Monday, October 26, 2009

Big Star Gets Opening Date

(Photo: Ellen Malloy)

So you've got less than two weeks to wait until Paul Kahan unleashes his soon-to-be infamous taqueria in Wicker Park.

You'll live.

Stage Bites: The Weekly Dining & Drinking Guide

Acclaimed spoken-word artist Saul Williams performs at Double Door Tuesday.

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

Faust at Lyric Opera. The world's most famous opera can easily be applied to today's society: Selling out. Betrayal. Greed. Eternal Youth. Through Nov. 7 (starts at 7:30pm). Get tickets here.

Florian Opera Bistro: After this three-and-a-half-hour performance, you're going to need a stiff drink for sure. Thankfully, Florian's bar, on the third level of Lyric Opera's building, will be waiting for you right after the show with signature cocktails and lighter bites.

The Sarah and Peer Pedersen Room: The elegant dining room complements the upscale $28 three-course, prix-fixe menu served here. Expect seasonal entrees like hoisin-glazed salmon with Asian rice noodles and sliced bistro steak with chive mashed potatoes drizzled with Cabernet sauce. Located on the first floor of the Lyric Opera.

The Tasting Room: Oh, it's not that far from the opera house. TTR is only five minutes by cab, and even less by car, so head down to the end of Randolph Restaurant Row for a nightcap. And they've just released their new fall menu too: Sharable plates of spiced-rubbed pork belly, cedar-smoked garlic & spinach flatbreads, and seasonal wild game gnocchi sound really good about now, right?! Kitchen's open 'til midnight during the week, and 1am Saturday.

Jules Guerin's famed fire curtain makes a statement in The Sarah and Peer Pedersen Room. (Photo: Opera of Chicago)

Macabaret at Theatre Building Chicago. A collection of humorous new songs, which twist towards the morbid. Murderous spouses, horror films, evil cows and supermodels are just a few of the things parodied by a Corpse de Cabaret. Thursday-Nov. 1. Get tickets here.

Cooper's: Located directly across the street from the theater, plus Thursdays are half-price pizza night!

Matsu Yama: One of the area's best sushi spots still doesn't charge a corkage fee for BYOB, plus dinner for two is less than $35. Favorites: Godzilla and Jack Chen's White Dragon Roll.

Sapore di Napoli: It's not only BYOB (also no corkage fee!), but the authentic Neapolitan pizzas are definitely on point. Highly recommended are the traditional Margherita and Quattro Stagioni (tomato sauce, mozzarella, artichokes, Kalamata olives, mushrooms, prosciutto).

Saul Williams at Double Door. The acclaimed spoken-word artist—who memorably had every woman squirming in her seat with lust during a performance on Girlfriends—does a rare Chicago show. 8pm Oct. 27. Get tickets here.

Bin Wine Cafe: On Tuesdays, you can pair your expensive glass of merlot with one of their signature half-pound burgers. For one night only they're $5 and come with chips.

People Lounge: After the show, hit up the area's only tapas lounge for music by DJ Mixtape, who's spinning downtempo house and hip-hop, plus $5 Stoli cocktails, $2 PBR and $4 premium draft beer.

Tocco: If you can prove you work in the nightlife or dining industries, your food's 25 percent off on everything each Tuesday.

Young Chef on the Come Up with New Restaurant, TV Show

Jennifer Gavin of Catered Excellence. (Photo: Jennifer Gavin)

If you follow Gordon Ramsay's Hell's Kitchen as closely as I do, then you might recognize Jennifer Gavin as the young, spitfire chef from the fourth season of FOX-TV's hit reality chef competition.

She made such an impression on Ramsay in her determination to go up against more seasoned and skilled chefs that he told her he'd personally send her to culinary school the day she was eliminated.

One year later, Gavin's doing her own thing, including spearheading a new catering company (Catered Excellence), hosting a regular cooking series at the South Loop Whole Foods, opening a new restaurant in Hyde Park in 2010, plus hosting the first-ever cooking series on Black Entertainment Television that's scheduled to debut next June.

This week alone, she's in great demand with a couple of notable appearances.

Look for her at The Chopping Block Merchandise Mart when she goes up against two other female chefs—Iron Chef-style—during Today's Chicago Woman's annual Taste of TCW event.

She's taking on Top Chef sweetheart Radhika Desai and Elaina Vazquez, owner of Chicago’s gourmet catering company Boutique Bites and a former chef at Tru.

Going down 6-9pm Oct. 28, the event is $75 and includes cocktails, plus hors d’oeuvres created from the participating chefs' favorite recipes.

You can also catch Gavin at 6:30pm Oct. 29 at the South Loop Whole Foods (1101 S. Canal St., 312-435-4600) for a pre-Halloween party. If you're planning your own scary soiree Saturday, you'll want to attend to get tips on seasonal cocktails and appetizers. It's $40.