Tuesday, August 31, 2010

From Farm to Fab Feasts . . .


The outdoor Green City Market continues through October in Lincoln Park, but you've only got one day to take advantage of the Farmers Market in the Sky on the Terrace at Trump Hotel.

Happening 7-11am Thursday, the event is orchestrated by Sixteen Executive Chef Frank Brunacci, who will showcase a number of products sourced from local farms and purveyors.

Get Ready for a Sizzling September!

The interior of Noble Square newcomer Ruxbin Kitchen. (Photo: Ruxbin Kitchen)

My monthly obsession returns: Chicago magazine's Hot List, letting us know the 10 restaurants getting the most buzz around town in September.

No surprise at all to find Girl & The Goat ("This is the slam-dunk success of the summer"), Gilt Bar ("Darker than a Lynch film, louder than a chain saw. . .") and The Portage ("Jeff Brantley's playful menu is irresistible") on the list, but there were quite a few surprises.

Monday, August 30, 2010

'Entourage' Star Hits Up Elate, Enclave

Kevin Dillon with fans at Enclave Saturday. (Photo: Matt Reeves/darkroomdemons.com)

Word is "Entourage" star Kevin Dillon hung pretty tight Saturday at Elate with owner Anthony Fiore.

The only details I could get was that they "drank lots of wine" during dinner, then headed over to Enclave for some late-night partying.

Not sure why Dillon was in town, but sounds like he at least had a great time.

Finally On Its Way?!


Grahamwich—the snazzy sandwich spot that was supposed to debut earlier this summer—may finally be opening soon.

Owner Graham Elliot released this tweetphoto Monday of a rendering of the space. We'll be thrilled when we get some shots of food as well.

Speaking of mega chefs onto their next big projects, word is that Grant Achatz has pushed back the opening date for Aviary and NEXT.

Random Jimmy Kimmel Sighting . . .


From a tipster:

"Jimmy Kimmel dined at Magnolia Cafe Saturday night and West Loop restaurant [redacted] last night, and also is singing 7th inning stretch at Cubbie game tonight."

Would've loved to disclose that West Loop resto . . .

Friday, August 27, 2010

Chicago Gourmet Introduces 'Hamburger Hop'


If you're still not convinced to buy a ticket for the annual Chicago Gourmet festival, this may give you mad motivation.

They've just announced the first-ever Hamburger Hop, where 15 area chefs will compete against one another with their versions of the American classic. Of course, you'll get to sample each burger, paired with beer from MillerCoors' Blue Moon.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Secret's Out: The Best 'Hidden' Dishes

We're not surprised one bit that Rockit owner Billy Dec has a "secret" dish named in his honor at the River North resto. (Photos: Rockit Ranch Productions)

Admit it, you love it when you know something the table next to you doesn't.

You're so (*&^%$#@#$%*!* cool because you know that sometimes the best items at the restaurant are the ones not on the menu.

Take, for example, Steak & Eggs On Acid, Blue 13's tasty signature dish that's gained chef Chris Curren legions of fans. Made with sliced beef tenderloin and quail egg with spicy wasabi sauce and potato-onion pierogi, the dish is no longer on the menu, but diners in-the-know can order it through the end of the month.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

BICE Returns; Introducing MEDI . . .

The newly renovated BICE plans to resemble its San Diego sibling, pictured here. (Photo: The Bice Restaurant Group)

Looks like matters are finally coming together in the old BICE space in Streeterville, where MEDI is set to open in mid-September.

Sources tell 312DD exclusively that the upscale Italian eatery will flip its script for a more casual venue offering seasonal, Mediterranean Coast cuisine with entrees ranging $6-$10. Apparently it took them a while to figure out what was going to happen in this space because it's been shuttered since last winter.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Summer Sippers to Wind Down Season

Mike Ryan is chief mixologist at Sable Kitchen & Bar. (Photo: Kimpton Restaurants)

I just totally scolded a chef for talking about his plans for fall dishes. Dude, summer is not over yet!

