Friday, October 31, 2008

Chicago Chop House no longer Chicago owned


Just got word that Chicago Chop House has just been sold to a Nashville-based restaurant chain.

The famed local steakhouse, which has been around for more than 20 years, is a favorite with the power and celebrity crowds. It'll be interesting to see what happens next.

Developing . . .

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Stay to open next month

Stay, Manor's upper-level, late-night lounge, offers a more cool-out vibe than its clubby downstairs sibling. (Photo: 312 Dining Diva)

Nov. 11 is the confirmed opening date for Manor's after-hours, upper-level lounge Stay. It was originally supposed to open last summer.



This week marks the 25th anniversary of Michael Jackson's award-winning "Thriller," and there's at least one party in town where you can truly celebrate it in style.

Flirty Girl Fitness (1325 W. Randolph St., 312-666-2266)—known best for its exotic-dance-inspired workouts—gets into the mix on Friday with the Killer Hottie Halloween Bash, a pre-party offering guests free costume make-up applications, mani-pedis, hairstyling, Flirtini cocktails, and a free "Thriller" dance class where you learn the moves of the infamous video. The event's from 5-9pm for women only, and doors open at 9pm for men. After-party at Le Passage. No cover.

More thrills this weekend:


HALO [FOR MEN]'s Gold Coast outpost gets into the spirit with a benefit for the AIDS Foundation of Chicago. The premier men's salon will be all dressed up with staffers flitting around in HALO angel costumes. Admission includes cocktails, appetizers, a raffle drawing and comped admission to Underground's Mile High Halloween Bash. 8-10:30pm. 21 W. Elm St., 312-642-4256. RSVP required to; $20 suggested donation.


Situated in a loft-like setting above The Joynt, Drinks Over Dearborn, a new spirits boutique, continues its weeklong grand-opening celebration. Tonight, guests get to indulge in special Halloween vino selections, plus free tarot, palm and candle readings. 6-8pm. No cover.

Another Halloween-themed wine event occurs at Juicy Wine Co. with the annual Tasting of Terror IV. Those who arrive in costume may get the chance to win a $50 gift card for Juicy. Plus, they're serving "scary" snacks like stinky cheese and cure meats. The tasting includes Rhones, Rieslings and Syrahs. 7:30-9:30pm. $35.

Do the Bus Stop, Soul Train Line or The Bump as HUB 51 transforms into Studio 51 for one night. They're encouraging guests to come dressed in disco duds for a costume contest. Table reservations required for basement lounge SUB 51. 9pm-2am. No cover.

Fright Fiesta, hosted by the Young Professionals Board of Special Olympics Chicago, happens at Moe’s Cantina. Event includes drinks, food, a costume contest and silent auction. Proceeds support Special Olympics training and competitions offered throughout the year. 8-11pm. $45 in advance; $50 at door (cash only). Call 773-278-2178 for tix.


The 23rd annual Dark Fright party happens until dawn at Golan Studios on the river. Benefitting Adaptive Adventures—a nonprofit organization dedicated to those with disabilities through outdoor sports and recreation—this is not, however, your typical charity event. Libido Funk Circus, along with the Hey Jimmy Band, Domestic Haze, DJ Rockstar and the always thrilling "mystery guest" perform, plus everyone is required to wear costumes. Also, open bar and appetizers. 8pm-dawn. 1501 N. Magnolia. $65-$75 (for general admission); $150-$175 (RIP package). Call 312-649-1800 for tickets.


After a hectic Halloween weekend, you'll want to wind down with something majorly low key. Why not check out the the weekly Wine Flights & Small Bites in Carnivale's lounge?! Live Latin music, too! 6-10pm. No cover.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

MK names new exec chef

MK Executive Chef Erick Williams (Photo: MK)

Last week it was Mindy Segal who turned over the reins of her famed HotChocolate to her second in command.

Now word comes down that Michael Kornick is shaking things up at MK with a new successor. Erick Williams, a native West Sider who's been there since its opening in 1996, is the man in charge of the kitchen and we cannot wait to see what he does to make his mark.

'We're opening in about a week . . .'

. . . is the word from Jerry Suqi (Narcisse, Sugar) on the opening of his new Ukrainian Village eatery Chick Pea, which was exclusively written about way back in July.

With the way openings are going this season, we'd say look for it to make its debut sometime in mid- to late-November.

Hooray for Hump Day


It's mid-week, we're all stressed out and it's time for some serious relief:

Last month's Hornito's Midnight in the Garden of Agave party in West Town was so hot that they're doing it again. Folks were dancing on the tables, and let's just say that it was so lively that people demanded an encore. Tonight's event happens at Garfield Park Conservatory (300 N. Central Park Ave.), and hopefully people will behave themselves. Regardless, you'll get comped cocktaiks and appetizers, plus deejays Shaka 23, Victor R. and Speed. To get in, you must RSVP to 9pm-1am.

Speaking of spirited affairs, have you checked out the monthly wine-tasting event at Quartino yet?! We love the crowd: some of the best party people in Chicago who really appreciate wine. Tonight they're pouring the vino of Argentina and Chile, and pairing them with hearty, signature appetizers. 7-9pm. $20.

Absolut gets down with a disco affair at Debonair Social Club, featuring the techno-soul stylings by Tommie Sunshine. Hosted by Paper Magazine, the party debuts Absolut Disco—a limited edition holiday bottle that's inspired by nightlife. That, of course, means that you'll get it free (but maybe not all night). 9pm-2am. No cover.

Get into the Halloween spirit early with a pumpkin-carving contest at Cans. The fratastic Bucktown bar will feature prizes, loud music and drink specials for the occasion. 7pm-2am. No cover.

Martini Park continues its estrogen-fueled Martinis in the City set, this time showcasing premier apothecary C.O. Bigelow. The expert skincare company will offer guests consultations and goodie bags. Also, free appetizers and specials on cocktails. 6-8pm. No cover.

Soul pastry chef going to one sixtyblue

The Chicago Tribune's Phil Vettel gets the scoop on Soul's talented pastry chef heading to one sixtyblue.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

It's almost here!


Doesn't it seem like this has been the longest election season ever?!

Well, it's almost over, the big day is Nov. 4, and it'll finally be time to celebrate change. And whether you're seriously celebrating or drowning your tears in your beer, man, do I have a lineup of Election Day parties you don't want to miss (plus free Starbucks coffee and Berry Chill for everyone!):

Settle in at the bar at Adobo Grill and sip $5 margaritas all night. Go for the Republican ‘Rita (grenadine, tequila, orange liqueur, fresh lime) or Barack Blue Margarita (a blend of Blue Curacao, tequila, orange liqueur and fresh lime).

