Wednesday, December 30, 2009

TRU Burgers Take Over Famed Pastry Kitchen

Just got off the phone with an Ultimate Insider who told me more on that TRU burger concept I wrote about here earlier in December.

Turns out this will be a bigger deal than I originally anticipated. They're bringing back chef Tim Graham, who was recently sent over to Brasserie Jo, to oversee the new project. One of the most interesting aspects of this deal is that he'll take over the pastry kitchen where award-winning Executive Pastry Chef Gale Gand created her decadent delights. Also gone is the famed chef's table because Graham will need that space as well.

The burgers will be takeout only, with a window where customers can go pick them up. Not sure when this will all go down, but we expect to see changes soon . . .

Delicious New Dishes for a New Decade


Out with the old, in with the new . . . dishes?!

With a New Year and new decade comes a whole spate of new restos and favorite standbys updating their menus:

Branch 27: New chef John Manion has done a complete overhaul of the menu at this laid-back West Town neighborhood hang. A cassoulet of lamb meatballs, braised pork belly and duck confit should pair nicely with a beer from the impressive list that includes Three Floyds Alpha King and Goose Island Matilda.

HEARTY: Partners Dan Smith and Steve McDonagh—also known as The Hearty Boys—reignited their visibility in Lakeview by transforming their private events space into a full-fledged restaurant. They add a twist to standard comfort fare like a deconstructed tuna casserole with seared panko-crusted Ahi, egg noodles in a light saffron cream, sautéed wild mushrooms, sweet pea puree and crushed dried sweet peas.

HUB 51: There's a rotating menu during the new brunch service at the happening River North eatery. They've just introduced Eggs Benedict served over hash browns with a choice of Black Forest ham or thick-cut brown sugar bacon.

Longman & Eagle: Chef Jared Wentworth and owner Bruce Finkelman (The Empty Bottle) promise more comfort than anyone with this new bar/restaurant/inn hybrid. In addition to homey, savory dishes like the wild boar sloppy Joe (with crispy sage, onions and pickled jalapeño), the venue serves as a refuge for those who need to sleep off a hangover. It's set to open in late January.

The Purple Pig: Jimmy Bannos Jr.'s no newcomer to the dining scene with stints working for Mario Batali as well as he's son of Jimmy Bannos Sr. of Heaven on Seven fame. He's partnered with Scott Harris (Francesca) for this gastropub serving up the intriguing chicken thigh kebabs with fried smashed potatoes and tzatziki.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Food Fight! Check, Please! Slammed By Time Out


This is the time for year-end reviews, but Time Out went after five restaurants they felt Check, Please! "got wrong" this decade:

"1. Think (2235 N Western Ave, 773-394-0537), 2005. The biggest disservice to the city at the hands of a TV show. Almost overnight, the whole town went googly over any dish with a decorative sour-cream splatter.

2. Geja’s Café (340 W Armitage Ave, 773-281-9101), 2005. Yes, it really picked this skeezy fondue joint. But that’s what happens when you invite Steve Wilkos to recommend a restaurant.

3. RL (115 E Chicago Ave, 312-475-1100), 2004. The show said it was like eating in New York. A New York Ralph Lauren store, perhaps.

4. Tavern on Rush (1031 N Rush St, 312-664-9600), 2006. The panel actually acted as if this frat bar were a steakhouse.

5. Chaise Lounge (1840 W North Ave, 773-342-1840), 2009. To be fair, the guests conceded that this South Beach–style clusterfuck was sometimes better for the women than the food."

Pretty damn brutal there, but the last time I checked it was the guest reviewers deciding on what restaurants were featured on the show, not Check, Please!

Another Rosebud Blooming in VTK Space?!

The Rosebud on Rush location is only a few blocks away from Rosebud Eats, which is going into the VTK space in 2010. (Photo: Rosebud Restaurants, Inc.)

VTK lost its lease and will shutter after 10 years this week.

In early December, DISH reported that Lettuce Entertain You’s Rich Melman will possibly take the concept elsewhere.

Meanwhile, an Ultimate Insider tells 312DD a higher up at Rosebud Restaurants Inc. said to look out for Rosebud Eats to open at that location.

"They've already bought equipment (for the space)," said the source, who added that the restaurant plans to offer meals 23 hours a day when it debuts in March.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

While You Were with the Fam . . .

Jane Lynch as Coach Sue Sylvester in "Glee." (Photo: FOX)

. . . one of FOX's biggest stars from the hit TV series "Glee" was dining with friends at Table Fifty-Two on Eve of Christmas Eve. We hear Jane Lynch was thankfully not wearing her famous track suit.

And on the same evening, Bebe Neuwirth ("Cheers," "Fraiser") was also in the house. She's currently starring in "The Addams' Family" at the Ford Center/Oriental Theatre through Jan. 10.

Locals on High Alert for Party Crashers on NYE

Tareq (far right) and Michaele Salahi are the "party crashers" of the century. (Photo: Appleton/White House)

RedEye talks to experts on how to spot scammers and party crashers on New Year's Eve:

"Social extremes
Look out for the guests who are either a little too friendly or totally antisocial, advised Sarah Vargo, founder of Chicago-based public relations and event planning company Maven. '[Crashers are] either trying too hard or not at all and just looking around and not really mingling or interacting with guests,' she said.

Curious fashion choices
A guest's outfit should match the occasion, Susan Cordogan, owner of Lincoln Park-based Big City Events and Big City Bride, said. 'Most parties will state a certain kind of attire that is expected,' she said, 'and since most crashers do it spur of the moment, they won't be prepared to look like everyone else.'

Early retreats
Many private parties assign seating or dole out nameplates for each guest at dinner, which is the party crasher's signal to jet. 'They know they don't belong, so they leave before the sit-down dinners,' said Audarshia Townsend, who blogs about Chicago's party scene at

Skipping the formalities
Crashers won't sign the guest book or bring a gift for a personal event, according to Cordogan. 'Most of the time, they'll just walk in and go straight to the bar or buffet without saying hello to anyone,' she said."

Catch of the Day Just Got Better . . .

Carl Galvan of Supreme Lobster (Photo: Carl Galvan)

You gotta love a guy who describes himself on his Twitter page as a hardcore fish monger.

But that's just the kind of man Carl Galvan is. The 13-year chef vet, who previously worked at a number of local spots including Marche, dives into every project with gusto.

As the golden "Chicago Fish Dude" for Supreme Lobster, Galvan hobnobs every day with his former colleagues, who he affectionately calls "the pirates." For three years he's supplied premium seafood to hot spots such as Blackbird, Lockwood, L2O and Perennial. "I love being part of each story each particular chef tells of each dish," he says.

On Monday, he's gathered an all-star crew of chefs to help him serve cocktails at the year's last Shift Drinks, happening at Pops for Champagne.

