Monday, May 31, 2010

Big Jones Has Best Fried Chicken in Chicago?!


Yes, according to the June issue of Bon Appetit, which placed it high on its list for Top 10 Best Places for Fried Chicken in the country:

STAGE BITES: The Weekly Dining & Drinking Guide

R&B siren Erykah Badu headlines two shows at the Chicago Theatre Wednesday and Thursday.

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

Erykah Badu at Chicago Theatre. Pleeeeease, Ms. Badu, try to keep your clothes on during the entire show! The tour's approps named Out My Mind, Just In Time, so expect her to perform songs from new album, New Amerykah Part Two, as well as Baduizm and Mama's Gun. N.E.R.D. and Janelle Monae open. 7:30pm Wednesday, Thursday. Get tickets here.

BIN 36: The new artisanal cheese flights are a delight, particularly the super-creamy Fat Cats, blue cheese-focused No Need To Sing The Blues or worldly We Love Italy collections. Prices range $12-$22 per flight. Proximity to show: Two blocks north; five-minute walk.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Disgruntled Diner Creates 'Chicagoans Against Graham Elliot' Facebook Page

(Photo: Graham Elliot)

A diner didn't like his experience at River North resto graham elliot, so he decided to send owner/chef Graham Elliot Bowles a copy of his "review" on Yelp.

Of course, that didn't go over well—he claims he got a prompt "F*ck You" from the "Top Chef Masters" star—so he decided on another approach.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

A Salute to Soldiers, SATC2 & Summertime!


This weekend's dedicated to our fearless military men and women who fight hard for our country. We'd be lost without them!

We've got a nice, three-day weekend to show our support through various events, from Saturday's Memorial Day Parade to a number of fabulous parties. And because the weather's supposed to be incredibly nice all weekend, you'll definitely want to spend a lot of time outside.

Luda Party Now Benefits Gulf Coast Fishermen


Lakeview's Uncle Fatty's Rum Resort was already hosting the official Ludacris concert after-party Friday, but now they've turned it into a benefit for the fishermen affected by the massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

The festive bar has teamed up with The Second Harvest Food Bank of Greater New Orleans and Acadiana, which has provided hundreds of emergency food boxes to fishermen and families affected. They're donating $5 of every $20 ticket (deluxe packages are available for $60) to the nonprofit organization.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Shift Drinks . . . The Aftermath . . .


I have a new respect for those who work in the bar and restaurant industry this morning. Seriously.

Inovasi chef/owner John des Rosiers and myself had the honor of guest bartending the final Shift Drinks party at Pops for Champagne Monday before it moves over to The Exchange June 7.

Let me tell you that this is not easy work. We shook up three signature cocktails for a few hundred folks that included chefs, servers, bartenders, restaurateurs, booze distributors and others in the biz. It was nonstop busy until last call.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Didn't See This Coming!

Chantelle Pabros, who announced she's leaving her position at L20 as sommelier. (Photo: Chantelle Pabros)

L20 sommelier Chantelle Pabros resigned her position Monday.

Here's the email she sent out:

"I wanted to take a moment to let you know that I am leaving my position at L2O.

FREE House-Made Pop Tarts This Weekend!

(Photo: WAVE)

To kick off its new, American-and-Filipino-focused brunch menu this weekend, WAVE Executive Chef Kristine Subido will be giving away a very special treat.

Subido's signature "Pop Tart," which she's making from scratch with house-made jam, is one of the highlights, plus Filipino sausage with over easy eggs, brioche French toast, a house-made cinnamon roll and Rudy's huevos rancheros.

How 'Bout a Meatball Casserole?!

(Photo: Timothy O'Toole's Gurnee)

Since lasagna can get rather boring, Timothy O'Toole's Gurnee chef Sean O'Brien decided to put his own spin on the classic Italian dish 12 years ago.

He created a Meatball Casserole that comes layered with giant meatballs (the size of softballs!), marinara, pasta and cheese. It's only available at the Gurnee location (Streeterville used to serve it), so if that's too far for you to travel, he's generously given us the recipe:

The Buzz on Rooftop Honey Wheat Beer

The bees behind Rooftop Honey Wheat Beer. (Photo: Chicago Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile)

This should be a pretty sweet treat this summer . . .

Half Acre Beer Co. teams up with the Marriott's Harvest restaurant to create Rooftop Honey Wheat Beer.

More than 350,000 Italian five-striped bees call the downtown hotel's ninth-floor rooftop home, and hang out in five hives (up from three last year) to produce over 200 pounds of honey.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Food Fight Over Pigs at Cochon 555!


I thought this guy was the WTF chef of the week, until I found out about this guy at a Cochon 555 event last weekend:

"According to multiple witnesses, (Eric) Bechard, now the chef/co-owner of the lauded new Thistle restaurant in McMinnville, Ore., started a fistfight with Cochon 555 founder Brady Lowe outside Magic Garden, an Old Town strip joint. Earlier in the evening he also headbutted Elk Cove Vineyard’s Craig Hedstrom before being dragged out of the Cochon 555 afterparty at Davis Street Tavern by none other than notorious chef Tom Hurley.

