Thursday, July 17, 2008

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

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

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

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

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

BBQs, blind tastings and a block party

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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


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

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