The popular weekly restaurant- and bar-industry party will highlight signature cocktails served up by guest bartenders Rodelio Aglibot (Sunda), James Gottwald (Rockit Bar & Grill) and Troy Graves (Eve).

Galvan's hooking up a drink he's calling La Muerta Del Rey, made with Death's Door gin, wild orange blossom/winter herbal syrup, Veev Acai, blood orange and Meyer lemon for $9. They'll also feature $3 PBR, $5 Jameson shots and a $9 signature Hum cocktail. 9pm-2am. No cover.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Gossip Girl Makes Her Chicago Debut at UG!


Attention: Gossip Girl fans . . .

Blair Waldorf Leighton Meester can sing!

But look for the Upper East Side's preppiest princess to ditch her designer threads for something a little more sexier when she performs at Underground on New Year's Day.

If the thought of her singing gives you the shudders, give the girl a chance. She did, after all, record a duo with current R&B prince Robin Thicke on her first single, Somebody To Love. So there's hope!

That's 10pm-4am. Be there or be square.


Santa Gave Me a Coronary For Christmas

(Photo: via This is Why You're Fat)

No wonder some folks are fed up with the cupcake craze.

This delightful dessert of cupcake kabobs comes from This is Why You're Fat.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Bluprint Shutters After Two Years

(Photo: Bluprint)

Merchandise Mart restaurant Bluprint closed today after two years in business.

"Every component of our company is an extension of our Blue Plate family. So it is with mixed emotions that we announce bluprint’s closing," Blue Plate CEO Jim Horan said in a press release. "As we begin a new chapter, we are grateful for the relationships and memories we have made over the last two years."

No further information is available on what's going into the space.

Charlie Trotter is No Scrooge; Buys Out Entire Resto for Xmas Party


This is so effing cool that it makes me all warm and fuzzy inside . . .

An Ultimate Insider just sent this to the 312DD inbox:

"Charlie Trotter bought out Boka's whole restaurant tonight for his holiday party."

I really hope they get to taste Executive Chef Giuseppe Tentori's famous Bigoli Pasta!

Celeb Magnet Sunda Tops 312DD Dining Poll

Sunda came out on top in 312 Dining Diva's third-annual "Best New Restaurant Poll." (Photo: Sunda)

It's no surprise Sunda was voted Chicago's Best New Restaurant by readers of 312 Dining Diva.

Owned by the team behind the equally successful Underground and Rockit Bar & Grill, the Asian-focused eatery in River North offers all the elements of a dynamite destination: celeb appeal, great buzz, a uniquely exotic design scheme, and a top-notch chef in Rodelio Aglibot.

Sunda Executive Chef Rodelio Aglibot. (Photo: Sunda)

Since opening in March, Sunda has received big props from local and national critics for Aglibot's take on modern Asian fare, including a three-star review from the Chicago Tribune's Phil Vettel.

Another big honor for Aglibot this year was his third stint cooking at the esteemed James Beard House in New York, where he whipped up signature dishes like Petite Lemongrass Beef Lollipops with sweet Chile glaze and Mama Sally’s Honey and Candied Ginger–Braised Midwest Long Ribs with Lobster-Scented Arroz Caldo. (He's also set to star in his own travel food show on The Learning Channel in 2010.)

Hollywood A-Lister Jessica Alba was one of many stars to dine at Sunda in 2009.

Dishes like those make us understand why there has always been a steady stream of A-List stars coming through, including the likes of Jessica Alba, Ben Stiller, Jeremy Piven, Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Kevin Bacon, Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Kate Walsh, Tyrese Gibson, Jamie Foxx, Angela Bassett, Ali Larter, Katy Perry, Pharrell Williams and Randy Jackson.

In 2010, look for Sunda to get even more crowded as the newly launched Sunda Social takes off.

The after-work affair happens 5-7pm Monday through Friday in the lounge, bar, sushi bar and at communal tables, creating an awesome opportunity to network with new folks. Guests get sushi/sake pairing combos for $20, including one flight of sake paired with chef’s choice of sushi.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Where to Hang to Cure That NYE Hangover


If you're looking for Chicago's most comprehensive New Year's Eve Guide, go here, but if you're in need of some place to go once you finally stumble out of bed the day after, you know 312DD's got you covered:

Both Dunlays locations (Logan Square, Lincoln Park) start a special holiday brunch Dec. 28 through Jan. 1. Just think how good stacks of oatmeal pancakes with maple butter, fried-egg sandwiches (with cheddar and bacon on thick Rye) or made-to-order Bloody Marys will feel going down. 10am-3pm.

You can roll outta bed wearing your PJs at HUB 51, whose New Year's Day brunch is an all-you-can-eat deal with short rib eggs Benedict, Belgian waffles, Broiche French toast and thick-cut bacon. So you won't be roaming around too much, Bloody Mary and Mimosa carts will be at your disposal. 11am-2pm. $25 in advance; $30 at door.

If you attend Jake Melnick’s New Year's Eve party, you'll get 25 percent off your bill if you come back for the New Year's Day brunch. They're offering up some dishes certain to cure your "ailment," particularly the Hair of the Hog Breakfast Sandwich (sausage patty, spicy green chili omelet, chorizo-pepperjack cheese sauce on toasted Jalapeno ciabatta bread) and the Bloody Mary Skirt Steak & Eggs. Also, if you dare, $5 Bloody Marys and pomegranate Mimosas. 11am-until.

They're doing the regular brunch menu over at M. Henry, but if you expect to get a seat you're gonna have to arrive early. Hey, it's totally worth it for Fannie's Killer Egg Sandwich with Applewood bacon, sliced plum tomatoes and gorgonzola; the Blackberry Bliss Hotcakes or the bacon-wrapped baked eggs with polenta. 7am-2:30pm.

And Sunda's New Year's Day brunch lasts until 4pm! Get there for yummy Asian bites like the crab potstickers, Tempura French Toast Batons (served with caramel glazed bananas and brown sugar) and The Food Buddha’s Loco Moco, a hangover cure of hamburger steak topped with brown gravy and fried eggs on a bed of steamed rice.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

'Tis The Season For Hot New Openings . . .

The dining room of Uptown's newest eatery, Ceres' Table. (Photo: Amanda Puck)

Let's just go ahead and call this week Restaurant Week, seeing how it's a big one for some prominent openings.

We already introduced you to Jerry Kleiner's latest project, The Lobby Lounge at ShowPlace Icon Theatre, in the South Loop (we're all in for the bacon-infused popcorn alone!).

Also new is Ceres' Table, owned and operated by Giuseppe Scurato. You might remember him as the opening chef at BOKA and Landmark, but he's doing a completely different menu in his new Uptown home. Our immediate goal is to get there for his innovative spin on traditional gnocchi, which comes with Gunthorp farm rabbit confit, arugula pesto, pine nuts and pecorino cheese.

