Friday, May 30, 2008

Hot new nightlife blog coming . . .

Word is that supergirl nightlife promoter and impresario Sarah Vargo is launching a new blog any day now. Look for Stargo in the City to cover local nightlife in a way never seen before. I.cannot.wait.

This thing is gonna sell out for sure!

Stephanie Izard

Stephanie Izard—who's still in the running to become Bravo's next "Top Chef"—gets props at the The Drawing Room with a dinner in her honor.

She's teaming up with Drawing Room executive chef Nick Lacasse to prepare a four-course feast with contemporary and creative twists on some classic dishes as well as a course devoted to the newly "legalized" foie gras. Each course will feature a cocktail and/or wine pairing overseen by master bartender and chief mixologist Charles Joly. 6-9pm June 15. Reservations required. $65.

More on that $4,000 'lounge' reports in its weekly newsletter more info about the Lifebook Lounge:

Saturday, 5/31, 7 PM
Indulge at the Lifebook Lounge
Lifebook Lounge
1200 W. Lake
Invitation Only (must RSVP)
The world's first personal development lounge: Indulge in a relaxing and inspirational personal development preview and cocktail party in the luxurious Lifebook Lounge. This is intelligent nightlife at its finest. Within our lounge, you will be surrounded with uplifted, motivated people. Talk about the things that really matter in life, and do it in style! We use our nightlife as a way to develop ourselves, and that's what makes the Lifebook Lounge the most unique social experience in Chicago.
Cocktails begin at 7 PM, preview at 7:30 PM. Proper attire required.
RSVP mandatory: or 847-422-3112.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Will someone kindly tell these people we are in a recession!

Gaper's Block uncovers some kooky new lounge that's gonna cost ya $4,000 to get in!


Someone's not going to have a good day after reading Phil Vettel's review on Shochu.

Roots rock out . . .get Religion and more . . .

Hip-hop supergroup The Roots makes an appearance at two parties this weekend.

Can you believe there's other stuff going on beyond "Sex and the City" parties?!


The MidWasteland hosts an offbeat performance art event at Lava Lounge to be posted on their "street style blog." Deejays spin dub, reggae and other cool joints for your head-nodding pleasure. 9pm-2am. $5.

If you haven't heard yet, SKYY vodka recently introduced new flavors, and you'll get to sample them all at Lincoln Park Young Professionals' event at Devon Seafood. Flavors include citrus, passion fruit and cherry, and they'll be paired with light bites from the restaurant. 6-8pm. $25 in advance; $35 at door.

The American Red Cross Auxiliary Board and the Junior League of Chicago team up for a wine-tasting party at Dragonfly Mandarin. Included in the ticket price are cocktails, wine, hors d’oeuvres and spa treatments. All proceeds benefit the organizations. 6-9pm. $20 in advance; $25 at door.


Get to The Joynt for a cool benefit hosted by HighSight, the group that puts on the infamous Eve of the Eve at Union Station. Party includes cocktails, wine and passed appetizers. 6-9pm. $25 for general admission; $35 for VIP.

Red or White Ball, the sixth-annual charity event hosted by the Steppenwolf Auxiliary Council, takes place at 8pm at the Chicago Illuminating Company, 19 E. 21st St. Expect Chicago's movers and shakers to make an appearance at this party that includes an evening of cocktails, food, entertainment, a silent auction and raffle prizes. A limited number of $500 VIP packages are also available: Each includes two event tickets, access for two to a private cocktail reception at 7pm with Steppenwolf ensemble members, enhanced goody bags and a one-year membership in the Auxiliary Council. Tickets, including the $135 general admission, are available by calling 312-654-5672.

Music 101 helps usher in hot new VIP lounge Religion, which is on the penthouse level of Club 720. The sneak-preview party includes a performance by the Martinez Brothers. 9pm-4am.

Hip-hop supergroup The Roots is in town, and tonight mad drummer Questlove spins a special set at Funky Buddha Lounge. Look for him to kill it. 9pm-2am. No cover before 10:30pm.


The Do-Division Street Fest and Sidewalk Sale runs today and tomorrow from noon to 10pm with live music, treats and discounts at the shops along Division Street from Ashland Avenue to Leavitt Street. Go here for more information.

Following the Erykah Badu/Roots concert at Chicago Theater, head to Victor Hotel for the after party. Questlove spins yet another special set, in addition to the soulful stylings of Mark Fulla Flava and Funky Couture. 9pm-3am. $20.

Chart-topping girl group Danity Kane are also in town for a concert, so of course there's an after party! They're not only hanging out at Lumen, but they're also promoting their second album, Welcome to the Dollhouse. Doors open at 9pm.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Mmmmmm, fries


Chowhounders weigh in on Chicago's best french fries.

Hot Doug's duck fat fries, the shoestring fries at Hugo's Frog Bar and Mon Ami Gabi's generous portions of potato bites were just a few of the faves.

Get ready for a mighty BIG weekend

The "Mr. Big" cocktail is only available at Blue Water Grill. (Photo: Blue Water Grill)

OK, y'all have officially gone Sex and the City: The Movie crazy!

Never have I seen so many parties in anticipation of one little movie. In fact, it's like it's not even a movie anymore; it's an event. But there's so many other goings-on happening this weekend that I've decided to post all the SATCTM madness here so that you don't have to go anywhere else:


Tonight's the last night for you to bring your crew to Nailed in the City, a ladies’ night event at Sheffield’s. They’re showing re-runs of the much-loved series, plus giving away free tix to the movie. Guests will be able to indulge in $8 manicures from Nail Fetish (525 N. Ashland Ave.) as well as other treatments. Also, go for the $5 Lemon Drop, Cosmos and other martinis. Free admission.

Do you want a taste of Mr Big?! You'll get it in the form of The Big cocktail—served only at Blue Water Grill. The thing is, you'll need three girlfriends to help you take it on, as it's served in an oversized martini glass with a scoop of raspberry liquor sorbet, vodka and St. Germain. It's $40 and comes with four extra-long pink bendy straws. The special cocktail will be on the menu for awhile.


The Cosmos will be flowing at Guise/Chic as stylish guys and gals get ready to overdose on SATCTM. The series, of course, will be playing on monitors all over the store as guests get ready with blowouts, shopping and more. There's also 20 percent off on all purchases and free scotch for the dudes! Party happens 6-9pm when you RSVP to

You can also get your shopping on at Kenneth Cole (540 N. Michigan Ave.), which will be hosting a special party all day long with 20 percent off on all purchases. They'll be giving out comp beverages all day, and after 5pm you'll get the cocktails. After shopping, head to the after-party at Jbar, where you'll be able to win a dinner for two at David Burke's Primehouse or a pair of Kenneth Cole shoes.

The Think Pink! event is all about delicious, refreshing rosés. WineStyles Belmont will be sampling Pinot Noir based rosé, Cabernet based rosé and others for your tasting pleasure. 6-8pm. Free.

And speaking of pink, you don't want to miss the Pink Carpet Party to Fight Breast Cancer happening at Flirty Girl Fitness. The dazzling party includes signature flirtinis, pink feather boas, aerialists performing on pink silk ropes high above the crowd, jaw dropping synchronized pole dancing routines and more. Hosted by NBC-5's Ginger Zee with celebrity deejay Spinderella (of Salt N Pepa fame!) on the turntables and a performance by Chico Debarge. 9pm. For more info, call 902-877-5669.

Enclave gets into the mix with an after-party for the Chicago SATCTM premiere. Guests will indulge in massage stations, free astrology readings, dessert and various raffle prizes, including Cosmo gift bags and a $1,000 gift certificate to the Jimmy Choo boutique. Get your complimentary mojitos if you RSVP to 312-654-0234 and arrive before 11pm. Free.


Nacional 27's mad mixologist Adam Seger has designed a specialty Cosmo menu in honor of the ladies—as well as to kick off the restaurant's new summer early lounge hours. Every Friday, the hot Latin spot opens at 3pm with complimentary passed tapas and ceviches until 5. You'll also get to enjoy The Charlotte (Skyy Citrus, homemade hibiscus infusion, lime), The Carrie aka 'Le Smoking Cosmo' (fresh-squeezed cranberry Cosmo made with Grey Goose, finished with dry ice), The Miranda (house-fresh squeezed cranberry Cosmo with Skyy Infusions citrus vodka, Grand Marnier, fresh lime) and The Samantha (Belvedere, splash of fresh cranberry juice, Grand Marnier Centennaire, essence of red roses, splash of Domaine Chandon Brut, rose petal float).

