Thursday, February 18, 2010

Get Ready for an Izakaya in the City . . .


Steve "The Hungry Hound" Dolinsky introduces us to Masu Sushi, what he considers to be Chicago's first-ever izakaya, or Japanese gastropub.

It's going into the old space vacated in 2009 by Minnies, in Lincoln Park, and here's what Dolinsky has to say:

"Izakayas are convivial places, with a bit more of a male-driven culture. They are boisterous, full of conversation, premium sake and tall bottles of Japanese beer. While they offer some raw sushi and sashimi, it’s the small, cooked items that set them apart from their Japanese brethren.

"(Masu Sushi owner Steve) Song says he’ll offer basic, home-style cooking, with a lot of rice bowls. Typical Japanese drinking snacks like dried salted filefish or seasoned fried anchovies, sardines or smelts will be commonplace. Grilled yakitori (skewers), braised dishes, fresh sashimi, and alcohol-soaking fried foods will round out the menu."

Nice. Something totally new and needed for that area! Masu Sushi is set to open the first week of March.

Cheers to National Drink Wine Day Weekend!

Master Sommelier Alpana Singh (Photo: Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises)

Today's National Drink Wine Day, but bump that. Just for you, we're going to extend it through the weekend!

312DD searched high and low for the absolute best wine deals in the city, starting with Master Sommelier Alpana Singh's event tonight at Frankie’s Fifth Floor.

Singh—who was just nominated for a James Beard Award in the "Outstanding Wine & Spirits Professional" category—will mingle with the crowd, introducing guests to interesting new vino as they munch on apps and thin-crust pizza. Guests will also get gift certificates for a future trip to Frankie's as well as meet with DNA 2050's denim specialist. The party's $15 and 5-7pm Thursday, but if you stick around you can enjoy amazing glasses of wine for $5, which are available in the restaurant every day.

Raise your glass to even more wine-focused events this weekend:


BIN 36 reopens tonight since shutting down after Valentine's Day. The wine/resto/boutique turned 10 in 2009, so it's about time for them to make some changes. They've adding more artisan cheeses to pair with their magnificent wines, plus Beard nominated wine director Brian Duncan and exec chef John Caputo just launched a blog offering a new approach to wine, travel and food coverage.

More than 25 wines will be waiting for you at Red Canary during the Chicago Wine Council's first event of the year. It'll be a great chance to meet like-minded oenophiles and check out one of the hottest spaces in River West. 6-9pm. $40 at door (cash only).

Lakeview's fave pizza-wine joint Frasca Pizzeria & Wine Bar may be one of the few spots in town really celebrating National Drink Wine Day. A four-course feast pairs each bite with booze, which you should definitely appreciate. 7pm. $50.

To fete 10 years in biz, Randolph Wine Cellars/The Tasting Room is giving away a free bottle of wine to every 10th customer in February.

We'll take a blind tasting over a blind date any day! Just Grapes pits pricey potions against wallet-friendly wines to see if you can tell the difference. Location's in the West Loop, so you can scoot right after work. 5:30-7:30pm. $25.

Main bar at In Fine Spirits (Photo: In Fine Spirits)


One of the best-kept secrets in Ukrainian Village is A. Vision, where the Friday night wine tastings attract a good neighborhood crowd. They're generously pouring wines you can buy in this nifty boutique setting. 5:30-7:30pm. Free.

More wine's being poured at the annual Wine, Beer & Art Party hosted by the 20/30 Club. Party's ideal for single guys and gals alike, as last year it attracted almost 200 young professionals. All proceeds benefit Mercy Home for Boys and Girls, Horizons For Youth, HighSight, HFS Chicago Scholars and MGR Foundation. 7-11pm at Mars Gallery (1139 W. Fulton Market). $35 in advance here; $45 at door.


Every Saturday, Red & White does free vino tastings 2-5pm. Get your drink on and then take a couple of bottles to enjoy at nearby Costa Rican BYOB Irazu.

Twice a month, you'll get to indulge in free wine tastings at In Fine Spirits, and this is your lucky week! We're not sure which bottles they'll be pouring, but expect something exceptional. 3-6pm.


We don't do wine for brunch, but we're all about the sparkling wine deal at Angelina Ristorante, in Lakeview. For $20, you'll get bottomless bubbly/Mimosas to complement your brunch items of Eggs Benedict, French toast or the house specialty, Fritatta Toscano. 11am-2pm.

All Lush locations (Roscoe Village, University Village, West Town) hold free tastings on lazy Sunday afternoons. It's up to the staff to decide which bottles they'll pop open; all you have to do is show up. 2-5pm. Free.

And The Bluebird teams up with painter Leslie Baum for The Salon Series. They're pairing three courses with wine that's followed by a discussion about Baum's art. Starts at 7pm. $35; reservations required.