And then there's Epic—not to be confused with Epic Burger. This one just landed in River North, with chef Stephen Wambach serving up chops and steaks, with the Seven Pepper Crusted Hanger Steak a highlight. Not a surprise, considering he's a vet of the famed East Coast BLT restos.

Looking for more things to do this weekend?! Of course, we've got you covered:


Master mixologist Adam Seger's hooking up champagne cocktails during his monthly class at Nacional 27. Mingling, sipping, noshing included. You'll also get recipe cards so you can prepare them at your upcoming Xmas, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa party. 5:30-6:30pm. $20.

Reps from Maine brewery Peak Organic will be on hand to demo their signature beers at a tasting event at Dunlays on the Square. Get a flight of three for $6, which will pair well with beer cheese dip and beer-battered onion rings. 7-9pm.

Deejay Eric Cubeechee, who's currently starring on the new hit Bravo reality fashion design show, Launch My Line, spins for Underground's second-annual The Grinch Who Gave Back Christmas party. This time, the event benefits Make-A-Wish. 9pm-4am. Donation suggested.

If "Real Housewives of Atlanta" personality Kim Zolciak walks around like this at the Manor party on Friday, guests won't be subjected to her singing "Tardy for the Party." (Photo: Adam Bouska)


Here's my "Bah! Humbug!" moment of the season: I'm so over Ugly Sweater Christmas Parties! The only reason why I'm letting this one slide through from Chaise Lounge is because they're doing a three-course special for $30, and you get to pick from the menu. Oh, and there are drink specials. Yay.

Someone please tell me why Kim Zolciak is famous again?! Oh yeah, she was on that catty Real Housewives of Atlanta show and sang a song. For some reason she's showing up at Manor tonight, but methinks her "style" would be more appreciated at notorious Boystown hang, Minibar. 9pm-2am. No cover.

Lava Lounge closes tonight. Hit it up for one last cocktail before it transforms into The Exchange in January. 9pm-2am. No cover.


Speaking of Boystown, it's that time again for The Northalsted Naughty Elves Pub Crawl. Don an elf hat to enjoy $3 Stella beers and $4 Absolut cocktails at bars like Cocktail, Hydrate and Roscoe's. Proceeds benefit the Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus. 2-7pm. $10 in advance; $15 day of event.


And Balsan launches brunch this weekend. The upscale casual resto on the third floor of the Elysian Hotel is an instant hit, especially for its budget-friendly fare, but we have to warn you: The Mimosas will set you back $17 each. The scene is perfect for those needing to unwind after hours of shopping in the area. 11am-2pm.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Kleiner's Back in SoLo with Movie Theater Lounge

(Photo: Urban Daddy Chicago)

I can tell you right now that what I'm looking most forward to at Jerry Kleiner's newest spot, The Lobby Lounge at ShowPlace Icon Theatre, is the bacon-infused popcorn paired with a bottle of bubbly. Our obsession with it began when we first visited his 33 Club in Old Town.

Urban Daddy also gives us a sneak preview of what else to expect at Kleiner's big-screen debut in the South Loop, which opens Thursday:

"After getting off the escalator, you'll pass the concessions stand and follow the gilded-framed photos of De Niro, Depp and Uma up the stairs. First, you'll notice floor-to-ceiling windows offering panoramic views of the city.

Well, actually you'll probably notice a Fiat 500 sitting at the top of the stairs—that sort of thing kind has way of catching one's eye. And then you'll probably spy that magnificent central bar with white leather club chairs and a plush red seating area. And more Uma photos. But, trust us, you'll definitely get around to the view."

The Bristol Gets the Props It Deserves . . .

The Bristol was the only Chicago restaurant named to GQ's "Best New Restaurants in America" list. (Photo: Neil Burger)

After getting dissed and placed on Esquire's honorable mention best restaurants of 2009 list, The Bristol finally gets the recognition it deserves.

It was the only Chicago restaurant named to GQ's 10 Best New Restaurants in America list:

"Bristol is laid-back and luscious, a neighborhood restaurant with food the neighbors weren't sure they were going to like until they got the courage to stop in. If it all sounds too weird, have the chicken. It's a plain boneless bird with mustardy spaetzle, about as sensational as simple gets."

Look for them in the January issue.

Speaking of Best New Restaurants, don't forget to vote in the third-annual 312DD Best New Restaurant Poll!

Warm Up to Wrigleyville's Newest Attraction . . .


Not everyone wants to traipse down to Millennium Park for ice skating, so get ready for The Rink at Wrigley, adjacent from Wrigley Field at Clark and Waveland streets.

It's going down Dec. 19 through February, admission is $10 for adults, $6 for kids and $50 for a season pass.

While you're over there in Wrigleyville, get some grub, get some drinks:

Nuts on Clark: What's winter without roasted nuts and toasted caramel corn?! You'll find it here at this 30-plus-year, mom-and-pop shop minus the crazy-ass lines down at the Garrett's Popcorn stores.

Rockit Bar & Grill Wrigleyville: They're whipping up extra special sippers for you to warm up to after skating, such as Hot Rockit Chocolate (freshly shaved Cadbury chocolate, fresh whipped cream, chocolate sprinkles, Bailey’s and Butterscotch Schnapps) and Super Cider (apple cider, Kilo Kai Spiced Rum, cloves, allspice, cinnamon sticks, maple syrup, orange peels and apple wedge dusted in cinnamon for garnish). Both $8.

Socca: You'll find a number of share-able "pizzettes" on the menu, including our faves topped with shrimp, bacon or tomato basil. Owner/chef Roger Herring is also mighty proud of his signature burger, which comes topped with pancetta, caramelized onions and gorgonzola.

Uncommon Ground: The Wrigleyville landmark is best known for its java, but we also love it for the booze! If you really need a jolt, we recommend Neal Cassady’s Coffee, made with Madagascar vanilla bean house-infused Jim Beam whiskey, Black Cat double espresso and steamed maple cream.

Yak-Zies Bar & Grill: And there's no other place to get wings in this 'hood than Yak-Zies, which make them so tasty and hot we suggest you eat them before you take on the rink.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Burgers Are Coming to TRU!

The Bristol's burger will be getting more competition in 2010, now that TRU is adding a signature one to its menu. (Photo: The Bristol)

We'd been hearing the buzz for a few months now, but 312DD just got a confirmation from a highly placed Ultimate Insider that TRU will be adding a signature burger to its menu soon:

"So I now have clearance to tell you about the take-out burger window that TRU is adding. Managers recently went to NY to taste high-class burgers. Should be really good. Have to give credit to LEYE (Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises) for adaptability."

This will be indeed interesting to watch!

Night of the Sports Stars!


Over at Whiskey Bar & Grill, Lakers star Kobe Bryant hung out with his coach and a teammate before dinner at Gibson's.