If you'd rather do you own little foxy foursome fete, head to upscale Exhale spa and let them create your very own Sex and the City Package. It's valid May 30-June 15 and for parties of four or more. Your treat will include a Mindbody class (Core Fusion, Core Energy Flow or yoga), choice of TRUE facial (60-min) or Deep Flow massage (60-min), a catered lunch by Ra Sushi and a gift bag. $160 per person. 945 N. State St., 312-753-6500.

The Models & Motals party occurs at Victor Hotel, featuring a special runway show by Italian designer Dismero, comp SATCTM-inspired cocktails, goodie bags and more. 9-11pm. RSVP to for VIP admission.

There's no place like Ohm when it comes to sexiness, and they're taking it up a notch with cocktails inspired by the characters during the weekly Girls' Night Out event. Get your peeps together for sips like The Carrie (Cosmo: Skyy 90 X-Rated), The Charlotte (Zen Mojito: Zen green tea liqueur Flor De Cana mint rum), The Samantha (Midori Cabo Margarita: Cabo Wabo tequila, Midori, Grand Marnier, pineapple juice) and The Miranda (Jean Marc XO vodka, X-Rated, Midori, coconut juice, pineapple juice). And for the guys: Mr. Big (Bowmore: whiskey, Apple Pucker).


OK, if you're not burned out on 'Sex' by next week, here's one more: There's a SATC marathon happening at Kit Kat Lounge and Supper Club. Next Thursday—from 5:30pm-2am—they're showing back-to-back episodes on five jumbo screens to celebrate the series' 10-year anniversary, which is on June 6. The Divas will perform throughout the evening, and guests may enjoy $5 Absolut Hunk martinis (regularly $10) as well as themed menu specials by chef Matt Stovey. In addition, from May 30 to June 13, guests are invited to bring in SATCTM ticket stubs to receive an Absolut Hunk martini for $5. Other menu specials include The City (Manhattan-style clam chowder), Manolos (spicy shrimp, scallop, and tuna ceviche with crispy tortilla strips served in a martini glass) and Mr. Big (New york strip steak with a maple bourbon glaze served with bacon and fingerling potato hash).

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Famous mole on its way to Taste

Adobo Grill debuts at the Taste of Chicago with its signature mole and other Mexican dishes. (Photo: Adobo Grill)

Here's more news to keep you thinking summer, summer, summer:

Adobo Grill makes its debut at the Taste of Chicago, happening June 27-July 6 in Grant Park. I cannot believe they waited so long, but it's finally a chance for the masses to check out the upscale Mexican restaurant's signature tacos, tamales, guacamole and salsa.

They're especially known for customized, table-side guacamole, but there's no chance they're be serving it there!

Mother Nature hates us all today


WTF is going on with the weather?!

Wasn't it like 80 degrees yesterday?! What's up, Mother Nature?!

Luckily Chicago's bar and restaurant owners have been around long enough not to assume that summer weather is here to stay. So, if you're going out tonight, you'd better find some place with a fireplace:

404 Wine Bar: It's been open for almost 10 years, but the Lakeview lounge is still one of the sweetest spots in the 'hood. You'll find two fireplaces: one in the front room next to a tiny table for two and the rear room that'll fit a larger group.

The Boundary: It's a sports bar a la Lincoln Park, but The Boundary is still a welcome addition to these parts of Wicker Park. You'll probably have to get there early to snag the seats near the fireplace.

Cru Cafe and Wine Bar: The Euro-style wine lounge in the Gold Coast offers a quiet little room with a fireplace where you can sip little-known bottles of vino and munch on the signature Cru Club lobster sandwich.

Reagle Beagle: Go retro with martinis and appetizers named after popular '80s show, "Three's Company." It's a little kitschy, with a fireplace right in front of the cozy sofas, but you're out to have fun, right?!

ZED451: Don't sulk because you don't get to soak up the sun on the glorious rooftop bar. The first-floor lounge is just as spectacular, with two fireplaces, where you can indulge in a glass of one of their full-bodied wines.

Friday, May 23, 2008

What the critics are saying . . .

. . . about:

Cinners: "When it comes to the three-, four- and five-ways, where chili is the star of the show, everything falls flat. Owner Tony Plum claims he’s using the same recipe that launched Cincinnati’s legendary Empress Chili, but this stuff is way too dry to be deemed the real deal. Whereas true Cincy chili is more of a spicy meat sauce, this chili sits on top of the traditional spaghetti noodles like crumbled hamburger. And it wasn’t just the consistency that disappointed; the chili doesn’t have Cincinnati’s complex spiciness."—David Tamarkin (Time Out Chicago) Read it all here.

Mercat a la Planxa: "Ordering the kitchen’s much-talked-about whole roasted suckling pig (cochinillo asado) is a bit like adopting a child, requiring a group of four, two days’ advance notice, a faxed form, and a $75 deposit. Chef de cuisine Michael Fiorello escorts the little guy to your table and carves him up there, separating the delectable crispy skin and the fatty cheek tissue from the rest of meat, and, at our request, going so far as to remove the tiny, creamy gray matter from the skull, grill it, and plate it with a rich sherry reduction. Given enough notice they’ll brine the pig for up to three days, though ours was plenty juicy and flavorful. It includes sides of calçots, roasted fingerling potatoes, and two particularly fantastic dishes—sauteed spinach with raisins, pine nuts, and julienned apples, and a cassouletlike crock of white beans with bacon. Even with a recent price hike (to $45 per head), this might be the best value in the restaurant, and it’s well worth the effort. "—Mike Sula (Chicago Reader) Read it all here.

Twin Anchors: "Baby back ribs are the main attraction, served with extra sauce—zesty or mild. Choose baked potato, ridge-cut fries or onion rings on the side. Other entrees include broiled tiger shrimp, burgers, pulled pork and a half-chicken that's fried then quickly broiled and basted with barbecue sauce."—( Read it all here.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Sign of the times?!


Down By The Hipster—my New York counterpart—drops some reality on what's going down in NYC nightclubs now that the economy is in the tank. Could Chicago suffer the same fate?!

Something is happening . . .

. . . over in the old Sinibar/Thyme Cafe space at 1540 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Wicker Park. The Crocodile is scheduled to open there sometime this summer, but right now that's all the info I've got.

Developing . . .

Plenty to do on Memorial Day Weekend


You're probably already overwhelmed with all the stuff going on this weekend, so I'm just going to keep it sweet and simple:


We've still got a week before the Chicago premiere of "Sex and the City: The Movie," but the pre-events just keep coming. Tonight's Manor's tribute to the foxy foursome with all sorts of branded giveaways. After party takes place at RiNo with DJ Jake Reno. 9pm-2am. No cover; call for guest list.

If you're planning on throwing your own BBQ this weekend, you might want to get some tips at the Lincoln Park location for Treasure Island Foods (2121 N. Clybourn Ave., 773-880-8880). They've teamed up with Louis Glunz Beer to teach you everything you need to know to pair the suds with summer snacks, etc. 7-9pm. $20.

For cool cocktails, head to Crimson Lounge for a party hosted by Absolut. Tonight kicks off a four-series event to honor the vodka empire's Global Cooling program, with $1 of every Absolut drink going to one of the three charities supported by the program: the Ocean Foundation, Fruit Tree Planting Foundation and the Environmental Media Association. Complimentary tasting of Absolut cocktails will also be offered from 8-10pm. No cover.


W City Center and Food Network superstar Dave Lieberman offer a sneak peek of tasty bites that Liberman has created exclusively for W Hotels. This was a VIP-only event, but now they've opened it up to the public. Come get a free autographed cookbook, taste his new "Cravings" menu and drink it up from 7-9pm. Some menu items include smokey Yukon gold fries, Outside-In Wagu sirloin burger with balsamic caramelized onions, meatball "Hero" with red pepper tomato sauce and provolone, and more. Free, just RSVP to or call 312-917-5651.

