Thursday, July 31, 2008

Before you ever think about being rude to another server again . . .


. . . you might want to pick up this book.

Loco for Lolla . . . and Lohan . . .

There's a big chance we'll see Lindsay Lohan out and about at various parties this weekend.

Lollapalooza—one of the summer's biggest attractions—is here.

And while some will brave the blistering heat this weekend with daylong, outdoor concerts, others will opt for the parties bringing out the stars:


Lollapalooza founder Perry Farrell is the special guest at GALApalooza, taking place tonight at Petrillo Music Shell (235 S. Columbus Dr.; 312-742-4808). The sneak-peak fundraiser for the Fountain Restoration Project, the event includes a buffet, cocktails, and a performance by Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings. 6pm. $350.

The BlackBerry Luxe Club Series makes a stop in Chicago tonight, and yes you're invited if you RSVP here. Party happens at Lumen, featuring celebrity deejay Jazzy Jeff, who'll be spinning old-school hip-hop, rock and R&B from 11pm-1am. You'll also get comped specialty cocktails if you arrive between 9pm-midnight. Doors open at 9pm. Free admission with that RSVP.

Underground transforms into the MOTOROKR Lounge all weekend with performances from Katy Perry ("I Kissed a Girl") tonight; a deejay set by Million $ Mano on Friday; Fonzworth Bentley, O'Neal McKnight, DJ Cassidy and DJ Momjeans on Saturday; and a live performance by G. Love & Special Sauce with a deejay set by Flosstradamus on Sunday. 9pm-4am Thursday, Friday, Sunday. 9pm-5am Saturday. Cover varies.


Famed deejay Samantha Ronson returns to Crimson Lounge for her regular residency, but this time look out for some possible celebrity sightings. Her infamous galpal Lindsay Lohan and brother Mark Ronson—who's also a superstar deejay—are both in town for the Rock the Vote concert happening Saturday at Lollapalooza. That party takes off at 9pm. $20.

Graham Elliot Bowles—known for his love of good music—has created a menu he's dubbed Foielapalooza, taking place all weekend, and happening at his chic namesake restaurant. The foie gras and music extravaganza features a nightly changing preparation inspired by and served with music from that evening's headlining act: Friday: Radiohead Foie Gras in Rainbows (grilled foie gras with stewed blackberries, dehydrated raspberries, strawberry puree, blueberry air); Saturday: Wilco
Yankee Hotel Foie Gras (cornnut-crusted foie gras with corn foam, caramel corn, popcorn shoots, candy corn); Sunday: Nine Inch Nails Head Like a Foie (poached foie gras torchon with black olive, black pepper, black licorice, aged balsamic).

It's the first-year anniversary for Smash&Crunch at Liar's Club, and you don't want to miss it as they'll have performances by Does It Offend You, Yeah? and CreamTeam.Tv. Hosted by Chicago Suicide Club, Custom Vibes, URB Magazine, Kilo Kai Rum and Scion. Oh, and there's $2 Kilo Kai drink specials. 8pm-2am. Free.

DJ Kid Kris performs at Manor, but he'll be accompanied by a surprise guest star who hasn't been announced yet. That's 9pm-2am. $20. And Saturday Katy Perry performs with high-profile NYC deejay Mia Moretti. That one goes on from 9pm-3am. Cover varies.


What's certain to be the hottest deejay showcase of the weekend is happening at Vision. Moby will be in the house, and it's his only Chicago performance this summer. He doesn't get on the tables until 1am, so check out all the other events going on first. 1am-5am. $30-$40.

Hollywood comes to the West Loop as "My Name is Earl" star Jamie Pressly celebrates her birthday at Bon V. Southern Comfort sponsors this party, which also includes Tinseltown mixmaster and on-air personality Eric Cubeechee (who also happens to be her fiance). Midnight-2am. No cover.

OK, so they're calling this a private bash, yet the public can win an invite to the official post-Lolla bash here. Perry Ferrell's set to host this event, with performances by Deadmau5, Steve Smooth, Danny Masterson (That 70's Show), "Does It Offend You, Yeah" and others. Party, which happens at Golan Studios (1501 N. Magnolia Ave.), includes an open bar and starts at 11pm. Free with RSVP.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Update on Jerry Suqi spot(s)

Just got a confirmation that Chick Pea is gonna be the name for Jerry Suqi's new spot in West Town.

But there's more!

He's simultaneously working on another project in Logan Square with well-known designer Frank Adorno (Narcisse, La Pomme Rouge, The Filthy Libertine). The soon-to-be-named contemporary American restaurant will be located at 3059 W. Logan Blvd., scheduled to open fall/winter, and focus on a seasonal menu through local and organic growers. Of course, it will also be very nightlife-oriented with authentic artwork, live music and deejays.

Drawing Room mixologist enjoys sweet victory

The Drawing Room's Charles Joly beat some stiff competition to win a bartenders' contest for 42 Below Vodka.

Some of Chicago's top mixologists competed in 42 Below Vodka's Cocktail World Cup Tuesday, but only one came out on top.

Charles Joly of The Drawing Room went head to head with stars from some of my favorite bars, including Nacional 27, Martini Park, The Violet Hour, Sepia, Japonais, NoMI and Swig, in front of a crowd on Citizen Bar's deck.

Though I wasn't a judge, I sat close enough to the stage to sneak tastes of some of their cocktails and was pretty impressed with this honey-flavored spirit from New Zealand. Their mission was to create a signature cocktail for the company, and Joly's winning 42 Bees Martini—made with fresh ginger puree and accompanied by a friend dressed as a bumblebee holding cue cards—stood out from all the rest.

His prize?! A free trip to New Zealand to compete against bartenders from all over the world. Good luck!

Today is National Cheesecake Day


It's rich as hell, but oh so delicious. Why not have a gooey slice today to celebrate its special day?!

Eli's Bakery Cafe, however, wants you to wait one more day to celebrate, as they're giving away free slices of their signature cheesecake at the Wright College Farmer's Market on Thursday. That happens 11am-2pm at 6701 W. Forest Preserve Dr.

Here's where to go today:

I'm going to miss C'est si Bon when it leaves its Harper Court home in December. But for now I'd better get over there for their house specialty dessert: the Sweet Potato Cheesecake.

David Burke's Primehouse made waves when it first opened for the signature Cheesecake Lollipop Tree, comprised of six miniature treats. Faves include the Pink Lady Cheesecake Pop (dipped in pistachio crunchies, ground pistachios, sun-dried cherries and covered in white chocolate) and Top Hat Cheesecake Pop (milk chocolate coating dipped in dark chocolate crunchies and ground Score Bars).

David Burke's Pink Lady Cheesecake Pops is one of several flavors from the Cheesecake Lollipop Tree.

Sweet Mandy B's in Lincoln Park offers so many cupcakes that your head will spin. One of my absolute delights is when they put the creamiest cheesecake frosting on the tiny chocolate or vanilla cakes.

And make your way to one of the various locations of Sweet Occasions for home-style blueberry or strawberry cheesecake. We'd love it if they'd create a cheesecake-flavored ice cream, but for now we're happy just pairing those pastries with the non-fat blueberry twirl yogurt or the Boysenberry gelato.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Jerry Suqi back with new West Town concept

The original home for the Bleeding Heart Bakery at 2018 W. Chicago Ave. has found a new tenant in Jerry Suqi. Remember him?!

He's the guy who brought us Narcisse, La Pomme Rouge, The Filthy Libertine and numerous other cool projects combining dining and nightlife. It'll be interesting to see what he does with this West Town property that was once a bakery.

