Friday, July 31, 2009
Stephanie Izard is the executive chef and co-owner of The Drunken Goat, set to open in early 2010. (Photo: Stephanie Izard)
An Ultimate Insider tells us The Drunken Goat—whose official location has been under a cloak of secrecy for four long months—is going into a former manufacturing building at 809-813 W. Randolph St. in the West Loop.
This is the first time a restaurant's gone into the heavy timber venue that's now undergoing a massive makeover to turn it into the glammed-out space everyone's expecting from the team behind it.
That would be past Top Chef winner Stephanie Izard and her partners Rob Katz and Kevin Boehm, best known for their trend-setting projects in Lincoln Park (BOKA, Landmark, Perennial).
We're, of course, expecting The Drunken Goat to be one of the biggest openings in 2010, so look for it when it debuts sometime in January or February.
In homage to the late, great Julia Child, who's portrayed on the big screen in the upcoming Julie & Julia, the chefs over at BOKA and Perennial have recreated recipes right out of one of her cookbooks.
The Milanese-born Giuseppe Tentori (BOKA) met Child while working at Charlie Trotter's, and was enamored with her passion for cooking. Through Aug. 7, he's serving the recipe for Steak au Poivre, which comes from her Mastering the Art of French Cooking cookbook. He says, "She took what was once viewed as hoity toity French cuisine, and made it palatable to 'meat and potatoes' Americans." The dish costs $31.
Perennial's Ryan Poli first experienced the Cherry Clafouti Tart when he was working pastries at the famed Le Francais in Wheeling, Ill. When legendary chef Jean Banchet came to Poli one day with cherries, requesting he make a clafouti as a special the next evening, Poli had no idea what the dish was. So he immediately hit the cookbooks searching for clafouti. "It was Julia Child who had the recipe for me," he said, "so I thought a great way to honor her was to run a dessert she basically taught me." The cherry clafouti tart, at $8, also comes from Mastering the Art of French Cooking and is on the menu until Aug. 7.
We've heard all about the crazy late-night antics of talented funnyman Jamie Foxx, but that wasn't the case Tuesday at Sunda, where we hear he was a perfect gentleman to the staff and customers:
"He was taking photos with a lot of the diners and a bunch of kids who were waiting outside for him," said our Ultimate Insider.
After a late night of wining and dining at Sunda, Foxx and friends took off for sky-high hot spot Roof, at theWit, and hung out for a few hours. Executive Chef Todd Stein said he was "nothing but great to the staff."
Thursday, July 30, 2009
I understand what Prez O was trying to convey with the "King of Beers" message, but he missed out on a grand opportunity to showcase some of our finest beers when he sits down for what's being called the Beer Summit.
Before he settled on such ho-hum suds as Bud Light, he should've first taken a peek at this recent New York Times travel story on Chicago's new wave of microbrews that includes local stars Goose Island and Piece.
I'm just sayin' . . .
UPDATE: Goose Island founder, owner and CEO John Hall makes a statement!
“Whatever style of beer chosen, the President has the right idea. Sharing a pint helps people relax, drop our pretenses and just be ourselves. If Goose Island can get Cubs fans and White Sox fans together, anything is possible.”
Art Smith of Table Fifty-Two (Photo: Table Fifty-Two)
There were some gems all night as Gawker liveblogged week seven of Top Chef Masters featuring both Art Smith (Table Fifty-Two) and Rick Bayless (Frontera Grill/Topolobampo).
Not gonna tell you how it turned out ('cause I know most of y'all Tivo-ed it!), but this snark on Smith was the quote of the night:
"Love him or hate him — you have to admit he's like a character straight out of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. And this finalist group needs all the character it can get, since it already includes Suzanne Tracht and Anita Lo — who are like characters straight out of Midnight in the Poppy Garden of the Living Dead."
. . . and let your body lead you to the annual Northalsted Market Days, going down Saturday and Sunday in Boystown (Halsted, between Addison and Belmont).
It's considered the largest street festival in the Midwest, so it's a little shocking that they've never offered VIP access until this year. And oh what a year to do it!
The all-star, girl-power retro weekend includes performances by En Vogue (9pm Saturday), CeCe Peniston (3:30pm Sunday), Berlin (6:30pm Sunday) and Jody Watley (8:30pm Sunday).
We're excited about them all, but especially En Vogue (pictured above), who set the standard for the contemporary girl group way before the likes of Destiny's Child, The Spice Girls and Pussycat Dolls with chart-topping hits Free Your Mind, Hold On and the super-steamy Giving Him Something He Can Feel. They're celebrating 20 years as the fabulous foursome and still look good!
Those with VIP access at the Horseshoe Casino stage get unobstructed views of the stage. Prices are $30 (access to back of house and one beverage) and $50 (front of house and two beverages). For those steep prices, one or two drinks is jankity as hell! Get tickets here or try your luck at the gate.
Of course, that's not all that's happening this weekend . . .
It's National Cheesecake Day, and of course the iconic Eli's is in on the action. They're giving away slices (one per person, while supplies last) 7am-2pm at Wright Farmer's Market, in the restaurant's parking lot. If you miss out there, you'll still get freebies at the cheesecake sample bar inside Eli's Cafe.
Tonight (and every last Thursday of the month) Goose Island Clybourn exec chef John Manion serves an all-you-can-eat Slagel Family Farm pig roast dinner for $17. Includes sides like red-skin potato salad or sweet potato fries with curry catsup. Starts at 6:30pm—until the whole pig is gone.
If you've never checked out Pilsen sensation Mundial Cocina, tonight's the last night to dig into the $10 tasting plate that comes with three luscious Latin bites and a delicious glass of sangria.
WTF is Megan?! Whomever she is, she's looking for a millionaire, and Manor somehow got roped into hosting the kickoff party for her show premiering on VH-1 Sunday. Super star NYC DJ Kiss spins; get there early for comped Snow Queen cocktails (10-11pm). 10pm-2am. Cover varies.
Dope OM Records house music deejay Andy Caldwell is on the sked at Spy Bar, which could be quite a blast if you can get over the fact you're in a hardcore nightclub. 10pm-4am. $20.
Seats are still available for Bluebird's Lagunitas Brewery tasting on Monday, where guests will get to sample the limited release Lucky 13.
As I excitedly gushed last week, Top Chef New York star Fabio Viviani makes an appearance at Wildfire.