But sadly, he's not alone. A lot of chefs and mixologists are in the throes of menu planning for autumn dishes and drinks while we're still enjoying the best summer has to offer.

While Sable Kitchen & Bar's head mixologist Mike Ryan is probably also forging ahead with next season's sippers, he's just unveiled several market-fresh delights to wind down the summer.

Our faves by far:

The Cook & The Corkscrew Debuts Today


The dynamic dining duo of Elizabeth and Mark Mendez recently left Carnivale to strike out on their own this fall with a new restaurant venture.

He was executive chef and she acted as wine director at the progressive Latin restaurant in the West Loop.

Back in Business . . .


West Loop mainstay one sixtyblue reopens following a brief hiatus to undergo renovations and a few upgrades.

Just some of the changes include an all-new sidewalk patio along Randolph Street with seating for 54. Also, a new server station houses a new water filtration system and equipment for new French press coffee and loose-leaf tea programs.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Bobby Brown Still Has Fans


Just great. Now I won't be able to get "Don't Be Cruel" out of my head for the rest of the day.

He was the Usher and Chris Brown of his day when he ruled the pop and R&B charts back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and apparently troubled entertainer Bobby Brown still has fans.

That was at least the case late Sunday night at the West Loop's Market when he showed up on the sports bar's rooftop with a small entourage.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

So Fresh . . . So New . . .

The main dining room at new Asian-focused eatery Arami, in Ukrainian Village. (Photo: Urban Daddy/stevenjohnsonphotography.com)

It's been a tremendously busy summer for bar and restaurant openings with no signs of slowing down.

This weekend's a big one for the team behind The Gage, who are finally opening the long-awaited Henri (it was originally supposed to open fall 2009) in a historically landmark building next door.

Dirk Flanigan, who is also exec chef at The Gage, oversees the seasonal menu that'll offer his spin on classic dishes like Maine lobster, peas and Porcini mushrooms over house-made Pappardelle; slow-roasted Illinois lamb for two and a 16 oz. veal chop cooked in the stone oven.

This is spectacular news for downtown crowds, who complain that there's not a lot of options in the area when it comes to chef-driven restaurants. And we have a feeling Flanigan won't let them down.

Henri opens for dinner Saturday.

More new spots to put on your radar this weekend and beyond . . .

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Fire Sale This Weekend at Tizi Melloul


Now that Girl & the Goat is off to a great start, two of its main partners can concentrate on their next big project: the space once occupied by Tizi Melloul at 531 N. Wells St.

First things first, according to Kevin Boehm, one of the guys behind Boka Restaurant Group (which also owns Boka, Landmark Grill + Lounge and Perennial), is clearing out all the old resto's Mediterranean and North African decor this weekend.

More Kudos for Hot Doug's

(Photo: Hot Doug's)

Too bad Hot Doug's is closed for vacation until August 25 because I'm totally craving one of their signature encased-meat sandwiches after this latest honor.

Food Network Magazine named the Northwest Side spot one of the Top Ten Regional Classics in America.

They earned props for having the Best Hot Dog Menu:

Big Props for The Purple Pig!

The Purple Pig's whimsical charcuterie offering. (Photo: The Purple Pig)

We're not surprised one bit that Mag Mile sensation The Purple Pig made Bon Appétit's prestigious The 10 Best New Restaurants in America list, but we are surprised they're the only Chicago resto that made the cut (Hello, Balsan, Big Star, Gilt Bar?!).

Here's what they had to say about the bustling eatery best known for pork-focused dishes:

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

BLT Bonanza is Back!


Who doesn't love a good, crispy BLT?!

