Monday, January 31, 2011

Your First Look Inside Bistronomic

Bistronomic exterior (Photo: Ari Bendersky/Eater Chicago)

Eater's got the first photos inside Gold Coast eatery Bistronomic, which was Eve for the last few years.

Helmed by former Cafe Des Architectes chef Martial Noguier, the restaurant is set to open Friday.

Where A Rising Star Chef Dines On Off Days . . .

Dave Beran (left) with Grant Achatz. (Photo: Grant Achatz)

It's not every day you get to sit next to a world-class chef for two hours. So when I got my chance at the Grand Chefs Gala Friday, I didn't let it go to waste.

I was lucky enough to sit next to Dave Beran, the chef de cuisine of Alinea as well as chef of the upcoming and highly anticipated Next restaurant in the Warehouse District.

Beran was pretty tight-lipped on Next's opening date, yet very eager to share some of his favorite local dining destinations when he gets a rare night off.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

What A Night For Chicago Chefs!

Kith & Kin's Andrew Brochu (left) shows off his Jean Banchet medal with Olmeca Altos Tequila brand ambassador Daniel de Oliveira at "Grand Chefs Gala" Friday. (Photos: 312 Dining Diva)

Avenues' Curtis Duffy was MIA at the annual Grand Chefs Gala Friday benefiting the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. And too bad because he won the most coveted prize of the night: the Jean Banchet award for Celebrity Chef.

Had the talented toque been there, it would have been one hell of a reunion. Andrew Brochu, who worked with Duffy at Alinea, took home the award for Best Neighborhood Restaurant as executive chef at Kith & Kin.

Dave Beran picked up Alinea's award for Best Fine Dining. The chef de cuisine, who will also lead the team at the upcoming Next restaurant, worked with Duffy and Brochu at Alinea.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Freebies . . . on Friday . . .

Former "Hell's Kitchen" cheftestant Connie Lovely Jackson hosts an event at Kenmore Live Studio this weekend. (Photo: Connie Lovely Jackson)

Low on cash, but got an appetite for the good life?! Every Friday, 312DD features the best bargain bets around town:

Chicago Cut Steakhouse: Scotch lovers should drool at the thought of this tasty deal going on at the downtown steakhouse. Chivas 18 will be in the house 5:30-7pm Friday, offering gratis cocktails and tastings.

DMK Burger Bar: Sales from DMK's 2011 calendar benefit the Greater Chicago Food Depository. And if you get yours through Jan. 31, you'll get a free Bardstown Bacon-Bomber Milkshake.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Hop Along To These Haute Cuisine Spots

Leopold's smoked rabbit entree comes with mustard spaetzle, caramelized fennel, onions and duchesse prune glaze. (Photo: Huge Galdones of

We've seen more rabbit-focused dishes this season than ever before, but could it be a coincidence?!

Beginning Feb. 3 is The Year of the Rabbit (signifying luck, tactfulness and thoughtfulness)—for the Chinese New Year—and there's a lot of yummy goings-on that may or may not have to do with the special occasion.

Sunda, the celebrity-infested resto in River North, is doing its annual homage to the Chinese New Year, but sadly there will be no rabbit on the menu.

From Jan. 31 to Feb. 6, they're doing a special, family-style menu that's $40 per person. Some of the featured dishes include hot and sour soup; a dim sum duet of shrimp or vegetable spring rolls and sticky rice; ruby prawns in a secret glaze; and beef short ribs in a black pepper sauce and accompanied by broccolini. Dessert is included in the meal.

Guests who make reservations at 7pm Feb. 3 will be entertained by live performances of the "dragon dance." It's to bring good fortune to all.

You can also celebrate The Year of the Rabbit by chowing down on these rabbit dishes elsewhere:

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

RIA Dinner On Twitter Auction Block . . .


It feels like it just came out of the blue, but RIA chefs Jason McLeod and Danny Grant launched a Twitter auction Tuesday afternoon for dinner at their fabulous restaurant.

