Friday, April 29, 2011

Blackbird Chef Hosts 'Shift Drinks'

Donnie Madia, David Posey and Paul Kahan of Blackbird. (Photo: Blackbird)

David Posey, the chef de cuisine at Blackbird, guest bartends May 2 at industry fave Shift Drinks at Watershed.

This is the first time the talented toque's taking part in the monthly affair and we're excited about his concoction. He's apparently cold smoking North Shore #11 Gin over Applewood for his Smoked Negroni. Woot?!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Brunch Service Launches at Davanti Enoteca

Truffle Egg Toast with fontina and asparagus is on Davanti Enoteca's new brunch menu. (Photo: 312 Dining Diva)

Oh Lordy.

If you thought it was hard before to get in at Davanti Enoteca, just wait until brunch starts this weekend.

Don't Be Surprised If You Run Into . . .


. . . Lady Gaga this weekend.

The mega pop star checked into a luxe Gold Coast hotel Thursday, and according to my Ultimate Insider, "She is occupying a full floor with her team and she has two suites (one for her and one for her clothes)." She's in town to tape the Oprah show Friday.

Dinner's On Us For Two at Perennial Virant!

Paul Virant photo via Chicago Reader

Hey there.

I'm feeling pretty generous today.

So guess what?!

I've got dinner for two at one of the preview dinners at Perennial Virant, which opens in mid May.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Mindy Segal Was A Punk/Goth Girl

Hot Chocolate's Mindy Segal grew up on Chicago's North Shore. (Photo: Mindy Segal)

As a local hometown girl, it always makes me especially proud to see other locally grown folks make it to the big time.

So I was pretty happy to check out Time Out's latest story featuring Chicago's own R.J. & Jerrod Melman (Hub 51/Paris Club), Doug Sohn (Hot Doug's) and Mindy Segal (Hot Chocolate).

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Join in on the Wedding Festivities . . .


. . . at a number of local spots hosting viewing parties, fashion shows, traditional/contemporary tea and more in honor of Will & Kate:

Blokes & Birds: They had me at Pimm's Cups, which the Lakeview lounge will be offering for $6 during a post-wedding viewing party if you don't get up at the crack of dawn to turn on the tube. Televisions will be tuned in all over the bar, and you'll also get comped cucumber sandwiches, half-pints of Wells Bombardier for $3, and all-you-can-eat fish & chips for $10. 5pm-2am Friday.

Chalkboard: You can stay in the spirit all weekend long at the North Center resto's brand new afternoon tea service. It includes a personal pot of tea, finger sandwiches, pastries, and scones with Devonshire cream and organic fruit spread. $19 (add $8 for sparkling wine; $15 for Champagne). Saturdays, Sundays 2-4pm.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Wanna Skip The Line At Doughnut Vault?!

Doughnut Vault's chocolate glazed. (Photo: Doughnut Vault)

If you're like me and waited on a cold and blustery day for an hour and still left empty handed at Doughnut Vault, definitely keep reading:

Introducing The 'SkinnyTattooedBoy Margarita'

Mixologist Daniel de Oliveira (Photo: Daniel de Oliveira)

You know, I was a big, big fan of Bethenny Frankel's lo-cal SkinnyGirl Margarita until I recently found a local, underground version that's made of all fresh ingredients.

Chicago mixologist Daniel de Oliveira came up with his SkinnyTattooedBoy Margarita that's a bit more badass than the original concoction.

Urban Belly Alum Needs Your Help!

Midnight Moxie members Sarah Chang (from left), Meg O'Reilly and Nia O'Reilly Amandes (Photo: Midnight Moxie)

Former Urban Belly/Belly Shack Chef Sarah Chang and fellow members of contempo doo-wop group Midnight Moxie are only about $1,500 short of seeing their dream realized.

