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.