Ethnic funk, roots and folk band Funkdesi performs at Wild Hare. 9pm-until. $10.
More island grooves await you at Ja' Grill, one of the very few Jamaican eateries on the Near North Side. Every last Friday of the month, they're serving Caribbean beats along with exotic eats. Deejay Boombostic spins reggae, dancehall, ska, soca. 7pm-2am. No cover.
Lucky you. You get two chances to check out Dee Alexander—one of Chicago's top crooners—at the Green Mill this weekend. If you've never seen her live, you're definitely missing out. 9pm Friday; 8pm Saturday. $12.
Though it's been open for a week, tonight's the official grand opening over at Red Canary in River West. They're expecting a big crowd (especially with all the media coverage it's been getting!), so arrive early to get prime placement in the lounge or dining area. Drink specials include $5 Stoli drinks and $5 Patron shots.
Branch 27's finally launched brunch service, and we're hoping it's as good as it sounds. Mmmmmm for the pork belly hash skillet, half-pound burger with aged Cheddar, and a BLT stacked with thick-cut bacon and topped with chipotle aioli and fried eggs. Our drinks of choice will definitely be Ginger Lemonade (with Stoli Ohranj), the Raspberry Mint Julep, and a cucumber melon cocktail with Hendrick's gin. Brunch is served 11am-3pm Saturday and Sunday.
Oh my goodness. Kick The Keg Sundays starts today at Faith & Whiskey. If you think that sounds like trouble, you're probably right. For a minimum of four people per table, and $20 a head, you'll get all-you-can-drink tableside keg service. And that is four hours of drinking—if you're counting.
And Bluebird showcases Lagunitas Brewery for a special tasting featuring mainstays like IPA, Czech-Style Pils, Maximus and the Censored Ale. They'll also treat guests to Lagunitas' limited releases Correction Ale, Lucky 13, Hop Stoopid, the Little Sumpin' Sumpin' Ale and the just released Imperial Red. Flatbreads and snacks also served. 7:30-9:30pm. $25; reservations recommended.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Crimson Lounge mixologist Todd Appel (Photo: Todd Appel)
Todd Appel, the supreme star mixologist from Crimson Lounge, is known for creating offbeat, yet tasty cocktails with fresh juices he squeezed himself, but he draws the line when it comes to the latest local food fad, offal:
"Tongues and hearts...should stay in the boudoir...and the belly thing is way too trendy for me...I like smoked pork belly though...sometimes called bacon."
Graham Elliot Bowles as a Chippendale?! (Photo: Marcus Riley for NBCChicago.com)
This is what happens when I'm on a tight deadline and cannot go out.
I miss Graham Elliot Bowles's turn as guest bartender at Monday's popular industry-driven event, Night Shift, at Pops for Champagne.
Occasionally they'll have a celebrity chef fill in behind the bar shaking up his/her signature cocktail, but of course, Bowles (of the eponymous River North eatery), took it to the extreme, according to our friends at NBCChicago.com:
"Yes, that was the acclaimed chef guest bartending with a shirt buttoned down to his navel, a wig, bowtie, fake moustache and the piece de résistance—cut-off jean shorts that were cut way too short for comfort. His or ours.
Judging by his recent behavior, it begs the question, is Graham going crackers?
'We're just having fun. There's two ways you can take something like this—super fun or super serious,' Bowles said in between mixing drinks at the bar. 'It's a reflection of our restaurant—we like to have a good time.'"
UPDATE: Oh lawd have mercy. Brace yourselves, people. Now there's a slideshow.
Paul Kahan (Photo: Battman Studios)
We typically find the mobile James Beard Foundation dinners a little too dry for our tastes, but the one going down at Publican later this fall on Oct. 18 is one certain to attract not just the hardcore foodies but a cool crowd as well.
As always, the dinner benefits the prestigious New York organization and its culinary educational programs, so its price tag of $125 a person should come as no surprise. But Beard winner Paul Kahan (Best Chef of the Midwest, 2004) has gathered his staff to create such a memorable dinner that you'll want to whip out your credit card ASAP.
The teams behind avec, Blackbird and Publican will each contribute a course, from Michael Sheerin's goat charcuterie with crab apples, dates and dandelions to Brian Huston's take on the Slagel Family Farm suckling pig with Concord grapes, chanterelles, minestra nero and verjus.
Each course is paired with Napa Valley's Blackbird Vineyards, Goose Island Beer Co. and Three Floyds Brewing Co. And arriving guests will be greeted by highboy tables filled with oysters, smoked black cod and spicy pork rinds, as well as flutes of Henriot Blanc Souverain N.V. Champagne.
The only things missing?! Some of those amazing hand-crafted cocktails from their Wicker Park bar, The Violet Hour, and one of the resident deejays from sister lounge Sonotheque—known for cranking out infectious, soulful beats.
Monday, July 27, 2009
A goat-headed mannequin greeted guests at the first-ever Wandering Goat Dinner, which was held on the Near West Side. (Photo: 312 Dining Diva)
Stephanie Izard's much-talked about BBQ for the kickoff of the Wandering Goat Dinner Series didn't disappoint.
Held Sunday in the spacious backyard of Socca executive chef/owner Roger Herring's Near West Side townhouse, the event was filled with Top Chef fans, friends, investors and lots of media types.
Guests mingled and sampled small plates from stations set up all over the backyard. We couldn't decide what we loved best: the succulent braised beef over cornbread appetizer or the savory sweet polenta bite. Whatever the case, nothing beat having as much Three Floyds Gumballhead beer as one could consume in a few hours. Ahhhh, summertime!
Izard's underground Wandering Goat Dinner Series are part of a cool marketing tool to promote her upcoming Drunken Goat restaurant that she's opening with dynamic duo restaurateurs Kevin Boehm and Rob Katz (BOKA, Landmark, Perennial) in early 2010.
The next event takes place in September; for more information check here.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
More than 1,000 participants showed up in Wicker Park to join the first-ever Michael Jackson Zombie Walk. (Photo: 312 Dining Diva)
Say what you want about Michael Jackson, but The King of Pop manages to inspire some of the most offbeat tributes ever.
In Wicker Park Saturday, immediately following the annual Wicker Park Fest, more than 1,000 spectators and participants gathered in the park for the first-ever Michael Jackson Zombie Walk exactly one month to the date of his death.