For now, we're hearing that the working name of this Middle Eastern-focused eatery will be Chick Pea, and knowing Suqi, this will not be your run-of-the-mill restaurant. To assure that, he's brought on designer Frank Adorno, who was also responsible for the looks of Narcisse, The Filthy Libertine and La Pomme Rouge. They're looking to open in about two months. Developing . . .

Time Out Chicago doesn't respect bloggers

So I received this interesting email from the "food & drink" editor Heather Shouse of Time Out Chicago about my claim that they were one week late on The Bristol scoop:

"I noticed in your post yesterday entitled 'Uhm, sorry Time Out...' that you claim we were one week late. You might want to read our post a bit more carefully. What we said was that we got the scoop on THE LOCATION of the Bristol and the fact that Il Covo was closing, and even pointed out that you and many other blogs basically gave the general info that it was going to be in Bucktown because your 'reporting' involved reading the RIA site. The Chicago Restaurant site did not involve the exact address when you first posted on it and linked to it. The address was just added since you reposted.

While we're 'talking,' I'm not sure that I completely understand the method of calling out established publications when you run a blog. Aren't you a 'freelance writer'? Wouldn't you benefit more from actually selling your information and, I don't know, writing articles as opposed to throwing rocks at the very few media outlets out there that could possibly give you work? Just a thought."

My little blog must've struck a nerve with such an established publication as Time Out because they didn't get the "scoop" first on their blog. Or, if they had the scoop, they didn't print it first. Hey, you can't win them all, right?!

DJ Jazzy Jeff to spin at BlackBerry VIP party


The BlackBerry Luxe Club Series makes a stop in Chicago on Thursday, and yes you're invited if you RSVP here.

Party happens at Lumen, featuring true "celebrity" deejay Jazzy Jeff, who'll be spinning old-school hip-hop, rock and R&B from 11pm-1am. You'll also get comped specialty cocktails if you arrive between 9pm-midnight. Doors open at 9pm. Free admission with that RSVP.

Poptails, Snozberries and Grape Coolade . . . Oh Yeah!

Get the "Willy Wonka"-inspired The Snozberries taste like Snozberries martini at Plan B Bar + Kitchen. (Photo: Plan B Bar + Kitchen)

Let's not take life too seriously today and indulge in cocktails that bring back good memories of childhood:

Put a little pep in your popsicle at DeLaCosta, which has created a refreshing summertime sipper. Their Persephone Poptail includes a mini pomegranate popsicle with the orange puree, Grey Goose L’Orange, Pama liquor and sparkling Shiraz setting it off.

The Kool-Aid guy won't burst through Empire Liquors' walls to deliver your drink, but you'll still be able to order the Grape Coolade, flavored with Three Olives Grape vodka, concord grape syrup, sour and soda water. Oh yeah.

And over at Fat Cat, you won't have to chase down the ice-cream man for this adult version of the Bomb Pop. The Uptown retro lounge has concocted a mix of Van Gough raspberry vodka and Sprite with a dash of sweet and sour mix and layered with Island Punch Pucker and cherry.

Enjoy a Cold Chocolate with your pastry at Hot Chocolate. This specialty cocktail combines Stoli Vanil, Kahlua, Baileys and homemade chocolate milk, shaken and served in a martini glass. You can also bring back childhood memories with their version of the Creamsicle that's made with Stoli Vanil, fresh orange juice and half & half, shaken to a froth and served over ice in a high ball glass.

Kitsch’n on Roscoe offers retro décor and retro cocktails, including the infamous Tang-tini that will have you flyin' high with real Tang, spiked with Skyy Vodka and a touch of triple sec, served in a martini glass with an orange wedge.

DeLaCosta's "PopTails." (Photo: DeLaCosta)

"Willy Wonka" gets a shout out at Plan B Bar + Kitchen for The Snozberries taste like Snozberries cocktail. It’s made with Skyy Berry vodka, Skyy Citrus vodka, cranberry and pineapple juice and garnished with a Gummie Bear. The perfect answer to the question, “Who ever heard of a snozberry?!”

Indulge in a sweet Honeycomb Margarita at Sepia. They use their own house-made honeycomb tequila liquor to create this mix with partida blanco tequila and fresh lime juice.

And Timothy O’Toole’s goes old school with the Pink Panther, which mixes X-Rated vodka, X-Rated Fusion Liqueur, DeKuyper Watermelon Schnapps and DeKeyper Peach Schnapps.—Additional reporting by Suzy McMillen

Monday, July 28, 2008

Uhm, sorry Time Out . . .

. . . we had "the scoop" on The Bristol last week. You were one week late, kids.

Heather at Hub 51


Dressed simply in a black shawl and jeans, Heather Mills (yes, that Heather Mills) and friends had a low-key dinner at emerging River North hot spot Hub 51 on Monday night.

Not sure why she was there, but an Ultimate Insider said the former Beatles' wife had an all-vegan meal, including an asparagus roll and vegetarian tacos, with beer and wine. No one appeared to recognize her, but she was sitting down eating, after all.

Chowhound to the rescue for visiting Irish fam

A bunch of Chowhounders chime in on where an Irish family should chow down when they visit our fair town for five days.

From the Neapolitan-style pizza at Coalfire to the fish tacos at Mixteco Grill to even the greasy burgers at Billy Goat Tavern, everyone's got a favorite.

What's up next


Dion Antic's on the move again.

He's opening another Rockstar Dogs in Lincoln Park at Armitage and Clark. Look for it to open in October. New menu items will include a veggie corn dog, turkey dog and a new Snoop Dog—named after the rap star—but don't expect any "herbal" ingredients in that one.

And his highly anticipated project, Dirty, is still in the works. That'll make a debut sometime in September.

Live it up . . .


. . . because it's a beautiful day and there's a lot going on:

The guys behind Angels & Kings launch AK47 Mondays tonight with DJ Paul Blair and surprise live performances that'll happen each week. Sponsored by Effen Vodka, with discounted drinks, the party should attract nightlife and music industry types. 9pm-2am. Free.

Sleek River North eatery La Madia is working hard to stand apart from other pizza joints with $5 wine and complimentary pizza throughout the summer. The wine specials are hand-selected by owner/chef Jonathan Fox, and offered in the restaurant's lounge 4-6pm.

Another good dining option can be found at Custom House, as celebrated chef Shawn McClain offers Summer Break, a three-course, prix fixe dinner menu Sunday-Wednesday through Sept. 1. The special is $38, and wine director Sue Kim Drohomyrecky picks her favorite summer white, rosé and red wine carafes for an additional $12.

Or go for something more casual over at Paramount Room, as chef Stephen Dunne features Wagu Kobe burgers and a pint for $10 every night. The burger comes "dressed" with organic mixed greens, red onion, Beefsteak tomato and Paramount Room's special sauce; add artisan cheeses (think vintage cheddar, Farmstead Blue, Gruyere), Berkshire bacon or a fried egg for extra charge.

Havana Club happens at Juicy Wine Co. on Mondays with budget-friendly cocktails and cuisine. For only $5 each, guests get mojitos and Cubano sandwiches (made with roasted pork, pickles and gooey cheese trapped in a roll and pressed thin). DJ Madrid spins Cuban-influenced music to set the mood. 7pm-2am. Free admission.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

BYOB just got easier at Irazu

A nice pinot noir from new wine shop Red & White goes nicely with Irazu's grilled tropical chicken breast with rice, beans and plantains. (Photo: Gino Williams for Flickr)

Thank God for Red & White, a heavily wood accented wine shop that just opened last week in Wicker Park. Had it not been there, we would've been stuck with water and the non-alcoholic shakes (even though they are amazing!) during our dinner at Irazu that's right across the street.

