Friday, August 29, 2008

(Reality) food fight!


Who's the ultimate reality TV chef?!

You'll be able to decide when two of the biggest reality food stars face off in a competition at the Chopping Block.

Rock Harper ("Hell's Kitchen") and Stephanie Izard ("Top Chef") go head to head in a mystery basket cooking competition, and one lucky guest will win the chance to join Chopping Block founder Shelley Young in choosing the winner.

Appetizers from Izard's soon-to-be named restaurant and Harper's forthcoming book will be served with cocktails. A portion of the proceeds benefits the Greater Chicago Food Depository. Event takes place at 6pm Sept. 29. Reservations required; tickets $125.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Obama twin!


Hey, if you're hanging out and about this weekend and happen to run into this guy, no, your mind's not playing tricks on ya.

That's not Sen. Barack Obama. It's Reggie Brown, a server at ajasteak at the Dana Hotel.

Major props to the mole master

"The sopes, especially the earthy, spicy chorizo and woodland-mushroom-topped version, were as good as I remember," said Nagrant. (Photo: Hungry Mag)

Hungry Mag's Michael Nagrant gives big props to Geno Bahena's latest project, Real Tenochtitlan in Wicker Park, in this review:

"The sopes, especially the earthy, spicy chorizo and woodland-mushroom-topped version, were as good as I remembered. . . . The Borrego en Mole Negro, featuring succulent medium-rare lamp chops swimming in a pool of mahogany mole made of chilhuacle chiles had a deep, sweet, spice perfume. The mole at Real was more layered than the similar mole at Sol de Mexico. It was also perfectly salted, a frequent mole shortcoming. When our table ran out of fresh housemade tortillas, I used the now-bare lamb chop bones to ladle up the rest of the sauce."

How could I forget this?!


Michael Jackson turns 50 on Friday! You know there will be a King of Pop tribute playing everywhere you go this weekend . . .

Send the summer off on a sweet note

Sugar Ray is scheduled to perform during the "Labor of Love" event this weekend at Enclave.

It's the last hurrah for summer, or is it really?!

As far as I'm concerned, summer ends somewhere around Sept. 22—when Autumn really kicks in. Whatever the case, it's gonna be one fabulous weekend with amazing weather, so if you're in town, there's no excuse not to take advantage of it.

From a fun, outdoor club concert featuring pop band Sugar Ray to brunch on the patio at Bucktown's hottest new spot, Duchamp, here's where you need to be:


Hopefully, the weather will hold up for tonight's Summer Concert Series on the roof deck of Crunch Fitness. Event includes acoustic music by Chris and Joe of Bottle of Just Us and food from America’s Dog. 7-9pm at 939 W. North Ave. No cover.

You'll probably be eating 'cue all weekend, but you won't have anything like the burgers at Paramount Room, which offers a decadent Wagu Kobe beef burger "dressed" with organic greens, Beefsteak tomatoes and a special sauce. For $10, you can pair it with one of their specialty beers.


I remember when world-renown soulful deejay Ron Trent started his Africa Hi-Fi party in an old Wicker Park loft exactly four years ago. That event brought out some music super stars, including the Godfather of House Music Frankie Knuckles. He's celebrating four years of fabulous fetes at Sonotheque, with a special appearance by Philadelphia sensation and former Digable Planets mixmaster King Britt. Expect some funky hip-hop, soul and whatever else he wants to spin. There will also be a live performance by SIji and live art installation by Krista Franklin. 9pm-2am. $10.

It's also time for Music 101's eighth-annual Labor Day DayRa Sunset Boat Ride, kicking off at Cat's Meow. Ticket includes three hours of premium open bar, hors d'oeuvres, transportation to and from the boat and the after party at Cat's Meow. Deejays Johnny Fiasco and Frank Solano spin, and guests will get to enjoy the fireworks on Navy Pier. (Everyone must meet at Cat's Meow between 5-7pm for transportation to boat; buses leave at 7pm.) $75 in advance; $95 (day of event). No cover for after party.

Steve Aoki returns to perform his special brand of music, this time appearing at Bon V. He's best known for founding artists from Bloc Party, The Kills, The Gossip and Klaxons . 9pm-2am. $20.


Green City Market continues, and this weekend they're featuring Freddy Sanchez of Adobo Grill for the Chef Demo. If you sit close enough, maybe you'll get to sample some of his famous nouveau Mexican cuisine. 10:30-11:30am. Free.

Jesse de la Pena wants to take us Back to the '80s, with this carefree party happening at Darkroom. Added entertainment includes a 1980s costume contest, CD giveaways and a showing of cult classic films "Valley Girl," "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," "Purple Rain," "Beat Street" and others. Like totally rad! 9pm-2am. $5 (with costume); $8 (without).

The "no home" Hothouse continues to host global-flavored events throughout the city. This time they're going back to Las Tablas Colombian Steakhouse, which sold out last month. The party includes dinner and live music by Puerto Rican band Viento de Agua. The three-course dinner package includes a pitcher of sangria for $35. Dinner seatings are 9 and 10pm, but dancing goes on until 2am.


When it comes to brunch, Duchamp appears to be doing nicely in just a short few weeks. The former home for Meritage was a brunch hot spot for the Bucktown natives, and it's proving no different as they're lounging out on the expansive patio for hearty, contemporary American fare. 11am-2pm.

The second-annual Global Adrenaline Anniversary Festival, Labor of Love, happens at Enclave with a special performance by pop group Sugar Ray. But the best part of this event is that they're transforming the front lot into a ginormous beer garden with daylong performances. Party starts at 5pm, with food and drink vendors. Those on the VIP tip can reserve cabanas for $500. The party continues at night inside the club with deejays. $10 for festival; $20 for nightclub.

HotHouse is also hosting another noteworthy event, occurring at Fizz to celebrate Brazilian Independence Day. Chicago Samba performs traditional Brazilian beats, while Rio Dio kicks out samba-rock. Also, those wanting to learn how to move like the Brazilians will be able to get in on the dance lesson. 8pm-2am. $12 in advance; $15 at door.

And Plan B is where you'll want to be if you're just looking to chill out. The pre-Labor Day party features Will from "The Real World Hollywood" spinning, plus several cocktail specials. 8pm-2am. No cover.



Wednesday, August 27, 2008

I've fallen out of love with nightlife: Part II


A few months back, I wrote this about the current state of late-night partying.

It inspired some interesting conversations between friends, which inspired me to do a follow-up post on something else that's been bugging me lately: the obscenely high cost of going out these days.

In these tough economic times, you'd think bar owners—and nightlife promoters—would give us a break. But it seems like it just keeps getting more and more expensive.

Just today, I received a press release about the $2,500 NV Martini with a 2.3 carat emerald pendant, being offered by NV Penthouse Lounge. Now, while I understand that it's considered a "luxury" lounge, this new cocktail is way too extravagant during a period when people are more intrigued by half-price cocktail night.

More power to them if they can get someone to drop $2,500 on one effing drink, but think about it. That's more than the average person pays for a mortgage or rent.

And another thing: What is really going on with the bottle service?! It's to a point now that you cannot sit in a downtown-area nightclub without dropping several hundred dollars on drinks (even more on weekends!). Who are these people who can afford to go out every weekend and order bottle service like they're Bill Gates?!

I just feel sorry for the average guy when it's not enough to buy a lady a drink. If he doesn't have a table locked down with at least a couple of bottles of premium hooch, then he can just forget about getting those digits.

It's like the whole idea of going out to genuinely meet new and interesting people is no longer a priority. What happened to those fun nights when we had just enough cocktails in our system to carry a nice buzz, danced all night to various tunes, and worked the party from one end of the room to the other?!

Let's bring that back. Now.