They all came looking gory as hell, decked out in bloody wedding gowns, nurse's aide costumes and military uniforms. We even spotted a few zombie "slayers," and of course, plenty of Michael Jackson impersonators. But when a mobile deejay started playing Thriller, that's when everyone stepped in unison to the zombie beat.
The massive crowd circled around the neighborhood's most popular haunts along Damen (The Violet Hour), Division (The Boundary, Bob San, Moonshine) and Milwaukee (Lava Lounge, Nick's), freaking out customers dining alfresco, bus drivers (we spotted a zombie jumping aboard a bus entertaining passengers) and cab drivers. It was in all good fun, but for a minute there we thought someone would get hurt.
Overall, it was a good time for all, and while it was an inconvenience for about an hour (blocking up traffic, etc.), it's not every day you see something as wacky as this in Chicago. Sometimes you just need to shake shit up!
UPDATE: Here a video of the event!
Friday, July 24, 2009
When it comes to Italian and Asian fare, Chicago's not short on choices, but when you fuse the two together you get Italiasia, the sparkling new eatery on the 15th floor of the Holiday Inn Chicago Mart Plaza.
312DD has a goal of reaching 1,500 followers on Twitter, and when that happens, one lucky person will win dinner for four people at Italiasia (tip, tax, alcohol not included).
Just to give you an idea of what to expect, starters include hoisin BBQ pork steam rolls, steamed mussels and a grilled seafood salad. Individual pizzas range from hoisin chicken to a four-cheese delight (mozzarella, parmigiano-reggiano, provolone, fontina). And their signature entrees sound especially yummy, particularly the Lobster Risotto Fra Diavlo, Szechwan Pepper-Crusted New York Strip and Veal Osso Bucco.
You know what to do for a chance to win, so good luck and good eating!
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Just uncovered a document from the Cook County Circuit Court, where the troubled Grocery Bistro's landlord is suing for more than $24,000 in unpaid rent from the West Loop restaurant and other occupants of the building.
312DD reported Tuesday that plans are underway for the restaurant's eviction, which we hear may happen this weekend. The case is due in court July 28.
To add fuel to the fire, a vendor told us that owner Marcel Somfelean attempted to pay his company with a post-dated check for September for food delivered in June.
Art Smith of Table Fifty-Two (Photo: Table Fifty-Two)
More Top Chef news to report:
Art Smith of the glorious, down-home haunt Table Fifty-Two blew away the competition on Top Chef Masters, reports The Stew:
"Art focuses on the chicken, doing it two ways: one piece fried, the other smothered. He girds the latter with grits, talks about Southern cooking, his mom and love, again. And to cap it, 'who don’t like a pie?' Well, Art, gotta agree with you there. At the tasting, though, it seems an odd combo: two pieces of chicken and a little mango pie? No veggies to speak of. But, no. Though Saveur editor James Oseland dings him for cooking in his comfort zone, and then for the two chicken preparations that fight each other, the remaining judges feel the love on the plate, especially the pie. 'Extraordinary,' says Gael Greene.
At scoring, she regrets that she can give him but 5 stars. Art wins and cries. It's sweet. He really is a 'big honey bear,' as chef Jonathan Waxman calls him."
He'll join Rick Bayless (Frontera Grill/Topolobampo) in the finals, which begin next week.
(Photo: Courtesy of Antonio Busiello)
His most infamous line of Top Chef New York last season: "This is Top Chef, not Top Pussy."
We're just dying to hear what new gems will come out of Fabio Viviani's mouth when he kicks off a 16-city book tour with an appearance at Wildfire in River North.
The affable Italian-born chef was voted "Fan Favorite" on TV's most popular culinary competition, and fans will have a chance to meet Viviani as he signs copies of his first book, Café Firenze Cookbook, which should be chockfull of recipes of his restaurant of the same name in Ventura County, Calif.
The free event includes complimentary tastings of Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio and Santa Margherita Prosecco along with mini-appetizers. The restaurant will also serve the pinot grigio for $10 a glass that evening.
No reservations are being accepted, but since it's a free event, get there early! 6:30-7:45pm July 31.
Stephanie Izard's first-ever Wandering Goat event sold out in less than 10 minutes after it went on sale Tuesday.
Whether it's because she's the fourth-season winner for Top Chef or the fact that it was billed as an "underground" backyard BBQ with beer could've been part of the appeal, but who knows. The darn thing sold out.
If you're still scratching your head 'cause you're one of the unlucky ones who attempted to get reservations at the 11th minute, 312DD's got you covered with another BBQ-related bash:
Tonight's event at 404 Wine Bar may not boast a bonified celebrity chef, but you'll at least get to drink plenty of wine. Kristin Savino of Chicago-based Vino di Savino will be on hand to show you how to pair big red wines with barbecue. You'll get six varieties with grilled meats and veggies. 7-8:30pm. $50.
Now, you know there's so much more happening this weekend . . .
Who says you cannot catch a deal on the weekend?! Laid-back neighborhood nook May Street Market offers a delectable, $35 prix-fixe menu Thursday-Saturday. Entrees include super savory meats like the tamarind braised beef short rib; a dessert choice is the flight of cupcakes (chocolate five spices with peanut butter icing; lavender vanilla with Earl Grey icing; carrot with orange ginger icing).
Speaking of desserts, our fave local donut hookup, Glazed, whips up Brandied Cherry Over Chocolate Donuts this weekend. As always, you can pick those up at Swim Cafe, Green Grocer or Bite Cafe for $3 each.
Settle on Bistro 110's newly opened terrasse, or outdoor terrace, for the Tour de France wine tasting series. Guests will travel to the Loire Valley region for a tasting of the area's vino paired with light appetizers like poached salmon, Valencay-style chicken and chilled cucumber soup. Reservations recommended. 6-8pm. $25.
The Violet Hour serves up its twist on an American favorite with a quartet of mini Wagyu beef hot dogs. You get two Chicago style (with pickle, onion, yellow mustard and tomato) and two with seasonal ingredients (right now they're doing grilled peaches and spiced pecans).
Wonder if there will be an MJ lookalike at the "Michael Jackson Thriller Zombie Walk" in Wicker Park on Saturday?!
Chef Troy Graves of Eve also puts a unique spin on a signature summer bite. His African Burger is eight oz. of ground lamb, crusted with an Egyptian spice blend called "dukkah," ground hazelnuts, coriander, sesame seeds, cumin and black pepper. The burger comes on a Red Hen bun with unique toppings of harissa aioli, feta cheese, dried apricots and avocados.