Only two guys work the airy, cabin-like venue that's filled with pricey and not-so pricey wine and beer selections, but they know their stuff and can get you on your way within minutes. And for a balmy evening sitting on the Costa Rican restaurant's tiny patio, the moderately priced pinot noir for $14 they recommended was perfect.

The best thing about Red & White and Irazu being next to each other?! If you hit Irazu first and request a biz card for Black & White, you'll get 10 percent off your wine purchase. Now, you cannot beat that!

$57 for a glass of this?!


Drive-Thru calls out Rebar for its trumped up prices on a glass of Glenrothes Select Reserve single malt scotch whisky.

A toast to tequila


It's National Tequila Day. So drink up all day!

Make this a legendary weekend

Marilyn-themed food and drinks are on tap for the invite-only bash at the Chicago Cultural Center.

If you're not on the list for the Joe Jackson bday bash at The Joynt or the Marilyn Monroe-themed gig to unveil the newly renovated Tiffany Dome at the Chicago Cultural Center, have no fear, there's plenty to do this weekend:


Get to the celebration for the first-year anniversary of Martini Park. The party starts at 8pm, with live music, cocktail specials and a few surprises. No cover.

The Diva Series, hosted by Sarah Vargo Productions at Jbar, this week honors the ladies from Chicago Social and also features a launch party for Emperors New Clothes 86'd tees and $6 Snow Queen cocktails. Deejay Jesse de la Pena spins, accompanied by Kafele on trumpet. 9pm-2am. No cover.


A Summer Luau happens all weekend at Lizzie McNeill's, with live music, food and contests along the thriving lakefront. They're inspired by the big Jimmy Buffett concert also happening this weekend, so if you missed out on tickets, head here. Bands performing include Louis Scharf, Denny Diamond and The Black Oil Brothers. A portion of the food and beverage proceeds will be donated to Special Olympics and Misericordia. Starts at noon each day. No cover.

UNITY's in town, so that means the largest collection of African-American, Native American, Latin-American and Asian-American journalists will be around all weekend. Support the National Association of Black Journalists-Chicago Chapter as they host Mo Chocolate Jam: An NABJ-Chicago UNITY Production, with special guest Tom Joyner. Party happens at Sheraton-Chicago with local deejays spinning old-school/new school music. 10pm-2am. UNITY registrants $10; regular admission is $15.

Sheque Chicago works a Moulin Rouge Nights theme for its fifth-anniversary party at Underground. Event includes two-hour cocktail reception, manis and makeovers, luxe spa gift bags (for the first 100 guests) and appetizers by Rockit Bar & Grill. 8-10pm. $25 in advance; $35 at door.


Here's another food fest you don't want to miss if you've got all day to spare: It's the City Provisions Supper Club July 2008: The Farm Dinner. Board a charted bus at City Provisions (1043 N. California Ave.) for a trip to Faith's Farm for a history of the farm, along with a tour of the sustainable wonderland. End the day with an educational dinner and beer pairings by Two Brothers. Noon-11pm. $125 by calling 773-235-2489. Reservations required.

Deep house lovers will get the chance to party hard to the sounds of Brian Tappert, Andre Harris and Aaron Dae at Smartbar. Also, the legendary Dave Gandy is making his first-ever Chicago appearance. 10pm-5am. Free before 11pm.

My fave go-to spot for online house music, Groove Parlor, celebrates its sixth anniversary at Cuatro. Deejays Andy Compton, DJ FLX and Groove Parlor founder Mario Romay spin. 10pm-2am. No Cover.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Why I'm mad at The Violet Hour

The glamorous interior of The Violet Hour. (Photo: Michael Robinson)

I'm a big fan of bars that are totally scruffy on the outside and absolutely fabulous inside. You know, what they call the Speakeasy.

That's why I'm a bit miffed about the recent exterior makeover over at The Violet Hour, the cocktail-crazed lounge in Wicker Park.

There was just something endearing about the loco graffiti on the dark blue walls right outside of the door, where the well-dressed doorman stood. If you didn't know what was up, then you didn't need to be in there. It was gritty and it was good, but now that they've put fresh paint up with a random image of some dandy-looking cat, it's just not the same and feels a little too mainstream.

I cannot wait until the gangbangers tag it again 'cause right now it's just too civilized out there!

Let's go (carb) crazy

Mac ‘n' Cheese Pizza is one of the carb-a-licious pies on the menu at Ian's. (Photo: Ian's)

Here's a sure sign the no-carb craze is o-vah: Urban Daddy uncovers new pizza joint Ian's Pizza By the Slice. What's certain to be the stoner pizza place debuts tomorrow in Wrigleyville, and get this: There's free food from 5-9pm on this first day.

I'd get in line early if I were you.

Duchamp does Bucktown next week

So the guys behind Lumen and Michael Taus (Zealous) have settled on an opening date for their American-French-Asian-influenced eatery called Duchamp.

It's set to open next Thursday, according to one of the partners, and if you were in this Bucktown location when it was Meritage, you probably won't recognize it. They've totally gutted the interior and changed the patio into a feng shui wonderland complete with communal seating and a lovely garden vibe.

Taus, who was once the chef at the legendary, yet short-lived night spot China Club, is going back to his cool roots with an exotic menu that's very neighborhood friendly. What we're particularly looking forward to is his version of bouillabaisse that uses a Thai coconut curry sauce in lieu of the classic one.

Food fest attracts culinary elite

"Top Chef" winner Stephanie Izard, with "Top Chef" runner-up Dale Levinski in the background, cooked at "Green City Chefs' BBQ Festival." (Photo: Suzy McMillen)

Intern extraordinaire Suzy McMillen checked out the Green City Market Chefs' BBQ Festival last week, hung out with "Top Chef" elite and wrote about it for UR Chicago.

*&^%$#@!@!?% Starbucks

I'm sorry, Phil Vettel, I love you like a brother, but I just cannot get down with your plea for saving Starbucks. Instead, here's what I recommend people do.

A Twist-er of fate


Let's just loosen up today with an offbeat event:

Happening Edgewater wine bar/restaurant Broadway Cellars pays homage to the famous cycling competition with 20 Wines 20 Dollars: Tour de France Wine Tasting. You'll get snacks paired with selections from regions and cities featured on the tour, including Burgundy, Bordeaux, Languedoc and the Rhone Valley. 7pm. $20.

Can you handle Tough Love Wednesdays, the weekly rotating party featuring a dope lineup of local deejays?! It's happening this time at Par-Lounge with Bear Who? and NewLife, who'll be thumping out a mixture of hip-hop, house, '80s, rock, R&B, Dancehall and Brazilian beats. 10pm-2am. No cover.

It's time for Twisted Keys, an outrageous Twister competition on the largest Twister board in the world. Held at Uncle Fatty's Rum Resort, the event happens 7-9pm, with a dueling piano party (with two pianists going to war with your fave songs) immediately following. And because you cannot do Twister sober, Uncle Fatty's is offering a bunch of drink specials, including $6 30 oz. fish bowls, $5 Malibu frozen drinks, $5 bombs and $12 Miller Light buckets. 7pm-midnight. No cover.

Guests just can't seem to get enough of Steve Chiappetti's Viand's Gourmet Burger Bar. Monday through Friday, between 4-6pm, all burgers are $2 at Viand. Guests choose from a number of fine Wisconsin cheeses as toppings.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Michael Jackson . . .


