Thursday, July 29, 2010

Gilt Bar Owner On To Next BIG Project

(Photo: Natasha Hernandez)

An Ultimate Insider tells 312DD exclusively that Brendan Sodikoff is on to his next project and making moves in the Randolph Restaurant Row area.

The Gilt Bar owner/executive chef is rumored to be breaking ground Sunday right across the street from Girl & the Goat.

Our Very Own Prime-Time Celebrity Chef?!

(Photo: Graham Elliot)

He insists that Hollywood hasn’t gone to his head, but the Chicago chef formerly known as Graham Elliot Bowles is simply going by the slimmed-down moniker "Graham Elliot" now.

I kinda dug the three names, but bygones, it’s his decision.

Anyway, did you catch the first episode of FOX’s "MasterChef," featuring Elliot, Gordon Ramsay and Joe Bastianich?! Following the successful formats of “American Idol,” “So You Think You Can Dance?” and “America’s Got Talent,” the show plucks out regular, decent-cooking folks who aspire to be chefs.

Lula Cafe is Back, Baby!

(Photo: Lula Cafe)

After being shuttered for almost a week because of basement flooding, Logan Square's glorious hipster hangout Lula Cafe is back in business, beginning today.

From their Facebook page:

Cool Treats Worth the Brain Freeze . . .


The Chicago Luxury Ice Cream Festival returns for its second year.

This is no ordinary ice-cream event as local artisans, pastry chefs and chocolatiers show off cool, custom designed treats you'll not likely see anywhere else.

We're excited about it for a number of reasons, including the obvious. You'll get a grand tasting of goodies from the likes of Vosges, Black Dog Gelato, Nice Cream, Homer’s, Oberweis, Trader’s Point Creamery, Ciao Bella Gelato, Bob Tail Ice Cream and Sassy Cow Creamery.

There will also be demonstrations and workshops certain to blow your mind from top pastry chefs Christine McCabe, Tony Galzin (MK), Jerome Landrieu (Barry-Callebaut Chocolate Academy) and Michelle Garcia (The Bleeding Heart Bakery).

And, The Great Chicago Brain Freeze should be the biggest draw as chefs compete with unique creations. Guests get to vote on winners.

Last year's third-place winner, Clandestino, returns with chef/owner Efrain Cuevas bringing back his popular Chocolate Chile ice cream as well as Blueberry Huitlacoche and Honey Serrano Sweetcornbread.

Now I don't mind getting a little brain freeze for that!

The Chicago Luxury Ice Cream Festival takes place 7-10pm Friday and Saturday at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum (2430 N. Cannon Dr.). Get the $25 tickets here.

We've got at least another month of unbelievable heat, so cool off with even more offbeat frozen treats, including some deliciously boozy ones:

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

WAVE Rolls Out Street Food Cart in August

WAVE Executive Chef Kristine Subido (pictured) debuts her food cart filled with globally inspired grub on August 4. (Photo: WAVE)

While some folks continue to wait for City Hall to act on the food truck ordinance, others keep it moving . . . to other opportunities.

W Lakeshore's WAVE Executive Chef Kristine Subido—who grew up with street food carts in her homeland of the Philippines—is now bringing globally inspired grub to the streets of Streeterville in August.

Back in Business!

(Photo: Longman & Eagle)

Longman & Eagle was one of several Logan Square hot spots affected by flooding last weekend.

Unlike Lula Cafe, which is still shuttered until further notice, L&E continued serving cocktails and a very limited menu.

Tuesday evening, however, they triumphantly posted to their Facebook page that they're fully back in business—with a new menu:

More Props for Blackbird Mixologist Lynn House

Blackbird's star mixologist Lynn House in action. (Photo: Lynn House)

These days when it rains it's a monsoon, particularly for new Blackbird mixologist Lynn House, who is having one heck of a year in her chosen profession.

She recently won a mixology contest sponsored by Absolut, plus her fabulous spirits-oriented career has been tracked by likes of Ebony, Esquire, Metromix and, of course, 312DD.

Now comes the Chicago Sun-Times with even more praises:

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

More Yummy in Tummy with Second M Burger

M Burger's signature double-stack burger. (Photo: M Burger)

Word from Time Out is that a second M Burger is coming our way soon.