OutFit Events hosts the official after party with Rev Run of the legendary Run DMC and hit MTV series "Run's House"; occurs at Enclave. He's in town performing with Kid Rock at the Sears Centre. DJ Mel Debarge spins. 10pm-2am. Covers vary.


Frasca Pizzeria & Wine Bar debuts its brunch service this weekend. You'll get traditional morning munchies as well as breakfast pizzas from their woodburning oven. They'll also have "bottomless" Mimosas for $10. 10am-3pm.

Indulge in this Tinycakes tasting at Provenance Food & Wine as founder Stephanie Merello samples her straight-up brownies, dark chocolate pistachio biscotti and double chocolate hazelnut cookies. The event will be held during their regularly scheduled wine tasting. 3-6pm. Free.


Sippin on Sunday returns to Hotel Sax (333 N. Dearborn St., 4th Floor, 312-431-8801) for an upscale party that includes deejays spinning the hits and beautiful people. 9pm-3am. $10 before 10pm. Also happening in the hotel's Crimson Lounge is a party featuring 12 freaking deejays (!!!!). 8pm-2am. This party is free.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

New video game is a trip

Let's just hope this doesn't come to a Chicago bar near you.

New wine lounge concept for Lincoln Park

Bar1 Events is known best for its Lincoln Park-based bars for the post-collegiate crowd. McGee's, Duffy's and Wrightwood Tap are just a few of their most successful ventures with a solid loyal following.

They're hoping for a slightly older crowd to follow them to Fiona, their new wine lounge concept that's adjacent to Duffy's. Look for this cozy, neighborhood spot to open sometime in July.

Cure that mid-week blues


If you're a little bit restless since it's Hump Day:

Take a mid-morning break and stroll through the Green City Market (located at the South end of Lincoln Park between Clark and Stockton Drive). Chef Martial Noguier of one sixtyblue will do a cooking demo at 10:30am. The market is from 7am-1:30pm. Free.

Spring is trying to get here, but in the meantime, Galleria Liqueurs on Southport is hosting the Spring into Summer Wine Party. The soiree includes 50 different white, rose and sparkling wines; seven wine reps and experts pouring their favorite selections; and endless hors d'oeuvres from various neighborhood eateries. 6-9pm. $20.

Every Wednesday in May, bring your crew to Nailed in the City, a ladies’ night event at Sheffield’s. They’ll be showing re-runs of the much-loved series, plus giving away free tix to “Sex and the City: The Movie.” Guests will be able to indulge in $8 manicures from Nail Fetish (525 N. Ashland Ave.) as well as other treatments. Also, go for the $5 Lemon Drop, Cosmos and other martinis. Free admission.

The Hump Day Happy Hour happens every week at Cityscape Bar, with a complimentary appetizer buffet (5-7pm) and drink specials for $4.

The Avenue Q opening party takes place at Rockit Bar & Grill. Hosted by Snow Queen Vodka, the event is actually not open to the public, but they'll let you come if you RSVP to Avenue Q, an offbeat, R-rated play featuring puppets and Gary Coleman (yes, that Gary Coleman!), is showing at the Cadillac Palace Theatre through June 7. The party starts at 9:45pm.

I Love House Music, hosted by Allay Soul, House Arrest, and Aid to the SouLless, continues at Zentra. Deejays Traxx and Monna spin seriously deep house grooves for the househeads. $2 cocktail reception 10-11pm; parties of 10 or more get a free bottle of bubbly. 10pm-4am. $5.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

As promised . . .


. . . here's the rest of the info on the ABSOLUT 100 after-party for Kanye West's Glow in the Dark Tour. Word is that Rhianna, Pharell and Lupe Fiasco will also be in the house.

The party kicks off at 10pm Friday at Bon V with an open bar as well as local deejays Berrie and Timbuck2 bringing the beats. Just RSVP to for admission. Good luck!

Jonathan Segal stays busy

The man behind Minnies and the soon-to-be-opened Madame Tartine is already on to his next venture.

Jonathan Segal today is opening Tree Top Room, a "restaurant inside a restaurant," on the top level of the Lincoln Park location of P.J. Clarke's. Executive chef Eric Possa is calling the menu "America revisited" with modern twists to classic dishes like a skatewing sautéed golden brown or the crisp Caesar salad tossed tableside.

Table Fifty-Two on Bravo's 'A-List' radar

The bar at Table Fifty-Two (Photo: Table Fifty-Two)

Phil Vettel reports that Art Smith's celebrity hot spot Table Fifty-Two—Chicago's version of New York's Waverly Inn—is one of four nominees for Bravo's best "A-List Restaurant."

A tasty Tuesday

Indulge in a mojito martini from Nacional 27's 10-Cane Mojito Garden. (Photo: Laurie Proffitt Photography)

We've got a heck of a day ahead of us, with a number of cool events guaranteed to put a smile on your face:

It should be warm enough to finally check out the 10-Cane Mojito Garden at Nacional 27. The award-winning mixologist Adam Seger will be whipping up luscious, market-fresh cocktails all summer long.

Last Tuesday, OUTFit, one of Chicago's premier promoters, starting throwing parties at Manor, and it was such a hit that they've decided to do it every week. Deejays spin the usual mash-ups, but it's the sexy crowd that's the biggest attraction. They're accepting RSVPs at or 312-714-2626. 9pm-2am.

Last night I rolled by the ultra-exotic Tizi Melloul, and it was busier than ever. It was probably for the half-price cocktails at the bar. Just imagine how hot that spot will be tonight considering the special is $10 for cocktails, appetizers and a hookah session.

You'll also get mad specials at Feast, the trendy Bucktown eatery that's better to hit at the beginning of the week. If you buy an entree, you get half off on any bottle of wine. It's also BYOB night, so bring on the good stuff!

Sample the new spring/summer menu at Swirl Wine Bar as they host a tasting tonight. The event includes appetizers, 12 different wines and expert commentary by their specialists. 6:30-8:30pm. $25 in advance; $35 at door.

And it's bubbly time at NoMI during the weekly Cellar Notes. Tonight, they're serving sparkling wines and Champagnes, and as always, advanced sommelier Fernando Beteta will guide guests through the tasting that's paired with appetizers. 5:30-7:30pm. $30.

Monday, May 19, 2008

WTF are 'ghetto fries?!'

Gaper's Block indulges in something that Max's Italian Beef has coined as "ghetto fries." OK.

The definition of a 'party crasher'

I've received a barrage of emails regarding my continuing coverage of outing the city's most notorious "party crashers." Some were funny, some egged me on and a few were . . . well, let's just say they were pretty disturbing.

Anyway, there was one particular note that left me scratching my head:

"How can you call them party crashers when these events you're writing about that they're supposedly crashing are free? It's not like they're paid ticket events. This doesn't make any sense!"

OK. Now, that email made NO sense. Party crashers, Eat & Drink Club or whatever you want to call them are getting their chops busted because when they come to these events they USE FAKE NAMES and LIE ABOUT WHAT THEY DO in order to get in. If you have to make up shit, then there's a problem. It's that simple, damnit!

What Billy wants, Billy gets?!


An Ultimate Insider from tells 312 Dining Diva that all the hot stars from Kayne West's Glow in the Dark TourRhianna, N.E.R.D., Lupe Fiasco and The Drama King himself—are expected to make an appearance at Billy Dec's Underground nightclub this weekend. The tour makes a stop at the United Center on Saturday.

UPDATE: I just got word that yet another event is planned for the prime-time posse at Bon V. ABSOLUT 100 hosts the party on Friday and Kayne was reportedly paid $30,000 to show his face in the place.

All this *&^%$#!@#$%^!?* is developing . . .

Mondays . . .


. . . are usually reserved for chillin' at home. But when you're in the hospitality industry or if you're entertaining folks from other places, it can be the best night to kick it around town:

The popular Shift Drink Mondays continue at the Libertine, as some of Chicago's big-name chefs take their turn behind the bar. Each week, they serve up a signature cocktail as well as anything else you want at this Lincoln Park gastropub. Also: half-price pizzas, $1 PBRs and $2 Makers Mark.

At Rockit Bar & Grill, Tasteit returns with a three-course spring tasting menu for $25; add $15 to pair with craft beers. It's also half off on food, beer and wine for those who work in the industry. Upstairs is free pool.