Leave it to Kit Kat Lounge and Supper Club to go overboard with its Christmas in July celebration. Through Sunday, they're pimping out the Lakeview eatery in outlandish holiday decor, with the "divas" performing classic Christmas hits, a $30 special menu, kitschy seasonal movies and mistletoe-bearing mixologists shaking up "winter-tinis." My fave?! Frosty's Goin Down!—made with vodka and marshmallow puree, garnished with graham cracker crust and topped with a snowman marshmallow peep.
Sample Boutique Wines of the West Coast during the first of a series of tastings on the spectacular patio at Fred's at Barneys New York. You'll taste seven small-production wines paired with hors d’oeuvres. 5:30-7:30pm. $35.
And loosen up. It's Friday, after all. Sonotheque kicks off Underground Groove Theory with resident deejay Torin Edmond, plus Sean Haley spinning underground and rare house music. 9pm-2am. $5 before 11pm; $10 after.
For those hitting up Venetian Night, leave the food to Osteria Via Stato, which has whipped up some nifty Italian picnic boxes. For $15 a person, you'll get marinated olives, choice of sandwich, choice of side salad and Italian cookies. Orders must be placed by noon Friday, and picked up by 6pm Saturday.
For those skipping Venetian Night in favor of neighborhood fests, two main ones are on tap. Taste of Lincoln Avenue happens between Fullerton and Wrightwood avenues, and Wicker Park Fest occurs right off the Six Corners. Live music, madness, makeout sessions, moonshine, more. Saturday-Sunday.
Those attending Wicker Park Fest must stick around for the Michael Jackson Thriller Zombie Walk, starting at 10pm at the actual Wicker Park. The last time I checked, more than 1,086 peeps had signed up to participate. That's right. They're dressing up as zombies and doing the Thriller dance on the one-month anniversary of the death of The King of Pop. After-party's at Debonair Social Club with drink specials and free admission to anyone showing up looking like a zombie (hell, that could be anyone in this 'hood!). Free.
We thought we had seen the last of those massive turkey legs when the Taste of Chicago ended, but apparently not. Risqué Café hosts the first-ever turkey leg eating contest, which is not going to be a pretty sight at all. Those who wish to compete must sign up by midnight Friday with a $25 registration fee. Or, if you're not competing and just want to eat, turkey legs are $5 (with $2 Stroh's cans). 1pm-until.
The team from wildly popular People Lounge hold their first brunch service at new spot Division Ale House. Sure-fire standouts will be the saffron risotto with bangers, onions and Parmesan cheese; thick-sliced sourdough French toast infused with Grand Marnier; and the breakfast Sliders (three mini croissants filled with scrambled eggs, Irish Cheddar cheese and choice of bangers, Irish bacon or Applewood-smoked bacon). All entrees served with home fries; $8-$11. 11am-2:30pm.
And every Monday you can head for the build-your-own StanBurger bar at Stanley's. Choose from one-half Angus, turkey burger or chicken breast and load up with sauces and toppings, including fried egg, corn relish, bacon and cucumbers. Pair it with vodka lemonade or "spiked" milkshakes (caramel & Maker’s Mark or Jim Beam Red Stag & Cherry). All are $5 each.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
(Photo: The Hearty Boys)
Steve McDonagh and Dan Smith, of Hearty Boys and Food Network fame, are in the midst of turning their fashionable Lakeview catering facility into full-on eatery, HEARTY.
How did they make the official announcement?! Through Twitter, of course!
"Here we go (you heard it here 1st). HEARTY RESTAURANT will open mid September in our Broadway space. Dinner 5 nites a week plus Sun brunch."
"HEARTY will be an upscale comfort food restaurant with Dan's take on classics ie Pork & Beans (Pork Belly, Giant Beans, Savory Sweet Sauce)."
"Also a weekly Campfire Fish market special. Fresh catch, herbed butter, market veggies wrapped in foil and cooked over hot coals."
"The bar will reflect our love of lost cocktails; Brown Derby, Montauk, Pegu Club & twists using American classic bevs like the Cel-Ray Mary."
There's a new bar in town, going into the massive space formerly known as Powerhouse Restaurant.
Daily Bar & Grill owner Steve Soble (who's also behind a couple of popular bowling alleys, including Lakeview's Southport Lanes) is transforming the spot into New Line Bar, "the name commonly used for a rail line built around 1900 between Chicago and Milwaukee designed to bypass the congested cities along Lake Michigan where the older line traveled," according to Crain's Chicago Business.
There are also plans for a restaurant at the location, but no word on the name or owner yet . . .
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
An Ultimate Insider delivered the news exclusively to 312DD that the troubled Grocery Bistro is dunzo:
"A little birdie told me Grocery Bistro is finished. Eviction notice served."
Apparently, the original Yak-Zies is making a comeback, according to The Stew:
"The space has been undergoing renovation since November, when the 2 a.m. liquor license was approved (the 4 a.m. license didn’t go through until April). Regulars will be familiar with the layout, the free popcorn, the Tang chicken 'peeza' (chicken breast + hot sauce + parsley-studded pizza crust), and of course, their much-lauded wings.
"They plan on rolling out the relaunch with a series of get-togethers for old-timers: if you were a patron of Yak-Zies during the 1960s and '70s, come from 5 -8 p.m. Aug. 3. If you came during the '80s and '90s, Aug. 4, same time. And to everyone else, Aug. 5 is the day Yak-Zies carries on in the neighborhood, once again, as it had for all these years"
The bar reopens officially on Aug. 1.
Blue 13 hosts a rock 'n' roll dinner featuring the music of Kings of Leon.
So how about this weather, y'all?!
Looks like summer finally arrived, and if I were you, I'd take full advantage of it because there's no telling how long it'll stick around.
In the meantime, as always, deals abound around town, including a brand-new offering at contemporary Italian fave Follia, in the West Loop. They're offering an irresistible four-course, prix-fixe feast Tuesdays and Wednesdays for $28. You'll get an appetizer, soup or salad, pasta, entree and dessert.
And today's the third Tuesday of the month, which means that it's time for Tasting Room's best monthly event. This time they're mixing it up with guests' favorites, so you'll certainly be in for a treat. Walk-around tasting includes more than 30 varieties and light bites. 6-8pm. $30. Reservations required.