Look for LEYE's burger and fries joint to pop up this time in a carved-out kitchen space of Osteria Via Stato in late August (the first one is located in Tru's former pastry kitchen).

Shhhh, 'The Speakeasy Throwback' is Coming!

(Photo: Margaret Bourke-White from LIFE photo archive)

I get envious watching old movies, particularly those showcasing the glammest of the glam girls in Prohibition-era films like "The Great Gatsby," "The Roaring Twenties," and yes, even "Harlem Nights."

The decadence, the drinks, the danger, the dramatic dresses . . . what's not to like?! Too bad we cannot all just jump into a time machine and transport back to those days of speakeasy cool.

But wait! Lockwood exec chef Phillip Foss is masterminding an old-school soiree certain to rival those of the Roaring Twenties.

Monday, July 26, 2010

STAGE BITES: The Weekly Dining & Drinking Guide

Rashada Dawan (left), Brandon Chandler and Adrianna Parson in Bailiwick Chicago's "Aida."

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

Aida at American Theatre Company. Bailiwick Chicago's highly regarded rendition of Elton John and Tim Rice's mesmerizing musical of star-crossed lovers. Through Aug. 1 (8pm Thursday, Friday; 3-8pm Saturday; 3pm Sunday). Get tickets here.

Flooding Shutters Logan Square Hot Spots

(Photo: Lula Cafe)

That rainstorm early Saturday morning did more damage than we thought.

Several Logan Square hot spots were forced to close over the weekend as a result of flooding in their basements.

Top cocktail-focused lounge The Whistler reopened Sunday night, but popular eatery Lula Cafe remains closed.

They issued these messages on Facebook:

How Much Do You Tip Your Barista?!


GrubStreet snagged an advance copy of Keep the Change: A Clueless Tipper’s Quest to Become the Guru of the Gratuity, Steve Dublanica’s follow-up to the outrageous Waiter Rant.

Here's what they found out about what we should be tipping our baristas:

Chicago Stadiums Cleanest in the Country?!


So, we're just that good, huh?!

ESPN has compiled a list of vendor health inspection reports from major sports venues across North America, and it looks like Chicago came out on top with the cleanest:

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Plans Underway for Former De La Costa Space


It's too spectacular a space to waste, so I was pretty relieved to hear from an Ultimate Insider that there's currently construction going down at the former De La Costa venue at 465 E. Illinois St., in Streeterville.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Say 'Hello' To My Little Friend!

(Photo: Sprinkles Cupcakes)


Wanna know how to get free Sprinkles Cupcakes all summer long?!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Ohhhhh, What A Dish!

Proceeds from Phillip Foss's étouffée with soft-shell crawfish, Andouille-filled chicken and Absinthe bubbles will benefit those suffering from the Gulf oil spill. (Photo: Lockwood)

There's no excuse why we shouldn't be dining well every weekend, especially given all the amazing eats around town.

Lockwood's Phillip Foss is doing his part by offering a tasty New Orleans-inspired dish that also helps those affected by the Gulf oil spill.

Half of the proceeds from his étouffée made with soft-shell crawfish, Andouille-filled chicken and Absinthe bubbles will support Protect Our Coastline Foundation.

It's $16 and will be on the menu through Sept. 1.

More great eats . . . and also beats to last you all weekend . . .

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Graham Elliot Bowles Responds . . .

(Photo: Graham Elliot)

. . . to the brouhaha caused by the Chicago mag critique of the "Lollapalooza" dishes.

The celeb chef actually posted his remarks in the comments section in the original story on 312DD, but I felt the need to give it a post on its own:

It Ain't Over Yet: Another Chef on 'Lolla' Food Fight

Inovasi chef/owner John des Rosiers (Photo: Inovasi)

As busy as his restaurant's been these last few months, we're shocked Inovasi owner/chef John des Rosiers has enough time to sleep let alone sit down and write.

Nevertheless, he took to his blog Wednesday to express his views on the "Lollapalooza" food fight between Chicago magazine and chef Graham Elliot Bowles:

What They're Cooking at 'Chefs and the City'

Participants at last year's "Chefs and the City" event at the Peninsula. (Photos: Vital Bridges)

Fashion and great food.

Life cannot get any better than that.