Get some economic relief with the burger special at bin wine cafe as you watch results coming in. Bin's 1/2 lb burger paired with hand-cut fries is only $5 (usually $10), and if you complement it with red and white wine flights for $11.04, you'll save a bundle. Sit at the bar and you'll be able to watch the returns on the large plasma screen.

If you don't want to fight the crowds flocking to Grant Park to witness the rock star that is Barack Obama, head instead to Hard Rock Cafe for a viewing party hosted by hip-hop stars Common and Talib Kweli. Early arrival is highly recommended, and DJ Vince Adams spins. 7pm-2am.

Head over to Landmark Grill + Lounge for a non-partisan viewing party that includes special-priced blue and red champagne cocktails, comped appetizers and more. Also, guests will have the chance to win a trip for two to Washington, D.C., which includes airfare, dinner and hotel. 6-9pm.

TV One, and the Richmond Group gather a number of high-profile local and national Democratic politicians for this cocktail party at Chicago Hilton and Towers (720 S. Michigan Ave.). Deejay Biz Markie spins. 7pm-2am. No cover, but RSVP to

Fulton's on the River's Election Night deals include the Sour Grapes Mojito-infused Mimosa (huh?!) and To the Victor Goes the Spoils (vodka martini garnished with Osetra stuffed caviar-olives). For those strapped for cash, they've got you covered with No Foreign Policy $2 domestic drafts and half-off bar menu. Several televisions will be tuned into the returns.

And the Moonshine election fest is hosted by the 1st Ward Young Democrats and Ald. Manny Flores. Here, you'll get a number of drink specials, but we particularly like the Change (special new American Harvest Ale release in light of Obama’s “Change” adage), McCain's (mystery booze!) and Old Biden’s (Bourbon, sugar and a drop of grenadine)—all for $3. Also, they're doing $5 shots and cocktails served in special red, white and blue election bottles.

Friday, October 24, 2008

New East Bank eatery is open


Urban Daddy snags the name of that new East Bank Club restaurant written about on here a few weeks ago. This time, they've opened it to the public.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Quote of the Week: 'The Fifty/50 is offering—gulp—50 percent off your bill if your house has been foreclosed on'


That's Chicago Mag's nightlife writer Sarah Preston doling out advice on where to go if you're really down in the dumps about the economy in her Nightspotting 2.0 column.

Sign of the times, baby.

You knew it was coming: Joe the Plumber Cocktail!

Early Times Kentucky Whisky's take on Joe the Plumber. (Photo: Early Times Kentucky Whisky)

I almost fell out of my seat when this arrived in my inbox this afternoon:

"This is an unevenly distributed cocktail, just like Joe doesn’t want our money evenly distributed."

Early Times’ Toast to Joe the Plumber

3 ounces red plum juice
1.5 ounces Early Times Kentucky Whisky
Squeeze of lime

Pour the red plum first into a rocks glass with ice, then the Early Times Kentucky Whisky; squeeze lime.

I double dog dare you to order one tonight!


British sensation Estelle, who had the summer hit "American Boy," performs at Enclave on Friday.

Whether you've been cooped up in the office all week or just need to blow off some steam, it's time to . . . socialize:


Get it started with Bright Pink's party at Neiman Marcus (737 N. Michigan Ave.) for a fashion show featuring Robert Rodriguez's fabulous fall line. His celeb clientele (Angelina Jolie, Scarlett Johansson, Nicole Kidman) loves him, and so will you. 6-8pm. No cover, but call 312-694-4072 to attend. (Donations to Bright Pink, a breast cancer awareness organization, are also appreciated.)

Oyster-Fest II occurs at Fiddlehead Cafe, where you'll get to slurp the marvelous mollusks in several forms. Get 'em poached in champagne, buttermilk fried with spicy aioli or any other way you want. Fiddlehead's also pairing them with wine, and there's no set price. Reservations required; regular menu also available. 5-10pm.

You've only got two more days (including today!) to get your hands on David Burke's Primehouse's dry-aged hamburger—which is at a special $5 (regularly $15). That's only available during lunch. And if you come back later tonight, head to its adjacent Jbar for Sounds Good Thursdays with DJ Jesse de la Pena spinning all that's good in soul, R&B and Latin. Arrive before 8pm for comped appetizers, and drink specials will be available all night. 7pm-2am. No cover.

Shop for a good cause over at Chasalla (106 E. Oak St.), which is raising funds for the Center on Halsted, which serves as a catalyst for the LGBT community. Guests get 10 percent off all purchases, plus there's an informal fashion show, live music, and complimentary champagne and white wine. 8-10pm. No cover, but RSVP to for admission.

And more fashion's on tap at Lumen, which celebrates up-and-coming local designers from The Fashion Incubator. Party is hosted by Steven Rosengard ("Project Runway"), and benefits the Chicago Chapter of Dress for Success. Cocktail reception by 42 Below. 6:30-9:30pm. $25 for Y.E.S!/Dress for Success members and $30 for non-members.


The Hip Sip launches tonight at Ristorante We, in the W Chicago - City Center. For the inaugural event, they're doing a "Golden Era" theme harking back to the 1960s with vintage music as well as cocktails and cuisine. Female guests will also get the chance to doll up with a makeup consultation. 6-8:30pm. $25 (without goody bag); $35 (with goody bag).

You and everyone else were jamming to "American Boy," the head-nodding summer song from British sensation Estelle. Tonight, you'll get to hear her sing it live at Enclave; DJ Kevin Scott spins. 9pm-2am. Cover varies.


Chic Roscoe Village wine-focused eatery Volo hosts its annual fall wine-tasting party. The afternoon affair takes place indoors as well as on the heated cabana patio (weather permitting). They'll be pouring a cool selection of unusual finds paired with small plates prepared by Executive Chef Stephen Dunne. 3:30-5:30pm. $20.

Masquerade with Mary Kay—a daylong event raising awarness of domestic violence for the Break The Cycle Organization and Mary Kay Ash Charitable Foundation—culminates with a party at Victor Hotel. Also, live performances by Ty Soule and A.T. Jones. Get there early for the cocktail reception (7-9pm, $30), and stay later to dance till you drop. $5 after 9pm.


Our obsession with all things pork continues: This time it's at Fifty/50, which launches its Bad Boys of Brunch this weekend. Highlights include Let there be BACON, with endless strips of crisp, thick slices on your plate, and Hangover Helper, a signature Bloody Mary created with fresh tomato juice, black bean, corn-infused vodka, and garnished with a strip of bacon.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The fake journalist party crasher guide

Notorious local "party crasher" Jerry Berliant (Photo: Denver Post)

Y'all know how I feel about the Eat & Drink Club, and now AM New York has done a story on how to crash media parties. (I linked to Gawker because the comments are priceless.)