And here's what is on tap for manana:
Music enthusiasts should get a kick out of this one. Our fave rock 'n' roll restaurant, Blue 13, continues its series of music-inspired dinners. On tap for tonight is the music of Kings of Leon, featuring five distinct courses paired with the band's best beats. Chef Chris Curren hasn't released the menu yet, but we can tell you to expect to hear "Closer," "California Waiting" and "Sex on Fire." Dinner starts promptly at 7:15pm, and you must have a reservation. $50.
In honor of the Art Institute’s newly opened A Case for Wine: From King Tut to Today exhibition, The James toasts the exploration with A Case for Wine Too, a wine tasting in the swanky hotel's lobby bar. David Burke's Primehouse Executive Chef Rick Gresh whips up some creative apps to go along with 10 carefully selected wines (full glass pours are $7). 6-9pm. $15.
More drinks are on tap at the semi-weekly Sweet Sixteen of Mixology, going down at Perennial. The ongoing bartender competition this week features Stephen Cole from The Violet Hour and Maura Mcguigen from Graham Elliot. Celebrity guest judge is mixology maven Bridget Albert. Guests will indulge in comped apps and samples of each mixologist's cocktail. They'll also get to vote on the winner for the night. 6:30-8pm. Free.
And whether you're looking for a soulmate or summer fling, if you're swinging single, you should head to Harry Caray's Tavern for the Summer Soulmate Search party. NBC-5's Rob Elgas (who we hear is swingin' single himself!) hosts the speed-dating party, so things should get interesting. Those who wish to participate should register here. If you're not interested in dating, you'll still be highly entertained, plus you'll get $3.50 Goose Island drafts, $5 mojitos and $5 on glasses of Pinot Noir. 6-8pm.
Monday, July 20, 2009
(Photo: David Lissner for Dining Chicago)
. . . is what you'll get at 33 Club, the new Old Town eatery with a vibrant, post-Prohibition vibe by colorful restaurateur Jerry Kleiner.
Our boy David "The Food Dude" Lissner of Dining Chicago gets the first on-air interview with Kleiner on the hot new space here.
Tim Graham, executive chef at Tru (Photo: Tim Graham)
What were Chicago's top chefs up to this weekend?! 312DD checks out their Twitter accounts:
Efrain Cuevas (chEfrain): "Cooking BBQ tonight for the Guinness beer folks tonight. Will I get paid in beer?"
Phillip Foss (Lockwood): "Shpeeled out after describing the buffalo-ed wing 1,000 times... very cool evening for a good cause. now going to party at farmer lee's house."
Tim Graham (Tru): "Friday service going smooth. Selling alot of collections. New foie mousse, melon, Moscato d'Asti gelee, Pumpernickel is a hit."
Mark Mendez (Carnivale): “Swan Creek egg fried in extra virgin olive oil, Iberico Ham, black truffle.”
Michael Sheerin (Blackbird): “Cluster Fu&k of a night.”
Friday, July 17, 2009
(Photo: 312 Dining Diva)
So now it's finished.
Rode by The Violet Hour again, and what a difference a few days makes!
The lucky graffiti artists who transformed the swanky cocktail lounge's exterior into a scene out of 1985's Krush Groove get props for their finished project.
But I would love to see the look on a first-timer's face once they got inside the bar that sets the bar high when it comes to luxe lounging.
See, you really cannot judge a
The crew from adorable country band Rascal Flatts hung out pretty hardcore Thursday at Lakeview sports bar The Pony, and mingled with fans and even jumped behind the turntables to spin a little.
They're in town for the first-ever country music concert at Wrigley Field Saturday—which also stars Darius Rucker. Tickets are still available here.
We've seen just about every food festival there is—from Ribfest to "stuff on a stick" fests—but nothing is more mouthwatering than a good ol' fest filled with nothing but BLTs.
Thanks to Slow Food Chicago, Candid Wines and The Chicago Honey Coop, BLT Fest is going down in August or September, bringing together some of the city's most creative chefs certain to whip up some imaginative twists on the American classic.
Thus far, they've secured stars from Blackbird, Custom House, Avec, Publican, Osteria Via Stato, Naha, Socca, Uncommon Ground, Va Pensiero and the Signature Room on the 95th, who have pledged to use local tomatoes, heirloom pigs and other local produce in their fixins.
A kick-off event for BLT Fest takes place Aug. 23 at Osteria Via Stato with wine and BLT bites. $35.
(Photo: The National Hot Dog and Sausage Council)
Since it's still National Hot Dog Month, it behooves me to let you know about a new hot dog joint opening in the old Rockstar Dogs space on Chicago Avenue.
There's speculation that the new owners are the same ones taking over the RSD location in Lincoln Park, which will be The Dog Joint when it opens later this month.
Whether it will also be named The Dog Joint is still unclear, but we're on the case . . .
In the meantime, follow Hot Doug's and Superdawg on Twitter for classic and offbeat encased meats in Chicago.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
"Top Chef" stars Stephanie Izard and Dale Levitski at last year's Green City Market Chefs BBQ. (Photo: Suzy McMillan for 312 Dining Diva)
Hate to rub this in, but if you don't already have tickets to tonight's annual Green City Market Chefs BBQ in Lincoln Park, you're SOL, it's sold out.
For those who've already scored tix, get there as early as possible (fest starts at 6pm) because they're expecting more than 1,000 guests to sample the delights of local prominent chefs like Stephanie Izard (The Drunken Goat), John Caputo (A Mano), Giuseppe Tentori (BOKA) and Erick Williams (MK).
We'll be there in splendid 312DD glory, so expect a lot of tweeting later on.
More food, fashion, fests and some freebies on tap for this weekend:
The last time Jermaine Dupri guest deejayed at Underground, soccer heavyweight (and hottie!) David Beckham was in the house. There's no telling who'll drop by this time, but trust us when we tell you JD will rock the mic and the tables. 10pm-4am. $20.
Up in Rogers Park, Uncommon Ground hosts its weekly farmers market in the parking lot. You'll see the usual local farmers and vendors, plus live music. And while you're there, check out the restaurant's roof-top produce garden. 4-8pm. Free.
Need a little pampering?! Board the Tall Ship Windy on Navy Pier for the Ultimate Mobile Spa Party. Event includes massages, a lingerie fashion show, open bar and vittles. After-party at Chi Bar. 7-10pm. $60.