Everyone gets the discounted price on Mondays at Tasting Room, the West Loop wine lounge that's conducive to conversations. Customers can order half priced glasses of wine to complement exotic cheese and fruit platters.

Head to the BEATS + BASS + RHYTHM night at Debonair Social Club for house, soul and offbeat music spun by national and local spin stars. Music 101 hosts its weekly set and tonight is the Dae Deep release party with deejays Aaron Dae, Sean Smith and resident turntablist Brian Gardner. $5 Stoli cocktails; $3 domestic beer.

Copperblue's Cinema Gourmet typically sells out in advance, but there's always a chance that they're still taking reservations. The event includes a three-course dinner that's paired with the controversial black-and-white modern Western "Dead Man," starring Johnny Depp, Gary Farmer, Billy Bob Thornton, Crispin Glover and Robert Mitchum. After the film, University of Chicago professor Elliott Krick leads a discussion on film. $79 includes the dinner, movie munchies and wines from H2Vino. 6pm.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Celebs continue to rock Crimson Lounge

Jazz icon Herbie Hancock plays Crimson Lounge during a secret show on Sunday. (Photo: 312 Dining Diva)

Last month it was movie starlet Lindsay Lohan who blew partygoers away when she casually hung out in Crimson Lounge's deejay booth for several hours with gal pal Samantha Ronson. Last Thursday, it was singer Jewell's turn to shock patrons of the hip hotel lounge when she suddenly broke out her acoustic guitar and started singing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" in the middle of the bar.

And tonight (Sunday), legendary jazz pianist Herbie Hancock—who was in town to headline Saturday's American Cancer Society's Discover Ball—played a secret show at the swanky spot with gifted students from the Thelonious Monk Institute. Who knows who'll be next?!

Friday, May 16, 2008

What the critics are saying . . .

. . . about:

Big Jones (5347 N. Clark St., 773-275-5725): "When a plate of impeccably cooked shrimp doused in a dark, thick barbecue sauce arrives, and it’s so good you consider chewing on the crunchy tails just to make it last, authenticity is the last thing on your mind. The same is true of the tasso ham sandwich, a picture of warm decadence where the house-cured ham provides a salty note, the cakey house-baked 'Sally Lunn' bread adds a sweet note, and the gooey pimento cheese and shrimp rémoulade glues it all together."—David Tamarkin (Time Out Chicago) Read the review here.

Green Zebra (1460 W. Chicago Ave., 312-243-7100) and Schwa (1466 N. Ashland Ave., 773-252-1466): "I can never resist the poached egg at (Green Zebra), hefty Prospera Farms egg that has been presented in various guises over the years. Currently the softly cooked egg sits on a slab of toasted sourdough bread, above hickory-smoked pureed potatoes. The smoky aroma conveys the sense of bacon, thus making the dish a de facto egg, bacon and toast breakfast. It's very clever . . . . My last meal (at Schwa)included lime curd topped with shaved truffle and a touch of salt, presented atop an ice cube that was actually solid glass. This was followed by a shooter glass of beet juice, flavored with bacon, alongside a roasted beet filled with grated chocolate, and an amazing demitasse of beer-cheese soup next to a teensy pretzel roll and what looked like a Parmesan tuile but turned out to be a crispy sheet of mustard skin. Carlson's pad Thai conveys all the flavors of the Thai national dish, but look closely; instead of noodles, the strands on the plate are of painstakingly marinated jellyfish."—Phil Vettel (Chicago Tribune) Read the review here.

Trattoria Isabella (217 N. Jefferson St., 312-207-1900): "Ultra-rich risotto alla Siciliana ($12.95) is perfectly cooked in light red sauce with bits of fennel-flavored sausage, tri-colored peppers and Parmigiano-Reggiano. You'll love it, but expect to take some home."—Laura Bianchi (Crain's Chicago Business) Read the review here.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Strut into the weekend

Look for fabulous fashions from Akira to hit the stage at Alhambra on Sunday. (Photo: Akira)

So what’s it gonna be this weekend? Are you feeling fashion or fame? Do you crave a new club or some place where everyone knows your name?! Wherever you decide to hang, just be sure to be safe out there . . .


A fun and fabulous crowd is certain to turn up at Chasalla (106 E. Oak St., 312-640-1940), which is hosting its 10-year anniversary tonight. Enjoy in-store discounts, an informal fashion show, 10 percent off purchases and complimentary cocktails. 7-9pm. Free but RSVP to 312-943-0333.

Miracle Entertainment returns to Bella (1212 N. State St., 312-787-9405) for the best after-work bash for urban professionals. They call it Music & Martinis, and for $20 guests get a buffet, unlimited martinis and select domestic and imported beer. Deejays spin R&B, hip-hop and house hits. 6pm-2am. Free admission.

Pivot (1101 W. Fulton Market, 312-243-4754), the Warehouse District’s eco-friendly boutique, teams up with smart center Lincolnwood and the Chicago furniture design team Roscoe Jackson for an event that’s environmentally sound. Roscoe Jackson debuts its line of recycled plastic outdoor furniture, and a smart car will be on hand. Receive 25 percent off store purchases with a smart car reservation or a Roscoe Jackson purchase. Light hors d’oeuvres by Carnivale (702 W. Fulton St., 312-850-3017). 5-8pm. Free.

It’s been one year since Manor (642 N. Clark, 312-475-1390) took over the old Pasha space and they’re ready to celebrate. Highlights include a live performance by multi-platinum recording artist Flo Rida (including his number 1 single "Low"). Head here early for the complimentary Grey Goose cocktails (10-11pm), and DJ White Shadow spins. And return on Friday for part two of the party with special guest DJ Gusto, who’s a resident at LA spots Parc and Social Hollywood. 10pm-2am. $20 cover for gentleman; no cover for ladies.


So, it’s time for something new, eh?! How about checking into new rock cantina Angels & Mariachis (1721 W. Division St., 773-227-7772)?! Owned by the team behind English, Bar Celona and Central, this East Village/Wicker Park joint does not disappoint. Two levels of throwbacks to Mexican heritage mixed in with a dose of rock ‘n’ roll. 5pm-2am. No cover.

And for a lil’ taste of offbeat culture, head over to the latest Phaiz 7 installation, which debuts tonight during an opening reception. You’ll get to check out Natural Deviations, created by artist Rosemary Lee, and one-of-a-kind t-shirts created by Chicago-based designer, Hannah Claire Somerville through June 15. Additional fashions will be showcased by Backfire fashion. 673 N. Milwaukee Ave., 312-226-9070. 7-11pm with plenty of liquids to go around. Free.


The Mayfest street festival is back, and this time you’ll get a real treat from retro hip-hop band Two White Crew, which kicks off the live entertainment at 6pm. They’re followed by Sixteen Candles (8-10pm), who perform all your favorite hits from the 1980s. Ashland and Barry.


And finally, Alhambra Palace Restaurant (1240 W. Randolph St.,
312-666-9555) fetes its one-year anniversary with a fashion feast. Bucktown boutique Akira (1837 W. North Ave.) shows off what you need to wear this season, and they’re doing it up in exotic, Moroccan style to complement the opulent-outfitted venue. Also, live Moroccan musical entertainment and belly dancers. Doors open at 5:30pm; show starts at 7pm. Free, but you need to RSVP to by 3pm Saturday.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Bring on the foie!

The Stew reports that City Council has lifted the two-year-old foie gras ban. Ha!

Chicago Promoter License tabled. FOR NOW!!!

A message from Music 101 on the temporarily tabled Chicago's Promoter's ordinance:

"This is a small victory, but the battle is far from over. We have to stay vigilant to make sure the City does not try to sneak this through again. We got lucky this time that we caught wind of it. Next time we might not be so lucky. We have to be more proactive in the future. We have to know who is representing our interest and the interest of the community in City Hall. It seems that the people who are on the advisory board and pushing this ordinance through have other agendas and are not well versed in to realities of this ordinance. We have to get invited to these meetings and let others know what takes place there. If we become complacent, DBA will surely take advantage of it. I remember the only time that I was invited to a meeting, the attorney for the DBA said to everyone that no one should fool themselves, this ordinance will go through as it is, and it is only a matter of formality to get our opinions on it. After expressing my opposition, I was never invited back! With that kind of attitude, you can be sure, they will try again to push this ordinance through."—Arman Razavi, CEO of Music 101

‘Chill’ out in style

Support local businesses today like Berry Chill in River North. (Photo: Berry Chill)

Today’s all about supporting cool local stuff:

Michael Farah—the chilled-out biz-ness man behind Berry Chill—gets props from ABC-7’s “190 North” today when they come to tape a segment on the popularity of this frozen yogurt couture shop that’s taken the city by storm. They’ll be there 10:30-11:30am, so show some support and head there for a mid-morning snack—if you’re in River North.