Jay-Z still planning to expand 40/40 Club to Chi


Hip-hop mogul Jay-Z is selling his recently opened 40/40 Club in Las Vegas, but he's still talking about bringing the brand to Chicago next year. Hmmmmmmm.

This is simply beyond the usual


Truffles and champagne?! Blah. So boring.

It's time to step it up a notch, and one of the city's top local mixologists, John Kinder (Spy Bar, mk), wants to get you there with Chocolate + Cocktails…a secret love affair, happening Thursday at Vosges Haut-Chocolat.

This exclusive, guided tasting pairs Vosges exotic chocolate confections with Kinder's customized "culinary cocktails." One of the highlights: Bourbon blended with sugar snap peas and fresh lemon juice, paired with Vosges' Bacon + Chocolate Candy Bar. The $60 ticket includes five custom culinary cocktails (made with fresh squeezed juices and infusions) paired with Vosges' luxury chocolates, small bites and a chocolate-filled gift bag. 7:30-9:30pm. Call 773-296-9866 for tickets.

That's tomorrow, but here's what's on tonight:

The Chicago Jazz Fest happens this weekend, and you should kick it off in style with the Jazz Institute’s 22nd Jazz Club Tour, occurring all over town. Sponsored by the Chicago Trolley Company, the event will make stops at iconic jazz spots like Jazz Showcase, Green Mill, Buddy Guy's Legends and Backroom. 6-10pm. $30.

It's the last Wednesday of the month, which means that it's time for Quartino's popular wine tasting event. This time, they're exploring vino from Greece. The event includes five wines, light appetizers and a cool, friendly crowd on the top level. 7-9pm. $20.

More vino is on tap at Broadway Cellars, for the 20 Wines 20 Dollars wine tasting. They're pouring something they're calling "patio wines," which are lively whites and robust reds that should be ideal for Labor Day weekend. They're also serving up a good old-fashioned backyard BBQ with ribs, brats and chicken. 6-9pm. $20.

"Project Runway," everyone's fave fashion reality show, is on tonight, and if you want to watch it with an energetic crowd, head to the Kit Kat Lounge & Supper Club. They're showing it on jumbo screens with local fashion designer and Season 4 alum Steven Rosengard. Guests will also indulge in themed food and drink specials, and compete in a design-your-own-martini contest for a chance to win a $250 Absolut gift basket during the show's season finale. 8pm. No cover.

And Rebirth of the Cool is back at Sonotheque, featuring those cool-ass lounge sounds of the 1960s and 1970s. Joe "The Groove Merchant" Bryl spins. 9pm-2am. $5.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

iCream still on ice . . . until further notice


Just tried to stop by iCream for a cool-out treat, and yes, it's still closed until they can fix those hi-tech, liquid-nitrogen, ice-cream machines.

Voice mail says: "We will re-open as soon as it's humanly possible."

Y'all must've worn that place out on its first weekend!

Backstreet Boys love Berry Chill

Berry Chill founder Michael Farah (second from right) surrounded by Backstreet Boys Howie Dorough (from left), Brian Litrell and A.J. McLean. (Photo: Berry Chill)

Should we add the Backstreet Boys to the long list of fans of Berry Chill, the River North froyo fave?!

Founder Michael Farah seems to think so, as he brought the Boys a round of the healthy sweet treats, following a special performance Monday at the Draft FCB offices in Streeterville.

Who knows who you'll spot . . .

Actress Rachel McAdams recently checked out Le Colonial for lunch while in town filming "The Time Traveler's Wife."

. . . at lunch today. Guests recently dining on the terrace at exotic Gold Coast eatery Le Colonial were lucky enough to be seated next to movie star Rachel McAdams, who's in town filming "The Time Traveler's Wife" with co-star Eric Bana. She was only seen sipping martinis, but that terrace is an ideal spot to indulge in the price-conscious business lunch menu for $22.50. Order a first-course item like the Cha Gio (Vietnamese spring rolls with shrimp, pork and mushrooms) or Banh Cuon (steamed Vietnamese ravioli with chicken and mushrooms), and follow that up with the popular Ga Xao Cari (sautéed diced chicken with eggplant, mango, string beans & cashew nuts in a curry sauce). The meal also comes with coffee. 11am-2pm.

Other deals happening today:

Between Café and Lounge in Wicker Park launches Benefit Social Tuesdays, a series of events held tonight, Sept. 30 and Oct. 21. You'll be treated to complimentary, small global sharing plates by Executive Chef Radhika "Rad" Desai, half-price bottles of wine and specialty culinary cocktails. A number of silent auction items and raffle prizes on hand include tickets to the Gorilla Tango Theater; opening night to the Goodman Theater with Chicago Dramatists’ Resident Playwright Rebecca Gilman; tickets to Collaboraction’s show, "Heroes and Villains;" and autographed items from boxer Oscar de la Hoya and actor Freddie Rodriguez. 6-9pm. The suggested donation at the door benefits the AIDS Foundation of Chicago.

Head to the launch of Chicago-based website Third Coast Preppy on Citizen Bar's rooftop patio. The party includes cocktails, appetizers and "exclusive" shopping deals from local neckwear company Bird Dog Bay, shirts from Salmon Cove and needlepoint belts from Tucker Blair. 5:30-8pm. The $5 donation benefits the Junior League of Chicago.

It's the second day of the Democratic National Convention and Juicy Wine Co. observes with its ode to Sen. Barack Obama. Every Tuesday, guests pay half-price on all American wines (by the bottle and glass), plus they're offering the ObamaBurger, a char-grilled mound of Kobe beef piled with Benton's hickory-smoked country bacon, gooey Wisconsin cheddar, caramalized onions and a "secret" South Side sauce. Guests are encouraged to enjoy them on the back deck or in the upper-level lounge.

Monday, August 25, 2008

R.I.P. Iggy's 3

This just landed in my inbox about Iggys3:


What's with all the hatin'?!

New ChuffPo columnist, Steve "The Hungry Hound" Dolinsky.

Steve "The Hungry Hound" Dolinsky, the newly crowned dining columnist for ChuffPo, wrote one little line in his Urban Belly "review" that started a war with Time Out Chicago:

"I try to stay away from the arms race in food coverage currently being waged by Time Out, Metromix and a host of other bloggers, all of whom seem to be descending upon restaurants as soon as they open."

He went on to give the new Logan Square noodle joint a glowing review, and as far as I could tell, he was only making an observation about the current competitive climate of dining media coverage.

Who knew he'd elicit such a nasty response from TOC's David Tamarkin:

"But for a journalist with so many years of experience, his reporting is frighteningly shoddy. So before he slings another arrow, let me assure the public that not only do we give a restaurant adequate time to get off its feet, we also pay for our own meals and visit all restaurants anonymously. That last point precludes us from handing out signed headshots to every restaurant we visit, but hey, that’s the price of credibility."

What's with all the personal attacks lately, Time Out?! Is it not enough that the dining writers there spew such hatred toward anything they deem too "high end," "trendy" or "sceney?!" Or that their idea of a dining or nightlife review is to have some (*&^%$#@!@* snark in every other line?!

In their online rant, they claimed to visit restaurants after the third week or so after opening—which, in my opinion, is still too early to visit as menus are still not finalized—but interviews with several high-profile restaurant publicists prove this wrong.

I was told by four out of five of the publicists that TOC's reviewers have come into their clients' establishments as early as the first week of opening. I've also been told in the past that some staffers attempt to pressure publicists into giving them exclusives and first shot at photographing a new venue.

They also had these choice words to say about the TOC restaurant and bar reviews:

"If a place is too upscale, and not 'hipster' enough, they're always tough. . . . As soon as it appeals to a higher-end demographic, they get snarky in their reviews."

"They tend to favor the more 'underground' spots to make themselves look like the heroes . . . . they obviously have way too much opinion of themselves."