This is right on time, seeing how the Elysian hotel's highly regarded resto just reopened after being closed for the holiday season. Check out some of the new menu items here.

Is Your Mouth Watering Yet?!

(Photo: The Doughnut Vault)

I'm still anxiously awaiting the arrival of The Doughnut Vault—set to open in River North in a few weeks—but I just came across these drool-enticing photos the owner (who's also behind Gilt Bar, Maude's Liquor Bar) recently posted on the shop's blog.

Check it out for updates on tasty menu items and cool tidbits on the history of doughnuts. Plus, sooner or later they're going to have to reveal the actual location . . .

Epic's New Chef Unveils Fresh New Menu

Michael Shrader during his N9NE days. (Photo: Myspace)

Now that he's settled into his new digs at Epic, Executive Chef Michael Shrader has had time to work his own signature styles into the lunch and dinner menus.

We just got a copy of it and it's chockful of American-centric dishes certain to keep the River North resto on the hot list.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Love Is In The Air . . . With Cupcakes . . .

(Photo: Sprinkles)

How could you not get excited about Sprinkles' upcoming Valentine's Day-inspired cupcakes?!

They come in tempting flavors of limited-edition chocolate marshmallow and red hot velvet as well as dark chocolate and vanilla. At $39 for a box of 12, they're cheaper—and sweeter—than a dozen roses.

Sprinkles is only accepting pre-orders for the special box set, but you can also swing by the Gold Coast store for the additional limited-edition flavor in raspberry chocolate chip. It's a Belgian dark chocolate cake topped with raspberry frosting and a pink heart.

All the flavors will be available Feb. 4-14.

Friday, January 21, 2011

This Is What We Call Team Spirit!

The Fifty/50's exterior right now. (Photo: The Fifty/50)

We love the guys over at The Fifty/50 namely for stunts like this.

They took the photo above, along with this caption on Twitter:

"A little message to our friends in Green Bay written on cheese heads hanging outside of The Fifty/50 right now."

Go Bears!

Freebies . . . on Friday . . .

The Truffled Grilled Cheese at Bangers & Lace isn't free, but it'll go well with some of the beer samples you can get if you play your cards right. (Photo: Freddy Love)

Low on cash, but got an appetite for the good life?! Every Friday, 312DD features the best bargain bets around town:

Bangers & Lace: Lively music, log cabin-themed washrooms, lace-covered windows and hipsters with grizzly beards! Gotta also love the inventive budget bites (brioche corn-battered dog, truffled grilled cheese, lamb flatbread) you can pair with the daily updated beer menu. That list's so awesome that they'll let you sample whatever you want in a nice sized shot glass.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Best Spots for Biz Dinners Don't Come Cheap

(Photo: Shanghai Terrace)

If you're still lucky enough to have a corporate card and one of your job descriptions is "entertaining clients," then this list is for you.

Esquire just released a list of best business restaurants across the country, and of course Chicago made it.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Bar Stars Rock 'Grand Chefs Gala' After-Party

Brad Bolt of Bar DeVille (Photo: Bar DeVille)

This is fantastic.

The Grand Chefs Gala, now in its 14th year, is changing the event up a bit with an Emerald City theme and after-party featuring some of the city's most celebrated bar stars.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Chefs Wager on Bears vs. Packers Game

Inovasi chef/owner John des Rosiers (left) and Phillip Foss of the Meatyballs Mobile.

And so it begins . . .

Look for everyone under the sun making wagers on the Bears vs. Packers NFC Championship Game going down Jan. 23.

Two Chicago-area chefs are also getting in on the action, and thank your lucky stars you'll be able to benefit no matter the outcome.

Yet Another Chef Breaks Out On His Own

(Photo: Mark Steuer)

The Gage's executive sous chef Mark Steuer just gave notice so he can finally dedicate time to working on his own venture.

Then he gloriously followed that up with an announcement of his forthcoming project: The Bedford.

In December, he exclusively told 312DD that he's settled on an underutilized space in the Wicker Park/Ukrainian Village area. And while he wouldn't disclose the concept, we have a pretty good idea he'll take a page or two from his current employer at The Gage as well as Hot Chocolate—where he served as chef de cuisine for a few years.