And the Blackhawks' Patrick Kane celebrated his 21st bday with a number of high-profile athletes and celebs at Harry Caray's, including Vince Vaughn, Ernie Banks, Bobby Hull, Richard Dent, Adam Burish, Ron Kittle, Israel Idonije and Bill Kurtis . . . .

Sad News for Some Old Standbys

Bistrot Margot, the fashionable French eatery in Old Town, faces foreclosure.

Crain's reports that the recession has struck three well-known eateries:

"On the Near North Side, Bistrot Margot at 1437 N. Wells St. owes about $1.5 million on five past-due loans, according to a complaint filed by Associated Bank on Sept. 29 in Cook County Circuit Court.

Meanwhile, on the Near West Side, Izumi Sushi, a sushi and sake bar, and Jim Ching’s, a sister restaurant that specializes in Chinese takeout, filed for protection from creditors, with each venture listing assets of $1 million or less against debts of $10 million or less, according to petitions filed Nov. 30 in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Chicago. "

Monday, December 14, 2009

Stage Bites: The Weekly Dining & Drinking Guide

Sultry soulman Robin Thicke performs at The Riv on Friday.

Every Monday look for the week's top performances paired with the best deals before and after the show:

The David Bowie Hepzikat Velvet Flarney Solstice Spectacular...Live From Space! at National Pastime Theater. Let's take a moment and travel back to the 1970s for this star-studded celebration featuring the likes of Annie Lennox, Mick Jagger, Charo, The Ghost of Freddy Mercury and Ziggy Stardust. What could possibly go wrong?! Presented by New Millennium Theatre Company. 11pm Friday, Saturday. Get tickets here.

Holiday Club: You're certain to be worked up after the performance, so blow off steam here with specials on sweet tea vodka and beer on Fridays; shots of tequila and more beer on Saturdays as deejays spin 1990s hits. Most menu items are under $10.

Nick's Uptown: The rowdy after-hours bar features live blues, soul or R&B every Friday and Saturday. Sadly, no drink specials.

The Nutcracker at Auditorium Theatre. Toys come to life. Glittering snow's falling everywhere. The Sugar Plum Fairy! And dancers in skimpy, shimmering outfits float through The Joffrey Ballet's glorious rendition of the classic Christmas tale. Through Dec. 27. Get tickets here.

Atwood Cafe: Through Dec. 30 you can give something back to help those less fortunate. Donate non-perishable organic or special dietary food items to Lakeview Pantry, and you'll be entered into a contest for a chance to win dinner for four at the restaurant. You can also head here before or after The Nutcracker for tea; make a reservation for 2pm or 4pm service and nosh on tiny tasty sandwiches, pastries and desserts paired with Mighty Leaf Tea. $25 for adults; $18 for children 12 and under.

Lockwood: The lobby bar transforms into the Blommer Chocolate Lounge every Saturday through Dec. 26. Pastry chef Fabrice and students from the French Pastry School create signature desserts for your eating pleasure, so you can dig into unlimited sweets (plus coffee, tea, cappuccino, espresso, a glass of wine, champagne or a beer). 9-11pm. $35 for full chocolate experience or $5 for individual desserts.

The Wine Bar at the Walnut Room: Small plates of cheese, olives and candied walnuts are perfectly paired with various vino. No reservations accepted ever, and since we're in the throes of holiday hell, get there as early as possible to nab seats.

The iconic Walnut Room at Macy's.

Robin Thicke at Riviera Theatre. The sexy soulman heats up the stage in Uptown, with opening performances by Ryan Leslie, Laura Izibor. 8pm Friday. Get tickets here.

Demera: Dine messob, the traditional Ethiopian communal dining experience, in order to sample several items from the menu, including lamb, beef, chicken and salmon. Choose from vegetarian messob ($25.95 for six portions for two); meat massob ($28.95 for six portions for two); or family style so four to five people can chow down for only $14.50 per person.

Fat Cat: Fridays wouldn't be the same without at least one fish fry, right?! They're doing an all-you-can-eat deal that comes with Icelandic cod dipped in Rogue Dead Guy Ale beer batter and served with a baked potato or hand-cut fries and slaw. $9.95.

Fiesta Mexicana: Most items are under $10 at this Uptown fave, but we especially love the idea of Super Tacos in a double tortilla. Choose from chunks of pan-fried pork, grilled skirt steak, or steamed pot roast with guacamole and pico de gallo.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Did Puffy Forget Where He Was Supposed to Go Last Night?!

Sean "Puffy" Combs at Dream Friday. (Photo: Dream)

This shows that high-profile celebrities will do whatever the hell they want.

Even though Sean "Puffy" Combs was in town Friday for a highly publicized party at Excalibur/Vision, turns out that he never showed up. (Could it be that he got word that fights were breaking out in the club?!) as well as several other media outlets had photographers waiting for his arrival until 3am, but they left before the 4am party was over. Even the club's deejay kept shouting out on the mic: "Diddy, where you at?"

Puffy instead decided to take his entourage elsewhere. Emails are rapidly coming in to 312DD on sightings of him at Crimson Lounge for a birthday bash for local music industry star George Daniels ("he only stayed for five minutes!") as well as hip-hop lounge Dream.

Whatever, Diddy.

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Wild Pear: In Your Glass, On Your Plate

There are 10 primary varieties of USA Pears, each with its own color, flavor, shape and texture.

December's been declared National Pear Month by the U.S. Department of Agriculture because it's the best time of the year to indulge in the juicy fruit.

So with record numbers of crops reportedly being grown this season, don't be surprised to see the pear on menus everywhere.

312DD rounded up some delicious drinks and dishes you might want to check out:

Whether you're a bourbon fan or not, you're certain to go crazy over the Bourbon County Pears Cocktail at Bar Novo. It's shaken up with Bulleit bourbon, Xante pear liqueur and fresh lemon.

They've got a Poached Pear Salad on the menu at Blue 13. It's simple with blue cheese mousse and mixed greens that pairs well with their signature "3 Birds" Lobster Pizza.

Now this drink has edge and a whole lotta pear. Bristol's The Dardanian is named after the mythological Greek city of Dardania, a land that flourished with fictional Darda pears. The ingredients of Hendrick’s gin, St-Germain Elderflower liqueur, Bartlett pear and fresh pear sour make my mouth water.

Get a little Spanish flair with your pear at Eivissa, which offers the Pechuga de Pollo con Peras, or grilled chicken breast, garlic sauce, wild mushrooms and pears in a sherry-wine reduction.

The Bourbon County Pears Cocktail is at Bar Novo. (Photo: Bar Novo)

The contemporary brunch over at Eve includes a seasonal soup of a puree of chestnuts topped with shaved brussels sprouts, pears and bacon-infused maple syrup. And we expect the pear-infused champagne cocktail to complement it quite smoothly.