"I know for a fact that they've come in the first week; also the first or second day of opening."

"Sometimes I feel like they never find good in anything."

Also, what I think is the biggest problem here with the Dolinsky slam is just plain jealousy. Dolinsky is an established, well-respected, award-winning food personality who is recognized for his food coverage in Chicago and beyond. And for that, he's gonna always get some hater trying to come up.

Make your vote count

Voting is underway, beginning today, for the Barack Attack (from left) or McCain Terrain maki roll at RA Sushi. (Photo: RA Sushi)

The Democratic National Convention is officially underway, and just because it's in Denver doesn't mean you cannot get in on the action right here at home.

RA Sushi wants you to participate in the election process by voting on your favorite new maki roll—the Barack Attack or McCain Terrain.

A small group of media types got a sneak preview of these rolls last week, and the McCain Terrain, filled with tangy spicy tuna, crab, crunchy red tempura bits and finished with a sweet eel sauce and chile mayo, was the overwhelming winner. The Barack Attack was aight, but no where as flavorful as the candidate. It was layered with smoked salmon and cream cheese, topped with crunchy blue tempura bits, and finished with a sweet eel sauce and wasabi mayo.

Both rolls come on a "campaign platter" for $10; $3 from every sale benefits Rock the Vote. The winning candidate’s roll will be "inaugurated" onto the menu at all three Chicagoland RA Sushi restaurants through Oct. 3.

Also happening today:

New industry night AK47 Mondays continues at Angels & Kings, with DJ Paul Blair spinning with special guests. Also, deals on Effen drinks. 9pm-2am. Free.

The No-Tax Lunch is happening at BIN 36 through October. This should be an extra special deal for those Loop lunchers having to pay the extra food and beverage tax for the downtown area. 11am-2pm.

Limited tickets are still available for the wine event occurring at Whole Foods Market (3300 N. Ashland Ave.): A Taste of the Pacific Northwest. Husband-and-wife team Sam and Sunny McDaniel will guide guests through some of the region's best wines and cheeses. 7-9pm. Call 773-244-4200 for the $10 tix.

Who knows who you'll catch at Monday Night Live, the big industry night over at Petterino’s. Established and emerging singers—even cast members touring with "Wicked," "Phantom of the Opera" and more!—have been known to grace the stage for cabaret and show-stopping performances. Those wishing to sign up are required to get there by 7pm and provide their own sheet music. 7:30-10pm. $15 per person dining minimum.

And summer's winding down, so it's finally time for a Chill—as in Berry Chill. Get ready for the second location—in the Loop at 132 N. LaSalle St.—which opens on Tuesday, Sept. 2. To celebrate the launch, they're giving away free Berry Chill to all 312 Dining Diva subscribers! All you have to do in order to receive your small yogurt (with up to three toppings) is to send me your name for the 312DD Guest List. Then you're ALL good! Offer is only good on Sept. 2 at the LaSalle location and an ID is required to claim your treat.

Friday, August 22, 2008

'There are no upscale sports bars in the area'

Tavern on Rush is one of many upscale sports bars in the downtown area.

It's nice to think you're the only game in town, but if you walk around with blinders that's when you fall on your face.

Stone Lotus partner Luke Stoioff did an interview with Last Girl Standing's Sarah Preston about his new sports bar Bull & Bear, and had this to say when asked "Why do we need another sports bar in Chicago?"

"There are no upscale sports bars in the area. Where do you go to watch a game? Rockit? ESPN Zone? . . . We wanted a place that caters to young professionals: a place where you can bring your girlfriend, for example. It's a more refined environment for people with a taste for high-quality bar food. . . . It's right across from the Loop, where traders and professionals can go [to watch games]. It's a sports bar that caters to business professionals."

Dude, that sounds exactly like Rockit Bar & Grill to me! Oh, and how about Tavern on Rush, Sidebar, 10pin Bowling Lounge, Paramount Room and English?! And those are just right off the top of my head.

Too bad Sarah didn't nail him to the wall when she had the chance.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Up, up in the sky

The yearround Vertigo rooftop lounge is set to open in mid-September. (Photo: Dana Hotel)

I've been holding on to the generous gift card given to me at the Dana Hotel/ajasteak opening party simply because I've been waiting for the opening of their gorgeous rooftop lounge Vertigo.

Scheduled to open in mid-September, the 3,100-square-foot bar will have amazing views of State Street, with much of it covered so we can go play there yearround. And what'll really set it apart from the others is that Vertigo will have a deejay spinning sexy grooves, several bars (including a martini bar), a central fire pit, and those low-slung chairs and Ottomans certain to keep party people here for hours.

Since that opening's still a few weeks away, here's where to play today:

C-View: Located on the 29th floor of the Affinia Hotel, this former penthouse will make you feel like a rock star. A limited menu of shareable dishes from the first-floor C-House is available, and of course an awesome skyline view.

NoMI: Signature champagne cocktails NoMI Bloom (St. Germain Elderflower liqueur, Hisbiscus infused syrup) and Park Flower (with rose essence, Chambord, lychee puree) should be sipped on the elegant seventh-floor rooftop lounge adjacent to the restaurant.

Zed451: Ever since this River North hot spot extended its rooftop hours to 2:30pm (11:30am on weekends!), it's been even crazier to get onto. It's totally worth the wait, especially for light bites like the short rib sliders and fondue platter filled with meats, cheese and bread.

The Glamorous, The Grooves and The Grub . . .


Glamorama—with hot headliners MC Hammer, Cyndi Lauper and DJ Berrie—is going down this weekend, but of course there's a lot more happening:


It's the last weekend for the Chicago SummerDance Festival, happening at Spirit of Music Garden in Grant Park (601 S. Michigan Ave.). Tonight's final event is with Shiko Mawatu, a band kicking out Congolese Rumba and Soukous; dance lessons by Issac Katalayi. Friday's Big Band swingers Outcast Jazz Band shake things up right after a dance lesson by Margot McGraw-Toppen and Riley Wimes Jr. Saturday's party is all about Latin lovin' with Angel Melendez's tribute to Hector Lavoe. That dance lesson will be by Lisa "La Boriqua," featuring merengue, Cha-Cha and salsa. And Trio Garcia performs golden and modern age tango on Sunday with a lesson by the American Tango Institute. Thursday-Saturday 6-9:30pm; Sunday 4-7pm. Call 312-742-4007 for more info. No cover.

What's certain to be an instant neighborhood fave is Old Oak Tap, which finally opens tonight. You'll want to chill out on the 1,500-square-foot outdoor patio and take advantage of that menu offering more than 40 specialty beers (!!). Owned by the guys behind The Continental and Darkroom—two other 'hood hits—this is the one people have been waiting for all summer.

Back Beat Boogie Thursdays has quietly become a Thursday-night sensation at Cat's Meow. DJ Eric Burba spins rare grooves (anything from trip hop to reggae to nujazz) and typically brings on special guest spin stars. Guests can also chill out on the large patio and take advantage of $2 PBRs, $3 Jameson shots and appetizer specials. 9pm-2am. No cover.


Good Magazine, which launched last year by a bunch of young rich Californians, throws a party at Salvage One (1840 W. Hubbard St.). If you make it, you'll be treated to giveaways, cocktails and the opportunity to check out some architectural artifacts. Performers include FLOSSTRADAMUS, Hollywood Holt and Willy Joy. And you'll be able to indulge in delicious delights from The Bleeding Heart Bakery, Crust, Raw Creations and The Balanced Kitchen. 7pm. $20. Call 646-356-7730 for more info.

