this evening (Dec. 5).