The Old School BLT Bonanza returns as a component of the annual TomatoFest, happening all over town August 23-Sept. 19.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

R. Kelly Sets Off Shrine in Surprise Concert!

R. Kelly performs a surprise concert at The Shrine Friday as "106 & Park" host Rocsi Diaz stands by. (Photos: Richard Pack)

"106 & Park" host Rocsi Diaz was the special guest at ClubNet360.com's Friday night party at The Shrine, but she brought along a mega celebrity who sent the South Loop nightclub into a frenzy.

Not only did R&B star R. Kelly hit the stage to greet the crowd, but he also performed an impromptu hour-and-a-half long concert, according to ClubNet360.com's head honcho Teddy Gilmore.

Foss is out at Lockwood

Phillip Foss, former executive chef at Lockwood (Photo: Lockwood)

One of the most prominent chefs in the city is out of a job.

Phillip Foss was dismissed from his executive chef position at Lockwood Friday.

He wrote this on his blog:

Friday, August 13, 2010

It's a Foss Family Affair with Food Trucks

Kenni and Phillip Foss of Foss Family Food Trucks. (Photo: Phillip Foss)

Since it's technically illegal for food trucks to roam the streets of Chicago, one culinary-focused family has decided to jump into the next big trend: the pop-up restaurant.

Phillip Foss—who's better known as the executive chef of Lockwood—and his wife, Kenni, have forged forward with their Foss Family Food Trucks concept.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

If Snoop Was a Chef . . .


. . . he'd fit right in one particular kitchen inside a popular Chicago restaurant, according to a few details in this article from Eater.com.

They recently interviewed Jean-Luc Naret, the director of the Michelin Guide, and he had this to say about the ahem, funny smell wafting through the air:

Glamour is in the Air This Weekend . . .

Runway shots from last week's "Glamorama" in Minneapolis. (Photo: Emily Utne)

Ready or not, fall is on its way, which means we'll be back in boots and winter coats before you know it.

At least we'll all look good sloshing around in the snow—if we take good notes at two major fashion events going down on Friday.

A ticket to Macy's Glamorama is a necessity for every Chicago fashionista.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Who Is 'America's Hottest Culinary Couple?!'

My vote for Chicago's "hottest culinary couple:" Allison and Rob Levitt of Mado. (Photo: Rob Levitt)

The search is on for America's Hottest Culinary Couple, and I think we've got a great contender right here at home.

Young and hip couple Rob and Allie Levitt of Wicker Park's Mado—who made Bon Appetit's list of best new restos of 2009—would most certainly crush the competition. What we absolutely adore about this wonderfully stylish wife-and-husband team is that they use only local and sustainable ingredients in all dishes.

Sky-High Event at Signature Room

The U.S. Navy Blue Angels will rock the 52nd annual "Chicago Air & Water Show" for three days this weekend.

This is certain to be the very best view in the city for the annual Air & Water Show this weekend, and we cannot believe The Signature Room has never done this before:

The restaurant atop the John Hancock Building hosts an all-day affair that includes an open bar and all-you-can-eat buffet created by Executive Chef Patrick Sheerin.

Here's what to expect on the menu:

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Where Will They Be?!


Before Lollapalooza even began, 312DD started getting sightings.

The first one is none other than Lady Gaga, who was spotted Thursday at Delilah's, the spot with the largest selections of bourbon in the Midwest.

Since everyone's gotta eat and drink, drop me a line, hit me up here and lemme know if you see one of your favorite stars out and about this weekend . . .

Some Mighty, Mighty Bites . . .

Executive Chef William Alexander working the line at new Little Italy eatery, One. Six One. (Photo: One. Six One)

Hey, guys, there are a ton of things going on beyond Lolla this weekend, especially when it comes to delicious dishes.

For example, we checked out One. Six One a few weeks ago during its grand-opening weekend. The contemporary Little Italy resto's menu was all over the globe, but we were particularly pleased with the Smoked Wild Duck Gumbo.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Where He Dined—And With Whom—On His B-Day. . .


. . . Wednesday night was none other than Graham Elliot, the quirky River North spot that's gotten more attention than any other restaurant in the city recently because of neverending buzz.