You see, they need exactly $3,500 to finish their first album, Don't Stop, and their "customer service employee/teacher/self-employed chef paychecks" are not getting them there. So if 13-year-old Rebecca Black could manage to get support for that ridiculous Friday song, there's no reason why these girls shouldn't get their wish fulfilled. And they're actually talented.

Dinner Pays Tribute To 'Women of Rock'

Blue 13 includes Chicago's own Liz Phair during "Women of Rock" dinner.

Peek your head inside any restaurant kitchen around town, and you'll be surprised to discover that what they're listening to is far more interesting than what we're hearing out in the dining room.

That's what inspired Blue 13 executive chef/owner Chris Curren to launch the Rock 'n' Roll Dinner Series in 2009. The five-course dinners are inspired by a band or theme, and each dish takes its cue from a designated song from the playlist.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

April Showers Bring On Perennial’s Powers

Paul Virant photo via Chicago Sun-Times.

Perennial Virant—with chef Paul Virant at the helm—is set to open in mid-May.

Eater's got a sneak preview of what to expect as far as the interior, and we've got the opening menu for you to peruse.

You'll love the fact that there's a $35 seasonal, three-course prix-fixe menu, plus 15 shareable plates ranging $8-$27.

It Totally Pays To Be A Firefighter!


The staff over at Grant Achatz's glorious new Next have likely heard just about every story imaginable from the more than 21,000 people trying to get reservations at the West Loop hot spot.

But we're betting they had no idea they'd get this one:

Monday, April 18, 2011

Spring Into Best Chef-Driven Brunches

Sprout's Dale Levitski has his own version of the Croque Madame on the brunch menu. (Photo: Sprout)

Still trying to decide on brunch plans for Easter or Mother's Day?!

These chef-driven brunches from the likes of Sable Kitchen & Bar's Heather Terhune, Table Fifty-Two's Art Smith and Sprout's Dale Levitski should certainly satisfy.

See the rest of my favorite picks on WCIU-TV's You & Me This Morning, and make your reservations before they sell out!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Green Zebra's Anniversary Deals . . .

(Photo: Green Zebra)

We're pretty excited about this one because West Town's veggie sensation, Green Zebra, can be on the expensive side.

But until the end of the month (Sunday through Thursday only)—to celebrate its seventh anniversary—the upscale restaurant is doing a bunch of $7 food and drink specials.

Here's what you will get:

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Who's Your Favorite Bartender?!

Head Bartender Mike Ryan of Kimpton's Sable Kitchen & Bar. (Photo: Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants)

Not certain where you'll be drinking this weekend?!

I conducted an informal Twitter poll, asking folks who they prefer to visit behind the bar when they're in the mood for a Manhattan or shot of Maker's.

Here's what I got:

On Being 'The Hottest Game In Town'

Kevin Boehm of the Boka Restaurant Group. (Photo: taken from Boehm's Facebook page)

In 2011 alone, Kevin Boehm (one half of the fabulous Boka Restaurant Group boys with Rob Katz) has gotten accolade upon accolade for his various culinary projects.

From Stephanie Izard's Beard nom for Girl & The Goat to snagging the Rising Star Restaurateur Award from StarChefs, the praises just keep on coming.

And with Perennial Virant set to open in May and Little Goat arriving in the autumn, we don't see this train stopping any time soon.

But Boehm says, despite the success, he won't let it go to his head:

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Chef Wants Recognition Beyond 'Burbs

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

It doesn't matter that he's a culinary star in the suburbs, Inovasi chef/owner John des Rosiers wants also props from Chicago and national food media.

His Lake Bluff resto, which celebrates two years in June, packs in a well-heeled, food-loving crowd several nights a week, but he's hungry for recognition from city folk.

His blog, The Thought, is usually pretty controversial, taking on such issues as molecular gastronomy and the antics of fellow colleagues such as Graham Elliot.

But this time, des Rosiers chose to take a more subtle approach as he basically wrote an open letter to media:

Obama Will Dine At MK Thursday


Just got the official word that Prez Obama will be dining at MK Thursday when he's in town.