'Shift Drinks' Shifts to New Location


Say goodbye to Shift Drinks, the popular Monday night industry party at Pops for Champagne where high-profile restaurant and bar folks mingle until last call.

Monday, May 24 is the last event at the bubbly bar, as the lower-level lounge goes down for some major renovations for the next three months. Yours Truly and Inovasi owner/chef John des Rosiers guest bartend for the final event at this location.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Gilt's Cellar Lounge Opening Any Day Now . . .

(Photo: Natasha Hernandez)

In April, an Ultimate Insider gave 312DD the scoop on Gilt Bar's cellar lounge that's set to open this month.

Now, we've got even more info:

STAGE BITES: The Weekly Dining & Drinking Guide

"My Brother's Keeper" is at Black Ensemble Theater through May 29. (Photo: Daniel Nicholas)

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

My Brother's Keeper: The Story of the Nicholas Brothers at Black Ensemble Theater. Legendary tap dance siblings Fayard and Harold Nicholas are spotlighted in this energetic production that includes dance, singing and live music. Props especially go to Michael Bartlett as Michael Jackson and Kylah Williams performing as Dorothy Dandridge. 8pm Saturdays, 3pm Sundays through May 29. Get tickets here.

Anna Maria Pasteria: Old World pastas and Italian entrees at reasonable prices are the draw at this long-time neighborhood eatery. The spaghetti paired with Anna's homemade meatballs and classic lasagna with bolognese sauce are to die for.

Lamb Meatballs Added to Duchamp Menu!

Duchamp's lamb-pinenut meatballs are drizzled with basil-lemon pesto. (Photo: Duchamp)

Exciting news from upscale neighborhood hang Duchamp, which has added a tasty new meatball dish to its spring menu.

Now that the weather's finally going to be favorable for alfresco dining this weekend, you'll want to hang out on their outdoor patio for share-able plates of lighter fare. Chef Michael Taus' Mediterranean-style meatballs are made with lamb and nicely complemented by pinenuts, crispy French feta, mint and a basil-lemon pesto.

Friday, May 14, 2010

It's Gonna Suck When 'Oprah' Is Over . . .

Movie star Drew Barrymore dined at Frontera Grill Thursday, then picked up pizzettes at Lakeview favorite Socca.

. . . because a lot of celebrities won't have a reason to come to Chicago when her show ends in 2011.

That could possibly include Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz and Kourtney Kardashian, who were spotted Thursday chowing down at Frontera Grill by owner/chef Rick Bayless, who excitedly tweeted the sighting:

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Watch Out, Guys, It's Baaaaaack!


"SATC 2" doesn’t hit theaters until May 27, but the partying gets underway this weekend.

That's when women all over town shimmy into their slinkiest dresses, match those up with the hottest handbags and sashay all over town in skyscraper stilettos.

One of the events they'll be heading to is a gratis wine tasting party, "SATC"-style, at Randolph Wine Cellars. From 2-6pm Saturday, the wine will pour freely and apps will be passed.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Girl, A Goat and The Diva

Some of these lucky "goat" buttons will gain folks entry into "friends and family" dinners for Girl & The Goat before it opens. (Photo: Girl & The Goat)

Girl & The Goat Executive Chef Stephanie Izard sent foodies into a frenzy Tuesday when she posted that she was giving away 1,000 Goat Buttons as a promotion for the opening of her new gastropub.

Not only will these little knickknacks be cool keepsakes once the resto gets going, but if you're lucky enough to snag one you could gain entry into one of the "friends and family" dinners happening right before it officially opens in June.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Thieves Strike . . . Again . . .


From an Ultimate Insider:

"Police report says window broken and $1,000 taken from Karyn's Fresh Corner on May 8."

Glad no one was hurt!

Monday, May 10, 2010

STAGE BITES: The Weekly Dining & Drinking Guide

Oscar-winning star Mo'Nique performs a one-woman comedy show Saturday at Arie Crown Theatre.

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

Improv Children of the Corn 4 - Soft Core Corn at Cornservatory. Just so we're clear, this improv show is not for the kids. 8pm Thursdays through June 3. Also, get ready for audience participation. Get tickets here.

Browntrout: They've got a liquor license in place at this seafood-oriented spot, but if you insist on bringing that fabulous bottle of vino, they'll charge you $20. Come on Thursdays, however, and the corkage fee is waived.

Locations Uncovered for NEXT, The Aviary?!

The interior of recently shuttered Follia, which is rumored to be the new home for Grant Achatz's NEXT. (Photo: Follia)

Apparently someone at Feast knows someone in high places because they're reporting a major scoop Monday on the forthcoming Grant Achatz projects:

"Although it’s been hush hush (and still is), a very reliable source has revealed that Grant Achatz’s highly-anticipated, hyped-up new project does, in fact, have a location. Even though we’re still mourning the loss of Fulton Market’s authentic Italian outpost, Follia, we hear that the space will allegedly house Achatz’s new, tickets-only restaurant, Next. An even juicier rumor is that his concurrent bar project, Aviary, will be taking over Fulton Lounge. With the advent of Achatz, Fulton Market might just become the culinary capital of downtown Chicago."