Vital Bridges combines the two passions with Chefs and the City, its sixth-annual cocktail party and fashion show at the Peninsula 6-10pm Thursday.

Thirty of Chicago's most noted chefs are taking part in the event by whipping up unique signature bites for guests to enjoy during a walkaround tasting. We asked around to find out what some of them were making for the big, sold-out soiree, and wow!, guests are certainly in for a treat.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Food Fight! Chicago Mag vs. Graham Elliot Bowles


Chefs, like artists, are sensitive as hell.

Ask Graham Elliot Bowles of the whimsical River North eatery that's made him a star at Lollapalooza as well as a colorful fixture on "Top Chef Masters."

Tuesday he went hard on Chicago Magazine because he didn't like its review of the cuisine that'll be served at the three-day music festival happening in August.

His words cut right through the bone in a Twitter message directed at the magazine:

Haters Gon' Be Haters . . .


I hope this isn't some sort of trend.

In March, Sarah's Pastries & Candies was robbed, and thieves made off with several items, including $2,000 in cash, a laptop and printer.

Karyn's Fresh Corner had its window broken in May, with someone taking $1,000.

Now comes word that the favorite gelato spot of Girl & The Goat owner/chef Stephanie Izard has also fallen victim to hoodlums.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Urban Burger Bar, Sono Wood Fired Opening Soon

Urban Burger Bar's "High Hog," a BBQ pork burger with Applewood smoked bacon, ham, Wisconsin white cheddar and apple-cabbage slaw. (Photo: Urban Burger Bar)

If you've been wondering what's going on at that construction site at North and Clybourn, 312DD's got the scoop for ya.

Look for Urban Burger Bar and its adjacent Sono Wood Fired to open in the Clybourn Corridor by the end of July.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Esquire Writer Weighs in on Chicago Michelin Guide

The Mayor and Jean-Luc Naret, worldwide director of the Michelin guides, are all laughs with The Michelin Man at the announcement party at A New Leaf. (Photo: Rick Aguilar Studios)

Every local media outlet's been abuzz about the prestigious Michelin guide finally coming to Chicago, and there's been sooooo much speculation on how many stars certain restaurants will get.

Even Esquire's controversial go-to food guy, John Mariani, weighed in with his predictions on how many stars Alinea, Blackbird, L2O and Moto will get:

Summer Hours=The Three Martini Lunch

Don Draper of AMC's "Mad Men." (Photo: AMC)

Looks like our main man from "Mad Men" knew what he was doing when he took those long-ass lunches back in the day.

On the hit 1960s-era series, Don Draper appears to be at the top of his game after a few cocktails. The question is: Can you do the same?!

River North's District Bar wants to test your skills with The Don Draper Treatment, debuting Friday.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Reader Gives 312DD a Few Props!

Nubia Henderson (center, with blond streaks) with guests at The Southern. (Photo: Nubia Henderson)

My favorite part of 312DD is helping folks pick the perfect nightlife or dining destination for special occasions.

I get these requests on the regular, and it really gets my adrenaline flowing as I give them options to help make their events memorable.

It's always nice to get a thank you email, but reader Nubia Henderson recently took it a step further after I recommended The Southern as a destination for her recent farewell fete:

Only In Wicker Park . . .

"Miss Hopkins If You're Nasty" crowned "Miss Wicker Park" Monday at Double Door. (Photo: Marcus Riley)

. . . would the newly crowned Miss Wicker Park proclaim in her acceptance speech: "Holy f--- s--, we're getting f--- up tonight!" as she sprayed the crowd with PBR.

That was the case Monday at Double Door during the first-ever pageant to crown the neighborhood's hottest hipster chick.

Bon Appétit on Bastille Day!


We never need an excuse to indulge in a few glasses of bubbly, but since it's Bastille Day, we'll up the ante.

You'll find no shortage of places to celebrate today:

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Sneak Peek of 'GCM Chefs BBQ' Cocktails!

Josh Pearson's "R&R Smash" (Photos: Kate Gross Photography)

Are you getting thirsty?!

If these photos of cocktails prepared by Chicago's hottest mixologists don't get your mouth watering, then something's not right.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Sunda Chef Is Sorta Moving On . . .