. . . will likely not be in the house when The Joynt and Lip Service Productions throw an ultra-private bash for his dad Joe Jackson's 80th birthday Thursday. But that's OK because if nothing else his kids will all be there in spirit as the deejay is guaranteed to drop old-school stuff from Janet, Michael and the Jackson Five all night. It would be absolutely bananas if that nutty LaToya decided to show her face.

UPDATE: Turns out Joe Jackson's in town taping his new reality series, "Meet Joe Jackson," which chronicles his quest to reunite his sons. It also follows him as he develops new artists for his Chicago-based company, Chi-Coast Entertainment, with local business partner Rick Neville. The party will definitely be taped as part of that new series.

One night only for 'One Night Stand'

John Huntington brings his "One Night Stand" touring rock 'n' roll party to Spybar tonight.

"Inked" star/creator John Huntington takes over Spybar tonight with his wildly popular One Night Stand touring rock 'n' roll party.

He'll spin rock in the hot new deejay booth, and will also accompany locally acclaimed Mario Ink as they airbrush on body paint to guests feeling inspired by the evening’s offbeat fête. Other kookiness going on includes bikes from Criminal Customs lining the red carpet and specialty Patrón cocktails. Party kicks off at 10pm. No cover.

In a New York state of mind . . .

New York's legendary Pastis restaurant in the Meatpacking District is similar to Chicago's Marche in the West Loop.

I love New York almost as much as I love Chicago.

So on my recent trip to the 212, I couldn't help but compare every cool spot I checked out to my favorites back home:

Dylan's Candy Bar, on the Upper East Side, is one sweet spot. You name it, they've got it, from tarty treats to erotic chocolate shower bars for you and a sig other. While Candyality in Lakeview doesn't offer a naughty nook, you'll find just about everything else you'll need in this cheery space.

Simply put, there's absolutely nothing in the world like Gold Bar, a funky little lounge in Little Italy. Thousands of miniature gold-sprayed skulls line the walls and an oversized painting of sexy blond conjoined twins stares down at the hipster and celebrity guests who dance on the sofas to old-school sounds. Just about anything goes down at Gold Bar, so Danny's Tavern and Sonotheque—known for cranking out their own brand of offbeat grooves—are the only things that come close.

HighBar (251 W. 48th St., 212-956-1300) in the Theater District has only been open for a few months, similar to Zed451 in River North. But the New York spot offers a Speakeasy vibe, as you have to snake down a sketchy narrow passageway and take a rickety elevator to get to the rooftop lounge. Upstairs, it's a burst of color, accents and beautiful people screaming over the music. Zed451's got that too, minus the accents.

Speaking of accents, at the Meatpacking District's famed Pastis, you'll hear them all at the sleek French eatery and lounge as financial guys and models belly up to the bar. Over at our Marche it's not quite the same scene, but it's still a classy crowd nevertheless.

Pop Burger's also in the Meatpacking District, but gets an entirely different demo, ranging from hip-hoppers to A-List stars for its White Castle-style burgers and fries. Deejays spin retro hip-hop and cool rock as the stylish set hangs out in the futuristic rear lounge that's guarded by a doorman. Lincoln Park's Minnies, with its 1950s soda fountain front, gets the kiddies during the day, but nighttime brings out the hungry, hungry bar-hoppers for miniature burgers, shakes, fries and more.

For a sexy, quiet dinner head to the tiny and very Euro Upstairs at Bouley in TriBeCa for wallet-friendly entrees of steak frites and sushi. You can't get reservations there like on the upper level of Le Colonial, but the dim lighting, French-focused menu and sensuous sounds are certainly interchangeable.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Bristol set to open in Bucktown

Former Tru sous chef Chris Pandel created something called an ELT (broiled eel with lettuce, tomato and spicy aïoli) for the menu at The Bristol, set to open Sept. 9 in Bucktown.

His roasted organic chicken with cornbread stuffing and a grilled flat-iron steak with blue cheese ravioli should also be a hit on this rustic Midwestern menu with Mediterranean roots. Other offerings will include brunch, bar snacks (we want the Monkey bread with dill and sea salt!), and a rotating chalkboard menu featuring salumi and charcuterie.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Exclusive: And the name is . . . The Publican!

Paul Kahan and Donnie Madia are part of the team behind new beer-focused eatery The Publican, set to open on Aug. 18. (Photo: Michael Stryder)

Dynamic dining duo Donnie Madia and Paul Kahan first took food on a stylish new adventure more than 10 years ago with Blackbird. Then came the upscale "peasant food" place paired with wines called avec. But they didn't stop there: Next up was their cool, music-focused lounge Sonotheque—spearheaded by offbeat music maestro Joe Bryl—and 2007's sensational The Violet Hour, where guests indulge in hand-crafted cocktails without the annoyance of buzzing cell phones.

And while all of these ventures have been super successful, none have been as full of drama as their beer-focused, Warehouse District project that's gone on for months without a name. The concept, chef de cuisine (Brian Huston) and location have been in place since last year, so what's up?!

Did owners Paul Kahan, Donnie Madia, Eduard Seitan and Terry Alexander withhold that name to create suspense or did they simply just did not have one? Just this week, the guys got together and decided to anoint it The Publican, which is scheduled to open on Aug. 18. So there you have it!

BBQs, blind tastings and a block party

"Top Chef" winner Stephanie Izard is one of more than 50 chefs set to grill at the annual "Chefs' Summer BBQ Festival" on Thursday.

Get outside this weekend for a taste of barbecue, a block party, live music and more:


The annual Chefs' Summer BBQ Festival, taking place at Green City Market, spotlights the city's culinary kings and queens. Headlining this year's event is "Top Chef" winner Stephanie Izard, who's working on opening her second restaurant in 2009. Participants include Christophe David (NoMI), Heather Terhune (Atwood Cafe), Kendal Duque (Sepia), Rick Bayless (Frontera Grill/Topolobampo), Paul Fehribach (Big Jones), Paul Kahan (Blackbird) and Koren Grieveson (Avec). You'll get to chug Goose Island beer and root beer, as well as sip sangria and wines from August Hill Winery as you nod your head to live music. All contributions support Green City Market. 6-8pm. $50 in advance; $60 at gate; an additional $100 gets you a reserved table, linens and 10 chairs.

Lip Service Productions hosts Rumba with the Stars—even though no celebrities will be in attendance. It still sounds like a swell party, with lively Latin beats from Rumba Orchestra and Chicago Samba Band. And for those looking to put a little kick in their dancing steps, get there early for complimentary salsa and samba lessons. Event happens at Rumba from 7:30pm-2am. No cover.

Today's the perfect day for Party in the Park, occurring every Thursday on the outdoor patio at Park Grill in Millennium Park. 101.9FM THE MIX hosts the free summer concert series right after work. Beckon Q plays at 4pm, followed by Alternate Routes at 5:30. Free.

It's time to celebrate Akira's sixth anniversary with a party at all stores in Bucktown (1814-1920 W. North Ave.). The fashionable, cutting-edge boutiques should attract all the hip-stars as each location transforms into an elaborate Carnivale setting. Deejays perform, Carnivale-inspired pageantry, specialty summer cocktails and more for those attending. Also, 10 percent of all sales tonight benefit Chicago Gateway Green. And chow down on munchies from Hugo's Frog Bar, Lux Bar and Gene & Georgetti. After-party happens at Chaise Lounge. 7-10pm. $10 donation.

And celebrity fave DJ Kiss—who's played for the likes of Puff Daddy, Gordon Ramsay and Lenny Kravitz—hits Sax Hotel's Crimson Lounge for its first-year anniversary party. Also, dancers from Belmont Burlesque perform and speakeasy-inspired cocktails will be served. 10pm-2am. No cover.