Also happening today is Fashion Columbia, the annual student-produced fashion show taking place at Columbia College Chicago (1000 S. Wabash Ave.; 312-344-6600). The show explores the theme of fashion and technology, with a signature hue of purple worked into the designs. 1pm. $35-$60.

More fashion hits the runway at Sura Thai Bistro (3124 N. Broadway, 773-348-8608), featuring fabulous threads from Lake View-area boutiques such as P+L, Andrea Vangna, His Stuff, Kreative Soul and Buffalo Exchange. The cocktail reception kicks off at 7pm with cucumber martinis, wine, hors d'oeuvres and Thai tapas; runway portion of the show begins promptly at 8pm. The first 100 attendees get a goody bag. $15.

Head west to the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art (2320 W. Chicago Ave., 773-227-5522) for Taste on Chicago, an event showcasing the wares from West Town. "Check, Please!" host Alpana Singh signs copies of her book "Alpana Pours," plus you’ll get to sample wine, bubbly and vittles at this inaugural event. Benefits Smith Park. 6-9pm. Call 312-925-4052 for the $40 tix.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Eat & Drink Club strikes again!

The red arrow points to "Greg Walsh," the newest member of the "Eat & Drink Club." (Photo: Anonymous)

If you thought the notorious Jerry "The Party Crasher" Berliant was bad, get a load of this cat—the newest inductee of the Eat & Drink Club—who's been pushing his way into nightclub and restaurant openings lately:

From a tipster:

"Here's someone who goes by the name 'Greg Walsh' and says he's from NBC-5. Never has a business card on him and pushes HARD to get into events. NBC-5 never heard of him. Actually says 'Yeah, my cameras should be here a bit later' to try and get in."

What is really going on with these people?!

'Hot Chef' winner announced

Remember the Hot Chef Challenge, the National Restaurant Association (NRA) Show contest in which aspiring chefs are encouraged to create a two-minute video to win a chance to demonstrate at NRA?!

Well, they picked a winner: Keith Snow, president and founder of in Greenville, S.C. Snow's winning video featured him preparing "wild-caught margarita fire shrimp with South Carolina plantation rice," using locally sourced ingredients and tequila.

Check out his winning video here.

The National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show takes place May 17-20 at McCormick Place.

A toast to 'World Cocktail Day'


I'M NOT SURE whether this is a made-up "holiday" or not, but McCormick & Schmick's pays homage to the craft of making cocktails today, which is designated World Cocktail Day.

They're pushing some of their most popular drinks, including The Pisco Sour, The Harry’s Bar Bellini and Basil Grape Refresher—all classic cocktails seeing a resurgence these days. Enjoy a couple of these during M&S's massively popular $1.95 happy hour featuring hand-crafted burgers, mussels, salads and more. City locations: 41 E. Chestnut St., 312-397-9500 or 1 E. Wacker Dr., 312-923-7226.

Other hot lounges where you can indulge in a classic, hand-crafted cocktail include:

Nacional 27 (325 W. Huron St., 312-664-2727): Delight in a Luxe Blackberry Mojito (Belvedere, French blackberry liqueur, mint, lime, soda).

Martini Park (151 W. Erie St., 312-640-0577): Live music by The Flat Cats tonight as guests sip on Grapefruit Caipirinhas made with Ketel Citron and muddled grapefruit.

The Violet Hour (1520 N. Damen Ave., 773-252-1500): Check out the NY Sour (Plymouth gin, rosé wine, egg white, orange flower water).

Live it up with more classic cocktails tonight at Fleming’s Upstairs Lounge (25 E. Ohio St.) when media personality Arianna Huffington is honored at a private meet-and-greet event to celebrate the release of her new book, Right Is Wrong. Complimentary champagne and appetizers will be served. Hosted by Michigan Avenue Magazine's Susanna Homan. 5-6:30pm. RSVP required at 312-840-8232.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Pro athletes lovin' Uncle Fatty's Rum Resort

Newly single Dallas Cowboy star Tony Romo and members of the Chicago Machine lacrosse team were out and about over the weekend at new Lakeview spot Uncle Fatty's.

It's only been open for two weeks, but Uncle Fatty's Rum Resort (2833 N. Sheffield Ave., 773-477-3661)—a bustling tiki-style sports bar reminiscent of the late 1990s—is already catching on with the pro athlete set.

Last Thursday, several players from the Chicago Machine lacrosse team were out hanging in the VIP section, and now Pink is the New Blog reports that newly single Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo hit the same spot pretty hard over the weekend along with Manor (642 N. Clark St., 312-475-1390):

"Tony Romo had a bachelor-style hard partying weekend in the Windy City these past couple of days and now we know why. We exclusively have learned that Romo and girlfriend Jessica Simpson have broken up! Romo partied with several of his college buddies from his alma mater Eastern Illinois over the weekend and he told them on Saturday night that him and Simpson were on the outs. 'They're broken up,' according to a pal of the Dallas Cowboys quarterback. 'He told us they broke up and that was that. We're guys so we didn't talk about it much.' A broken heart didn't stop this professional athlete from partying like a rock star! Romo began his night on Saturday at new Chicago hotspot Uncle Fatty's Rum Resort in the Lakeview area of the Windy City. '[Tony was] having a blast playing Pop-A-Shot mini golf and bags,' according to a source. 'He was with some football college buddies and drinking Grey Goose and Diet Cokes.'

"After spending hours at the reggae bar, Romo and his crew headed to Manor nightclub. Romo and his boys sat in a huge VIP table in a roped off VIP section and welcomed many girls to hang out with them. 'He was surrounded by girls,' according to an eyewitness. 'We had to restrain some who forcibly tried to make their way to his table.' Apparently, the girls at da club weren't enough for Romo and his friends. They sent the nightclub's bus to pick up more girls from the Hard Rock Hotel where Romo and his friends were crashing. Romo's night entailed a bevy of beauties, including one blonde in particular he spent a lot of time talking to, and an 'impressive' amount of alcohol. 'He zeroed in on one blonde all night,' a source said. 'That blonde wasn't Jessica Simpson.'"

City Hall sucks

Read Time Out Chicago's piece on the Chicago's promoter's ordinance that will be voted on by the city council on Wednesday. This will kill the local arts, nightlife and music scene if majority rules, but there's still hope . . .

Take a stand here.

Psyched for ‘Sex’?!


Our summer obsession is only a few weeks away. But if you’re already getting jittery in anticipation of “Sex and the City: The Movie,” get your girls together and form your own foxy foursome.

Hit the street and head out to some special parties or ongoing events:

Every Wednesday in May (beginning this week), bring your crew to Nailed in the City, a ladies’ night event at Sheffield’s (3258 N. Sheffield Ave., 773-281-4989). They’ll be showing re-runs of the much-loved series, plus giving away free tix to “Sex and the City: The Movie.” Guests will be able to indulge in $8 manicures from Nail Fetish (525 N. Ashland Ave.) as well as other treatments. Also, go for the $5 Lemon Drop, Cosmos and other martinis. Free admission.

Also happening on Wednesday is Bliss Spa’s tempting Shop Our Desert Island Picks party. You’ll be able to get your favorite summer product staples, enter to win a specialty Colada pedicure, and get a customized summer skin consultation from their expert estheticians. Go crazy over the brownie buffet; it’s amazing. 6-8pm. RVSP to 312-266-9293 for free admission. W Lakeshore, 644 N. Lake Shore Dr., 8th Floor.