The Be Bright Pink takes place at Underground, hosted by Orbit White. In support of its partnership with Bright Pink and Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Orbit White Bubblemint is offering two special edition packs, a 12-count flat-pack and a 60-count Big-E-Pak. (When consumers purchase either pack between September and October, 10 percent of the purchase price will be donated to Bright Pink.) This national launch party will include Ketel One cocktails, beer, wine and hors d'oeuvres. Get tickets here. 9-11pm. $35.

Celeb spin star Samantha Ronson returns to Crimson Lounge. Party this time is hosted by Equinox Fitness Clubs. 9pm-2am. No cover.

And head to Moonshine for Bootlegged, a deep house and soul party featuring the sounds of Dave Gandy, Brad DeLisio and Jevon Jackson. 9pm-2am. No cover.


Green City Market hosts another chef demo with Craig DiFonzo of A Mano at 10:30am. The Market goes on until 1:30pm. No cover.

Get your bubbles on early at Pops for Champagne, which holds a Loire Valley Sparklers Tasting that will include s number of sparkling wines. 3-5pm. $15.


And slip into acclaimed Northcenter eatery Sola for brunch, which happens on Saturday and Sunday. The Hawaii-inspired menu includes items like Pineapple Upside Down French Toast, Chef Carol's famous Chilaquiles and tortilla hash. 10am-2pm.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Pour it on in style


Some wine and dining events you'll appreciate tonight:

It's not too late to get a reservation for the Vosges Chocolates & Wine Pairing, happening at Just Grapes. Experts will be on hand to explain why they complement each other nicely. You'll also get a Vosges Haut Chocolat gift set. 6-8pm. $50.

Also, La Madia continues its "perfect pairing" treat throughout the summer. Choose from specially selected wines priced at $5, and enjoy free pizza from 4-6pm in the lounge.

Lush Wine and Spirits is hosting a free pig roast on its store's back patio. Guests will be able to indulge in all things Jim Beam, live music, free samples of hand-crafted cocktails and more. 6-9pm. Free.

And if you're having dinner or drinks at SushiSamba rio, check out the weekly performance of Ginza Tropicalia. A festive Brazilian band, Samba dancers and singers are certain to entertain. Oh, and the best part is that you'll be able to join in on the action!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Will Apple get pissed about this?!

Chocolate ice cream with Gummi Bears at iCream. (Photo: Joe Rosner for

MenuPages checked out Wicker Park sensation iCream on its first day, and had this to say:

"When we entered iCream in Wicker Park on its opening day we realized we were inside an iPod (or at least Steve Jobs' treehouse). A white, curvy-square indoor storefront with futuristic words on the walls (the line is the iFactory, the countertops are the iLab), icy nitrogen tanks, and (of course) touch screens for placing your order. And although we didn't witness it, we were told that soon customers could plug their own iPods (the original Apple ones) into the wall and add songs to a store-wide playlist."

I predict some drama coming if Apple gets wind of this . . .

Happy Birthday, Root Beer Float!

Cafe Matou's "adult" Root Beer Float gets its kick with a shot of Meyer’s Dark Jamaican Rum. (Photo: Peter Riskind for Cafe Matou)

August is a big month for birthdays: John McCain, Madonna, Michael Jackson . . . and The Root Beer Float!

Created in Colorado on Aug. 19, 1893, by Cripple Creek Brewing's Frank J. Wisner, the first one was made by "floating" a scoop of ice cream in a glass of Myers Avenue Red Root Beer. Wisner named the drink after nearby Cow Mountain, but it was later shortened to "black cow" and is now interchangeable with "root beer."

So today, why not celebrate the Root Beer Float's birth with a nice, frothy treat at one of these places doing them very well:

At Cityscape Bar, it is served "adult style," as mixologists hook 'em up with Absolut vodka, Root Beer Schnapps, Godiva Chocolate Liqueur and a root beer candy. The lounge is located on the 15th floor of the Holiday Inn Merchandise Mart, so you'll get sweeping views of the city as you sip your sweet treat.

Café Matou in Wicker Park also kicks its version up for adult consumption. Wine Director James Rahn calls his Le Chat de Calicot d'Ivrogne, a blend of Thomas Kemper Root Beer, house-made vanilla ice cream and a shot of Meyer’s Dark Jamaican Rum. It's best enjoyed on their intimate outdoor patio right after dinner.

Celebrated Pastry Chef Gale Gand created a Root Beer Float cupcake for More. (Photo: More)

Head to Elk Grove Village for Sweet Baby Ray’s delicious concoction that's the perfect ending to their hearty barbecue dinners. This high-end Root Beer Float features Weinhard’s Root Beer and Homer’s vanilla ice cream, and is served in a 16 oz. frosted beer scooner.

It doesn't open until Sept. 12, but the Gold Coast's More will be a hit with 'hoodsters for the Root Beer Float cupcake. Super pastry chef Gale Gand (who's actually known for her Root Beer Floats) creates it with a yellow cake base with root beer frosting and garnished with a hard root beer candy and straw.

And leave it to gastropub Paramount Room to put the beer in the Root Beer Float: Their black and tan float is made by combining Guinness ice cream and Abita root beer.—Additional reporting by Suzy McMillen

Monday, August 18, 2008

Oodles of noodles


Get ready for Urban Belly—a BYOB noodle-and-dumpling hideaway in Logan Square—opening Tuesday.

Urban Daddy's writeup will make you drool.

Lady GaGa turns out Manor

Lady GaGa performed her hit club anthem "Just Dance" at Manor on Friday. (Photo:

While the Chicago Air & Water Show ruled the sky over the weekend, Interscope Records' newest star Lady GaGa commanded the stage at Manor during a memorable performance of her hit single, "Just Dance."

The party was hosted by multi-platinum artist Akon, who's only made a couple of rare appearances in our fair city. Nevertheless, regardless of what the critics (pros and patrons) are saying, it's always good to get some non-conventional acts in our clubs. Props to places like Manor, Funky Buddha Lounge and Underground for getting their hands on those up-and-coming national acts before they hit it really big!

TLT hangs out with Bill Murray . . . sorta


The Local Tourist ran into movie star Bill Murray at Friar Tuck over the weekend.

They were nice enough to leave him be. Thank God, because after a few cocktails, Bill can get a little "frisky" with his female fans.

OMG, they did it again!

Now I'm starting to think that they're just doing this to get attention:

Daily Candy Chicago has once again hit below the belt in today's newsletter:

"Don’t blow your load. iCream opened this weekend, and believe us when we tell you — we’ve never had better."

Get it together, people!

Juice . . . and all that Jazz . . .


Mondays are meant for chilling out, right?! Wrong. Get out there 'cause there's just way too much going on tonight:

The first Jazz & Juice event was so popular that Bin Wine Café's bringing it back by popular demand. The gig includes wine tastings, artisanal cheese and finger foods, and a performance by the funky Josh Burket Quartet. 7-9pm. $25.

Broadway Cellars in Edgewater continues with its Monday night special: the $5 burgers that'll go nicely with the $5 Fat Tire beers.

More deals on your bill if you head to Feast, which offers one of the best outdoor patios in Bucktown. Buy an entree on Monday (or Tuesday) and get half off any bottle of wine—or BYOB if you'd prefer.

Head to Lincoln Park for more sidewalk seating at Twisted Lizard. Complement their moderately priced Mexican dishes with drink specials, including $3 Margaritas, $3 domestic bottles and $3 well cocktails.

And the ongoing jazz night at Webster’s Wine Bar continues to be one of their best events. That happens around 8pm, but settle in early with the Austrian/German/Swiss red flight for $15 that continues throughout the month. These wines pair well with duck, lamb and various cheese selections.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Hammer will hurt 'em

MC Hammer is one of the headliners for Macy's "Glamorama" event at the Chicago Theatre on Friday.

This should be good!