Relax in West Town turns two, and they're doing it up big with small bites prepared by Top Chef star Dale Levitski, rockin' sounds spun by Matt Roan and some drink specials you'll dig. 7pm-midnight. No cover.
Sales of David Burke Primehouse's signature Lollipop Tree will benefit the Lollipop Theater Network. (Photo: David Burke Primehouse)
You can fight the crowds next Saturday at Venetian Night or stay local and hit up Wicker Park for the seventh-annual Silver Room Sound System Block Party. The daylong event includes a fashion show, live mural paintings, and deejays spinning on the block, on the patio and in the store. Noon-10pm. Free.
Another notable going-on is going down at West Town newcomer Noble Grape, which hosts its grand-opening this weekend. Come for the complimentary tastings, live music and deejays. Also, buy at least six bottles of vino and you'll get 10 percent off. 1-5pm.
Bright Pink gets props from the 900 Shops with a very special shopping extravaganza. The $20 ticket ($25 at door) gets you discounts to some of the mall's most popular stores (J.Crew, Club Monaco, Jake, UGG Australia, Mark Shale) as well as frozen yogurt, yoga from Lululemon and mini-facials. Noon-6pm.
New brunch items have been added to the menu at Perennial, including a duck confit tart (with frisée salad, truffle oil and poached egg) and chef Ryan Poli's twist on a classic tuna casserole, with imported tuna, egg noodles and celery-mushroom cream. Just make sure you have at least one Perennial Bellini (with passion fruit) 'cause they go down easy. 10am-2pm
And in honor of National Lollipop Day, David Burke’s Primehouse will donate a portion of sales from the signature Lollipop Tree to Lollipop Theater Network. Hey, any excuse to gorge on those amazing cheesecake lollipops works for me!
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
East Village breakfast/brunch hang Jam opens this week (Photo: Urban Daddy Chicago)
. . . there are some key openings around the horizon, starting Thursday:
Urban Daddy introduces us to Jam, a sweet little breakfast/brunch joint opening in the old Dodo space in the East Village.
Sayeth The Daddy:
"Before we get ahead of ourselves, just know that your brunch favorites will be waiting for you whenever you arrive. But since the chef is a former Trotter's and North Pond guy, you won't mind if he takes a few liberties with them.
"You know, a little crisp pork belly on your eggs Benedict here, some braised pork cheeks, ricotta salata and pickled plums in your egg sandwich there. If morning somehow becomes afternoon, and Malted Custard French Toast isn't going to cut it, a double-burger topped with smoked tomato sauce, butterkase cheese and—why not?—fried egg should."
Also scheduled to open this weekend is Red Canary, the city's first-ever "gastro lounge," with offerings like house-cut fries with truffle pesto and black pepper; pulled short ribs on garlic brioche; and buttermilk fried quail with basil whipped potatoes.
Division Ale House, owned by Baris Yuksel (who's also behind People Lounge), is scheduled to open July 24. It should fit right in the newly pub-centric area of Wicker Park's Division Street strip with its Irish-inspired decor, food, and eight draft beers favoring Irish and English brews. Of course, you'll be able to watch your favorite games on several large-screen monitors.
And, DISH got the scoop on Belly Shack, the brainchild of Bill Kim (of Urban Belly fame). Expect Asian- and Latin-influenced soups, sandwiches and small bites like yuca fries with a chimichurri dressing when it opens this fall.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Dan Marunowski and Chris Curren of Blue 13 (Photo: Blue 13)
This "twisted" American brunch comes to you from Blue 13—known for rock 'n' roll dinners and offbeat décor—and it can be yours for free . . . if you play your cards right.
Follow 312DD here on Twitter for a chance to win the next FREEBIE FRIDAY this week.
Then you and a guest will indulge in a number of delightfully delicious items like Kahlua Pecan Belgian Waffles (honey pecans, coffee sauce, Kahlua whipped cream), Green Eggs and Ham Benedict (basil hollandaise, oven-dried tomato, poached eggs, country ham, potato hash), Pauly’s Hangover Burger (Jalapeno Jack cheese, Applewood smoked bacon, chipotle mayo, fried egg), fruit sushi or a grilled blueberry muffin.
Brunch at Blue 13 is 11am-2pm; entree prices range $9-$11.
. . . a good deal like the brand-new happy hour sushi special at HUB 51. Offered daily 3-6pm, Super Happy Sushi Fun Time means all sushi is half off, including signature bites like Miso-Glazed Salmon Roll and the yummy Sweet Potato Roll with Japanese barbecue sauce. $4.50-$7.50 per roll.
Get your buddies together for the debut of Bravo's Miami Social, a new reality series on the city's sexy young professionals. Chaise Lounge hosts a viewing party every Tuesday on the rooftop deck, so get there early before the show starts at 9pm. It also happens to be Taco Tuesdays, with gourmet corn tortillas stuffed with fish or pulled pork. Two tacos for $6; carafes of margaritas or Mojitos $18.
Juicy Wine Co. brings back the popular ObamaBurger (made with char-grilled Kobe beef, Benton's hickory-smoked country bacon, gooey Wisconsin Cheddar, spicy caramelized onions and a dollop of Juicy's Secret South Side Sauce). You can pair it with $5 glasses of Barboursville Vineyards wines—which were served at the President's inauguration. 6pm-2am.
Monday through Wednesday Sola offers a three-course, prix-fixe menu for $30. And if you throw in an extra 15 bucks, they'll pair each dish with vino.
Oh, and here's what's up on Wednesday . . .
If you've got a little extra bread for a benefit, spend it on Chicago Gateway Green's fourth-annual Texas Hold 'Em charity tournament at Galleria Marchetti. 312DD will attempt to play poker with other local glitterati like the Sun-Times' Richard Roeper, NBC's Marcus Riley, 190 North's Michelle Alegria and CelebTV's Kelli Zink. Starts at 5:30pm. $150 (if you're playing poker); $25 for spectators. Includes open bar, appetizers and a lush beer garden.
Irish pub Dugan’s celebrates its 25th anniversary with a gang of events, including an Irish cheese tasting paired with Jameson whiskey. 6-8pm. Free.