Lumen (839 W. Fulton Market, 312-733-2222), of course, gets in on the "SATC" action with a party. It's happening on Friday, and guests will be able to grab goodies like "SATC" DVD box sets, branded martini shaker sets, tote bags, compacts and lip balm. Some lucky people will get tickets to a pre-screening of the film. Party starts at 9pm. Free.

Make an appointment for Mojo Spa’s weekly Beauty and Brunch for complimentary home-style munchies with any Silver, Gold or Platinum combo package. Sink your teeth into seasonal bites as you are pampered with manis, pedis, massages and facials. 11am-2pm. Prices range $60-$80 (limited to three people per reservation). 1468 N. Milwaukee Ave., 773-235-6656.

Unitea just debuted at Wave (644 N. Lake Shore Dr., 312-255-4460), and this daily event is actually designed for both women and men. Executive Chef Kristine Subido—who was just named a “Rising Star” by Food & Wine—has created an unconventional tea service that should appeal to guys and gals. The Masculini-Tea program includes hand-crafted beers paired with items like grilled beef tenderloin with dried fruit chutney and mini-Angus beef sliders with bread and butter pickles. And the chick choices include tea-infused elixirs (white ginger pear, citrus mint) complemented by curry Deviled eggs as well as smoked salmon and roasted fennel cannolli. You can also choose from bubbly and a number of teas like the raspberry nectar. 2:30-6:30pm. Prices range from $30 (for tea) to $45 (champagne).

The Apartment (2251 N. Lincoln Ave., 773-348-5100) in Lincoln Park hosts a party to fete the upcoming film. Cosmo drink specials, spa and movie ticket giveaways, and a contest to win tickets to a satellite showing of the New York City movie premiere will be the highlights. 9pm-2am May 24. Free.

And make plans now for Chopping Block’s Girls' Night: Summer Cocktail Party. You’ll learn to make light appetizers like shrimp ceviche, tomato and goat cheese tarts, and cobb salad bites that will be paired with cocktails—of course. Lincoln Square (4747 N. Lincoln Ave., 773-293-8490) on June 5 and June 20 at 7pm; Merchandise Mart (Kinzie & Wells Streets, 312-644-6360) on June 7 and June 25 at 6pm $40.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

EXCLUSIVE: SUNDA name of new Rockit Ranch restaurant

Brad Young (from left), Billy Dec and Arturo Gomez of Rockit Ranch Productions (Photo: Rockit Ranch Productions)

WE FINALLY got a name for that long-awaited project from Rockit Ranch Productions. Billy Dec and crew are calling it SUNDA—named after Southeast Asia’s Sunda Shelf.

Says Dec about the name: "It wasn’t until I landed in Singapore that I had the good fortune to visit the landmark Asian Civilizations Museum where I came across a potential name enlightened and excited me! Upon explaining that I needed to find a name for our multi-cultured all inclusive New Asian concept to one of the curators at the museum, she pointed me directly to an exhibit featuring The Sunda Shelf... And said, 'Sunda' is your name."

Before the team settled on SUNDA, they sought out the help of one of the world's renowned experts in Asian culture, who happened to be Dr. Anne Underhill (Ph.D., Anthropology), the department chair at the Field Museum. She specializes in the development on complex societies in China, and Dec says she "was nice enough to spend some time talking this out with me and even doing some extra research to make sure this name was right for us."

Her feedback included this excerpt: "I needed to check some of my archaeology books that I had not looked at in a while (I do archaeology in China for later time periods). I agree, you do have an appropriate name for your restaurant. The best book I have is by the well-known archaeologist from Australia named Peter Bellwood (Prehistory of the Indo-Malaysian Archipelago, 1985)... according to Bellwood, your name is very suitable...Your restaurant sounds wonderful—we need more good quality Asian restaurants in Chicago! I will be one of your customers.”

Located in River North near its siblings Rockit Bar & Grill (22 W. Hubbard St., 312-645-6000) and Underground (56 W. Illinois St., 312-644-7600), the sprawling SUNDA expects to open in September. Premier Asian cuisine chef Rodelio Aglibot is the man behind the menu.

Gawker gives Stephanie Izard props on 'Top Chef'

Ha! Gawker's recap of 'Top Chef' is the best I've read all day, especially when they describe Stephanie Izard: ". . . somehow always seems to have just stepped out of the shower in all her interviews, showed herself a true champ whisking that mayonnaise."

'Mad' for martinis, Mom and music


It’s a bigger weekend than usual, thanks to a bunch of fashion events and the seventh-annual Madhatter's Ball. But don’t get too pooped out because you’ll need plenty of energy on Mother’s Day!


It’s a South American affair over at Alhambra Palace (1240 W. Randolph St., 312-852-1054), as they host Taste of Brazil. Entertainment includes samba girls—decked out in full exotic costume—the Bucket Boys, Capoeira demonstrations, a full Brazilian band, and deejays Eddie Mills and World spinning global beats. Dinner reservations available; show begins at 7:15pm. Free.

Lumen (839 W. Fulton Market, 312-733-2222) hosts another 20 Looks fashion show, this time featuring hot spring and summer styles from Bucktown boutique Veruca Salt (1937 N. Damen Ave., 773-276-3888). Get there at 9pm for the complimentary champagne reception, and one lucky guest will win a $200 gift card to Veruca Salt. 9pm-2am. $10.

The Oak Street Council hosts Toast to Mom with participating stores offering Champagne, chocolate and vittles to customers, along with extended shopping hours. Stores include Kate Spade (101 E. Oak St.), Yves Saint Laurent (51 E. Oak St.) and Frette (41 E. Oak St.). 5-7pm. Free.

Around the corner is the Walton Street Walk, a shopping event to benefit Civitas, a local non-profit group supporting early childhood development. Support their efforts by picking up goodies at such stores as Jake (939 N. Rush St.), Tory Burch (66 E. Walton St.), Burdi Boutique (58 E. Walton St.) and SABBIA fine jewelry (66 E. Walton St.). Each store will provide comp cocktails and cuisine from Gibson’s, Le Colonial and Pane Caldo. 5-9pm. Free.

Bloomingdale’s Medinah Temple (600 N. Wabash Ave., 312-440-4515) hosts Savvy Summer Style . . . Entertaining with Wine with celebrity event planner Amanda Puck and wine expert Sarah Powers from St. Francis Winery in the culinary kitchen on the first floor. 6-8pm. A $25 reservation fee can be redeemed for a gift card at the event.

Head to Roscoe Village for the annual Beers & Babes event, a shopping party just for dudes. Hosted by cool kids' store Kickin’ (2142 W. Roscoe, 773-281-6577), staffers will be on hand to help clueless dudes pick out just the right thing for (and become a real hero to) the pregnant women in their lives. And with every purchase of $100 or more, guys will get a gift for themselves: a $20 gift certificate to the Village Tap (2055 W. Roscoe St., 773-883-0817), which will also lead a beer tasting, with plenty of gourmet sausage and other "guy" food. 6-9:30pm. Free.


Chocolate Grape (2113 W. Division St., 773-772-3990) debuts with its grand opening celebration this weekend. Present this certificate for 10 percent off on all purchases at this new truffle, vino and cheese lounge in Wicker Park.

The Kendall Lewis Trio (who’s son of legendary jazz artist Ramsey Lewis) jams at 9pm at new River North spot The Joynt (650 N. Dearborn St., 312-573-2233), but if you arrive between 7-9pm, you’ll be able to indulge in complimentary wine. Hosted by Lip Service Productions. RSVP to for comp admission.

Return to Lumen (839 W. Fulton Market, 312-733-2222) and help them celebrate their first-year anniversary in style. There will be a GREEN carpet, in Lumen's true eco-friendly fashion, and they've secured celebrity deejay Bobby French, who spins at LAX in LA for likes of Halle Berry and Leonardo DiCaprio. 10pm-2am. Free.


The Gold Coast outpost of The Goddess and Grocer (25 E. Delaware Pl., 312-896-2600) throws an Argentine wine tasting where guests get to sample a number of Sauvignon Blancs and summer wines, including 2006 Mapema Sauvignon Blanc, Mendoza and 2007 Crios Torrontes, Cafayate. Free. Noon-2pm. No reservations required.