Rebirth of the cool . . .

Don Draper of AMC's "Mad Men."

You may not have Don Draper's swagger, but any man can channel the taste of the stylish, brooding protagonist of AMC's "Mad Men" at Sonotheque's monthly retro event. Rebirth of the Cool—the sexy jazz dance listening lounge of music past and present—happens tonight with deejays Joe Bryl and Eric Williams behind the 'tables. No cocktail specials, but we hear our boy DD likes his Canadian Club whiskey neat. 9pm-2am. $5.

Other cool-ass events happening tonight:

The new Old Town location for Galleria Liqueurs throws the most budget-friendly bubbly tasting I've ever seen. You'll get to sample Moet, Veuve and other prominent brands at the Grand Champagne Tasting, which is certain to turn into a lively party. 6-8pm. $10.

Eno's hosting a sweet set pairing chocolate and wine, featuring nationally recognized chocolatier Christopher Elbow. Guests will be treated to his luscious creations complemented by the sommelier's vino selections. 6-8pm. Free.

And, if you're thinking about throwing your own sexy little soiree, head to Galleria Unico for the grand-opening event to check out the party space everyone's talking about. Preview furnishings by CORT and room decor by Art of Imagination, plus indulge in delightful bites by the Hearty Boys. Comped cocktails, too. Music Masters Entertainment spins. 44 E. Superior St., 773-895-0464. 6-9pm. No cover, but RSVP to to get in.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

New chef at helm of HotChocolate

Mark Steuer, new executive chef at HotChocolate (Photo: HotChocolate)

Pastry queen Mindy Segal has surprisingly handed over the reigns to her award-winning HotChocolate restaurant to Mark Steuer, who's served as her chef de cuisine for three years.

While Segal's made her mark on the local and national dining scene as a sweets star, Steuer has always balanced her with a well-engineered savory menu. He's reportedly got a "mild obsession with all things pork," which should reflect in his new fall dishes, including local sweet potato gnocchi with braised Berkshire pork cheeks.

Now that's something to squeal about.

Deleece Grill Pub unveils new menu

Deleece Grill's steak salad is one of the new items on the menu. (Photo: Deleece Grill Pub)

As reported here exclusively Sunday, the owners behind Shochu suddenly transformed it into Deleece Grill Pub, offering more approachable fare to the fickle Lakeview diners.

With everyone scrounging for the best deals these days, folks are certain to warm up to the $20, three-course meal every Sunday and Wednesday. Hopefully you'll get to include one of those mouth-watering new steaks on the menu, such as the 10 oz. peppercorn-crusted Hangar, 14 oz. New York strip or 18 oz. ribeye with a garlic porcini ragout.

At the bar: a large beer list of primarily American craft brews and American whiskeys.

Take a bite out of these deals

The new 40-Day, Dry-Aged Hamburger is $5 this week only at David Burke’s Primehouse. (Photo: David Burke’s Primehouse)

There's no need to start hitting up fast-food joints because you're trying to save money. A number of great restaurants are offering deals to take that stress off your wallet:

The "no-tax lunch" continues through Oct. 31 at BIN 36, with the restaurant picking up the tax tab on your meal. There's no dollar limit, but it's only offered 11am-2pm.

If you're looking to nosh right after work, head to Blue Water Grill for the raw bar specials in the lounge. Every day you'll get $1.25 selections (oysters, clams and chilled shrimp), plus maki rolls for $6. That's 5-7pm daily.

To introduce its new 40-Day, Dry-Aged Hamburger, David Burke’s Primehouse is offering it for $5 this week only (regularly $15). The meat is aged alongside the prime steak cuts in the signature on-site Himalayan salt tiled dry aging room, tastes more like a steak, and is topped with smoked bacon mayo, garlicky spinach and crispy, fried onions. And for an additional $5 each, pair it with the truffle Asiago fries and vanilla bourbon shake. Take that, Burger King!

Stylish University Village sushi spot Kohan Japanese Restaurant is a neighborhood delight for its nightly specials. Tonight's steal is the martini and maki combo for $13. Choose from more than 15 maki rolls and pair it with one of their cocktails, including the Asian pear martini, Passion-tini or Saketini.

Tuesdays are also the night to head over to Volo Restaurant & Wine Bar for the $35, three-course prix-fixe dinner. The best part about it?! You get to customize your own menu, and for an additional $15, they'll help you pair each course with wine.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Shochu closes; re-concepts ASAP as Deleece Grill Pub

(Photo: Shochu)

This just in:

"Shochu closed last nite (or possibly tonight). To reopen in one week as Deleece 2."

There was a lot of hype surrounding this spot when it opened last spring, particularly because it was touted as the country's "first shochu lounge," featuring the popular Japanese, shochu-infused cocktails paired with offbeat Asian fare.

I guess the concept didn't go over well with diners because the owners are now falling back on what has worked best for them in their first project—the more comfort-food focused Deleece—in Lakeview.

According to owners, they're re-opening Tuesday as Deleece Grill Pub, offering more approachable dishes of steak, seafood and chicken.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Who's got juice?!


It doesn't matter if you're a restaurateur, chef or just someone who loves good food, there's always one media outlet you count on when it comes to the best dining reviews.

But who is it?! This is your time to sound off!

Do you turn to the Chicago Tribune or Chicago Magazine for the more established opinions? Hungry Magazine for its edgy take on what's going on? How about that snarky approach made infamous by Time Out Chicago? Or the "power to the people" obsessed Chowhound and LTHForum?

When it comes to clout in this town, who's the best for reliable reviews and why? And who gets it wrong?!

Cannot wait to hear what you've got to say!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Ina responds to 'eggs and potatoes' comment

Ina Pinkney of Ina's (Photo: Taken from Ina's Restaurant web site)

This just dropped in the mailbag from "breakfast queen" Ina Pinkney of Ina's in response to her quote—"It would actually be better for me to give that person a dollar to not eat in my restaurant"—that ran in the Chicago Tribune today:

"When (Chicago Tribune writer) Monica (Eng) heard me say that, she was interested in exactly what it cost me to put out that plate of eggs and potatoes.

We showed her the table top....what it costs to wash the the plates, flatware and glassware, put outthe bread, butter, napkin, table paper and what it cost for the eggs (which went from $11/case to $27/case and now is around $20/case) and potatoes which are twice the price they were a month ago.

Oh and did I mention a fuel surcharge on EVERY delivery?

Add to that the labor for the kitchen, server and busser and you can see that it's isn't just about the 2 eggs and potatoes for $5.49.