Sunda Executive Chef Rodelio Aglibot. (Photo: Sunda)

Rodelio Aglibot is so busy these days that he's leaving his full-time post as executive chef at popular Asian-fusion spot Sunda.

Aglibot tells 312DD that in two weeks, his role at Sunda will transition to "more of a consulting capacity" so he can work on various projects in Los Angeles and New York.

STAGE BITES: The Weekly Dining & Drinking Guide

Legendary rocker Pat Benatar performs at Northerly Island Sunday.

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

Pat Benatar at Charter One Pavilion at Northerly Island. Before there was Madonna, Lady Gaga and Rihanna, there was Pat Benatar—a true badass babe who needed no hype or props during performances. "Heartbreaker," "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" and "Life is a Battlefield" are only a few of her charttoppers we're looking forward to when she hits the stage this weekend. REO Speedwagon also headlines. 7pm Sunday. Get tickets here.

What You Should Be Doing Saturday for Lunch

Takashi Yagihashi takes part in a cooking demo at Macy's on State Saturday.

Chicago's own Takashi Yagihashi, of the eponymous Bucktown eatery, teams up with master sommelier Andrea Robinson for a rare Culinary Council event at Macy’s on State Street (111 N. State St., Lower Level).

The event happens noon Saturday, with the two pairing wine and seasonal dishes. It's also a chance to be one of the first to check out Robinson's new stemware, "The One," which can be used for both red and white wines.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

'Breakfast at Tiffany's' Served Up By Tru!

All of the dishes were inspired by Tiffany's famous jewelry collection, including silver-pressed egg cups filled with slow-cooked scrambled eggs, creme fraiche and California sturgeon caviar. (Photos: Tru)

Holly Golightly would be jealous.

Tru gave 312DD the scoop on its brilliant collaboration with the Tiffany's location on the Mag Mile over the weekend.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Look Out for the Stampede . . .


Girl & The Goat opens July 12.

To whet your appetite, here's a sneak preview of the menu.

Cannot wait!

Cool S%&(*&^%!@# . . . Period.

DJ Madrid spins every Thursday at Le Colonial.

We all know Le Colonial's upper-level lounge. It's exotic. It's dark and mysterious. It tempts us to become uninhibited after a few of those decadent drinks.

But it's been like that for almost 15 years, so it was time to go to the next level.

Enter DJ Madrid—known for cranking out the best international beats—and star bartender Nikki Friar, who shakes up the cocktails fast and hard.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Eat A Po' Boy; Save the Gulf Coast!


CrossRoads Bar & Grill in the West Loop is doing its part to help those affected by the Gulf oil spill.

For every Po’ Boy sandwich, Mississippi Mud Pie dessert and "Oil Spill" drink sold, they're donating $1 to support cleanup of the area.

Casting Call for Yet Another 'The Bachelor' Tonite

Vienna Girardi and Jake Pavelka during happier times.

Avoid theWit at all costs tonight. Seriously.

That's because there's an open casting call for the 15th season of "The Bachelor," which means lines will be snaked around the hotel that's home to Roof and State & Lake.

Monday, July 5, 2010

To The Market . . .


Tix are still available for the Green City Market Chef's BBQ, in its 10th year and going down 6-8pm July 15.

Eighty local chefs will be participating and creating delicious, signature bites from produce sold at the market. What's particularly cool this year is that in addition to the many dishes guests will get to sample, some of the city's most accomplished mixologists will be on hand to handcraft market-fresh cocktails.

Menu Revealed at Girl & The Goat!

Stephanie Izard is the executive chef and co-owner of Girl & The Goat, set to open this summer. (Photo: Stephanie Izard)

Here's your very first sneak peek at what's going on the menu at the year's most highly anticipated restaurant.

Over the holiday, Stephanie Izard's Girl & The Goat web site launched, offering us a taste of what to expect.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Manor, RiNO Team To Open BBQ Joint


Annnnd, they're on to the next thing.

The guys behind Manor, RiNO, Stay and Cedar Hotel are making moves to open a BBQ joint in River North.

From the inbox:

Set It Off in High Style This Weekend


There’s nothing more American than helping our fellow man. And as we celebrate Independence Day this weekend, let’s not forget our family in the Gulf Coast.

The Fifty/50 caps off its second-annual National 40oz Week with a benefit for those suffering from that obnoxious oil spill.