Pop music icons Cyndi Lauper and MC Hammer headline Macy's 10th annual Glamorama, happening Friday at the Chicago Theatre (175 N. State St.). Tix are still available for the "'80s"-themed event, which also includes a fabulous fall fashion show and a performance by DJ Berrie—whose father made a fortune as the manufacturer of the Troll doll.

Glamorama benefits the Auxiliary Board and Evening Associates of the Art Institute of Chicago, with tix ranging $50 (for show only) up to $1,000 (includes VIP premier fashion show seating and post-party at Macy's). Word is that the Minneapolis show was a big hit with fans, with the Macy's post-party decked out with Rubix Cube decorations, 1980s-themed cocktails and more. Call 312-443-3710 for more info.

DJ Berrie also spins the Glamorama after-after-party at Underground.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Cuban does Kilo Kai


Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban certainly loves the Chicago nightlife.

Thursday he was spotted at River North celeb magnet RiNo doing shots of chilled Kilo Kai rum.

He wouldn't talk about his pending ownership of the Cubs, but who knows, he could be working on some other ventures here since he's been hanging out so much.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Free pizza if Phelps wins


Seriously, it's free salads if The Golden Boy of the Olympics sweeps the swimming competition with all Gold medals.

Who's giving them away?! Get the deets here.

Yelp on the hot seat . . . again

Rumors have been swirling for awhile over the strong-arm "business" tactics used by Yelp sales reps in order to get positive reviews for restaurants or change negative postings.

The Register does a pretty informative piece on what's really going on behind the scenes:

"One restaurant owner was contacted 'five or six' times, and each time, the Yelp sales rep insisted that if he forked over $6,000 a year for 'sponsored link' status, the site would suppress user posts that put his restaurant in a less-than-positive light.

'They told me I had 60 reviews on my [Yelp] page,' said the owner, who requested anonymity, fearing repercussions from Yelp's famously outspoken users. 'They told me "No one is going to read all 60. They're only going to read the first few."' "

Wow. Who can you trust?!

'Check, Please' on NBC-5 no more?!

I've been complaining about "Check, Please," those uninspired, so-called "real people" restaurant reviews on NBC-5 for some time now, so it comes as no surprise that I'm hearing from some pretty reliable sources that they're canceling the segment.

Word is that the last segment aired right before the Olympics started.

And speaking of sudden deaths, just got this in the inbox about Bella Lounge at State and Division:

"Thank you for your interest in The Bella Lounge. Unfortunately, our business is closed as of Saturday, August 2, 2008 and is for sale at this time.

We appreciate all our patronage for the past 3 years."

Tell us how you really feel about YATS

Michael Nagrant, a reviewer for New City, gives a scathing account of his experience at new Cajun/Creole spot YATS in the West Loop. It's effing brutal:

"Eating there last week was the worst dining experience—and that includes trips to the now-shuttered Bennigans—of my career as a food writer."

Oh, snap!

Trotter returns to Schwa

The Stew's got the scoop on Charlie Trotter's big dinner at Schwa on Friday night.

New tradition for Air & Water Show weekend

The U.S. Navy Blue Angels will rock the 50th annual "Chicago Air & Water Show" for three days this weekend.

Melvin B’s, the “truck stop” outdoor bar where young professionals lazed about on balmy summer days in the Gold Coast, will be sorely missed come this weekend.

We always ended up over there for the extra-tall vodka lemonades after watching the Chicago Air & Water Show all day on the lakefront. But now that it’s gone, making way for yet another luxe boutique hotel, where should we go now?!

We’ll figure that out along the way—especially now that the A&W Show has been extended to three days, beginning Friday.

And as always, there’s plenty more to do this weekend, including a hot A&W Show after-party at Bon V . . .


New online beauty 'zine Glossed & Found throws a launch party at Chicago Illuminating Co. (19 E. 21st St.). It'll cost you the big bucks, but if you're into fab bags full of swag, then you'll want to be there. Early arrival recommended if you want to get in on the manis, pedis, massages, acupuncture and more. 7-10pm. Proceeds benefit Prescription Well-Being. Get tix at 312-335-5350, ext. 2.

Learn about sustainable eating at Go Green's networking and socializing event taking place at Spa Café in the Loop. Guests will have the opportunity to sample everything from the eco-friendly restaurant's menu, from the salads to the organic drinks. 5-7pm. $10 in advance; $20 at door. Call 312-307-4443 for tickets.

Stay in synch with what's going on in Beijing with regional Chinese cuisine at Opera. New Executive Chef Beverly Kim is featuring Beijing Five Spice Ribs (five pork baby back ribs, braised with Thai chilies, star anise, Sichuan peppercorns and duck stock) for $10 and Opera's Peking Duck Service, which is served three ways for $30. First, the duck is deep fried and the skin is crisped. The breast is separated and served with mooshu pancakes with Chinese mustard, plum sauce and scallions. The leg and thigh are served over a chef's hand-crafted sauce of the day. And, finally, the leftover meat is shredded and stir-fried with chow fun, gailon, egg, oyster sauce and shitake mushrooms.


Scoozi! returns with the three-day Tomato Fest, happening today through Sunday. Tonight is the Tomato Fest Wine Down, from 6-8pm, with 20 wines, tomato-inspired apps and live music for twenty bucks. At Saturday's third-annual Tomato Fest Market, from 9am-2pm, guests can taste and purchase a variety of heirloom tomatoes, bread, fresh pastas, wine, pasta sauces, microgreens, cheese and green tomato apple pies. Chefs John Chiakulas and Eric Young will also be on hand showing guests how to cook their favorite tomato dishes. And the event culminates with the infamous Tomato Fest Tomato Stomp on Sunday. It's an excuse to let the little ones jump in barrels to stomp tomatoes and win prizes. They'll also get to make their own pizzas! That's from 4-6:30pm.

An Air & Water Show post-party occurs at Bon V to benefit the USO of Illinois, a civilian non-profit organization serving the needs of the military community. Early arrivals will be treated to Belvedere cocktails from 9-11pm, but party rocks on 'til 2am. DJ Crash spins. $20. transforms Landmark into its own partyland with comped apps and vodka cocktails from 8:30-10pm. If you miss out on the freebies, you'll still be able to get $5 vodka cocktails and Coors bottles all night. And if you're still up for fun, the after-party heads to Le Passage with DJ Pullano. Mention "VibeIsRight" at the door for no cover after 2am.


Atwood Cafe Exec Chef Heather Terhune demos at Green City Market 10:30-11:30am. As always, the Market takes place 7am-1:30pm, so you can grab up all the local, organic and sustainable produce you can. Free.

Olympic fever's also at Viet Bistro, where mixologist Rashed Islam is shaking up the Olympic Rings Cocktail for $10. It's in the signature Olympics colors, served in a series of shot glasses to mimic the Olympic Rings: blue crush (blue), mango (yellow), blackberry (black), cactus pear (green) and guava (red). Guests may enjoy it in the Viet Bistro lounge, which broadcasts the Games throughout the tournament.


And you'll go nuts over Rio's d'Sudamerica's authentic Peruvian brunch, which includes signature items like ceviche de pescado o mixto (fresh sole or flounder marinated in lime juice cilantro) and the Nortena tamale (cilantro base filled with chicken, eggs, olives and hot peppers). You'll wanna pair those with the $3 Mimosas and Bloody Marys. 10am-3pm.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Star chef cooks up best dish to date


This just dropped in my inbox:

"No photo of baby yet, but Chef Shawn McClain and his wife Holly are now proud parents! Cameryn Elizabeth McClain was born on Monday, August 11 and weighed in just over 7 lbs.

Mom, Dad and baby are all doing well."

McClain's best known as the award-winning culinary king behind notable restaurants Spring, Custom House and Green Zebra.

Kanye, do we really need another burger joint?!


Apparently we do as commenters on The Stew are getting all huffy over their fave hamburger hangouts.