There's an intrinsic value to that plate of food and I can't charge more, which means that I'm losing money on some dishes if the customer doesn't order a coffee/espresso drink or juice.

These are really hard times for us and I wanted people to know what goes into just such a plate."

Quote of the week: 'It would actually be better for me to give that person a dollar to not eat in my restaurant'

Ina Pinkney of Ina's (Photo: Taken from Ina's Restaurant web site)

That's "breakfast queen" Ina Pinkney of Ina's in a Tribune story on the current state of the restaurant industry.


New wine bar has no wine—yet


The Daddy brings us Fontana Grill in Uptown, yet another undiscovered new spot, but this wine bar hasn't gotten its liquor license yet.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Bonkers over Five Guys Burgers



The Stew's self-appointed "Cheeseburger Bureau Chief" Kevin Pang got folks all worked up because he announced two Chicagoland locations for the Virginia-based Five Guys Burgers and Fries chain.

Right now, the commenting thread is out of control. It's over 60 posts and counting . . . so basically the only time folks chime in is when there's a post on Starbucks, burgers or other fast-food chains. It's like crickets over there whenever the writers post something about innovative spots, hot chefs or new trends.



Get ready for the 20th annual "Royster With The Oyster," happening right outside Shaw's Crab House under The Big White Tent. (Photo: Shaw's Crab House)

It's been a wild week, with major losses on Wall Street and at home (Brasserie Ruhlmann, Avenue M), so you're going to need a bit of relief:


Park 52, Jerry Kleiner's new Hyde Park spot, drops its prices and downscales the menu to appeal to those watching their wallets. Highlights include the honey & habanero glazed chicken, smothered pork chop and a 14 oz. handcut New York strip; all under $25.

You'll get yet another $25 deal over at Broadway Cellars in Edgewater. The wine-focused, contemporary American neighborhood fave hooks diners up with three mega courses that change weekly. And for an additional $5, you can complement each course with three 3 oz. wine pairings.

Wanna get down with the fashion crowd?! Your chance is tonight during a live fashion shoot for Italian designer Dismero, hosted by Factio Magazine. Party happens at 4 Art (1932 S. Halsted St.) in Pilsen, and includes fresh sushi and comped cocktails. 6-9pm. Just RSVP here to get in.

The Diva Series has settled nicely in its new home at Madame Tartine, and this week they're hosting a party for Dame Magazine, an online publication focusing on everything from fashion to passion. Get there early to meet the founders and to indulge in comped Kir Royales (7-8pm). Hot new British deejay Veritas spins soul, funk and more. 7pm-2am. No cover.

If you're out and about late night, head to RiNo for the launch of Backstage. It's kicking off with Good Charlotte's Joel Madden, who's actually a pretty talented deejay. 11pm-4am. Space limited; RSVP to bar to insure entry.


It's the 20th anniversary for Meals on Wheels' Chef Celebrity Ball, one of the biggest cuisine scenes of the year. Just about every prominent local chef is involved as well as several high-profile national stars. Come for vittles by more than 50 chefs, including Jimmy Bannos (Heaven on Seven), Michelle Garcia (Bleeding Heart Bakery), Joshua Linton (ajasteak), Mark Mendez (Carnivale), Debbie Gold (The American Restaurant) and others. Come for the seated dinner, which starts at 6pm and is a hit to your wallet at $350, or head here later for the Indulgence Ball, which includes appetizers, cocktails and deejay entertainment. That's $125. Food fest takes place on the seventh floor of Macy's (111 N. State St.). Get tix at 312-744-2120.

Designer Terri Stevens, a contestant from Bravo's Season 5 "Project Runway," showcases her cutting-edge line at The Silver Room on Saturday.

The infamous Royster With The Oyster happens under The Big White Tent right outside of Shaw's Crab House in River North. As always, the event includes obscene levels of jambalaya and oyster indulgence (including the Oyster Slurping Championships), live entertainment from various blues bands, and lots of socializing. 3-10pm. $10.

For more civilized fun, head to Pops for Champagne through Sunday for specials surrounding Tour de Champagne’s stop in Chicago. Get a premium flight of Ruinart Brut Rosé and Ruinart Blanc de Blancsfor that's paired with tasting portions of pear-parsnip rabbit rillette and apple cider-brown butter pork belly for $35. And on Sunday, come back for Dom Ruinart's 1998 pre-release preview with guest speaker Frédéric Panaïotis, the cellar master at Champagne Ruinart. The event includes passed hors d’oeuvres and bubbly. 5-7pm. $20.


Terri Stevens launched her fashion career in Chicago and attended Columbia College, but fans of this season's Bravo's "Project Runway" will recognize her as the feisty femme who's rocked the runway with her cutting-edge looks. Here's your chance to meet the personality at Silver Room (1442 N. Milwaukee Ave.), as she's showcasing her designs during a runway and trunk show event. Food provided by the Denim Cafe, comped drinks by A:M, and music by DJ Kwest_On. 7pm-midnight. No cover, but you must RSVP to


And Juicy Wine Co. is always off the deep end with its events, and this one's no exception. Today they're starting The Dirty Bird Bubble Bath. Get your mind out of the gutter. Every Sunday, this new brunch event features Harold's Fried Chicken paired with Orange Crush Waffles. DJ Puff-E spins soul. Also, half off on all glasses of sparkling wine and champagne. 11am-4pm.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Fashion(able) plates

The Pinto Box, named after local fashion designer Maria Pinto, can be found at Sepia. (Photo: Lara Kastner)

Sepia teams up with new next-door neighbor designer Maria Pinto (peep her threads on muse Michelle Obama) for the Pinto Box, which they're saying is "for those fashionably on the go, an all-in-one stylish lunchbox."

Custom-made for Sepia, the hand-crafted Pinto Box was designed by Brent Rourke, a cabinet maker and creator of Canadian-based Shaker oval boxes and carriers.

Executive Chef Kendal Duque and Pastry Chef Cindy Schuman will offer rotating menus with three seasonal choices (appetizer, entree, dessert), like a daily flatbread, Amish chicken with apples, as well as a sweet potato spice cake bread pudding with caramel thyme ice cream. Available Monday - Friday 11:30am-2pm for $18.

Province ready to open?!


Randy Zweiban's Province had its "friends and family" sneak preview event last night, so it looks like it should be opening this weekend as scheduled.

Working on getting more info on what went down . . .