Get the Mother’s Day festivities started a day early at RA Sushi (1139 N. State St., 312-274-0011) during a Treats & Tea Retreats Japanese tea party. Moms get a "cup of tea" with RA Sushi’s signature Zen Mojito that features Zen Green Tea Liquor as well as an array of signature RA dishes. $25. 1-4pm. Reservations required.

It’s been 20 years since eight Northwestern U students founded the Lookingglass Theatre Company, which now cranks out critically acclaimed productions several times a year in its new Mag Mile home. Founding members David Schwimmer ("Friends") and Joey Slotnick (“Nip/Tuck"), along with local personality and nightlife kingpin Billy Dec (Rockit Bar & Grill; Underground), created the Madhatter’s Ball seven years ago as a fundraiser for the young professional set—and it's still going strong. It’s happening tonight at Underground (56 W. Illinois St., 312-644-7600)—which will be transformed into an "Alice in Wonderland" boogie ball—with an open bar, appetizers and music by resident deejay Jem. Tix start at $125 and may be purchased here.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Chocolate and Chianti, anyone?!

The second ENO (200 N. Columbus Dr., 312-946-7000) opened quietly yesterday in the Fairmont Chicago.

Hand-crafted chocolates (from local and national producers), artisanal cheeses and more than 500 bottles of wine are the focus at this unique concept. But what sets this location apart from the original ENO in the InterContinental (505 N. Michigan Ave., 866-210-8811) is that it takes over the entire lobby.

Rustic tones of burnt sienna and eggplant accent the multitextured furniture and the custom carpeting is designed to look like the slate floor of a traditional wine cellar. Comfortable café-style seating for 52 guests is available at regular and highboy tables, and at ENO's 16-foothammered brass andlive-edge white oakbar, which is fronted with backlit glass.

Melissa Principe (formerly of The Tasting Room) oversees the wine program with a staff of experienced wine experts. Get your wine
by the bottle, glass or flight.

Grant Achatz's road to recovery

Grant Achatz of Alinea (Photo: Alinea)

Despite a grueling course of radiation and chemotherapy for Stage 4 cancer of the tongue, Alinea (1723 N. Halsted St., 312-867-0110) executive chef/owner Grant Achatz “missed only 14 nights of service at Alinea, mostly near the end of radiation therapy, when the skin around his jaw had eroded so badly that he had to wear a burn mask.” Read the entire story in the current Men's Vogue.

There's still time . . .

. . . to get on the guest list for tonight's fabulous GenArt affair at the River East Art Center (435 E. Illinois St.).

Art in Motion, sponsored by Nokia NSeries, will be an interactive experience combining cinema, gallery and reality television. Get there early for socializing, complimentary cocktails and networking. 7-11pm. Invitation only, but you can RSVP here to get on the list for comp admission.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Gotta love their sense of humor

HUB 51 (51 W. Hubbard St.) owners—and siblings—R.J. and Jerrod Melman show off their silly side with this hiring video parodying the classic late-night informercials with host extraordinaire Tom Vu (starring local actor Vince Minh).

The River North restaurant, a subdivision of Lettuce Entertain You, is scheduled to open on June 10 with a hip, youthful vibe, casual dining menu and enviable music program.

Swirl, sniff 'n' sip, baby


WHAT DO you want to do after work today?!

Make a beeline to Juicy Wine Co. (694 N. Milwaukee Ave., 312-492-6620) for a free tasting of Eyrie Vineyards' pinot noirs plus other treats. You'll get to indulge in three vintages from this award-winning winery from Oregon, plus Juicy promises to give guests a taste of some of their other favorites. 6-8pm. Free.

The weekly Cellar Notes event at NoMI (800 N. Michigan Ave., 312-239-4030) pays homage to Cinco de Mayo with a Don Julio tequila tasting. Advanced Sommelier Fernando Beteta will be on hand as usual to guide guests for the best experience. 5:30-7:30pm. $30.

Seafood lovers can go to town during Paramount Room's (415 N Milwaukee Ave., 312-829-6300) weekly all-you-can-eat Fish & Chips Night, for hand-dipped Icelandic cod, creamed slaw and fresh-cut fries for $14. It's also half-price wines by the bottle night.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Look out . . .

. . . for the next round of openings:

Chocolate Grape (2113 W. Division St., 773-772-3990), a chocolate, wine and pastry cafe, opens in Wicker Park on Friday.

Epic Burger (517 S. State St.), an all natural, fast casual burger concept, debuts its flagship store next week in the South Loop.

Raise a margarita to Cinco de Mayo

Adobo Grill celebrated Cinco de Mayo all weekend long with specials. (Photo: Adobo Grill)

Likely, you launched into Cinco de Mayo festivities over the weekend, and if you're not maxed-out on margaritas yet, here are some events to check into:

Adobo Grill’s grande Cinco de Mayo celebration concludes tonight with specials on food and margaritas. You'll also get to nod your head to mariachi bands at both locations: 1610 N. Wells St. or 2005 W. Division St.

The weekly BBR Monday Night Social happens tonight at Debonair Social Club (1575 N. Milwaukee Ave., 773-227-7990). Hosted by Music 101, the party includes drink specials, live art installations and festive house and Latin soul music by Mazi and Brian Gardner. 9pm-2am. Free.

Cityscape Bar (Holiday Inn Chicago Mart Plaza, 350 W. Mart Center Dr., 312-836-5000) is changing up its usual after-work buffet for a Spanish spin tonight. The complimentary buffet will include homestyle chicken tamales, tortilla chips, chorizo and potato flautas and more. Also, they're serving up several drink specials, including Patron Melon Bull (Patron Silver, Patron Citronge, Midori Melon, Red Bull and topped with Champagne) for $6. Buffet: 5-7pm; party continues until 1am.

Flock to Park 52's (5201 S. Harper Ave., 773-241-5200) fiesta tonight. They're doing a Chipotle roasted rack of lamb served with mashed yucca as well as spicy crispy rock shrimp. Specialty sippers include an organic Partida margarita (created with organic agave nectar, fresh lime juice) for only $5.50.

And the colorful Sangria Restaurant and Tapas Bar (901 W. Weed St., 312-266-1200) will offer $5 glasses of red and white sangria and $3 bottles of Bud Light Lime.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Your Momma . . .


. . . is a very special lady, and her Big Day is May 11. If you haven't made those plans yet, 312 Dining Diva has got you covered with these offbeat dining options:

The Chopping Block. Spend the afternoon cooking a three-course meal with you mom at either location of this popular cooking school. You'll get to make prosciutto-wrapped asparagus; egg, spinach and cheese stuffed crepes with Hollandaise sauce; and a lemon tart with strawberries. 10am at Merchandise Mart (Suite 107, 312-644-6360); 11am in Lincoln Square (4747 N. Lincoln Ave., 773-472-6700). $75 per person.

Geja’s Café (340 W. Armitage Ave., 773-281-9101). They're offering an all-inclusive fondue lunch that includes cheese fondue, a choice of chicken or shrimp, flaming chocolate fondue and Champagne. All moms will also get a free five-minute massage by a licensed massage therapist. Doors open at noon. $30.

Green Zebra (1460 W. Chicago Ave., 312-243-7100). Shawn McClain's contemporary vegetarian-focused eatery serves up a la carte brunch choices like baked cheese fondue with Granny Smith apples and sourdough bread; aged cheddar grilled cheese with tomato-onion chutney; caramelized vegetable hash, roasted tomato vinaigrette, baked eggs; and Challah French toast with black pepper and strawberries. 10:30am-2pm. Prices vary.

Pops for Champagne (601 N. State St., 312-266-7677). Indulge your mom with premium bubbly during the Mothers of Champagne celebration all weekend long. Pair executive chef Andrew Brochu's American progressive menu with a number of champagne specials such as Louis Roederer Brut Premier and Pommery Brut Rosé.

Powerhouse Restaurant and Bar (215 N. Clinton St., 312-928-0800).
Mothers get a complimentary glass of Henriot Blanc champagne from noon to 8pm on their big day when they order from the classic American menu. Enjoy entrees such as slow-roasted chicken thigh with faro, braised artichokes, Swiss chard and sorrel sauce or Walleye Pike with English pea custard, black trumpet mushrooms, white corn and roasted red pepper nage. Prices vary.