The rap super stud is bringing West Coast crave Fatburger to the south 'burbs, but folks are also begging for an In-N-Out Burger, Jack In The Box (which we used to have here way back in the 1970s!) and the East Coast's Five Guys Burgers.

Me, personally?! I'm still dreaming about that quarter of an all-natural cheeseburger I sampled at Epic Burger's media opening party a couple of weeks ago!

Some Like It Hot

Marilyn Monroe impersonators woo the crowd—and the camera—at the opening party for the "Life as a Legend: Marilyn Monroe" exhibition at the Chicago Cultural Center. (Photo: Suzy McMillen for

When most folks think of the Chicago Cultural Center (78 E. Washington Blvd.), they're thinking, "Hmmmm, nice place to go for a charity event or to hang out if you're a senior citizen during lunchtime."

In an effort to change that pretty boring image, the center's shaking things up by going for the sexiest exhibition they could possibly host: Life as a Legend: Marilyn Monroe. The massive, two-floor project captures the spark that was Marilyn through the art of Andy Warhol, Allen Jones, Peter Blake, Richard Avedon, Bert Stern and Henri Cartier-Bresson.

The opening party a few weeks ago also did all things dedicated to the screen goddess, from Marilyn-themed cocktails to appetizers based on her most popular movies (think "Some Like It Hot" and "How to Marry a Millionaire"). Of course there were Marilyn impersonators and a deejay spinning remixes of her greatest hits.

If you haven't checked out the exhibition yet, which continues through Sept. 21, Lawry’s The Prime Rib has teamed up with the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs for the Life as a Legend: Marilyn Monroe Dinner Package, happening on August 20.

Guests get a guided tour of the exhibition from 5:30-6:30pm, hosted by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs' Gregory G. Knight, then head to Lawry's for dinner.

They've whipped up quite a feast dedicated to the diva, which begins with a Champagne Teaser (her fave beverage!), followed by her favorite foods: hot dogs, caviar, "The Marilyn Cut" of roasted prime rib of beef, and “Blondies” served with coffee ice cream.

Event tix are $85, including tax and gratuity.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Anthony Bourdain does Chicago . . . with Mancow Muller?!


The Stew caught up with Chef-lebrity Anthony Bourdain as he made a stop at Hot Doug's, Ramova Grill and Silver Palm for an upcoming episode of his popular "No Reservations" series on the Travel Channel.

But that's not the strangest part. Can someone please tell me why former Chicago radio "personality" Mancow Muller was with him?!

I mean, really, Mr. Bourdain?!

You've got to be doing this just to piss us off!

Big names in dining rock the Ritz-Carlton this fall

Le Bernadin's Eric Ripert is the special celebrity star during a fall dinner at the Ritz-Carlton.

The Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton is playing host to some heavyweights in the dining world this fall with some special events:

On Oct. 17, it's the Author Tea with Bon Appétit Editor-In-Chief Barbara Fairchild. She'll be on hand to sign copies of Bon Appétit: Fast Easy Fresh, a new collection of more than 1,200 recipes written for quick, easy cooking at home. Ritz-Carlton Executive Pastry Chef Mark Payne will complement with some tea-focused dishes inspired by recipes from Fast Easy Fresh. 3-4:30pm. $40.

And Nov. 13, get ready for the Author Dinner with acclaimed chef Eric Ripert from Le Bernardin in New York. He'll be signing copies of On The Line: The Stations, the Heat, the Cooks, the Costs, the Chaos, and the Triumphs, a behind-the-scenes look at the world of fine dining through the eyes of one of its champions. Ritz-Carlton Executive Chef Mark Payne and Ripert will create a four-course dinner, which will take cues from On The Line. That happens at 6pm, and includes a reception, wines and author discussion. $95.

Call 312-573-5231 for tickets because they will go fast!

Toast to Tuesdays . . .


The U.S. Olympics Team is still winning mad medals left and right, so cheers to that!

Didja know every Tuesday you can sample a different Goose Island beer for free at the Lincoln Park location?! The Pub Beer Showcase happens at 6pm, with the brewer on hand to answer questions.

Lumen's weekly industry night continues to be cool, this time featuring Grammy Award-winning mixmaster Maurice Joshua behind the 'tables. As always, you'll get to indulge in $5 shots of Jameson and Patron. Oh, and they'll also be giving away free samples of Lucid Absinthe from 10pm-midnight. 9pm-2am. No cover.

Return of the Cocktail Party is one of the summer's sleepers at Martini Park. The after-work set offers guests comped appetizers and half-priced drinks from 5-8pm, but the best part of the night is the swing band and semi-professional dancers taking over the floor. Free.

And if you're sick of the usual Gold Coast scene, head to Morton's for Tuesday Tastings, where they're giving out free wine and cheese. 6-7pm.

What is really going on, Daily Candy Chicago?!

I've kept quiet too long about the sudden downspiral of Daily Candy Chicago, but after today's raunchy newsletter on A.Vision Chicago—which leads with "the politico called out Hillary’s name every time he climaxed"—I can keep quiet no longer.

I don't know if they're trying to be edgier in an attempt to compete with the more male-focused Urban Daddy and Thrillist, but seriously, Daily Candy needs to get back to its roots when it was really clever and truly sexy without going below the belt.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Soft Serve goes 'Sci-Fi'


What are these people over at iCream doing to my ice cream?!

Urban Daddy reports on the new dessert joint opening in Wicker Park that feels like what would happen if someone let the chefs from Alinea or Moto loose in an ice-cream parlor.

It's slated to open Thursday.

Update on Bombon Bakery fire

Just got off the phone with Bombon Bakery owner Laura Perea, whose sweet shop suffered a horrible fire this morning in the Pilsen neighborhood.

The three-building fire sent several people, including one firefighter, to the hospital and left more than 30 residents homeless. Perea said the damage is really bad and she has "no clue" as to when BomBon Bakery will reopen.

"We're just glad that everyone's okay because that's what really matters," she said.

A second Bombon location is at 36 S. Ashland Ave., 312-733-8717.

Bottle Service Ruined the Biz . . .

Ryan Golden (second from right), Plan B owner and co-founder of a new line of nightlife-focused tees. (Photo: Plan B Bar + Kitchen)

. . . yells out the slogan on one of my favorite tees from the new 86’d line by Plan B Bar + Kitchen owner Ryan Golden, who's debuting them in September with New York-based Emperor’s New Clothes.

The nightlife-focused tees, in fact, feature a number of insidery, sarcastic slogans playing up bar culture, including Bar Star, I Dress Down to Dress Up, Luxaholic and I’m That Model with the Bottle. These should be a hit when they hit the stores as a number of celebs have already worn tees by Emperor’s New Clothes, including the likes of Matt Damon, Jessica Alba, Chris Rock, Gwen Stefani, Naomi Campbell and Jon Stewart.

The term “86” in the hospitality industry means an item on the menu is no longer available or a guest is finished for the evening—usually from drinking.

These great deals get the Gold


The U.S. Olympics Men's Swim Relay Team and Women's Fencing won Gold in Beijing, and these Monday-night deals are big winners too:

Boom Boom Room—the city's longest-running nightlife event—continues at Green Dolphin Street, with special guest deejays Roy Davis Jr., Jeff Craven and Andre Harris. There's complimentary BBQ if you get there by 9:30pm, but this party goes on till 4am. Residents Uncle Milty, Just Joey and Diz also spin. No cover.

La Madia's calling their daily special "perfect pairings" as they offer $5 wine and complimentary pizza throughout the summer. 4-6pm in the lounge only.

Harpoon Brewery President Dan Kenary hosts the Chicago debut of the brewery's beers at Sheffield's. Event includes three beers, appetizers and samples for $15. That starts at 7pm. Also, every Monday Sheffield's features BBQ ribs with coleslaw for $11.95, plus $4 you-call-it-well cocktails and $4 Allagash White.