New Tru Chef Joins 'Taste of the Nation' Lineup

Tru Executive Chef/partner Anthony Martin (Photos: Tru)

The new executive chef/partner at fancy four-star Tru loves Lil’ Wayne, rides a hog to work every day and once waited four-and-a-half hours at Kuma's Corner for a Black Sabbath Burger (topped with blackening spice, chili, pepper Jack and red onion).

So it is no surprise that the 29-year-old Anthony Martin—who turns 30 on Sept. 23—is adding a bit of spice to the menus once ruled over by former executive chef Rick Tramanto.

Make no mistake. Dude's got some pretty big shoes to fill, as Tramanto helped put Tru on the culinary map with former executive pastry chef Gale Gand. But as a fearless former visual artist whose fascination with architecture creeps ever so often into his creations, we have no doubt he'll succeed.

Mercadito Mixologist Moves On; Introducing Watershed

Mixologist Daniel de Oliveira (Photo: Daniel de Oliveira)

One of the hardest-working men in local mixology has just added even more notches to his resume.

No more Mercadito for Daniel de Oliveira, who's been there since it opened last fall.

Instead, the talented bartender has taken a full-time position with the Pernod brand to launch Olmeca Altos tequila, from the highlands of Mexico, in the Chicago market (RSVP for the launch party happening 6:30-8:30pm Monday, Aug. 9 at East Bank Club, 500 N. Kingsbury St. at RSVP@Handcraftedpr.com).

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Local Chefs Go Crazy Over Wild Arctic Char

Arctic Char with Cilantro Pumpkin Seed Pesto. (Stock photo)

"The two-week summer fishery was an absolute delight that had the city's most talented chefs humbled to have such a majestic species in their kitchens," gushed Carl Galvan, one of the hardest-working fishmongers for Surpreme Lobster, about Cambridge Bay Wild Arctic Char.

Such a statement makes me seriously pay attention, and it turns out that by mid-August, these fish will return to their natural habitat under the ice caps of the Arctic Circle.

To celebrate their "final 2010 runs," Galvan's gathered what he says are some of the best chefs in the city to whip up signature dishes during two special events you don't want to miss.

Monday, August 2, 2010

STAGE BITES: The Weekly Dining & Drinking Guide

Raphael Saadiq performs at "Lollapalooza" Friday.

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

Lollapalooza at Grant Park. An all-star lineup of musical acts are set to perform at this annual, three-day festival. Highlights on the main stages include Raphael Saadiq (2-3pm Friday), Lady Gaga (8-10pm Friday), Green Day (7:45-10pm Saturday), Erykah Badu (5-6pm Sunday) and Soundgarden (8-10pm Sunday). August 6-8. Get tickets here.

Chef 'Driven' Concepts at Atwood Cafe, Inovasi

Atwood Cafe Executive Chef Derek Simcik (Photo: Atwood Cafe)

Two Chicago-area chefs give new meaning to the buzzword "chef driven" with some exciting new promotions at their restaurants.

Over at Atwood Café, in the Loop, new Executive Chef Derek Simcik's doing a couple of cool promos to attract those diners who hate driving downtown.

Get Ready for the First-Ever Cupcake Cruise

(Photo: Flirty Cupcakes)

There's so much competition now with all these cupcake shops and cupcake trucks, so Flirty Cupcakes decided to step up its game by taking their treats to the shore.

That's right. They're doing the city's first-ever Cupcake Cruise, which should be quite a blast.

Here are the details:

Sunday, August 1, 2010

He 'Runs This Town!'

Restaurateur and nightlife impresario Billy Dec (Rockit Ranch Productions)

Chicago's a lucky town to have so many vibrant and quirky personalities on the dining and nightlife scenes.

But no one stands out more than Billy Dec and Graham Elliot. That's why 312DD decided to conduct a fun poll just to see who the public embraced more.