Sinha Elegant Cuisine (2018 W. Adams St., 312-491-8200). Transport Mom to Brazil at caterer Jorgina Pereira's weekly exotic brunch/early dinner giving props to her homeland. Dig into filling portions of authentic Brazilian cuisine, dance to the music (with dancers in full costume!) and mingle with others who're there to have a good time. Hopefully the day will be warm so diners may relax on the outdoor patio. 2-8pm. Reservations are mandatory. BYOB; $30.

Vermillion (10 W. Hubbard St., 312-527-4060). Savor a six-course, Indian-Latin seafood supper with delights like lobster bisque, blue corn-crusted scallop, lobster ceviche, tamarind shrimp and Brazilian caldeirada. And if you're looking for something beyond the usual bubbly, get one of their "herb & spice" champagne fizzes (blueberry cardamom fizz, jalapeno cilantro or prickly-pear ginger). Moms get one for free! Noon-3pm; 5-10pm. $55 per person.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Best 'Morning After' Brunch?!

Uhm, OK, CitySearch rounds up the best breakfast spots to go after a one-night stand. Classy!

A Chicago connection—sorta—to the Puff Daddy party tonight


I soooo need to be in LA right NOW.

My girl DJ Kiss, the hottie New York deejay who's spun for the likes of Lenny Kravitz, chef Gordon Ramsay and Puff Daddy (or whatever he's calling himself these days!), performs tonight at the private party celebrating Puffy getting a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

It's rumored that he's spending $4 million for this little shindig where 250 of his closest friends have been invited.

If you're curious as to why Puffy is bringing Kiss on as the only deejay for the night, don't miss her when she returns to Chicago next month. She's already played her special mix of mashups at J Bar (610 N. Rush St., 312-660-7200), NV Penthouse Lounge (116 W. Hubbard St., 312-329-9960), Le Passage (937 N. Rush St., 312-255-0022) and Lumen (839 W. Fulton Market, 312-733-2222), so I'll keep you updated on where she hits town next.

A change is comin' in River North

312 Dining Diva broke the story a few weeks ago that Randy Zweiban was resigning from Nacional 27 (325 W. Huron St., 312-664-2727), so now here's more exclusive dining news you can use:

Look for Madame Tartine, a 1970s-style brasserie, to take over BB's at 22 E. Hubbard St. soon. Even though BB's partner Donnie Kruse (Melvin B's, Stanley's, Butterfield 8) has had much success with his current concept, he's decided to change it up.

He's teaming up with super-successful restaurateur Jonathan Segal (PJ Clarke's, Minnies) for this next project. Look for more information soon because they're still in the planning process.

And speaking of hot new spots, there's word that celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay's coming to town in 2009!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

New tapas for Old Town

Eivissa Tapas and Sangria Bar expects to open later this month. (Photo: Eivissa Tapas and Sangria Bar)

Eivissa, Spain is known for its vibrant nightlife and restaurants, so it's no surprise that this Spanish-focused eatery of the same name is coming to the bustling Old Town 'hood this spring.

Located at 1531 N. Wells St., Eivissa Tapas and Sangria Bar will offer an extensive sangria menu as well as contemporary takes on Spanish dishes. Check back for more info as it becomes available.

May Day, May Day . . .

Relax with Relax Lounge’s homestyle burger during National Hamburger Month. (Photo: Relax Lounge)

In high school, May 1 was “national hooky day” for seniors. But now that we’re all grown ‘n’ sexy, we’ve got bigger things to look forward to this month:

May is National Hamburger Month, and we’re not talking the Golden Arches or Having it Your Way. Head to Potter’s (17 E. Monroe St., 312-917-4933), the sleek new lounge tucked inside the Palmer House Hilton, for a trio of Kobe beef silver dollar sliders that come on mini brioche buns and drenched with black peppercorn sauce. Get them with the flavorful truffled potato chips. In West Town, make your way to groovy rock spot Relax (1450 W. Chicago Ave., 312-666-6006) for a juicy 1/3 lb Angus beef burger or surprisingly delicious veggie burger drizzled with their special “Pharmacy sauce.” Add a basket of hand-cut fries for only a $1. And at Harry Caray’s Tavern (3551 N. Sheffield Ave., 773-327-7800) in Wrigleyville, you’ll want to take advantage of the Holy Cow! Burger Bar, where you customize your burger at a special station. Choose the meat (Wagyu beef, Tallgrass beef, venison, lamb or veggie), preparation (charbroiled, Cajun, peppercorn crusted), sauces (Jack Daniel’s BBQ sauce, Harry’s Famous Chili) and bun (sesame brioche, whole wheat, potato) for the perfect sandwich.

Also happening all month is Pure New Zealand: Wines to Dine For, a month-long tribute to New Zealand wines as some 30 area restaurants offer varietals by the glass, by the flights and paired with select menu items. Favorites such as Shaw's Crab House (21 E. Hubbard St., 312-527-2722), Tru (676 N. Saint Clair St., 312-202-0001) and Feast (1616 N. Damen Ave., 773-772-7100) will host wine dinners while both locations of Goddess and the Grocer (1646 N. Damen Ave. or 25 E. Delaware Pl.) will offer 10 percent off all New Zealand wines. A complete list of restaurants can be found here.

Also happening:


Social Therapy, hosted by Miracle Entertainment and Chicago’s Black Professional Network, takes place at Victor Hotel (311 N. Sangamon St., 312-733-6900). The party gets started right after work at 6pm and continues until 2am. Deejays I.N.C. and World crank out all the classic and contemporary dance music for your grooving pleasure.

Sola’s (3868 N. Lincoln Ave., 773-327-3868) executive chef Carol Wallack is heading to the world-famous James Beard House in New York to cook next week, but before she jets off, she’s previewing that special supper to local diners. For $85, you’ll get a five-course meal paired with wines. The menu includes Berkshire “kalua” pork potstickers; Vietnamese-style pho with oxtail dumpling, bean sprouts, herbs, and chilies; cocoa nib crusted scallops; and a double cut “sola” lamb chops stuffed with cambazola served with curried eggplant and chinese long beans and crispy cippolini.

Braziliance returns to Sonotheque (1444 W. Chicago Ave., 312-226-7600), featuring local deejays spinning infectious Afro-Brazilian, Latin and other mesmerizing music. Get busy at this super-sensual party where there is noooo parking on the dance floor. 9pm-2am. $5.


It’s the second-annual Looptopia, happening 5pm until 7am Saturday in the heart of the city. The event showcases top and emerging local artists for 14 hours, and concludes at sunrise (7am) with a special performance in Millennium Park.

It’s Lumen’s (839 W. Fulton Market, 312-733-2222) first-ever champagne tasting, and master sommelier Serafin Alvarado—a recipient of the prestigious 2005 Bill Rice Distinguished Sommelier of the Year award—will guide guests through the various sparkling wines. Assorted appetizers from Jordan's Food of Distinction and Vosges chocolates will be served with each bubbly. 8pm-2am. $40.

Who needs “Dancing with the Stars” when we have the finals of the annual Nacional 27 (325 W. Huron St., 312-664-2727) Bacardi-Bud Select Salsa Competition happening right here under our noses?! Watch the very best salsa dancers square off against one another during this very energetic event. Begins at 11pm. $50 per person food and beverage minimum in the dining room (Guests may keep their table to watch the competition). Guests not enjoying dinner will be charged a $20 cover charge.

If you haven’t started shopping for your spring threads, it’s not too late. Bucktown boutique Roslyn (2035 N. Damen Ave., 773-489-1511) teams up with non-profit Bright Pink—which supports young women at risk for breast or ovarian cancer—for a Spring’s Best fashion show at Climax Lounge (324 W. Chicago Ave.), featuring looks from Vera Wang, Christopher Dean and Erica Davies. 8-11pm. $35 in advance; $50 at door.


It may be a little chilly outside, but Salud Tequila Lounge (1471 N. Milwaukee Ave., 773-235-5577) is throwing its rambunctious outdoor festival to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. The event will include live music, dancers, drink and food specials. Gates open at noon and the party goes on until 2am. Free.

And Adobo Grill’s grande Cinco de Mayo happens all weekend long (Friday through Monday, May 5) with specials on food and margaritas. You'll also get to nod your head to mariachi bands at both locations: 1610 N. Wells St. or 2005 W. Division St.