UPDATE: In the meantime, Zweiban's released his opening menu, which is surprisingly very budget friendly. It offers "small," "big" and "bigger" entrees, including a spice-rubbed grilled Ahi tuna taco with serrano chile tartar salsa ($8), slow-roasted Gunthorp Farms pork with rice beans and braised greens ($10/$19) and 10-hour braised lamb with eggplant, chorizo and cornbread ($12/$22).

It opens today!

UPDATE 3: A tipster who was there last night tells me: "The steak was delicious. . . baby pork taquitos were fairly small and were only $3 . . . pretty room, nice service, price points were perfect for this challenged economy." He loved the shrimp & grits with manchego cheese, and the grilled beef tenderloin drizzled with housemade steak sauce was also a big hit.

Debbie Sharpe of Cru Wine Bar & Cafe was also in the house.

Give me some sugar

Katherine Anne Confections' truffles will be featured at Crimson's "Sweetest Singles Party" tonight. (Photo: Katherine Anne Confections)

Why wait for Saturday to celebrate Sweetest Day?! Tonight's all about the singles as Crimson Lounge is hoping to gather the city's sexiest crowd. They're wooing them with $5 Kilo Kai rum cocktails and desserts courtesy of Katherine Anne Confections. Proceeds benefit LIFT. 8pm-midnight. No cover.

Whether you come tonight or this weekend, Chaise Lounge's new exec chef Cary Taylor—who was the star at the recent Chicago Gourmet event—is offering readers 10 percent off their total bill until Nov. 1. We hear the crabcakes are to die for.

Southport's Galleria Liqueurs hosts its annual grand champagne tasting. You'll get to sample more than 10 top brands, including Moet and Chandon and Veuve Clicquot. 6-8pm. $10.

It's time for Marche's 15th anniversary, and they're doing it up by bringing back all those wacky events for which they've become infamous. Look for S&M artists, mod burlesque performances and Dr. Seuss characters strolling through the space as guests nosh on signature dishes by former Marche chefs Michael Kornick, John Bubala and Paul Wildermuth. They'll be joined by current chef Matt Tobin. Fifteen raffle prizes will include gift certificates for Marché, Opera, Gioco and Red Light. 8pm-2am. $20 ($5 goes to Perspectives Charter Schools).

Attention, single gals: A host of hot, eligible bachelors will be up for grabs—oops, I mean up for charity auction—at Martini Park. Bankers, lawyers and a frat boy (?!) will strut their stuff to raise money for the Sealed with a Wish Bachelor Auction to benefit The Make-A-Wish Foundation of Illinois. Ten dollars gets you a free cocktail ticket (first 50 arrivals only), appetizers and $7 specialty martinis. Check out the talent here. 6-9pm. $10.

And the Inspired By Pink Party happens at Townhouse Restaurant & Wine Bar, raising money for breast cancer research. Event includes an open bar and appetizers. 5:30-7:30pm. $10 donation.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The next mile-high hang

(Photo: Urban Daddy)

While everyone was all excited over the weekend over the opening of hot rooftop lounge Vertigo—perched on the upper level of the Dana Hotel—somehow another similar spot opened under the radar.

Urban Daddy introduces us to Sky Lounge, on the 40th floor of Avenue Hotel. Oh, and this one's got a fireplace, panoramic views of Lake Michigan and a more chilled-out vibe.

Monday, October 13, 2008

More bad news . . .

. . . just dropped in my inbox from another Ultimate Insider:

"Avenue M did not open this weekend. Looks to be another in the line. People need to start getting out and supporting their local economy."

Hmmmm. Too bad. I wonder if those guys will still do this.

Exclusive: Brasserie Ruhlmann 'closed until further notice'

This just dropped in my inbox from an Ultimate Insider:

"Brasserie Ruhlmann's closing. They say for 3 weeks to a month to do some restructuring. I'd be surprised if they reopen with the same concept."

A quick call to the restaurant resulted in only getting this message from their voicemail: "Thank you for calling Brasserie Ruhlmann. We are temporarily closed until further notice. . . "

Wow. That didn't even last a year. Hopefully they reopen soon, but in the meantime, you can still go across the street to the owners' Japanese-focused eatery Japonais.

UPDATE: From another Ultimate Insider: "I heard from a little birdie that they are talking seriously with some key peeps in the rest bus.... if they sync up with said people I am confident that they will have nothing but success....."

Saturday, October 11, 2008

What are you doing Monday night?!


There's not much going on, so why not spend the evening with Bravo "Top Chef" champ Stephanie Izard, who's bartending at Pops for Champagne, 8pm-midnight, as it kicks off its weekly celebrity bartending series. I know I'll be there!

Friday, October 10, 2008

After hours at Publican—on its first night

Donnie Madia at his first restaurant, Blackbird.

Just stopped by Publican to sample one of those well-publicized craft beers everyone's been talking about lately. But guess what?! It was after midnight and that spot was closed.

But that's OK, we probably didn't need anything to drink anyway.

Publican partner Donnie Madia graciously gave us a tour of the airy, one-room space dominated by the color beige and over-sized chandeliers. What drew our attention the most, however, were the eight or so booths lining the walls. They had their own little doors—for semi-privacy—which should get interesting when the clubby crowds from next-door Lumen get wind of it. You know what I'm talking about. . . .

We'll be back soon to get an actual taste of those highly anticipated pork-focused dishes (peep their little mantra: "Here's to the swine, that animal divine, who through mud and slime, grit and grime, gorges over time into meats divine."), and the fab $45 Sunday Feast that Urban Daddy just discovered.

And while we were at it, we asked Madia to confirm the recent rumors about his team buying the Pontiac Cafe venue, which is reportedly shutting down next week.

"It's true," he admitted reluctantly, "but we wanted to keep that info below the radar before we decided what we wanted to do with it. These days you can't keep anything a secret."

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Shakeup at Park 52

(Photo: Park 52)

As of yesterday, Executive Chef Chris Baron is gone at months-old Park 52 in Hyde Park, which is owned by restaurant baron Jerry Kleiner. Replacing him—at least for now—is Room 21's Dan Tucker. It'll be interesting to see what he does with the menu and whether or not he burns out from all that traveling . . . .

UPDATE: All the managers have been fired, so there is definitely some restructuring going on over there.

UPDATE 2: Word from parent company KDK Restaurants' publicist Abby Baine Dunn: "There is indeed a changing of the guards there as Park 52 hopes to create a more accessible, grass-roots destination for the Hyde Park community."

Still developing!

Flashbacks, food and fashion for all


You can join the masses cramming into Publican on its opening night in the West Loop, or you can hit a number of events around town, ranging from an all-out flashback bash to one for the fashion conscious:


I love it when fashion shows cater to men and women, and this one spotlights the gear from new dress shop le Dress (1741 W. Division St., 773-697-9899) and dandy-man spot haberdash (1350 N. Wells St., 312-440-1300). The Dress & Dash Fall Fashion Show at Crimson Lounge pops off the latest looks, and guests will be treated to comped Cabana Cachaca rum cocktails, gift bags and more. 9-midnight. No cover, but call to get on the guest list just in case they try to give you drama.