Super star DJ Kiss rocks Crimson Lounge for its first-year anniversary party on Thursday. (Photo: DJ Kiss)


"The Dark Knight" fans can go batty over this Batman-inspired event taking place at Chi Bar in the Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers. Get ready for "Batman" trivia, karaoke and specialty martinis like The Joker or The Knight. Guests will also compete for a chance to win various prizes all night. 9:30pm-12:30am. Free.


A Tribe Called Quest frontman Q-Tip serves as special guest MC for the Pink Panty Party (huh?!). The so-called infamous event started in LA and Chicago, and now they're bringing it here. Happening at Victor Hotel, and the first 200 female guests ordering from the special P.I.N.K. Vodka menu receive a complimentary P.I.N.K. Vodka panty and glow cup. Deejays Funky Couture and Mark Fullaflavor spin. 9pm-3am (9-10pm is the VIP P.I.N.K. Vodka cocktail reception). $20 before 11pm.

The Silver Room hosts its sixth-annual Sound System Block Party: We Are One, an interactive outdoor event showcasing local visual and performance arts. During this 10-hour extravaganza, look for performances by the likes of Brickheadz, Joe Bryl, Danny Live Wire, Dark Wave Disco, DJ Demchuk, Dirty MF and the Smoking Sexsions, Hey Champ DJs, Hollywood Holt, Jokes and Notes comedians, Julius the Mad Thinker and Elizabeth Weber. Block party happens noon-10pm, immediately followed by the after party featuring Fertile Ground at Double Door. No cover.

Speaking of after parties, Silver Cloud throws two this weekend for the Pitchfork Music Festival. Tickets for that thing are sold out, but tonight and Sunday you'll get the chance to win CDs from Vampire Weekend, Bon Iver, Cut Copy, The Hold Steady and Animal Collective. Each $6 Effen vodka cocktail comes with a raffle ticket. Two signed CDs from Vampire Weekend and Bon Iver will also be raffled off. 10pm-2am. Free.


We heard the last one was a freaking blast. So if you think you've got skills on "the pole," then head to Flirty Girl Fitness for a class, followed by brunch at Ina’s. They're offering two sessions at 10:30am and 11:30, with classes happening on the outdoor patio (weather permitting), so make reservations now. $25 for drop-in classes.

Test your wine knowledge every Sunday at Eno at InterContinental Chicago. Order a flight at the sleek wine lounge and ask for the Blind Tasting. Wine identities are concealed, leaving guests to guess in categories such as region and varietal. Those scoring high enough can also score a discount of $5.05 off a full-priced wine flight. Try to get seats in the tony outdoor patio right off the Mag Mile.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A Three-peat for mk


mk just received Wine Spectator's "Best of Award of Excellence" for the third year in a row. The award honors those restaurants with wine lists that display either vintage depth, with vertical offerings of several top producers from major regions, or excellent breadth spread over several wine-growing regions. These wine lists typically offer 500 or more selections, along with superior presentation.

Summer's skinniest sippers


When you pair these salads with the calorie-conscious cocktails below, you cannot help but have a great season of skinny jeans, back-bearing dresses and form-fitting tops:

It's all about the Veevo Italian (Veev Acai liqueur, orange juice and club soda, served up or on the rocks; $9) at A MANO, the casual Italian sibling of Bin 36. Veev is the only liqueur made with acai berries, which are loaded with antioxidants. Veev also is produced in accordance with green practices, is certified carbon neutral and donates $1 per bottle sold to Brazilian rainforest projects.

Butterfly Social Club, the stylish, eco-friendly lounge owned by Mark Klemen (Funky Buddha Lounge), serves only organic and chemical-free drinks, including their version of a Gin 'n' Juice. They use a traditional botanical gin with organic herbs and juniper berries served with fresh squeezed orange and lime juice for $9.

The always jumpin' Martini Park cranks out an extensive drink list of handcrafted cocktails. Customers may choose from favorites like the Gimlet (Tanqueray and fresh lime juice) or Cucumber Martini (Skyy Melon, cucumber essence and fresh lime juice). Both are $11 ($7 every Tuesday for Return of the Cocktail Party).

New Lakeview eatery Shochu is making waves for its unique cocktails made from the distilled shochu liquor in lieu of vodka. The Iwo Oyama is just one drink featuring rice shochu with pear and green tea. Made from different ingredients that also include sweet potato, barley and brown sugar, Shochu has one-third the calories of vodka and is less likely to give you a hangover. It also produces an enzyme called Urokinase, which breaks down blood clots and helps prevent heart attacks and stroke. $8.

And for those not drinking, Sushi Samba rio offers a few great health-conscious "mock-tails" for those looking to save themselves from even more calories. Included is the Ruby Smash, made with raspberries, guava and lime, and served in a martini glass for $8. —Additional reporting by Suzy McMillen

Monday, July 14, 2008

Fun with Foielapalooza

Music lovin' chef Graham Elliot Bowles creates a foie gras-focused menu for Lollapalooza weekend. (Photo: Graham Elliot)

Looks like someone is a little giddy to have foie gras back on Chicago restaurant menus.

Graham Elliot Bowles—known for his love of good music—has created a menu he's dubbed Foielapalooza, taking place during Lollapalooza weekend, and happening at his chic namesake restaurant.

The three-day foie gras and music extravaganza features a nightly changing preparation inspired by and served with music from that evening's headlining act:

August 1: Radiohead
Foie Gras in Rainbows: Grilled foie gras with stewed blackberries, dehydrated raspberries, strawberry puree, blueberry air.

August 2: Wilco
Yankee Hotel Foie Gras: Cornnut-crusted foie gras with corn foam, caramel corn, popcorn shoots, candy corn Sunday.

August 3: Nine Inch Nails
Head Like a Foie: Poached foie gras torchon with black olive, black pepper, black licorice, aged balsamic.

Say buongiorno to newest Italian hot spot

Urban Daddy Chicago has the deets on former Coco Pazzo chef Tony Priolo's Piccolo Sogno right here.

Storm the (French) scene . . .


It's a fabulous day for the French.

Over the weekend, Angelina (who's part French!) gave birth to Brad's baby twins in the French Riviera. France's first lady, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, has a hit album in Britain. And today's Bastille Day, the French national holiday celebrating the storming of the Bastille in 1790.

Many French-focused restaurants get in on the action today:

Brasserie Jo: Enjoy an evening of live gypsy-jazz by Alfonso Ponticelli and Swing Gitan, reminiscent of summer nights in France. Also, through July 27, the restaurant offers a special "Frenchie's Menu" with classic dishes like kidneys served with a mustard sauce, blood sausage with sautéed apples and sweetbreads. 6-10pm. No cover.

Brasserie Ruhlmann Steakhouse: Bastille Festival 2008 includes a cocktail reception at the outdoor bar, highlighting select dishes from French-born chef Christian Delouvrier. Delights include Tarte Savoyarde, smoked salmon with crème Fraiche, NY sirloin on the grill, and Brasserie Ruhlmann’s popular raw bar with fresh oysters, clams and shrimp. 6-9pm. $40 in advance; $50 at door.

Cafe Matou: Normally closed on Mondays, the popular Wicker Park eatery is open for a special four-course menu prix-fixe by chef Charlie Socher. Wine director James Rahn will be on hand to offer wine pairing recommendations. The menu is priced at $48, but the regular menu is also available.