And head to hip gourmet shop Taste Food & Wine in Rogers Park for its regular wine tasting occurring every Monday and Friday from 6-7:30pm. It's free, and you never know what they'll pull out.

Popular Latin bakery goes up in flames

Firefighters are on the scene over in Pilsen right now, checking out an overnight fire in three buildings, with one containing delicious Mexican dessert spot Bombon Bakery.

Thankfully no one was seriously injured, but several people were taken to the hospital, including one firefighter.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Rest in Peace, Funny Man


I first saw Bernie Mac perform when he was a hit on the local "chitlin' circuit" nightclubs. It was a few years after HBO's "Def Comedy Jam" launched and the raunchy style of black comedy was just starting to hit the mainstream around the country.

There were a number of extremely funny guys performing that same type of comedy those days at now-defunct clubs All Jokes Aside, Milt Tremier's and the Cotton Club, yet Mac always seem to stand apart. His brand of comedy may have been a little risque, but his delivery was always so smooth and sophisticated that you were never offended. And as he worked his bits on the stage, he made those now-famous faces: eyes poked out and mean looking that would eventually break out into a broad grin.

Looking back at those days when Mac was the headliner at clubs, it was no surprise that he has always stolen the show in just about every movie in which he's appeared. From the "Ocean's 11" franchise to "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle" to "Guess Who?" (a remake of the Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn 1967 classic "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?"), he managed to light up the screen whenever that big, grinning mug appeared.

So here's to you, Bernie Mac. And may your signature style and swagger live on forever in all those little comedy clubs in Chicago and beyond.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Let the Games begin . . . with the Beer Olympics


The Olympics are here, but this time it's not the one you've got in mind.

West Town sports bar Mahoney’s Pub & Grille hosts the very first Beer Olympics, in which participants compete in a number of games.

If you think you've got skills, then head here for beer pong, flippy cup, bags, Quarters, Ping Pong, Golden Tee and pool at noon August 17. Scoring will not be based on alcohol consumption (that part is optional), but rather a point system established by the Beer Olympic judges. Teams may sign up and must consist of 6 people representing a bar, brand or country of their choice, and registration is open until noon on August 17. Teams will also get to choose their own "national anthem" to be played if they make it to the podium for a medal.

Three medals will be awarded: Gold, Silver and Bronze for first, second and third. The team home Gold will also win an all-expense paid trip for six to China[town]. It’s a first-class, round-trip via limousine from Mahoney’s to Chinatown for dinner at Won Kow, along with a tour of China[town].

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Market Days!

Boys just wanna have fun at Market Days, which happens Saturday and Sunday on North Halsted Street. (Photo:

The weather gods are smiling down on us this weekend, blessing us with amazing weather. So, kick it outside to a fabulous fest like Market Days or treat yourself to Blind Tasting Sundays on Eno’s relaxing Mag Mile sidewalk patio:


It’s the first Thursday of the month, which means that it’s time for Good For Party at Crimson Lounge. Deejays Sonny Daze and Monna (3 Degrees) spin what they’re calling “dirty, sweaty, soulful Afro-Latin sounds, you know, that sexy shit.” Gotta love that, and it kicks off at 10pm. RSVP to for free admission.

Paramount Room wants you to check out its new after-work deal, which includes chef-driven, complimentary gourmet snacks and light bites. Pair those with their house-infused cocktails, craft beers and boutique wines, and you’ll be good to go.

Head to WineStyles for a tasting of North and South American vinos. They’re bringing out some of their favorites that won’t break the bank. And you’ll learn why these wines are so special. 6-8pm. Free.


Flirty Girls Night Out Party returns, and this time guests will have the chance to meet the “Naked Shower Guy” from the “Sex and the City” movie. Oooo-kay. The party starts at 5pm at Flirty Girl Fitness (1325 W. Randolph St.) with Flirtinis, makeovers, manicures and sexy dance classes (choose from pole dancing, chair dancing or striptease). Participants will then be whisked off in a pink stretch Hummer limo for the after party at Crobar. Mani-pedis will be half price and by appointment only. Event tickets are $10 for Flirty Girl Fitness members; $35 for non-members. Call 312-666-2266 for tix.

Zentra goes back to its roots when it fetes its ninth-year anniversary. They’ll have belly dancers, hookah girls, face and body painters and Duke the Camel (yes, a REAL camel!). Deejays Lego and Derrick Carter spin deep house, soul and Latin beats. 10pm-4am. Cover varies.


Market Days happens today and Sunday, with spontaneous parties happening up and down Halsted Street from Belmont to Addison. Spin, Hydrate and Lakeview Broadcasting Co. will have a host of deejays, drink specials and more to keep you busy all day. Also, Twister! 11am-3am. Donation suggested to get into Market Days.

If you don’t want to watch the Summer Olympics on TV, head to West Town for the Young Irish Wicker Park Pub Crawl Olympics. They’ll have a different “game” at each bar, which will certainly include some type of drinking competition. Event starts at Café Bionda, then makes its way to Pint, Northside, Cans and Lotties. 1-6pm. Get the $25tix (includes donation to charities, drink specials, appetizers) here.


Hey, Mon. Why not do a Reggae-style brunch at Between Café?! It launches today and includes $12 Yakuza Bloody Marys (made with a basil-Tabasco bloody Mary mix and garnished with a skewer of Yakuza beef) and $12 3 oz. $12 3 oz. Bloody Mary Flights with the Yakuza Bloody Mary, Bloody Geisha (made with sake) and a refreshing Ruddy Mary (made with fresh cucumber and Hendrick's gin). Of course they’ll be playing old-school reggae throughout the day.

Or perhaps you’d rather do Blind Tasting Sundays at Eno. Chill out on the new sidewalk patio right off the Mag Mile and order the “blind tasting” flight. The wine identities are concealed, leaving you to guess in categories such as region and varietal. Guests scoring high enough can score a discount of $5.05 off a full priced wine flight.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

A Crawl to the Finish Line


By Suzy McMillen

After eight fabulous weeks in my new favorite city, my time here has come to an end.

Soon enough, my glamorous internship will end, my dear friends at dorm security will no longer let me in and I’ll be dragged back kicking and screaming to one more year of classes far away from big city life.

Even after a summer of rigorous Diva training by the fabulous Audarshia Townsend, I haven’t gotten to see much more of Chicago Avenue than my daily bus trip to the “office” or frantically trying to catch a cab to avoid hiking in heels.

And after an entire summer experiencing the best of Chicago’s nightlife with a bonified expert, what better way to celebrate my culture-shock summer than with a one-night, one-street, eight-bar pub-crawl. And after meeting enough people to crowd any bar in the city, I’m inviting everyone to be there.

You can count on us to be celebrating at every one. So come join (we start Thursday, August 7). I’ll even tell you where to find us!

Official Kick-Off:

NoMI Garden 5-6pm
Fabulous drinks with a fabulous outdoor Chicago skyline view. This high-rise patio is the perfect early evening meeting spot.

Devon Seafood Grill: 6-7pm
$5.95 martinis and $5 select appetizers in the lounge of this delicious seafood attraction.

Matchbox: 7-8pm
Right off Chicago Ave, this popular hot spot with great drinks is close enough for me!

Relax: 8-9pm
$4 Grolsch beer, $5 Stoli Cocktails and $6 burgers are the perfect medicine for my going-away blues.

Sonotheque: 9-10pm
Tonight is Braziliance Night with New Brazilian beats with resident DJ Joe Bryl.

High Dive: 10-10:30pm
$4 Absolut cocktails and if you buy two appetizers, you get one free. So bring friends!