The infamous Royster with the Oyster takes place next Friday, but tonight is the kick-off event. Head to Goose Island’s Clybourn location for free oysters with the purchase of any Goose Island Beer. 5:30-7pm. Free.

Engine, engine number 9, it's time for Black Sheep to shine! The seminal hip-hop duo from the 1990s makes a comeback with a live performance at Underground during its weekly Rewind! series. 10pm-4am. Cover varies.

Thursday Fall Series continues at Landmark Grill + Lounge, but you'll need to get there early for the freebies. They're offering comped Maker's Mark signature cocktails and seasonal bites from 7-9pm. There's also a $7 bar menu, created by Executive Chef Benjamin Browning, featuring organically grown meats and locally grown fruits and vegetables from Homegrown Wisconsin and Green City Market. Also, the signature cocktail to try is the Urban Cherry (Maker’s Mark Bourbon, homemade cherry syrup, blood orange bitters). 7pm-2am. No cover.

Chill out to rare grooves at Cat's Meow, as DJ Eric explores trip hop, reggae, nujazz, disco and more. The groovy, nostalgic setting is the perfect spot to nod your head to the beat as you chill out on the nice outdoor patio that's open until midnight. Also, $2 PBR and $3 Jameson shots. 9pm-2am. No cover.


Be Bad to the Rhone simply because you can. Eno, the fab new wine bar tucked inside the InterContinental Chicago, debuts a new wine flight featuring Chilean, French and Napa Valley varietals. $15.

A fall-focused showcase highlighting the best in Chi-town fashion, music and the arts happens in the lobby of the W-City Center. Early arrivals get free bubbly (9-10pm), plus there will be a fashion show by Wicker Park's Funkshion Boutique (2121 W. Division St.). Also, bike enthusiasts can oooh and ahhh over the Criminal Customs choppers that'll be on display right outside of the hotel. DJ Uncle Milty spins. 8pm-1am. No cover.


It's Oktoberfest time at Taste Food & Wine, which is showcasing a number of international beers, including Spaten, paired with cheese and sausages. 7-8:30pm. $20 in advance; $25 at door.

Get a lesson in the History of House Music as a number of legendary spin stars and vocalists take centerstage at the Congress Theatre (2135 N. Milwaukee Ave.) for what they're calling "one of the biggest dance parties ever." Just some of the talent: Mario "Smokin" Diaz, Lego, Wayne Williams, Joe Smooth, Farley "Jackmaster" Funk and Julian "Jumpin" Perez. Singers include Crystal Waters, Robin S., Shannon and Rochell Fleming. 6pm-3am. Call 312-559-1212 for tix ranging from $20-$49.50.


The third-annual Andersonville Dessert Crawl happens—with two routes to choose from! I'm down for the Rainbow Route (3-6pm), but the Swedish Stroll (1-4pm) sounds just as good. Participants get to check out Andersonville's rich shopping district full of nifty little stores, boutiques and offbeat eateries. Each tour ends at In Fine Spirits for a wine-tasting event. Begins at the Swedish American Museum (5211 N. Clark St). 1-6pm. $25 in advance; $30 at door (if available). Event benefits the non-profit Andersonville Development Corp.; ticket info at 773-728-7552.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Run, Foodie, Run . . .

Rockit Bar & Grill's Chicken Chili Mac is part of this weekend's marathon menu. (Photo: Rockit Bar & Grill)

It's that time of year when participants load up on carbs in preparation for the Chicago Marathon.

But why should they have all the fun?! This time around, menus are inventive and sound delicious, so even if you're not running, you might want to check these out:

Rockit Bar & Grill should really consider adding the Chicken Chili Mac (four-cheese macaroni and cheese, turkey chili with grilled chicken breast) to the permanent menu. From Friday through Sunday, it's part of a three-course menu that also includes a salad and warm banana rum bread pudding. $25 (50 percent off for those who ran in the marathon on Sunday); all items also a la carte. Also, a Rockit Raspberry Smoothie (made with low-fat yogurt, wheat germ and the antioxidant acai berry) will also be available for $5.

A special marathon buffet is being offered only the night before the race at Shor, the new steakhouse tucked inside the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place. It'll include soup, salads, salmon, chicken and, of course, a pasta bar. That's $17 per person from 5-10pm Saturday.

Big Bowl gets in the mix with a high-carb marathon menu, offered Thursday through Saturday. Diners can choose from three combos, which are all priced at $14.95. Selections include fiery potstickers paired with Kung Pao noodles, dumpling noodle soup or blazing chicken with wheat noodles.

Chow down for a good cause over at A MANO, which is hosting Pastapalooza! through Saturday. Bring a friend and you'll get a three-course menu that's customized to your liking as well as benefits Girls on the Run, a national non-profit organization encouraging healthy lifestyles among preteen girls. Choose from a classic Margherita pizza or salumi, several pasta selections and dessert. $26.50 per person; $2 goes to Girls on the Run.

Province preview

If the offbeat ceiling is any indication of Province's design, we're in for a treat! (Photo:

Hungry Magazine gets an exclusive sneak preview of Randy Zweiban's Province, which looks like it will open on schedule next week.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Publican opens Thursday!

Chef Brian Huston's Becker Lane pork shank should be one of the highlights on the pork-friendly menu at Publican. (Photo: Grant Kessler Photography)

Publican finally makes its debut in the Warehouse District on Thursday. Read here for more info on the long-awaited restaurant from the guys behind avec and Blackbird.

The sweetest day . . .


There's been so much bad news lately that it's time to hear about something that'll put a smile on your face. We're talking decadent sweets and eats to liquidy treats and jammin' beats to set you off:

The third-annual Andersonville Dessert Crawl happens on Sunday—with two routes to choose from! I'm down for the Rainbow Route (3-6pm), but the Swedish Stroll (1-4pm) sounds just as good. Participants get to check out Andersonville's rich shopping district full of nifty little stores, boutiques and offbeat eateries. Each tour ends at In Fine Spirits for a wine-tasting event. Begins at the Swedish American Museum (5211 N. Clark St). 1-6pm. $25 in advance; $30 at door (if available). Event benefits the non-profit Andersonville Development Corp.; ticket info at 773-728-7552.