The Gage bypasses typical holiday desserts like pumpkin pie and fruitcake for a Chocolate-Stuffed Pear. The fruit's scooped out and replaced with delicate chocolate mousse and served with crisp gingerbread biscotti and a dollop of tangy crème fraîche sabayon.

Over at graham elliot, award-winning mixologist Lynn House's hooking you up with a Twisted Pear made with Beretzen Pear Schnapps, Pisco, fresh lemon juice and mint water. She describes it as biting into an Anjou pear: "a little tart, a little sweet."

Get your vice with a view at Roof, the glamorous hotel bar at theWit. You'll look really good sipping the Spiced Pears & Honey cocktail, made from Hangar One spiced pear vodka, housemade honey syrup and lemon.

And yet one more pear-flavored potion's on tap at Whiskey Bar & Grill. The Peartini's got Grey Goose la Poire Vodka, champagne and elderflower syrup.

Rise of Small Plates, Big Bars and Hotel Restaurants

Elate is located in the new Felix Hotel in River North. (Photo: Fearman Photos)

The Wall Street Journal's lifestyle section explores the latest trend in dining:

"A tapas-style menu, a hotel location and a major focus on the bar scene are hallmarks of restaurants around the country that are best surviving the economic turmoil of the past year.

"These components are also likely to be the defining traits of the next generation of high-end restaurants, say many leading restaurateurs, and are already being deployed in cities across the country."

That appears to be the case with a number of new restaurants in Chicago, such as Balsan, which just opened this week.

Located on the third floor of the brand-new Elysian Hotel, its design is high style, but at the same time offers a refreshingly affordable menu of items like house-made charcuterie, wood-roasted pizzas and Saddle Rock oysters.

Same goes for Elate, the thumping little spot inside the new Felix Hotel. The tinier tables and clubby seating are hints that this place is meant to be small-plates style. Octopus pastrami, crispy pork pizzas and charcuterie of country pâté are sure-fire hits.

At the newly restored Blackstone Hotel, the Spanish-focused Mercat a la Planxa of course features a number of tapas in its energetic atmosphere. The Catalan sausage and meatballs are set in a spicy tomato sauce; and a traditional Spanish omelet is filled with spinach, potatoes and saffron aioli.

And we cannot rave enough about the food over at State and Lake on the lobby level of theWit, a contemporary gastropub that's in sharp contrast to its more fancier upstairs Italian sister, cibo matto. Bites include mussels swimming in Metropolitan ale; Deviled eggs filled with truffles and short rib; and salt cod fritters and fried potatoes in a caper aioli.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Inspiration Behind Girl & The Goat?!

Stephanie Izard says this painting inspired her to name her new gastropub Girl & The Goat. (Photo: Stephanie Izard)

Thank God Stephanie Izard has a good sense of humor.

The saucy little Top Chef winner got some heat for her choice of a new name for her new gastropub, Girl & The Goat, scheduled to open next spring.

Local food writer/reviewer Michael Nagrant tweeted Thursday: "@stephanieizard What's with resto name change to Girl and the Goat. Doesn't that sound a little like a fetish porn film, now?"

She later responded: "hmmm, not sure I agree on the new name being all about me and my giant ego, but I do love the porn reference."

Then she posted the photo above, and added: "A painting I have that inspired girl & the goat."

Atta, girl!

Puff Daddy in Town to Debut New Ciroc Flavors


Say what you will about Puffy, but one thing's for sure, the arrogant music mogul has mad stamina as proven by his many lucrative business ventures like Ciroc vodka.

An Ultimate Insider tells us he'll hit town Friday to promote his premium hooch at a special luncheon at the Hard Rock Hotel. Fifty lucky guests will be the first to sample Ciroc's newest flavors.

Since this'll all go down in the afternoon, there's a likely chance he'll jet out of town as soon as it's over, but if you hear of any late-night sightings, be sure to drop 312DD a line . . .

Oh, so here's an UPDATE already:

Puffy's hosting an after-hours affair at Vision Friday. The party includes live music, three floors of dancing, multiple deejays spinning and more. That's 10pm-4am. $25 in advance.

Make L2O Your New Luxe Lounge Hang

One of Chicago's hidden treasures is the L2O Lounge in the Belden-Stratford Hotel. (Photo: L2O)

We're always looking for interesting new places to hang, and with the holidays upon us, that's a difficult task to do. The season's shoppers, out-of-town visitors and the usual suspect barhoppers are in the same mindset, so the hottest places can get pretty, ummmm, swamped.

So we'd like to introduce you to a spot most folks have overlooked as a nightlife destination. L2O's lux-y lounge is not going to be your everyday go-to bar, but it won't hurt to treat yourself once in a while.

The hand-crafted, classic cocktails range $16-$18 in choices like the house aperitif of sparkling wine and raspberry-Rooibos tea cordial; the Navigator (Hennessey VS, bual madeira, pomegranate); or Caipirinha (Leblon Cachaça, Kaffir lime, Kaffir leaves). Plus, you'll have a choice of light nibbles, including a selection of cheeses and small-plate seafood dishes.

Go ahead and treat yourself. After all, Christmas only comes around once a year.

More places to go this weekend . . .


If $16 cocktails are out of your price range, you might want to check out Flo on Thursdays for drink specials at the bar. They're doing $4 3 Floyds Gumballhead, $3.50 house margaritas, $4.50 mojitos and $16 margarita pitchers. Also, if you get there between 2:30-5:30pm, you can stuff down all the tacos you can for $2.50. Yummy times 10 for shredded chicken, roasted pork and veggie.

DJ Kiss is back! This time, New York's hottest spin star is working the 'tables at Manor for Outfit Events' weekly bash. Get there early for a fashion show by DNA2050. 9pm-2am. No cover.

Traditional Caribbean cuisine sets up shop in Ukrainian Village with Mr. Brown's Lounge. (Photo: Urban Daddy Chicago)


Mr. Brown’s Lounge debuts today in Ukrainian Village, and Urban Daddy got the scoop first. We're looking forward to heaving plates of jerk chicken, beef patties, plantains, and island mac and cheese keeping us warm all winter. Deejays spin on weekends, too!

Glazed Donuts offers the alternative to the cupcake craze with delightful donut flavors in bourbon pecan pie and chocolate candy cane. And if you want to get a taste before you buy, they're giving away samples 5-7pm this evening at Green Grocer. Nice Cream will also be on hand to unveil winter ice cream flavors, so you can double up on the sweet stuff.

If you've got Top Chef withdrawals already, it's time to check out Sprout, helmed by season three finalist Dale Levitski. A $60 prix-fixe deal allows you to customize your own three-course menu, choosing one each from his first course, entree and dessert selections. We've already got our eyes on the sablefish (fennel, verjus rouge and grape) and the short rib (truffle, mushrooms, chicory, manchego).

