Wednesday, December 26, 2007

La Strada serves last meal on NYE; two for Chinatown

Writes the Chicago Tribune's Phil Vettel in The Stew:

"After 28 years, La Strada Ristorante (155 N. Michigan Ave., 312-565-2200) is closing its doors. Along with sister property J. Randolph’s Bar & Grill next door, the two restaurants will serve their last meals on Dec. 31. Owner Michael Mormando says he fell victim to re-development; a 40-story residential tower will rise from the space where La Strada now sits, abutting Millennium Park Plaza (aka Doral Plaza).

'My staff and I have been honored to proudly serve the Chicago and worldwide community for the past 28 years,' said Mormando in a statement, 'but the time has come to close our restaurants and make way for a wonderful new residential high rise apartment building development.'

Mormando is negotiating to re-create La Strada in that residential tower when it opens (scheduled for 2010), but nothing is finalized. If you want one more taste of La Strada, head down there soon, or tank up the car: the suburban La Strada (2380 Lakewood Blvd., Hoffman Estates, 847-765-1700) remains open."

And from an LTHForum moderator:

"Just back from a terrific lunch at Lao Sze Chuan (2172 S. Archer Ave., 312-326-5040) with breaking news, Tony Hu is opening two new restaurants, Lao Beijing (2138 S. Archer Ave.) and Lao Shanghai (2163 S. China Pl.). Both are in Chinatown Square, Lao Shanghai will be going in the recently closed KS Seafood and Lao Beijing where Dragon King was. Tony mentioned he was shooting for a January 1 opening for both."

His Airness drops by Table 52

A little-known secret for getting into Table 52 is to try to get a seat at the bar. There's no reservations at the bar, and it's first come, first served.

So, a couple of my friends managed to snag a damn-near-impossible-to-get table at Table 52 (52 W. Elm St., 312-573-4000) last Friday and were rewarded with the ultimate local celeb sighting.

As they noshed on luscious portions of Executive Chef Art Smith's Low-Country shrimp with stone-ground grits and a pistachio-crusted chicken breast with coconut-chile sauce, in saunters Michael Jordan.

And being Michael Jordan, of course it took him several minutes to get to his table because everyone in the room wanted to talk to him. It wasn't a mad frenzy because this is a sophisticated dining establishment, but c'mon, this is MJ we're talking about and the space is pretty tiny. Even Art Smith paid his respects to the table, but no word on whether His Airness got any freebies. . .

NYE: Late-Night Affairs


Many of you plan to go the private house party route for New Year's Eve. But what if you start feeling antsy after midnight? You know, you want to check out other festivities, but who wants to shell out all those bucks? Open until 4am, these spots should satisfy your late-night cravings:

Crobar (1543 N. Kingsbury, 312-266-1900). One of the official after-parties for the annual Chicago-Scene affair, Crobar's event includes techno and hip-hop, plenty of space to dance and a crowd ready to party until last call. $30, with a cash bar.

Green Mill (4802 N. Broadway, 773-878-5552). Jazz fans should head over to this Uptown institution for Battle of the Saxes headlined by legendary music men Von Freeman and Edward Petersen. It's a $5 cover after midnight, and then free 2am-4am. The Green Mill Quartet Jam Session plays after the main show.

Le Passage (937 N. Rush St., 312-255-0022). The other official Chicago-Scene after party takes place at the all-new Le Passage in the Gold Coast. Deejays spin dance music. $30, cash bar.

Relax (1450 W. Chicago Ave., 312-666-6006). You can stop in at any time at this cool new neighborhood lounge specializing in old-school rock and R&B. Open seating, too! Free.

Stone Lotus (873 N. Orleans St., 312-440-9680). New York's DJ Klutch spins dance music at the Outfit Events party. After 1am, it's a cash bar. Under $30.