And $35 gets you into the Beer School’s Founders Beer Dinner at Sheffield’s. The backyard cookout includes a four-course menu paired with Founders beer (like Founders Barrel Aged Reds Rye accompanied by a smoked chicken leg and pork belly braised in Founders Cerise). 7-10pm.
Monday, July 13, 2009
Thank God for daily drink specials because if the proposed state tax hike of 90 percent on wine and spirits (plus 21 percent on beer) goes into effect on Aug. 1, none of us will be able to afford to booze it up anymore.
Just to get you ready, here's a list of daily drinking deals so you never have to miss a beat . . .
Long Room: $1 PBR Cans; $2 Jim Beam shots
Stanley's: All-you-can-eat pizza, pasta, Caesar salad; all-you- can-drink red/white wine and Bud Light pitchers for $14.95
Crimson Lounge: $3 sparkling wine, beer and wine
Chaise Lounge: $5 house martinis
Red & White: Complimentary wine or beer tastings 3-5pm
Map Room: $5 Bloody Marys, Mimosas (free barbecue, too!)
Debonair Social Club: Hosted PBR and Champagne bar 9-10pm (with RSVP); $2 PBR and $4 vodka cocktails
A couple of months ago we dropped by Gold Coast Eve for a late-night noshfest, and our server talked us into indulging in chef Troy Graves' sensational lobster sausage.
Grilled to perfection and paired with exotic maitake mushrooms, smoked bacon, pearl onions and maple béchamel, it's on the appetizer menu, but it'll cost you a hefty $17.
Trust me when I say it's worth every bite.
Paul Kahan (Photo: Battman Studios)
What were Chicago's top chefs up to this weekend?! 312DD checks out their Twitter accounts:
Hearty Boys: "Last nite, Dan grilled whole whitefish over an open fire pit, Gale did giant beans with tomato and rosemary; so much leftovers."
Stephanie Izard (The Drunken Goat): "Just ordered meats for first Wandering Goat Dinner...short ribs and pork shoulder and lamb stuffed calamari, oh my!"
Paul Kahan: "Publican Sunday supper with great lakes brewery tonight. Great menu. Patio is amazing tonight."
Fabio Sorano Enoteca Roma: "Just saw Bruno!"
Todd Stein: "After a great brunch at the Publican, we are having a great first Sunday night at Cibo Matto and it is busy."
Can you spot the door of The Violet Hour underneath all that graffiti?! (Photo: 312 Dining Diva)
A random Sunday afternoon cruise down Damen Avenue in Wicker Park had 312DD stumbling across a few graffiti artists tagging The Violet Hour.
The local artists were sanctioned by the bar's owners to paint a 1980s-themed graffiti scene on the popular lounge's exterior. We were told that they're just trying to shake up things along this rather hum-drum strip of the scene, so expect it to change about every eight weeks.
Last time it was a rendering of Blago in his infamous Nike track suit, so it'll be interesting to see what creative visual prose they strike up in the fall . . .
Thursday, July 9, 2009
Newport Bar & Grill bartenders Emily Wells (from left) and Brian Trombley accept the Golden Tot trophy from Tater Tot Trot founders Amy Murray and Sheri Piecuch in 2008. (Photo: Derrek Hull)
Are you ready for the third-annual Tater Tot Trot?!
Word just came down that the daylong eating event kicks off at Schoolyard Tavern and Grill at 4pm August 8.
Tater tot enthusiasts—or better yet Ambassataters—Amy Murray and Sheri Piecuch created the Tater Tot Trot in 2007 to celebrate a friend's birthday. In one evening they went from bar to bar in search of the best tater tots in town.
Let's see if last year's winner, Newport Bar & Grill, will be able to hold on to its title, as many bars in the area are expected to step up their tater tot game.
Participants in the event will get drink and food specials at the participating bars, which have not all been confirmed yet. Check here for the latest info as August 8 approaches.
Les Nubians, the French-Cameroon sister duo Neo-soul act, performs at Green Dolphin Street this weekend.
Sexy sister duo Les Nubians first came across our radar about 10 years ago when they burst on the U.S. market with a brand of Neo-soul we'd never heard before. Blending their native French and Cameroon heritage into contemporary beats of soul, jazz and hip-hop, their sound was an instant hit.
After a bit of a hiatus, they're back. And what timing! July 14 marks the anniversary of Bastille Day, when the French stormed the Bastille for independence. Celebrate a few days early with Les Nubians' performance at Green Dolphin Street tonight.
Tickets are $25 in advance at Brown Paper Tickets or $30 at the door. Show is 9pm-midnight.
Make a move to other Bastille Day celebrations and more this weekend . . .
Sip your way through some fantastic French vino as West Loop shop Just Grapes celebrates Bastille Day. You'll "journey" to Champagne, Alsace, Burgundy, the Rhone, Bordeaux and the Loire as well as off-the-beaten-path regions. 6-8pm. $25.
As we finally warm up around these parts, Province introduces new summer dishes, including summer squash stuffed inside a crispy mini tortilla (and topped with a poached farm egg) and Seedling Orchard blueberry sorbet accompanied by angel food cake.
Burger enthusiasts will appreciate one sixtyblue's new Thursday night, Burgers, Beers & Beats, highlighting rotating signature burgers and microbrews for $4 each. They've also just added gourmet-style hot dogs to the menu, including the Vince V, Wagyu hot dogs with homemade relish, heirloom tomatoes and housemade mustard for $7. A deejay also spins. 6-10pm. No cover.
Savasana in the City happens at LaSalle Power Co. Hosted by Bikram in the City, the party will likely attract some of the best yoga bodies around town. It's also a benefit for the Illinois Yoga Asana Championship. 5:30-8:30pm. $50 includes open bar and food; $40 for food only.
Bethenny Frankel of "Real Housewives of New York" makes an appearance at Enclave this weekend. (Photo: Bethenny Frankel)
Who in the hell booked Bethenny Frankel—of Real Housewives of New York fame—at Enclave?! She's in town promoting her Skinny Girl Margarita and bestseller, Naturally Thin. Would've preferred if her party was happening at a more classier joint like Roof, C-View or even Vertigo. Promoter gets a D- for this *&^%$#@!@#$&^%. 8-11pm. $30 includes manis, massages, waxing, sushi and booze.