The guys behind Genuine Entertainment have done a pretty aggressive job hosting weekly parties at various hot spots during their first year in business, so they're celebrating with a big bash tonight at Mercadito. After dinner, they're transforming the entire space into an all-out nightclub, and things should get really interesting. 11pm-2am. No cover.


After a hard night out, head to Roof for the Morning After Brunch. The spicy lamb sausage comes with a fried egg and tomato marmalade, and who could resist the PLT—a sandwich of crispy pancetta, cured tomatoes, arugula and lemon aioli. 11am-2pm Saturday, Sunday.

If you're skipping downtown shopping in favor of something more close to home, how about heading to Edgewater for the annual Holidays Around the World?! There's a tree-lighting ceremony, artists' festival, and free goodies at a number of restaurants in the area, including Bananas Foster Cafe (egg nog and mince pie samples noon-3pm) and Metropolis Coffee Company (free baked goods and a holiday drink special). Noon-4pm.


If you've been a lazy ass lately and cannot make it out of your bed to get to a proper brunch, then this one's for you. Chaise is extending its brunch until 5pm, so now you have no excuses. Executive Chef Cary Taylor's stamped his Southern roots all over the menu in offerings like the shrimp 'n' grits made with Laughing Bird shrimp and Three Sisters Garden grits; a Cuban Croque Madame blessed with smoked and pulled turkey, fried egg on toasted brioche; and Sunday mac 'n' cheese (smoked Gouda, toasted breadcrumbs, garlic sausage and scrambled egg). Also get tableside Bloody Marys for $5 each.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

This Thing Could Get Controversial . . .


People all over town are already scratching their heads over the new name for Stephanie Izard's soon-to-be-opened gastropub—Girl & The Goat—which was originally named The Drunken Goat.

Number one comment from bar and restaurant industry types after hearing the news:

"It sounds kinda, ummmm, twisted . . ."

It's scheduled to open next spring.


Izard, who won the fourth season of Top Chef (and still remains the show's only female winner!), gave her thoughts on the sixth season's finale via Twitter:

"F@"$&d up final call with Padma... But congrats to all the boys for a tasty looking finale! Congrats, Mike!"

Cuna Set to Open Next Week?!


Former Sepia exec chef Kendal Duque will be at helm of the highly anticipated Cuna, set to open next week, according to an Ultimate Insider:

"Word is Cuna will be opening next week, they just passed their inspections today. ... shooting for late next week."

We'll see what happens, but in the meantime here's a sweet interview he did in November with Time Out.

Red-Hot Mixologist Off to Miami . . .


I've got some unfortunate news to report, folks.

Daniel J. Love—one of the city's best and brightest bartenders (who also happens to be one of the hottest eligible bachelors!)—is leaving town.

The Mercadito mixologist's moving to Miami to open a fourth outpost, which is set to debut in mid-January.

This is a big loss for Chicago as Love, who previously worked at Le Bar at Sofitel, brought some well-deserved attention to Chicago's mixology scene by winning a number of national competitions.

He's an innovator and well-respected by his peers, who'll certainly miss his talents. He'll be behind the bar until Jan. 1, so stop by, say hello and grab one of his amazing cocktails.

Mixologist Jennifer Contraveos shaking up cocktails at Double A. (Double A)

In other bar news . . .

Double A, Mercadito's lower-level VIP bar specializing in tequila and tequila-based cocktails, is off to a good start since it opened last month.

We stopped by Friday night to check it out, and while the music was thumping with high-energy dance and hip-hop, the crowd wasn't exactly feeling it as they were cordoned off into their usual little groups.

Props do go out to the four or five guys gathering around the bar, giving the room somewhat of a social atmosphere.

It's not Double A's fault, but seriously what has really happened to Chicago's nightlife?!

I really hate bottle service.

Fall in Love with a Beautiful Bordeaux


Whether you're swinging solo or coupled up this holiday season, Thursday's matchmaking session at Y Bar aims to make you fall in love with the wines of Bordeaux.

All you have to do to attend is fill out your wine preferences here, so they can match you up with vinos based on your tastes. You'll get four full pours of those particular wines as well as heavy passed appetizers. Event also includes a guy playing the sax and a deejay spinning the hits.

They're expecting a nice guest list of Chicago's finest, so who knows?! You just may find the love of your life after all.

Bordeaux Matchmaking goes down 7:30pm-midnight Thursday. Free, but must RSVP here for admission.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

What Have They Done for Us Lately?!


Maybe these dudes should come outta retirement and help our pitiful Bears and Bulls.

Just got this from a publicist:

"Two Chicago sports legends dined at District Bar last night. Basketball legend, Michael Jordan, and former Chicago Bear and Super Bowl XX MVP, Richard Dent, brought back a bit of the Glory Days to Chicago as they enjoyed a wide range of the menu.

They drank Heineken, Grey Goose, and District’s specialty cocktail, Ginger Collins.

Jordan and Dent spent the evening watching the Packers take on the Ravens on Monday Night Football in the VIP section at District."

Seriously, get off your asses and play some ball!

Drinking, Eating . . . and Sleeping?!


Soooooo, Time Out uncovered a new bar going into Logan Square from the team behind The Empty Bottle.

Called Longman & Eagle, it aims to be a contemporary Chicago inn concept, offering eats, drinks and beds in the back.


This should be interesting. Late-night drinking+randy young people+beds in a back room sounds like a recipe we don't even want to imagine . . .

Monday, December 7, 2009

Stage Bites: The Weekly Dining & Drinking Guide

"Snow White and the Drag Queen Who Stole X-Mas" is playing at Hydrate through Saturday. (Photo:

Every Monday look for the week's top performances paired with the best deals before and after the show:

Burlesque Is More at Annoyance Theatre. If visions of girls in racy, retro outfits get you in the holiday spirit, you don't want to miss this campy improv show. Modeled after Late Night Tit-Bits. 10pm Saturdays through Dec. 19. Get tickets here.

Marigold: Spicy signature cocktails and microbrews pair well with Naanwiches, an Indian take on classic American sandwiches. How about a Spiked Mango ‘Lassi, made with Marigold’s special Cardamom-infused vodka, Prosecco and mango nectar?!

Wild Pug: You're in luck if you decide to hit up the show on Dec. 19. Head here first for its anniversary and Christmas party and get free drinks and food from 7 to 9pm, plus $1 cocktails and beer all night. If you're going this weekend, get ready for the usual offbeat antics and $4.50 shots of Jager, Bacardi O, Barcardi Razz or Effen Black Cherry.

“Naanwiches” at Marigold. (Photo: Marigold Restaurant)

It's a Wonderful Life: Live at The Biograph! American Blues Theater is behind Frank Capra's timeless masterpiece now playing at Victory Gardens Studio. No intermission. Thursday through Dec. 27. Get tickets here.