Get ready for a goth-themed, rock 'n' roll, black-tie affair at the Park West, as Collaboraction hosts its annual Beggars' Banquet. As usual with this outrageous performance troupe, there will be sensory overload from the moment you walk in the door, from an over-the-top red carpet experience to live music and performances by some of Chicago's scene-stealing artists. Party, of course, includes appetizers, cocktails and a silent auction as this is Collaboraction's primo fundraiser. 6:30pm-midnight Saturday. Call 312-226-9633 for the $175 tix or join the festivities at 9:30pm for the $50 'Bail-Out' ticket.

Collaboraction executive director Anthony Moseley at last year's "Beggars' Banquet." (Photo: Collaboraction)

Next Wednesday is Marche's 15th anniversary, and they're doing it up by bringing back all those wacky events for which they've become infamous. But check this out: They're doing them all in one night! That's right, look for S&M artists, mod burlesque performances and Dr. Seuss characters strolling through the space as guests nosh on signature dishes by former Marche chefs Michael Kornick, John Bubala and Paul Wildermuth. They'll be joined by current chef Matt Tobin. Fifteen raffle prizes will include gift certificates for Marché, Opera, Gioco and Red Light. 8pm-2am. $20 ($5 goes to Perspectives Charter Schools).

And it's the 20th anniversary for Meals on Wheels' Chef Celebrity Ball, one of the biggest cuisine scenes of the year. Just about every prominent local chef is involved as well as several high-profile national stars. Come for vittles by more than 50 chefs, including Jimmy Bannos (Heaven on Seven), Michelle Garcia (Bleeding Heart Bakery), Joshua Linton (ajasteak), Mark Mendez (Carnivale), Debbie Gold (The American Restaurant) and others. Come for the seated dinner, which starts at 6pm and is a hit to your wallet at $350, or head here later for the Indulgence Ball, which includes appetizers, cocktails and live entertainment. That's $125. DJ White Shadow spins. Food fest takes place on the seventh floor of Macy's (111 N. State St.). Get tix at 312-744-2120.

Monday, October 6, 2008

A new late-night lust on its way?!

(Photo: Glazed Donuts Catering)

These are not the donuts from your childhood days.

The duo behind Glazed Donuts Catering cranks out their version of the old-school sweets in new, fabulous flavors so offbeat and environmentally conscious that you'll be saying, "Dunkin, who?!"

Owned by Kristen Anderson and pastry chef Betsy Yagunic, the company right now is being operated from their homes where they're creating irresistible goodies like the seasonal pear with honey, chunky apple cheddar, Mexican chocolate, caramel cornmeal with hazelnut icing or coconut lime (later this fall look out for outrageous flavors butternut squash and Applejack!).

You won't find anything processed in these donuts as Anderson says they're very picky about what goes in them, using only local and organic ingredients such as organic evaporated cane juice.

Right now you'll find the $3 treats every weekend in West Town faves Bite and Swim Cafe, but plans are underway to bring them to a late-night crowd. They're working on opening an after-hours storefront (hours 10pm-10am) that will cater to both morning commuters as well as club crowds.

And speaking of club crowds, they're also working on selling their sweets late night at some of West Town's most popular bars.

"We want to introduce that crowd to what we're doing and get their feedback," says Anderson. "We've been in this industry for a very long time and I have a very good idea of what people really want. We want to bring donuts back to the people who are missing them from their childhood."

To get the Glazed flavor update on how to get next week's specialty donuts, email them here.

So much more coming your way . . .

Urban Belly's ramen with pork belly, shiitake and pho broth is one of the hits of the menu. (Photo: Hungry Mag)

All those foodies and critics going nuts over Bill Kim's tiny Logan Square noodle joint Urban Belly will be thrilled to know that they're expanding. And soon. Word from some serious Ultimate Insiders tell 312 Dining Diva that UB is taking over a larger space next door. That means no more waiting outside for people to vacate those seats. This will be great, especially as cold weather approaches. Also, my sources tell me that they're already looking for a location for a downtown UB.

Another hot bite is the new open-to-the-public eatery going inside of the uber-trendy East Bank Club (500 N. Kingsbury St., 312-527-5800). They're still working on a name—and the concept hasn't been firmed up yet—but they're planning an opening at the beginning of October. Isn't that like right now?! Someone had better move fast!

Vertigo, the Dana Hotel's high-stepping rooftop lounge, opens on Saturday. It was scheduled to launch in late August, then late September, but you know how that goes. Luckily, 75 percent of the space is "indoors" and heated so we won't freeze our asses off when the weather turns.

Publican, the project from the dynamic team behind Blackbird, is scheduled to open this week.

And finally, former Nacional 27 exec chef Randy Zweiban is debuting Province in mid-October.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Sure sign of a recession


This just dropped in my inbox:

"In celebration of October’s Libras, Kohan is offering 15% off their entire food bill this month! Come in and enjoy fresh new entrees, teppan grill selections and new specialty rolls. Kohan has a large selection of nigiri sushi, house rolls and a large selection of hot and cold appetizers, noodle and rice dishes."

True, Kohan Japanese Restaurant's offering major deals for the meals, but how come Libras get all the props in October?! Scorpio bdays (Oct. 23 - Nov. 21) also happen during this time and they're getting totally dissed. I would totally call them on this if I was a Scorpio.

If you're looking for something new

(Photo: Courtesy of Urban Daddy)

Urban Daddy breaks the news about Lincoln Square's new Chelsea Grill:

"Just in time for fall, Lincoln Square's Erba has morphed into this all-comfort-food destination. Nothing says 'let's snuggle' like a blue cheese burger with frizzled onions. Then again, pizza with bacon and a fried egg has a certain autumnal feel."

Thursday, October 2, 2008

For a very good cause . . .


As noted below, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and you can show your support by dining out at one of your favorite venues. From dessert-themed cocktails to sweet treats all dressed in pink, here's what's happening:

Martini Park: All proceeds from the sugary sweet Pink Cotton Candy will be donated to the American Cancer Society.

More: A portion of the sales of the Hope MORE cupcake (pink velvet cake with cream cheese frosting and pink white chocolate curls) goes directly to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation.

sola: Guests who dine at this cozy Northcenter eatery have the option of donating a dollar of their meal to the Lynn Sage Breast Cancer Foundation.

Blue Water Grill: You'll be able to top off your meal with a Pink Grapefruit Sparkling Parfait, which benefits Be Bright Pink.

David Burke’s Primehouse: The steakhouse’s signature Cake in a Can dessert will be served with pink icing and all proceeds also benefit Be Bright Pink.

Let’s Play a Drinking Game!


The Veep debate is finally here, but let's have some fun with it! Every time Sarah Palin says "maverick" or "country first," let's do a shot (my mom says I'm trying to get y'all drunk as hell!).