We'll keep you posted . . .

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Happy Birthday, Dr. King!


Dr. King would have been 82 today. He would have also been proud to see us getting along and taking care of one other.

Here's a chance to give back to those less fortunate, with the great civil rights leader in mind:

Feeding America: Provides food for more than 37 million U.S. citizens a year.

Heifer International: Help others get the livestock and other sustainable products they need in order to survive.

Meals on Wheels: Provides home-delivered meals to the disabled and seniors.

Share Our Strength: Proceeds from its Taste of the Nation benefits—last year featuring 3,000 chefs in 50 cities—go to local organizations that serve the 12 million American children who need food pantries and other forms of assistance to obtain the nutrition they require.

Vital Bridges: For more than 20 years, the organization has helped men, women and children impacted by HIV and AIDS.

Friday, January 14, 2011

The BYOBandits Are Pretty Damn Funny

(Photo: BYOBandits)

Sam and Owen, the masked bloggers behind BYOBandits, have my vote when it comes to originality on reviewing Chicago's restaurants.

Their take on the city's burgeoning BYOB dining scene is a refreshing escape from some of the stuffy, self-important reviewers you'll find on other sites.

Just a few of their best bits:

Freebies . . . on Friday . . .

The Aviator cocktail is free tonight only at Bernard's at the Elysian. (Photo via The Best American Poetry)

Low on cash, but got an appetite for the good life?! Every Friday, 312DD features the best bargain bets around town:

Bernard's: You'll get one free classic Aviator cocktail if you mention the names Levi or Erin at the Elysian's sexy mezzanine-level lounge. The deal is good for tonight only.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

'Red Cooler Tamale Guy' is on Twitter!

(Photo via ifood tv)

There's a feeding frenzy with foodies following food trucks in town selling everything from meatball sandwiches to cupcakes to mac 'n' cheese.

But some of us are so lazy that we'd rather have the good eats come straight to us. Literally. Like that one late, late night last December when we were sitting around at Bar DeVille.

Chicago Gets Sneak Peek of David Burke's Kitchen!

David Burke (Photo: David Burke Townhouse)

So, this is very cool.

For once, Chicagoans get an edge over New Yorkers as celeb chef David Burke gives us a sneak preview of his latest project that's opening in SoHo on Feb. 1.

Those dining at David Burke's Primehouse on Jan. 21 get first tastes of some of the dishes set to appear on the menu at David Burke's Kitchen, located in the James New York hotel.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Whiskey Bar To Soon Serve Up Deejays?!

Whiskey Bar & Grill on Rush Street. (Photo: Whiskey Bar & Grill)

From one of my Gold Coast-based Ultimate Insiders:

"You have your fingers on the pulse of everything (Gosh, I absolutely adore this person!).

"I received a letter from Whiskey Bar, which is of course right across the street from our apt., asking for our support in their quest for a DJ permit/license. They said they would not charge a cover or install a dance floor and are going to respect the neighborhood.

"We haven't received the notice from (Ald.) Brendan Reilly to voice our opinions at a hearing, but the letter indicated that when the hearing does happen, they hope they have our support."

It'll be interesting to see what happens here, seeing how there are very few similar options in the immediate area . . .

The Best Tables in Town on Valentine's Day

Sepia's semi-private Table 70 is one of the city's most romantic spots in town. (Photo: Urban Daddy)

When it comes to Valentine's Day, you've done diamonds to death. Sent more roses to last your significant other a lifetime.

And, of course, you've hit damn near every romantic spot in the city, so how could you possibly outdo yourself on the most romantic night of the year?!

The Baker and the Bartender

Caroline Hamilton and Tony Galzin of MK (Photo courtesy of Caroline Hamilton)

Just wanted to toss out a warm congrats to MK's talented pastry chef Tony Galzin and bartender Caroline Hamilton, who got engaged on Christmas Eve at her home.