Gemini Bistro: A new three-course, prix-fixe menu is offered for $33 ($55 with wine pairings) from 5-6:30pm. That means you'll have to hoof it over there early to get the deals on lobster bisque, Maine lobster ravioli, steak frites and the Gemini signature eight-ounce prime beef burger. It's four blocks away, so luckily they offer valet service.

Ringo Japanese Restaurant: We're not big fans of all-you-can-eat sushi, but Ringo gets a pass because you can always count on their sushi being super fresh. So, go ahead and gorge on the good stuff for $22.50. In order to get the deal, your entire party must participate (go to website for coupon).

Snow White and the Drag Queen Who Stole X-Mas at Hydrate. Leave it to Boystown to twist the classics of our childhood. This time, it's a timeless tale of Snow White, her seven Drag Queens and a vicious Grinch hitting the stage with a bunch of hilarious numbers. 9pm Friday, Saturday. Get tickets here.

Arco de Cuchilleros: The lively tapas bar offers a number of hot and cold selections under $10. We especially recommend Pollo a La Navarra (chicken sauteed with cured ham, sweet red peppers and red wine), Champinones Marinados (mushrooms marinated in a balsamic vinaigrette) and Solomillo De Cerdo Al Jerez (pork tenderloin in a sherry and black olive sauce).

Jack's on Halsted: You'll get a three-course menu for $25.95 at the newly renovated Lakeview landmark, with seasonal bites like butternut squash ravioli, grilled Nova Scotia salmon and Jack's signature bread pudding.

HB Home Bistro: If you're a regular at this popular BYOB, you already know that some of the best items are not even on the menu. Just let your server know you're down, and you'll be in for a treat!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Introducing: The Exchange

Mixologist Peter Vestinos hooking up cocktails at a sneak-preview party at The Exchange, set to open in January. (Photo: Phil McFarland)

Phil McFarland (SmallBar) had a sneak-peek party Friday at what's to be soon known as The Exchange when Lava Lounge shutters on Dec. 19.

As exclusively reported by 312DD last month, look for signature hand-crafted cocktails from master mixologist Peter Vestinos (who's consulted for the likes of Naha, C-View, Roof, In Fine Spirits), as well as exceptional wine, bubbly and craft brews.

The Exchange opens mid- to late January.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Crash the 'State Dinner'—at White C-House

(Photo: C-House)

You won't even have to get all dolled up in a sari or tux, front like you're on the guest list or show up with a camera crew to get into this State Dinner-inspired supper that got a Washington, D.C. couple in hot water.

Marcus Samuelsson created the menu for the infamous first-ever dinner of the Obama White House, and now you too can indulge at C-House, his restaurant at the Affinia Hotel.

The restaurant's Executive Chef Nicole Pederson and Pastry Chef Toni Roberts, who cooked alongside Samuelsson and the White House team, will re-create the Indian American-focused menu for guests on Dec. 9.

It's $54 per person (with an additional $20 for wine pairings), but Tareq and Michaele Salahi are not included.

Here's what you'll eat:

1st Course

Potato and Eggplant Salad with arugula, onion seed vinaigrette

2008 Modus Operandi, Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley California

2nd Course

Red Lentil Soup with apples, fresh cheese

2006 Brooks Winery, "Ara," Willamette Valley Oregon


Green Curry Prawns with caramelized salsify, smoked collard greens and coconut aged basmati

2007 Beckmen Vineyards, Grenache, Santa Ynez California


Pumpkin Pie Tart & Pear Tarte Tatin

NV Thibaut-Janisson, Brut

Reservations strongly recommended.

Rick Bayless Serves Up Street Food at Ketel One Canteen

New York chef Michael Psilakis holding down the Ketel One Canteen. (Photo: Ketel One)

More Rick Bayless news:

We're warning you now that if you're not crazy about big crowds, you'd better stay far away from that little park on Rush Street at Bellevue and Cedar next week.

That's because Bayless's setting up shop midnight-2am Dec. 10-12 for the first-ever celebrity chef-helmed Ketel One Canteen, which will be giving out free food to anyone who finds out about it.

Considering that Bayless's Xoco is all about "Mexican street food" this totally makes sense, and the stuff you'll get sounds absolutely amazing.

Epicurious snagged the menu:

Pork Tinga Tacos - Shredded pork, guacamole and queso fresco cheese served in a soft taco

Roasted Poblano and Potato Tacos - Roasted poblano peppers, Yukon gold potatoes and roasted tomatillo salsa served in a soft taco

Black Bean and Chorizo Tortas - Chorizo sausage, black beans, avocado and salsa served on a crusty roll

Black Bean, Caramelized Onions and Beef Tortas - Black beans, caramelized onions, shredded beef and queso fresco cheese served on a crusty roll

In addition to free food, Ketel One will be offering free rides home (to promote responsible drinking over the holidays).

We're always down for that . . .

UPDATE: Bayless's menu is on tap, but he will not be there. Oh well!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

10 Years of BIN 36's Bubble Bath


The bubbles are back!

BIN 36's extravagant holiday party featuring more than 75 champagnes and sparkling wines happens 6-10pm Dec. 9.

Bubble Bath X is $50, with $5 from every ticket benefiting Horizons for Youth, plus proceeds from the silent auction and raffle sales also going to this worthy organization.

The guys over at BIN 36 are in such a generous mood that they've given 312DD a pair of tickets to give one of my lucky readers for FREEBIE FRIDAY! That person will get to enjoy all the bubbles they can handle, plus signature bites and desserts by executive chef John Caputo.

And if you sample something you especially love, you'll get a 20 percent discount on all sparkling wines and champagnes in the retail store (available the day of the event only).

So I hope you're following me here, 'cause that's the only way to win!

Bayless Has Best Tweet Ever . . .

Rick Bayless is chef/owner of Frontera Grill, Xoco and Topolobampo.

A pregnant woman in labor had to have her fix before heading to the hospital, and she paid none other than Rick Bayless a visit.

He Tweeted: "A woman on her way to deliver her baby @ Northwestn hospital decided she had time for chocolate&churros at Xoco first. In dining room now."

Now that's a craving I can get down with!

A New Attitude for Whiskey Bar & Grill

Whiskey Bar & Grill on Rush Street has re-concepted its image in order to bring back its original "cool" crowd. (Photo: Whiskey Bar & Grill)

We all love a good comeback story.

When Colleen Flaherty's diminutive martini lounge was displaced by the city to make way for a new Blue Line stop, we thought we'd never get to taste one of her amazing cocktails again. But she returned with a bigger and tighter mixology program when she relocated Tiny Lounge to the North Center neighborhood earlier this year.

Ousted Funky Buddha Lounge owner Joe Russo disappeared for a few years before he made his triumphant return in the spring with The Shrine, a South Loop nightclub that's successfully drawn the city's top ballers and shot callers.

So now it’s time for Rande Gerber—the guy behind more than 25 Whiskey Bar-branded bars around the world—to step up his game with the Rush Street spot that redefined Chicago nightlife on the Gold Coast.