If you loved Maxwell and D'Angelo when they first hit the scene, then you'll love Chicago's own Peven Everett, a super soul man who's been doing his own thing for quite a while now. He headlines the Friday Night Dance Party at Double Door, which also showcases the talents of Billie Jewell, Jamie 3:26 and Sean Alvarez. 8pm-2am. $15 in advance; $20 day of event.
Jamaican star Yellowman performs his special brand of dub, reggae and dancehall at the Wild Hare. That kicks off at 9:30pm, so get there early if you want to be anywhere near the stage. $20.
Samantha Ronson's spinning at Crimson Lounge again tonight, but we're more excited about Vegas vixen DJ Tina T's Chicago debut at Lumen. The first of a series of female-focused fetes at the Warehouse District boîte, this party includes a midnight giveaway of a designer handbag. 9pm-2am. $20.
Help power the Library Lounge at Volleywood Beach Bash at North Avenue Beach. The Chicago Public Library's hosting this bike-generated Wi-Fi hub, allowing event guests to access the Internet, check emails and browse the free services offered. Noon-7pm.
Tonight's a good night to indulge in the Southern Table Dinner, a three-course, prix-fixe menu over at Andersonville soul kitchen Big Jones. It changes daily, but count on not spending more than $30. Also, pair it with their signature Carolina Julep, made with Firefly sweet tea infused vodka, lemon, cane syrup, fresh mint and club soda.
Go old-school brunch at Lakeview French fave La Creperie, which has been around for more than 30 years. We love it for the spacious backyard patio and creamy, homestyle sweet and savory crepes. Standbys include the braised beef with burgundy and mushrooms and chicken in herb cream sauce.
The city's biggest Bastille Day celebration always takes place at Pops for Champagne and this year is no different. The indoor/outdoor event (on the back patio) includes unlimited grilled meats, sandwiches and cheese dishes, plus a glass of bubbly or rose. 3-8pm. $35.
And Life is a Cabaret Mondays debuts at Martini Park tonight. Local cabaret stars, including Chicago entertainer Kathryne Payne and Ben Hartman of Jersey Boys!, will perform all your favorite show tunes. A portion of the night's proceeds benefits Chicago House Charity. 5-9pm. No cover.
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Stephanie Izard is the executive chef/owner of The Drunken Goat, set to open in early 2010. (Photo: Stephanie Izard)
You'd think during these challenging economic times chefs would be jumping through hoops to get your business. But for a select few revolutionary culinary stars, that's just the opposite.
Through an ongoing series of what have come to be known as the underground dinners, chef Efrain Cuevas of Clandestino cranks out inventive feasts in different, offbeat locations each time. They've done everything from a New Orleans-themed extravaganza to dinners in obscure venues on the South Side. To get in the mix, all you have to do is sign up for the newsletter, pay for your reservation and wait for the location to be disclosed a couple of days before the event. Prices vary.
David Burke's Primehouse Executive Chef Rick Gresh hosts a Wednesday Al Greshco event through the Green City Market season. The chef heads to the market with his team to pick out the best seasonal ingredients for a four-course dinner that'll be a total surprise for diners. Each week it changes, but the only way to get a reservation is by contacting Gresh via Facebook or Twitter. $55 per guest; $80 with Gresh’s specialty cocktail and wine pairings.
Expect there to be strong interest also in The Wandering Goat Dinner Series—the concept of Top Chef winner Stephanie Izard (also partner/chef for The Drunken Goat). Through November, the little powerhouse will host dinners ranging from backyard BBQs to warehouse parties in secret locations. The kickoff event on July 26 happens to be that BBQ, featuring the meats of Allen Bros. and microbrews of Three Floyds. The final event will include vino from her very own label, Drunken Goat Wine. The only way to RSVP is through her website. All events are $50 and include food and drinks.
And the monthly party known as At The Bar at The Drawing Room is the collaboration between Executive Chef Nick Lacasse and chief mixologist Charles Joly. An inventive, three-course meal is paired with hand-crafted, signature cocktails. While the events aren't exactly "secret," there's only eight seats available, which sell out as soon as it is announced. The next At The Bar happens at 6:30pm July 16, so get on it! $45.
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
A special mid-summer tasting takes place at Socca tonight. (Photo: Socca)
Cibo Matto, theWit's glamorous Italian eatery, opens today on the hotel's second level. MenuPages catches up with executive chef Todd Stein (who's also at the helm of Roof), who discusses opening-day jitters, favorite menu items and more.
If Cibo Matto's scene a bit much for you on its first day, head to Lakeview as Socca debuts a new mid-summer menu. Exec chef Roger Herring whips up a number of tasting dishes to your delight in the bar area only. That's 5-7pm and free.
Considered somewhat of a brewing "rock star," Tomme Arthur from Port Brewing and The Lost Abbey stops by Bluebird for a special tasting of his beers. You'll sample up to seven, paired with flatbreads and cheese. 7:30-9:30pm. $25.
Wine lovers will indulge in a Mystery Wine Tasting at BOKA. The free event includes four stations pouring a mystery wine out of a decanter for sampling. Attendees will get a ballot and guess what each varietal is. The person who gets the most correct wins a $100 gift certificate to the restaurant. Comped appetizers included. 6:30-8pm.
The first Tuesday of the month means it's Rock Karaoke Night at Debonair Social Club. Get your liquid courage from the $3 well drinks, $3 Absolut Flavor shots and $3 PBR bottles before you make your way onstage. 9pm-2am.
And on Wednesday . . .
Jimmy Sneed of Sugartoad headlines the chef demo at Green City Market. That kicks off promptly at 10:30am, and as usual, the market opens at 7am. Free.
For those who prefer to do their shopping after work, Andersonville Farmers Market occurs 4-8pm every Wednesday. More than 20 vendors, plus live music and socializing should attract a number of neighborhood hot shots. Free.
Got job stress?! Take it out on the Wii on Wednesdays on Jbar's huge 84-inch flat screen television. They're also doing $3 beers, $6 vodka drinks and $2 mini "Burkers." 6-9pm.
Come root for the participants in the first-ever 42RIDE Bike Series at Moonshine. The event benefits Alliance of Biking and Walking, and if more than 100,000 follow the ride on Twitter, 42BELOW will make a $42K donation to the Alliance (pledging 42 cents per person). Riders, including a 73-year-old Texan who bikes 8,000 miles a year and a French sculptor living in Maine, arrive in Chicago Wednesday for the party that includes comped Caipiroska 42 cocktails. 6-8pm.