Madame Tartine: Fashionable new River North bistro—which harks back to the 1960s—is also doing a prix fixe menu with appetizer, entree, chocolate croissant and a half liter of rosé.

Pops for Champagne: The annual celebration, which settled in its new home last year, takes place indoors as well as outside on the picturesque Tree Studios courtyard. Guests can enjoy more than 25 French sparkling wines and Champagnes, a French-inspired menu developed by chef Andrew Brochu and live jazz. 5-8pm. $75.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Market-fresh goodies make you go mmmmm

Pops for Champagne's executive chef Andrew Brochu's ultra-rich chocolate cake with fresh raspberries, violet and parsnip sorbet. (Photo: Pops for Champagne)

This weekend on "24/7 Chicago: Secrets of the City," we check out several chefs' delectable dessert specials created with picks from the city's many farmers' markets, including the ripest-ever selections of strawberries, rhubarbs, blueberries and more:

C-House: Pastry chef Toni Roberts makes a Brown Butter Cornmeal Poundcake that sounds heavy, but it's light as a feather. It comes with robust Seedling Farm blueberries, homemade blueberry swirl ice cream and cashew "Cracker Jack" popcorn.

Copperblue: Executive chef Michael Tsonton's "Michigan" Panna Cotta is a complicated and rich dish made of raw organic Jersey cow's milk, ginger and wildflower honey, sweet pickled Queen Anne cherry salad and pine nut-caramel crisp.

C-House's Toni Roberts' makes a Brown Butter Cornmeal Poundcake that sounds heavy, but it's light as a feather. (Photo: C-House)

Landmark Grill + Lounge: The Michigan Strawberry Shortcake, designed by pastry chef Elizabeth Dahl, uses locally grown strawberries from Seedling Farm and Ellis Farm in Michigan. The cake is topped off with lavender, fresh whipped cream and homemade strawberry sorbet.

Pops for Champagne: Executive chef Andrew Brochu's ultra-rich Chocolate Cake is accompanied by fresh raspberry, violet and parsnip sorbet. Paired with a nice bubbly from Pops for Champagne's extensive list, this dessert is perfect for you and a significant other.

Socca: Roger Herring's casual French bistro kicks out an unforgettable Strawberry Rhubarb Caramel Croissant Bread Pudding that's complemented by housemade vanilla bean gelato.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Famed restaurants to vacate Harper Court by year's end

After much speculation from the Chicago Maroon and Crain's Chicago Business, it's been confirmed: Restaurants in Hyde Park's storied Harper Court will close by year's end.

The Jamaican-focused Calypso Cafe, Louisiana-themed Dixie Kitchen and contemporary American (with a twist of soul) restaurant C'est Si Bon are the victims of new owner University of Chicago.

According to C'est Si Bon owner Renee Bradford, this latest news was delivered to them three weeks before the Taste of Chicago, but thus far she's had no time for look for a new location.

"I've been so busy that I haven't had a chance to react," said Bradford, who added that on Dec. 1 she will celebrate her 18th year in her current location. "I'm going to start looking soon (for a new location), but it's all contingent on whether I find a space because it's not easy getting a permit with the city."

Finally, what does the U of C plan to do with Harper Court?! As of today, they haven't disclosed those details. Developing . . .

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Be-bopping, hip-hopping through old-school spots


Time Out Chicago goes down memory lane at some of Chicago's favorite haunts, including the Green Mill, Reagle Beagle and Club Lago.

Treat yourself . . .


. . . to a well-deserved weekend of fun. Whether you're interested in checking out Cocktails and Conversation with Salman Rushdie or a number of other notable happenings, we've got it goin' on:


The first-ever Go Green Day, hosted by GO Green Management, happens at Butterfly Social Club. Guests will get a sneak peek of the city's only organic lounge with complimentary, organic cocktails. 8-11pm. No cover.

Flirty Girl Fitness is in the spotlight for the weekly Diva Series at Jbar. All female guests receive a free Flirtini, pink boa and class at Flirty Girl Fitness. Snow Queen Vodka features drink and bottle specials, as well as legendary deejay Jesse de la Pena spinning his special brand of flavor. 8pm-2am. No cover.

Alhambra Palace is the place to be if you're into R&B. Songstress Syleena Johnson is the guest of honor for a listening party for her upcoming album "Chapter 4: Labor Pains" that's due out in September. Deejays Sean Mac and Timbuck2 spin. 8pm-2am. Free.


Crust offers one of the most welcoming, coziest patios in the city, and guests can enjoy their specialty organic flatbread pizzas, salads and sandwiches in this relaxing setting. If you get there around midnight, there's free pizza until close every Friday and Saturday.

Baseball fans get lucky every time Chicago Cub player Kosuke Fukudome hits a homerun. All three locations for RA Sushi will offer a 12 oz. Sapporo for only a penny (you've gotta already be in the restaurant!) during Friday games (home or away). And if he hits more than one homer, guests will receive a free appetizer.


Last year's Volleywood Beach Bash was super hot with DJ AM as the guest super celebrity, so expect an even larger crowd to turn out when it goes down this afternoon. The lineup includes DJ Jumpin James, The Beach Bum Band, DJ White Shadow and a guest appearance by Mix Master Mike of The Beastie Boys. All-day party takes place at North Avenue Beach (south of boathouse) with a volleyball tournament, interactive games, VIP cabanas and more. Go here for more info on event. Noon-7pm. Free.

Party with purpose at Imerman Angels 2nd Annual Rooftop Party, which supports the one-on-one cancer support group. The ticket price includes food, dessert, cocktails and also live entertainment. 6-10pm at Lake Shore Athletic Club (1320 W. Fullerton Ave.). Post party happens at Martini Park. $30 in advance; $40 at door.

Looks like HotHouse is without a permanent home again, but until they find another spot they're partying on. This time, they're doing an all-Colombian theme at South American-flavored eatery Las Tablas in Irving Park. Grupo Rebolú performs. 8:30pm. $30.


Get into the Bastille Day spirit a day earlier at Stan Mansion (2408 N. Kedzie Ave.) in Logan Square. Globally Intrepid Gourmets hosts the celebration with authentic Parisian street food prepared by executive chef Vincent Colombet of Cook Au Vin. That $40 ticket ($50 at door) includes an open bar, crepes (!!), hors d'oeuvres and charcuterie. 6-9pm. Get those tickets here.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

No one seemed to mind that Paris Hilton wasn't there

Benji Madden of alt-rock band Good Charlotte putting down some fire behind the turntables at Manor on Tuesday. (Photo:

Usually when I hear about celebrities trying their hand at deejaying, I just roll my eyes. Of course I had the same reaction when I got word that Benji Madden of Good Charlotte fame—and more recently for being the object of Paris Hilton's affection—was going to spin a set at Manor, but I got over that quickly once he jumped behind the turntables.

He wasted no time getting to the good stuff, cranking out some solid classic rock tunes, followed up seamlessly by some heavy-hitting hip-hop. I was especially impressed when he dug deep into his crate for some NWA and Too Short.

As all this was going down behind the deejay booth, Manor managed to have one of its best nights in a long time, with every spot in the venue crammed with people, especially a steady stream of Paris Hilton clones. Sponsored by Snow Queen Vodka and hosted by Outfit Events, the Tuesday night parties here get my vote for being one of the best industry events in town.

And speaking of industry, we finally got to meet the guy behind new drink sensation A:M (After Midnight), the premium cocktail in a can that's a blend of premium vodka, all-natural caffeine and rarified taurine. Don Deubler, CEO of Atomic Brands, convinced us (yeah, right!) to sample it in black raspberry, which just might finally knock Effen Black Cherry Vodka right off its effing throne. And I have a confession: It was so good that we popped a few of the little cans in our bags to go. Just call me Sticky Fingers!