He's secured a team of local nightlife vets (including former NV Penthouse Lounge GM John Mendez) to bring back the magic that once captured the city's glitterati. Gone is Mexx, a Mexican-themed component with Latin dishes and an expansive list of tequilas. They've returned to what they're known best for—whiskies—and amping that list up in a time when they're more popular than ever.

Plus, they've added a number of cushy leather booths and banquettes, flatscreens, reclaimed hardwood tables, and offbeat black-and-white portraits of legendary music stars Mick Jagger, Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin, giving it a more lived-in setting.

For sure the most significant change will be a new deejay booth set up in a corner on weekends. Look for the city's most popular deejays to spin mashups, classic rock and contemporary hits.

The project's still a work in progress, but to get a taste of what they're up to, hit up Whiskey Bar & Grill tonight for a soft-opening party hosted by Chicago-Scene. There's a Stoli reception 8-10pm, and a deejay spins. No cover.

Also going down this weekend . . .


It's been open for about a week in its third location on Chicago Avenue, but Lush Wine and Spirits hosts a grand-opening party tonight. Free booze and bites. 6-9pm.


Today is St. Nikolaus Day, so bring the kids to celebrate at The Berghoff. They're doing a special holiday menu, face painting and an appearance by St. Nickolaus himself. Also, children (under 12) who find the traditional pickle ornament in Berghoff's holiday tree win free root beer floats! 11am-7pm.

Speaking of the Jolly Old Elf, he'll also be at Empty Bottle for the Rockin' Santa event. The party benefits School Street Arts, a non-profit dedicated to AIDS awareness among youth. There's a craft/bake sale and lots of booze. 2-5pm. $20 adults; $35 for couples; $5 children (accompanied by an adult).

Today is also the 76th anniversary of Repeal Day! Custom House shows its support with $5 cocktails: “Bathtub” Gin Rickey (North Shore Distillery #11 Gin, fresh lime, soda and a candied lime wheel), Presbyterian (Death’s Door White Whiskey, house made ginger beer and a lemon twist) and Rock n’ Rye (Templeton “Prohibition Era” Rye Whiskey, house made vanilla syrup and Crème de Cerise). 11:30am-11pm.

Volo's annual neighborhood favorite returns. The champagne tasting includes more than 30 wines, and will take place inside and on the heated patio. 2:30-5pm. $25.

Legendary New Wave star Peter Hook of New Order plays a rare deejay set at Smart Bar. He'll also sign copies of his book (?!). Dark Wave Disco deejays also spin. 10pm-5am. $10 before midnight; $15 after.


Gingerbread-infused pancakes. The Rudolph Bloody Mary. And the Winter Wonderland—made from bourbon and nutmeg. That's just part of the special pre-fixe holiday brunch on tap this weekend at C-House. We also love the fact that pastry chef Toni Roberts will be sending guests off with jars of holiday cookies, including her recipes so you can make them at home. 10:30am-3pm Saturday and Sunday. $25.

And those entertaining folks from out of town will dig the new Sunday Suppers happening at Blue 13. Make your reservation for 7pm to get hearty portions of Chris Curren's cooking. He'll serve everything family-style, and you'll get a main course, two to three sides, a salad and dessert for $20 each. Reservations only.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

NoMI Chef Takes on New York!


Jealous I'm not in the Big Apple today because New Yorkers are getting a treat from some of our very own.

NoMI Executive Chef Christophe David, award-winning Master Sommelier Fernando Beteta and their amazing team are currently prepping for an amazing dinner tonight at the prestigious James Beard House—known best for the most coveted culinary awards in the United States.

Peep the menu. It's a good one:


Ponzu Marinated Yellowfin Tuna

Gruyère Cheese Gougere

Cured Salmon Bon Bon

Chausson with Bacon and Spinach

Truffled Chestnut Soup with Duck Confit

Champagne Philipponnat | Royale Réserve | Brut NV Mareuil sur Aÿ


Watercress Soup

golden osetra caviar | crème fraîche

Sancerre | Domaine Eric Montintin | Loire Valley 2007

Rougié Foie Gras Crème Brûlée

brioche | hazelnut | petite herbs

Pinot Gris | Cuvée St. Catherine | Domaine Weinbach | Alsace 2007

Alba White Truffle Risotto

carnaroli rice | celery root | parmigiano reggiano

Mâcon-Chardonnay | Clos de la Crochette | Les Héritiers du Comte Lafon 2006

Brittany Turbot

artichoke barigoule | sauce bonne femme

Pinot Noir | Walter Hansel Winery | Russian River Valley 2007

Jamison Farms Rack of Lamb

lamb neck | black truffle | salsify | natural jus

Cheval des Andes | Château Cheval Blanc & Terrazas de los Andes | Mendoza 2005


sable | white chocolate crème | mango passion sorbet

Chardonnay Trockenbeerenauslese | Weingut Rosenfeld | Burgenland Austria 2004

Macarons, Chocolate and Nougat

A Decade of Decadent Dishes . . .

River North's Naha is one of several notable restaurants celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2010. (Photo: Naha)

A milestone in meals. An era of exotic entrees. A decade of decadent dishes.

Any way you look at it, in these tough economic times when people's tastes change at the drop of a fork, a restaurant surviving 10 years is quite a feat.

So let's take a moment to give props to 10 Chicago restaurants celebrating 10 years in 2010:

437 Rush: Phil Stefani's old-school Italian gem offers classic dishes and live entertainment, attracting a mature, well-heeled crowd.

Adobo Grill: The moles. The margaritas. The music! The original location in Old Town still packs 'em in for lunch and dinner daily.

Bob San: The Wicker Park sushi spot has managed to hold its own even though its a stone's throw from one of the city's best, Mirai Sushi (which celebrates its 10th year this month!).

Chicago Firehouse: The former South Loop firehouse serves up decent classic American fare. Nothing fancy here, but we love it for the firehouse novelty alone.

The Grill on the Alley: The Chicago offshoot of the upscale Beverly Hills steakhouse is located on the first level of the Westin Hotel.

Joe's Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab: A tourist favorite in River North, this just may be the best seafood spot in the city.

Naha: The highly acclaimed executive chef/owner Carrie Nahabedian skillfully fuses her own rich Armenian heritage into New American cuisine, creating something very special.

N9NE Steakhouse: The tony West Loop steakhouse chose to celebrate its milestone for its ninth anniversary, but we suspect they'll still have something in the works for 2010. The contemporary steakhouse continues to draw the business traveler despite the decline of the corporate card.

NoMI: Only one of two restos with an amazing view of the Mag Mile, the award-winning Asian-French inspired NoMI still has one of the best terraces in the city.

Ringo Japanese Restaurant: When it comes to sushi, this Lincoln Park standby gets it right. So right that they've repeated their formula of success in Tsuki and Ai.