The Duffy Duck vs. Foss Hog

Mancow (from left), Phillip Foss and Curtis Duffy at Franks 'n' Dawgs. (Photo: Phillip Foss)

We're taking a break from our regularly scheduled Meatball Mondays to bring you something a little different today.

Apparently there's a vicious little battle going down over at Lincoln Park's Franks 'n' Dawgs, where two local celebrity chefs are competing to see who has the best signature hot dog.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Warm Oatmeal Cookies with Rum Soaked Raisins


. . . is what you'll find at The Cookie Bar, a new sweets shop set to open in Lincoln Park in about two weeks, according to Time Out.

They Took Down 'Big Mel!'

Dos Diablos' "Big Mel" chimichanga is 18 inches and weighs 3.5 pounds. (Photos: Marcus Riley)

River North newcomer Dos Diablos offers standard Mexican fare, but one menu item has been getting tons of buzz: The Big Mel (cue the "da da da daaaaaa" music).

Mom's Day, a Milestone & 'World Cocktail Week'


I've gotta give props to Sunda.

Their first-ever day for brunch service is Mother's Day. Mother's Day?! Ask anyone in the restaurant biz and they'll tell you that's the single busiest day of the year.

Nevertheless, Executive Chef Rodelio Aglibot's whipped up a number of classic Asian dishes—with serious contemporary swagger—that should impress even the most discerning mom.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Big Props For Curtis Duffy From Food & Wine

Curtis Duffy, chef de cuisine at Avenues at the Peninsula. (Photo: Peninsula Chicago)

Avec's Koren Grieveson and Alinea's Grant Achatz may have scooped up the big honors for Chicago at the James Beards Awards Monday (Best Chef, Great Lakes; Outstanding Service, respectively), but it was Avenues's Curtis Duffy who had the Best Dish of the James Beard Gala.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A 'Top Chef Masters' Viewing Party; 'Top Chef Tour' Hits Town

Tony Mantuano of Spiaggia/Terzo Piano.

Big news for the "Top Chef" franchise this week . . .

Tony Mantuano (Spiaggia/Terzo Piano) hosts a viewing party so guests can cheer him on as he competes in the "Champions Round" of the second season of "Top Chef Masters."

Monday, May 3, 2010

Can He Pull It Off?!

(Photo: Grant Achatz)

Two thousand ten is officially The Year of Grant Achatz.

Just last week, the much celebrated owner/chef of Alinea nabbed the honor of being named the best restaurant in North America (placing at No. 7) by the prestigious San Pellegrino World's 50 Best Restaurants Awards.

On Monday in New York, before hundreds of the country's top culinary bigwigs in media and restaurants, he won yet another big-deal honor at the James Beard Awards: Outstanding Service.

All this happened before Alinea's fifth anniversary—Tuesday, May 4—but there's soooooo much more to come.

Three major projects, all set for 2010, are coming up fast:

STAGE BITES: The Weekly Dining & Drinking Guide

The Hypocrites' production of "Cabaret" at Storefront Theater. (Photo: The Hypocrites)

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

Cabaret at Storefront Theater. The Hypocrites's rendition of the provocative musical taking place in Nazi-ruled Berlin. Most performances have sold out; the live band makes it even more exciting. 7:30pm Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays; 3pm Sundays (through May 23). Get tickets here.

China Grill: Known for its notoriously large plates of exotic Asian fare, China Grill recently revamped its menu for those with smaller appetites. You can now order diminutive portions of signature dishes like the Lobster Pancakes or Sake Marinated “Drunken” Chicken. And after all these years—it's been around for six!—they've finally added some tantalizing new dishes: Spiced Crispy Pork Belly; Char Siu Baby Back Pork Ribs; and Miso Grilled Vegetables & Udon Noodles. Share if only you care.

Say Hello to the 'Best Chef in Great Lakes Region!'

Koren Grieveson, chef de cuisine at avec. (Photo: Jessica Tampas Photography)

In New York on Monday, avec chef Koren Grieveson won the James Beard Award for the Best Chef in the Great Lakes Region.

Whooo hoooo!

Say 'Opa!' to These Great Greek Meatballs . . .

Athena's "Kestebdakia," or pan-fried ground beef and lamb meatballs. (Photo: Peter Riskind)

Now that it's finally getting warm outside, we can head outdoors for some great alfresco dining.

Greek Town's home to a number of lively spots where you can chill out on some of the most beautiful outdoor patios in the city.

Athena Greek Restaurant, with its picturesque, Mediterranean setting for about 220 diners, is one hot property when the temps hit the 70s. Plus, it's a great place for budget-friendly and authentic Greek cuisine, particularly their meatballs!