It's a gorgeous day . . .


. . . make the most of it!

At 404 Wine Bar, onephiles can relax on the back patio that feels like an old-school crash pad. It's quiet and cool, and guests may order refreshing wines by the flight, glass or bottle to pair with salads and sandwiches.

Avenue M's appeal is also its spacious back patio, which is like a beautiful zen garden. The fabulous after-work hangout attracts neighborhood types as well as those who live in the nearby West Loop for sliders, pizzas and hand-crafted martinis.

Andersonville's sceney sidewalk spot is at Charlie's Ale House, where fashionable locals come for nightly drink and food specials. Also, it's hard to snag a seat on weekends, so get there early!

And nothing beats a lazy afternoon at the rockin' Five Star Bar & Grill, where guests come for the extensive bourbon selections and neighborhood-friendly prices. If you miss out on the sidewalk seats, they keep the floor-to-ceiling windows open so everyone gets to enjoy the nice weather. Wednesdays feature 10 cent wings.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Pack a perfect picnic basket . . .

Pack a Perfect Picnic

Anybody can pack a picnic basket and fill it up with their favorite treats, but don't you want to be just a little more creative?!

If you can plan the perfect outing to Ravinia or Audio Picnic, then you can put something in that basket beyond the usual suspects:

Chicago Outdoor Film Fest kicks off on July 15 with classics ranging from "All About Eve" to "The Blues Brothers." Order a pre-made picnic basket for two from Vong’s Thai Kitchen that includes shredded salad, shrimp summer rolls, chicken pad Thai and chocolate beignets. $22.95.

New summertime series Audio Picnic happens at Millennium Park, featuring electronic music artists, deejays and hip-hop impresarios. Party happens every Monday 6-9pm through August 18, and it's free. Indulge yourself, and your friends, with Lavenilla (a sensuous infusion of French lavender and Madagascar vanilla, bathed in white chocolate) or the Cran-Orange Passion (with dried New England cranberries and California orange oil, covered in dark chocolate and dotted with sea salt) from Terry’s Toffee. Both are $8.99 per one-fourth pound. Or, if you have a larger craving (or a larger crowd), head to Sweet Thang and pick up some delicious homestyle pastries. Fabulous picnic picks include fresh fruit tarts ($17 for 9”), orange chocolate mousse ($12 for 6”) or the flourless chocolate cake ($15 for 6” cake).

Impress your friends who are joining you for live music at Ravinia with the skills you acquired at The Chopping Block. Both locations will offer lessons for delicious gourmet bites like a Gazpacho salad, Nicoise salad sandwich, blueberry crisp, and an asparagus, mushroom and watercress salad with Dijon vinaigrette. These how-to classes will take place in Lincoln Square (4747 N. Lincoln Ave., 773-472-6700) on July 17 at 7pm and Merchandise Mart (312-644-6360) on July 19 at 10am. $40.

Oak Park Festival Theatre is running Shakespeare's romantic comedy "Much Ado About Nothing" through July 19 in the beautiful Austin Gardens. Make your meal super special with recommendations from August A Grocery Store, where the chef prepares dishes with seasonal ingredients that are perfect for people on the pulse. Meals vary $10-$12.—Additional reporting by Suzy McMillen

Monday, July 7, 2008

Cocktails & Conversation with Salman Rushdie


What a shock for me to find a random email about controversial author Salman Rushdie making a rare appearance at Vermilion this week.

But what's even more random is that "Top Chef" co-host and model Padma Lakshmi—who just happens to be Rushdie's ex-wife—told me that Vermilion was her favorite Indian restaurant in the country.

Anyway, Rushdie's only going to be there 8:30-9:30pm Thursday for an event they're calling Cocktails & Conversation. No tickets, cash bar. Get there early and check out the food that Lakshmi lusted after.

Two chefs, one question, two answers . . .

Michael Tsonton, executive chef/owner of Copperblue.

Chefs are used to answering questions about all things food, but what happens when they're asked to give their favorite drink recipe?!

Michael Tsonton (Copperblue): "Buy a case of bottled Miller High Life, 'The Champagne of Bottled Beers.' Get a tub large enough to hold all 24 bottles and place them in the tub. Recycle the box. Cover the beer in ice and cold water and place in the walk-in. After getting your ass kicked on Saturday night where 2/3 of the dining room ordered dégustation menus, and two tables forget to tell you they had theater tickets, twist the top from an icy bottle and enjoy. Repeat until the tub is empty. Move to vodka."

Tony Priolo (Piccolo Sogno): "Blood orange juice, vodka and a splash of Campari with a blood orange twist."

After Taste

Thank God food writers finally have stuff on their minds other than the Taste of Chicago:

The Stew gets scoop on Rick Bayless' next project that's right next to his legendary Frontera Grill/Topolobampo.

Gapers Block rocked out at Freshii.

And Zagat gives props to 312 Chicago's "Locavore" night.

A foreign affair . . .


. . . is something you've always wanted, so why not go for it?! It's prime time tourism season in the city, so whether an Aussie accent makes you weak in the knees or a curvy Caribbean turns your head, you don't have to travel far to meet someone:

Andy's Jazz Club is famous for its lunchtime music fare, but most folks don't know about its appeal to outsiders. A strong Euro fan base usually can be found here on the weekends.

At Cafe Iberico, recent foreign transplants, especially from Latin America, come for authentic tapas and pitchers of strong sangria. The front room bar is like the United Nations, with guests communicating gleefully in their native languages, including Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and French.

While Cubs fans and frat boys frequent The Wild Hare, you'll find a room full of Islanders across the street at Exedus II. The live-music venue specializes in Caribbean music, and they get down 'n' dirty on the dance floor.

Girls interested in finding eligible Englishmen (or Aussies, Scots and Irishmen!) should have luck at Globe Pub, a Northwest Side spot where they go to watch soccer and rugby matches. The neighborhood-friendly bar offers a traditional English breakfast as well.

From Afro-Cuban to Latin jazz, HotHouse continues to wow music lovers from all backgrounds. Once a month, ethnically diverse bands perform during events that turn into all-out dance parties. Events rotate to various venues on the North Side.

Upscale Euro types head to Le Bar at Sofitel for cocktails and a light bite before they hit the town. Even though most hotel lounges get their share of foreign travelers, this one is especially popular for its sleek, tech-y vibe that probably reminds them of home.

More tapas are on tap at People Lounge in Wicker Park, where an international crowd congregates. In addition to nightly live music and occasional deejays, they're coming for the budget-friendly food and drink specials.

Folks of all ethnicities come to Sonotheque for its eclectic beats and dynamite peeps. But for a real feel of exotica, go once a month for Braziliance, when co-owner Joe Bryl pays tribute to Latin American culture. The next one is actually going down July 10 (it's usually the first Thursday of the month), featuring cutting-edge Brazilian beats, hand-crafted mojitos and Caipirinhas, and a beautiful Latin crowd coming to dance all night. 9pm-2am. No cover before 10pm; $5 after.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

'Recycle Your Ex' at Lumen-sponsored event

Slade and Jo from "Date My Ex." (Photo: Bravo TV)

"Going green" goes to the extreme with this latest effort planned to drum up some publicity for new Bravo TV reality series "Date My Ex: Jo & Slade."

The silly show features "The Real Housewives of Orange County" alum Jo De La Rosa, who is looking for love, and has enlisted the help of ex-fiance Slade Smiley.