They met at the longtime contemporary American River North restaurant where he cranks out artistic sweets that actually pair well with her delicious, hand-crafted cocktails.

"It was a huge surprise, (and) neither one of our families knew, so it was super fun to surprise them when we went to his aunt's house to see everyone Christmas morning," says Hamilton. "He was going to do it Christmas morning, but said he got too excited (to wait)!"

So happy for them!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Special Zealous Menu Inspired By Spain

Zealous Owner/Executive Chef Michael Taus and wife Annette on their recent trip to Barcelona. (Photos: Michael Taus)

Ever since I saw Vicky Cristina Barcelona (starring Javier Bardem, Penélope Cruz, Scarlett Johansson and Rebecca Hall), I've been obsessed with traveling to Spain.

The wine, the cuisine, the culture and the passion of those beautiful people are simply breathtaking and one day I'll get there.

In the meantime, I'll just live vicariously through Zealous owner/executive chef Michael Taus, who just returned to Chicago after an eight-day trip to Barcelona.

'Chicago Restaurant Week' On Its Way!

Prairie Fire's slow-braised Tallgrass beef barbecue brisket. (Photo: Ron Kaplan)

You can only dine at so many restaurants a year—mostly because you only have so many $$$ to dine out.

That's why you should thank your lucky stars for the annual Chicago Restaurant Week, which allows you to choose from at least 200 restaurants that may be out of your price range on the regular.

From Feb. 18-27, the 10-day event features special prix-fixe menus of $22 for lunch and $33-$44 for dinner. Here's a list of all participating restaurants, but you'll also find a handful of newcomers to the scene:

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Would You Stand In The Cold For This?!

The Southern Mac Truck's Lobster Cheddar Mac 'n' Cheese (Photo: The Southern)

Cary Taylor, executive chef of The Southern, is the latest to roll out with his own food truck.

Expected to debut by month's end, the Southern Mac Truck will serve nothing but mac 'n' cheese and we're perfectly fine with that action.

Blue 13 Chef Takes Over Elate Menu

Blue 13's Chris Curren will consult on Elate's menu. (Photo: Blue 13)

A cool little tidbit dropped in my inbox over the weekend regarding Blue 13's executive chef Chris Curren.

Apparently, the notorious rock-inspired toque is taking over the menu at Elate in the Hotel Felix in River North.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Martial Noguier's Q&A On Bistronomic

(Photo: via Time Out)

Chicago mag's Dish snagged an interview with Martial Noguier and his new gig at Bistronomic—the new casual focused French eatery 312DD told you about Wednesday night.

The highlights:

Keep Your Fingers Crossed For This Bar Star

Roscoe Tavern bartender Shawn Hazen (right) is the Illinois winner for the Woodford Reserve/Esquire Manhattan Experience Finals. (Photo: Woodford Reserve)

Manhattans have made a triumphant comeback and no one's more excited than Woodford Reserve bourbon and Esquire.

That's why they teamed up last fall to conduct the second-annual Manhattan Experience contest nationwide to search for the ultimate cocktail.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Martial Noguier is Bistronomic's New Chef

(Photo: via Time Out)

Former Cafe des Architectes Executive Chef Martial Noguier didn't travel far to snag his next gig.

In fact, it's literally half a block away from the Sofitel, where he oversaw the kitchen for a couple of years.

According to an Ultimate Insider, Eve—which served its last meal Jan. 2—has already been renamed Bistronomic with Noguier as its executive chef.

In With A Bang . . .

Chef James Toland of The Black Sheep. (Photo: Lorenzo Tassone)

In less than one year, we've seen the likes of The Purple Pig, Girl & The Goat and Longman & Eagle soar to great heights during a tumultuous time for dining out.

What all of these spots have in common—in addition to kick-ass chefs and restaurant names paying homage to animals—is that they're dedicated to local and sustainable ingredients. True, there's a lot of that going around in the city, but The Purple Pig's Jimmy Bannos Jr., GATG's Stephanie Izard and L&E's Jared Wentworth have taken their menus far beyond trends and onto every critic's hot list.