Anyway, probably every bar in town with a TV will be tuned into the wildly anticipated, 90-minute match between Dem Joe Biden and Repub Sarah Palin. You, of course, want to be in the hot spot, such as:

Enoteca Roma Ristorante is showing the debate on a 50-inch plasma in the outdoor garden as well as in the dining room. Food and drink specials available, too. 6-11pm; early arrival recommended. $5 donation goes to the Obama-Biden campaign.

Obama-rama occurs also at Red Kiva as the Chicago Lawyers for Obama host a free party in the West Loop. No drink specials, but should be a stimulating crowd of folks with plenty of opinions. 7pm-until. No cover.

The Chicago Republican Party, Chicago Young Republicans and Young Professionals for McCain throw their own shindig, but this one's gonna cost you. The $30 tix gets you three hours of premium open bar to drown out all those Sarah Palin-isms. That starts at 7pm in the Chicago Hilton and Towers, 720 S. Michigan Ave., Boulevard Room.

And for a non-partisan party, head to the Sheraton’s Chi Bar for specialty cocktails and desserts. Instead of my proposed "drinking game," they're planning a Lingo Bingo event, where guests listen for key words like "health care" and "global" to win prizes (zzzzzzz). Also, indulge in sweets (Baked Alaska or Cup of Joe tiramisu served in a coffee cup) and specialty sippers (Maverick Martini and Barack on the Rocks). Party starts at 8pm. No cover.

Also happening this weekend:


It's not your fault if you've never heard of Pamela Fernandez. But all that's about to change! Turns out the house-music diva—who's a Chicago native—is a sensation in Europe as her voice has been sampled on numerous re-workings, bootlegs and compilations. The glamorous songstress is bringing her live show, Floorgasm, to par-lounge for one night only. 8pm. No cover.

Look who's getting on the bandwagon . . . for baseball. Juicy Wine Co. is offering guests $2 microbrews if either the Cubs or White Sox win a playoff game. They're showing all the games on plasma screens, and you can pair those suds with panini sandwiches. Mmmmmmmmm.

The Bacardi Flavor Exchange is happening at the South Shore Cultural Center (7059 S. Shore Dr.), with enough fruit-flavored cocktails to make your head spin. Free parking at 63rd and the beach (east lot), with shuttle buses to and from the event. 8pm-midnight. No cover, but RSVP is needed here.

Beginning tonight and every Thursday in October, Coach House hosts Pink Party, raising funds to benefit breast cancer research. There's a $5 suggested donation at the door, plus $1 from every Girlygirl or Lincoln Park Trixie (are people really still saying this?!) martini goes to a non-profit organization. Also, karaoke and those wearing pink get a free gift. 7pm-2am.

Celebrate "National Vodka Day" this weekend at the Knickerbocker Hotel's lobby bar. (Photo: Knickerbocker Hotel)


Bright Pink ushers in Breast Cancer Awareness Month in La Vie En Rose style at Bon V. Party includes cocktails, treats from RA Sushi and Berry Chill, as well as cool raffle prizes. 8-11pm. $45-$60 (VIP).

Watching your budget?! A Mano brings back its $5 pizza specials, happening every night in the bar and lounge after 5pm. Specialty pies include traditional Margherita, fennel sausage, prosciutto, house-smoked salmon or grilled seasonal veggie.

Did you know that Saturday is National Vodka Day?! Start toasting today (through Sunday) as the classic Knickerbocker Hotel offers a special "shaken and stirred menu" with vodka-infused cuisine and cocktails in the lobby bar. Chad Willets’ jazz piano plays two sets Friday and Saturday 5-7:30pm and 9pm-midnight.


Local band Lubriphonic, which has been best described as offering a rousing mix of blues, funk and rock, performs at Subterranean. Its members get props for performing with the likes of Koko Taylor, Mary J. Blige, Otis Rush, Buddy Miles and Lenny Kravitz. See what's up before they hit it big. Estelle’s host a pre-party at 8pm featuring $2 beers and ticket giveaways for the show. 10pm. $7.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Chicago represents again on 'Top Chef'

Radhika Desai of Between Boutique Café & Lounge (Photo: Bravo) breaks the news first (312 Dining Diva is the first Chicago media outlet to bring you the news!) of our very own Radhika Desai of Between Boutique Café & Lounge starring on the fifth season of Bravo's "Top Chef: New York." Congrats, girl!

"Rad is a blessing to us as well as our little nocturnal café," said Between owner, Carl Anderson. "She truly is the heart of our restaurant."

At Between, Rad uses the small-plate concept to experiment with exotic spices and flavorful combinations, which allows guests to taste a variety of food without being overwhelmed in a single dining experience. Popular signature dishes include Lobster Trifecta (lobster empanadas, lobster and bacon mac and cheese and lobster cakes) and Duck-Duck Goose (leg of duck with sweet potato pancakes, gooseberry jam and orange black pepper sauce).

Get the entire list of this season's "Top Chef" participants here. The show premieres at 9pm Nov. 12.

And now the fun begins . . .


This is amazing! The Cubs and the White Sox are both in the playoffs for the first time in more than 100 years. Now isn't that enough reason to celebrate today?!

Take your pick of lively places to watch the first Cubs play-off game tonight: Head to usual suspects like Tavern on Rush and P.J. Clarke's, or make a move to new schoolers Old Oak Tap, Angels & Mariachis or Coach House.

Also happening tonight:

Your last shot at getting discounted VIP tickets to the annual Meals on Wheels Celebrity Chef Gala (Oct. 17) happens at Fleming's Steakhouse & Wine Bar. Maven hosts this cocktail party, offering guests appetizers and a sampling of wine. The $15 donation goes to Meals on Wheels. 6-9pm. Can't make the party tonight?! You can still get tix here.

Hosted by rock star Pete Wentz, GenArt's sixth-annual Fresh Faces in Fashion officially kicks off Fashion Focus Week. Chicago-based designers will be featured, including Wentz's own Clandestine Industries. After-party occurs at Exchange West (1376 W. Carroll Ave.). 6:30pm at the Tent at Chase Promenade North in Millennium Park (between Michigan and Columbus). $60-$135 (a portion of proceeds benefit Gen Art Foundation). Call 312-229-1701 for tix.

Speaking of Wentz, he's set to also host Live Band Karaoke at his rock-flavored club, Angels & Kings. He's hangin' with some of the Elite models from the GenArt show (wtf is Ashlee?!), who should be a nice edition to the weekly event. A:M Ultra Premium hosts the party with comped cocktails . . . drink up and bring out your inner "American Idol." 10pm-2am. No cover.