It debuts on July 21, and Lumen gets in on the action by hosting a pre-party where guests are encouraged to recycle their exes by putting them up for auction here. All auction proceeds benefit the Natural Resources Defense Council. The event happens on July 15 and includes an open bar from 7-10pm when you RSVP here.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

The secret to a red-hot summer?!


Here's something to toast to: The Chicago Tribune reports that watermelon contains an ingredient called citrulline that can trigger production of a compound that helps relax the body's blood vessels, similar to what happens when a man takes Viagra.

So drink up this weekend with these watermelon-infused cocktails (you may need two or three!) at several local hot spots:

Adobo Grill: You'll want to drink several of these WateRita de Sandia, made with Tequila Dos Lunas Reposado, watermelon juice, Cointreau and mint.

The Chopping Block: This special Girls' Night event is for women to learn how to make Watermelon Mint Mojitos for their men. Sign up now for classes taking place at the Lincoln Square location (4747 N. Lincoln Ave., 773-472-6700) on August 7 and August 23 at 7pm or at the Merchandise Mart location (312-644-6360) on August 2 and August 28 at 6pm. $40 for classes that include snacks.

DeLaCosta: The Watermelon Muddle at this sexy Latin supperclub is an offshoot of a mojito with vodka, fresh watermelon, lime juice, soda water and crushed ice.

Kit Kat Lounge and Supper Club: Sit on the garden-like outdoor patio right off bustling Halsted Street and sip the Watermelon Martini, made simply with vodka and watermelon liqueur.

one sixtyblue: Guests can settle in at the bar for BARBQ for special summer dishes and end the night with fresh, cooling desserts like iced watermelon with a selection of spiked sorbets.

Plan B Bar + Kitchen: The hip Wicker Park bar and eatery offers two watermelon-flavored drinks. Do a Melon Drop shot (with Watermelon vodka, fresh lemon juice and a touch of sugar) or sip on the Watermelon Martini (a Jolly Rancher-style drink with Watermelon Pucker, Ketel One Citroen vodka and garnished with a watermelon slice steeped overnight in Van Gogh melon vodka).

Sushi Samba rio: Get down with some Samba Juice, which explodes in a burst of raspberry-infused rum, watermelon-flavored rum, acai, passionfruit, crème de banana and guava.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Star chefs back for Green City Market BBQ fest


So, before you get all burned out on barbecue, I wanted to leave you with a massive 'Q party taking place in a couple of weeks.

The Chefs' Summer BBQ Festival happens again at Green City Market, and more than 50 of the city's top culinary kings and queens will participate—of course using Green Market foods.

Big names include "Top Chef" winner Stephanie Izard, Heather Terhune (Atwood Cafe), Kendal Duque (Sepia), Rick Bayless (Frontera Grill/Topolobampo), Christophe David (NoMI), Paul Fehribach (Big Jones), Paul Kahan (Blackbird) and Koren Grieveson (Avec).

You'll get to chug Goose Island beer and root beer, as well as sip sangria and wines from August Hill Winery as you nod your head to live music. All contributions support Green City Market. 6-8pm Thursday, July 17. $50 in advance; $60 at gate; an additional $100 gets you a reserved table, linens and 10 chairs.

Purchase tickets here soon because last year more than 1,000 folks turned out!

House of Blues takes a 'hit'


From an Ultimate Insider on former Wu Tang Clan member Rza's canceled concert last night at the House of Blues:

"Hip-hop extraordinaire, Rza, formerly of Wu Tang Clan, was scheduled to perform at the House of Blues after the openers. The House of Blues then had to evacuate concert goers before Rza was set to come on stage, due to a fire in the coat check! There are rumors that it could have been a fire from someone smoking weed! The concert goers will get reimbursed, but they never got to see the artist perform unless they attended the Official Rza Concert After Party at Rednofive.

Rza and his crew arrived at Rednofive shortly after the show was canceled and sat in the VIP section and sipped on Belvedere cocktails after taking photos on the red carpet in front. . . . . Rza, dressed in an olive green t-shirt, head band and sunglasses, later took the mic and performed for over half an hour here and there. The crowd went nuts and those that never got to see him perform at HOB were content."

Weed smoking?! Really?!

Hot Diggity Dog, we're No. 1!


The Stew gleefully reports that the National Hot Dog & Sausage Council named Wrigley Field as serving the favorite Major League Baseball stadium hot dog in the country.

The park offers Best Kosher and Ball Park Franks hot dogs steamed, boiled and grilled with toppings ranging from grilled onions to the classic Chicago condiments.

If baseball's not your thing, check out my recommendations for hot dogs around town: America's Dog, Hot Doug's and Rock Star Dogs.

A Star Spangled Scene


With so much stuff going on this holiday weekend, I'm not going to overwhelm you, so here's The List for my top best bets:


If you're planning a BBQ this weekend and need tips, head to the Green City Market for a demo by chef Kurt Chenier of Bonsoiree. That happens at 10:30am, but the market is open 7:30am-1:30pm for locally grown and sustainable produce. Free.

A Special Benefit for the Troops, taking place at Manor, honors those fighting for us in Iraq. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Wounded Heroes Foundation. 9-10pm cocktail reception. 9pm-2am. $10 donation.

The Made in the USA Sparkling Wine Festival at Pops for Champagne gives props to 15 of the country's top sippers, with tasting glass portions beginning at $6. Guests can enjoy wine from Domaine Carneros, Mumm Cuvee Napa, Roederer Estate and Schramsberg. Executive Chef Andrew Brochu is also whipping up Baby Back Ribs with peach barbecue sauce and coleslaw. 3pm-2am.


Godfather of House Music Frankie Knuckles performs during his annual holiday party, The Gift, this time happening at Green Dolphin Street. Thank god it's here because his parties get steaming hot and GDS's outdoor patio is the perfect spot to cool off. 9pm-4am. Free.

Hot new River North eatery and lounge Hub 51 hosts a benefit for Starlight Midwest, which assists seriously ill children. $30 gets you an open bar all night long. Doors open at 10pm.


It's time for the 8th Annual 4th of July DayRa Sunset Boat Party, hosted by Music 101 and Miguel Castro. Entertainment includes deejay Lady D, a live performance by FFM and fireworks on Navy Pier. Ticket includes three hours of premium open bar, hors d'oeuvres, transportation to and from the boat, and complimentary admission to Lumen for the after party. Guests must meet at Lumen between 5-7pm for bus transportation. $75 in advance; $95 the day of the event.

Super hot actor/model Boris Kodjoe hosts a holiday party and fashion show at Joe's. The event also includes a performance by legendary New York deejay Kid Capri. 9pm-4am. $20 and up.


All week long, hip Wicker Park sushi lounge Blu Coral is offering red, white and blue sushi and drink specials. We're especially lovin' the Star Spangled Special of Alaskan, Unagi and exotic crunch signature makis and three pieces of oven-baked sake for $30.


Reservations are still available at Singha's, the city's only authentic Brazilian brunch. Guests may settle in the lower-level dining room or on the spacious outdoor patio and indulge in homestyle Brazilian delights made all on premises. There's also a Brazilian Carnival show with dancers in traditional costumes and an Argentine Tango performance. 2-6pm. $30 for all you can eat.

And cheer on our Chicago Machine lacrosse team—who just won against Denver on Sunday!—as they take on the Los Angeles Riptide. Game starts at 3:30pm at Toyota Park (7100 S. Harlem Ave. in Bridgeview), but they've set it up so you can take a "booze cruiser" from Duffy's Tavern that includes food and beer. Bus leaves Duffy's at 2:30. $25.