Tuman’s: 10:30-11pm
Formerly “Tuman’s Alcohol Abuse Center,” they’ve got $2.50 PBR and $3 Guinness every day!

Cat’s Meow: 11pm-until
End the night by checking out this new place with $2 cheese quesadillas, $2 PBR and $3 Jameson shots.

Wine Down . . . Tough Love Wednesday


Today we've got all sorts of liquid libations for you:

Maven hosts its very first event tonight. Head to Fleming's for Wine Down Wednesdays, featuring a number of boutique vinos, plus Moet & Chandon Nectar Champagne. Comped apps too. 6:30-8pm. No cover for the kick-off event.

If cocktails are more your strength, Spy Bar is throwing a sneak-preview party to introduce its fall libations. Talented mixologist John Kinder has created some alluring elixirs for the occasion, including Happier Juice (Hennessy VSOP blended with fresh green apples and lightly scented with rose blossoms and vanilla). 10-11pm. No cover.

And the rotating night of mayhem called Tough Love Wednesdays pops off at Funky Buddha Lounge. Deejays Bear Who?, Trilogy, NewLife, Julio Bishop and DVS spin. 10pm-2am. No cover.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

For the early-morn munchers

If you were wondering what happened to John Bubula (former chef/owner of Thyme, Sinibar Cafe, Timo), Hungrymag's got the deets right here, as writer Michael Nagrant interviews him as well as other local culinary kings on what breakfast will be like in the future.

Think "French toast with a shell of maple-syrup sugar skewered on cinnamon stick," lobster quesadillas or a tricked-out version of "steak and eggs."


Top Chef's Stephanie Izard 'does' Playboy

(Photo: Chuck Hodes for Bravo)

Top Chef winner Stephanie Izard reveals to Playboy how a man can win a woman's heart through cooking.

What were you thinking?!

First Bite at P&P BBQ Soul Food

This mound of "smoky and chewy" rib tips at P&P BBQ Soul Food is not to be missed. (Photo: Chicago Tribune)

The Stew really liked the rib tips, peach cobbler and more at Humboldt Park newcomer P&P BBQ Soul Food.

Top it Off Tuesdays and more

Participants can win free gas for a year every week during "Top it Off Tuesdays" at 10pin Bowling Lounge. (Photo: 10pin Bowling Lounge)

You made it through the rough night, now it's time to get out again:

If the weather manages to hold up, the Celebrity Chef Ball Committee and Associate Board for Meals on Wheels Chicago host a kick-off party on the rooftop of Citizen Bar (Party takes place inside in case of rain). Guests will enjoy grilled creations from local chefs Rick DeLeon (Fulton's on the River), Mark Mendez (Carnivale) and Eric Smith (Citizen). Those delights will be paired with each chef's VeeV Acai specialty cocktail. It's also a chance to purchase tickets to the Celebrity Chef Ball, which occurs on Oct. 17, for a discounted $100. 6-9pm. $15 donation benefits Meals on Wheels Chicago.

Gas prices may have gone down a teensy bit, but you know that's still crazy as hell. In order to ease stress, 10pin Bowling Lounge throws Top it Off Tuesdays each week, offering participants the opportunity to win a $100 gas card or free gas for a year. In addition, guests get free shoe rental, a complimentary happy hour buffet (4-6pm), and $3.50 UV vodka cocktails and $3 Miller Lite bottles. No cover.

Cellar Notes continues at NoMI with Advanced Sommelier Fernando Beteta guiding guests through a tasting of different wines or spirits each week. This time he's focusing on Small Batch Wines of the Pacific Northwest for this open-house style event. 5:30-7:30pm. $30.

Effen Tuesdays' Industry Night happens every week at new West Town hot spot Cat's Meow. Deals include $3 mini burgers, $2 "we call it" beer specials and $5 Effen drinks. DJ Hiroki spins. No cover.

Monday, August 4, 2008

The lowdown on the Lollapalooza parties

DJ Jazzy Jeff (left) and MC Yameen The World performing at Lumen (Photo: 312 Dining Diva)

Even I—the self-proclaimed professional party girl—couldn’t keep up with all the pre- and post-soirees surrounding Lollapalooza, so I had to enlist the skills of my intern to help me scope the weekend scene.

Never had I witnessed so many night spots jump on the bandwagon for one single event. Last year it was only a select few venues “hosting” big-name Lolla artists such as Kayne West (by the way have you peeped his new Absolut vodka commercial?!) and Amy Winehouse. This year, however, it seemed like every few minutes I received an email of some bar announcing that they were the “official” after party for artists I’ve never heard of.

So let’s take a look at who was hot—and yes, who was not:

Thursday: Though we missed out on the GALApalooza festivities—which kicked off Lollapalooza and benefited the Parkways Foundation—most of its revelers made their way to GenArt’s party for the dynamic photog duo of Tyler "Tyliner" Curtis and Matt Reeves as They were celebrated at the W Lakeshore Hotel as the country's hottest party photographers. As guests gazed at their photos ranging from rock concerts to the various celebrity events they've been known to shoot, local spin master Matt Roan cranked out beats from hip-hop to hard rock.

Katy Perry, shown here performing her hit single "I Kissed a Girl" at Manor, also performed at Underground over the weekend. (Photo:

After that was hands-down the best deejay event of the weekend: DJ Jazzy Jeff (of the “Fresh Prince” fame) hit up Warehouse District lounge Lumen for an authentic New York-style party. Accompanied by MC Yameen The World—who worked the mic all night—Jazzy Jeff worked grooves ranging from old-school R&B and hip-hop to new soul and funk.

Underground was of course a cluster$@&*# to get in, and after five minutes of waiting we got inside just in time to miss Katy Perry (“I Kissed a Girl”) finish her performance. We hear that the many fashionable females who came out for the show were singing along to her hit summer song, and they didn’t stop there as they danced around to the usual mashups expected at this River North bar.

Friday: The EastSport Cafe at the Hard Rock Hotel, hosted by EastSport and the Ben Jelen Foundation, introduced music and media tastemakers to the next big Indie acts. Particularly spellbounding was Krista, a Brooklyn native coming out soon on J Records. She’s a cross between Alanis Morissette, Alicia Keys and Missy Elliott, with a voice deftly flowing from a soft, sexy lull to an "I Mean Business" rap swagger.

Photobucket's Tyler "Tyliner" Curtis at his GenArt party at the W Lakeshore Hotel. (Photo: 312 Dining Diva)

The hyped-up affair at Crimson starring Samantha Ronson also brought out her, ahem, girlfriend b.k.a. Lindsay Lohan as well as her superstar deejay/producer brother Mark Ronson. Samantha wasn’t on her usual game as her mixes were sporadic and her technical skills not as crisp. I’ll give her a pass this time because the entire night she had a crowd of patrons just a few inches from her face as she tried to work. They attempted to snap shots of her and her starlet friend, but security blazed flashlights in folks’ faces all night. Really, who could work under those circumstances?!

Saturday: Another major event—billed as “Moby’s only Chicago performance this summer”—brought out some of his biggest fans to Vision. Most left disappointed, however, as there was no transition from the opening deejay to the main attraction, with no introduction and basically the same beats. This party was filled with mostly folks who were out at Lolla all day, so you’d think that Moby of all people would’ve stepped up his game a bit.

And finally the biggest disappointment of the weekend was the “official” Lollapalooza after-party featuring Perry Farrell, Deadmau5, Steve Smooth, Danny Masterson, Does It Offend You, Yeah and others. The private affair was promoted all over the Internet as being held at Golan Studios in West Town, and then at the last minute changed its location. After panicked attempts to move it to NV, Vision and Sound-Bar, the promoters decided to pull the plug, leaving perplexed partiers all over the city angry as hell.—Additional reporting by Suzy McMillen