James Toland hopes to be added to the hot list when his West Town eatery, The Black Sheep, opens in March.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Yours At David Burke's For $15.50?!


If you've been pinching your pennies since the holidays ended, you'll appreciate the limited-time, ShakenSTEAK deal at David Burke's Primehouse.

For $15.50, you'll get an eight-ounce filet, side dish, and shaken vodka or gin martini. Ummmmm, yum. You'll also get free valet Mondays and Tuesdays during lunch and dinner.

The offer's available 11am-3pm Jan. 10-14 and 17-21. It's guaranteed to fill up quickly, so if you're a steak lover make a reso ASAP.

Aussie Chefs Gearing Up For 'Aussie Week'

Craig Hopson of NYC's Le Cirque (left) and Frank Brunacci of Sixteen. (Photos: Le Cirque, 312DD)

Let's just pretend for one fabulous moment that we're in Australia. It's summertime there right now, you know?!

And since we cannot get away anytime soon, thank God the folks at the Trump Hotel are bringing it straight to us with the third-annual Australia Week.

The six-day event—kicking off Jan. 21 and culminating on what is officially known as Australia Day (Jan. 26)—is spearheaded by Sixteen Executive Chef Frank Brunacci, who just happens to be a native of Melbourne.

What's new this year is that he's gotten Craig Hopson of the acclaimed NYC resto Le Cirque to participate in the multi-course, opening-night dinner. Hopson, who's originally from Perth, Australia, worked as Brunacci's sous chef at the now-shuttered Victor's in New Orleans.

Le Passage Closes After 12 Years

(Photo: via Planet 99)

So. We've got even more closings to report.

Perhaps the recent reunion for Le Passage happened because someone knew it was closing soon.

After 12 years, its current owners (who also own The Drawing Room, Cans, EvilOlive, Salud) have decided to transform it into Privét, which they're calling "a private, upscale nightclub inspired by old-world royalty."

There is no guest list or RSVP. Entry is based on the networks of staff and management. The Drawing Room, which is adjacent to the space, remains open and has not been affected by the changes.

Privét opens to the public Jan. 14.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Eve, Adobo Grill Wicker Park Now Closed

(Photo: via Yelp)

Well, this bites.

Adobo Grill in Wicker Park served its last meal Saturday, according to a staffer.

The landlord has decided to take over the space to open his own restaurant later this year, she said.

January is National Soup Month

Rustic Red Kale and White Bean Soup (Photo: via

I'm hoping the guys behind Imagine Festivals will be able to pull off the first-ever Chowdah Fest Chicago happening at the Columbia Yacht Club later this month.

The event culminates National Soup Month by showcasing some of Chicago's best chefs as they compete to determine who makes the best chowder. Thus far, Bassim Zafar (Drake Hotel), Jonathan Lane (Benny's Chop House) and Giuseppe Tentori (Boka, GT Fish & Oyster) have been confirmed, but in order to keep on top of who else is participating, follow the organizers here.

Attendees get to sample and vote on the best chowders, plus a nice selection of bisques will be available. The event happens 6:30-9pm Jan. 31 and the $35 tickets benefit the Sea Scouts youth sailing program. You can get them here.

More soup for you to celebrate National Soup Month:

Doughnut Vault Set To Open Soon . . .

Maple Bacon-infused donuts from Glazed. (Photo: Glazed Donuts Catering)

Glazed is officially gone for good, but there's no need to shed a tear if you're looking for hoity-toity sweet treats.

Just got word restaurateur Brendan Sodikoff (Gilt Bar/Maude's Liquor Bar) is set to open Doughnut Vault in River North by month's end.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Achatz Gets Props From Anthony Bourdain


Grant Achatz's second restaurant, Next, is set to open this winter and you'd better believe we're all excited.

Even No Reservations star Anthony Bourdain is looking forward to it as he gushed on Twitter Sunday:

"I have to say, I'm extremely excited by @gachatz mention of antique duck press. And everything else I'm hearing about Next."

It won't be hard to figure out where he's going on his next Chicago trip!