To prepare for his feast, chef/owner Michael Kornick and exec chef Erick Williams have created a menu that's certain to be memorable:

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Michael Carlson Broke His Leg

Photo via the Chicago Tribune

I got a tip Monday that Schwa was shuttered over the weekend.

When we asked the publicist, no real response was given for why it was closed, but late Tuesday night it was discovered that eccentric executive chef/owner Michael Carlson had broken his leg.

We wish him a speedy recovery!

UPDATE: The guys over at AV Club Chicago tell 312DD: "Got a call from Schwa confirming reservations for tomorrow, so they seem to be open while Carlson recovers."

Awesome news!

'Top Chef' Star on Girl & The Goat

(Photo: Courtesy of Antonio Busiello)

Former Top Chef and Top Chef All Star fan favorite Fabio Viviani was in Chicago Tuesday and had dinner at Girl & The Goat.

His "review" on his experience at the West Loop's hottest resto is the most unique to date:

Does Doughnut Vault Live Up To Its Hype?!

Doughnut Vault's chocolate glazed doughnuts. (Photo: Doughnut Vault)

Tuesday I brought a bunch of the specialty, gourmet goodies from brand-new Doughnut Vault to the set of WCIU-TV's You & Me This Morning.

Apparently, these are no ordinary doughnuts as customers have been waiting in line by the hundreds to get their hands on them since the spot first opened last week.

Watch what happens right here when hosts Jeanne Sparrow and Melissa Forman get their first taste of what everyone's clamoring over.

Find out also other hot spots for gourmet doughnuts, including Longman & Eagle and Nightwood.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

'Top Chef Master' Star Heads To Chicago


Jonathan Waxman was the most colorful character on last season's Top Chef Masters, and now he's bringing his charm to the 312.

The head chef/owner of NYC's super successful Barbuto will be in town Thursday to promote his new cookbook, Italian, My Way (Simon & Schuster, $32).

What's cool is that the event happens at Terzo Piano, owned by Tony Mantuano, Waxman's former competitor on Top Chef Masters.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Win A Free Preview Dinner at The Bedford

One of these passes may be your "key" to get invited to one of The Bedford's preview dinner parties. (Photo: The Bedford)

Wanna be one of the first people to check out what's certain to be the hottest restaurant to open in West Town this year?!

The Bedford's Executive Chef Mark Steuer (The Gage, Hot Chocolate) and beverage director Peter Gugni (Le Passage, Cantina) have given out hundreds of passes around town that are your "key" to get in.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Is 33 Club On Its Last Legs Or What?!

(Photo: 33 Club)

Chicago magazine dropped a bombshell Wednesday afternoon and didn't even realize it.

In its weekly Dish column, dining editor Penny Pollock mentioned the return of Mama Milano's at 1419 N. Wells St.

Well, apparently that is the exact address for 33 Club.

Industry Comes Out Strong For Its Own

A benefit to pay for former Kith & Kin chef Derek Crumpton's expenses is set for Monday. (Photo: Derek Crumpton)

On Monday, the restaurant community came out strong at Blue 13 to support former Paramount Room beverage director Shawn Koch. He's suffering from brain cancer and the Koch Preservation Foundation raised $14,000 in one night to pay for his medical bills.

The staff at Kith & Kin is aiming for similar success with a benefit for its former chef Derek Crumpton.

Local Bar Stars Head To DonQ Finals!

Josh Pearson of Sepia; Lynn House of Blackbird.

Two local drinks darlings are heading to the DonQ Finals, a pretty big deal bartender competition taking place in New York in May.

Blackbird's Lynn House and Sepia's Josh Pearson won in their categories, Fruit Forward, Long Drink and Fancy Spirited Cocktail, respectively.

Here are the winning recipes:

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

This Is HER Year!

(Photo: Stephanie Izard)

Girl & The Goat chef/partner Stephanie Izard adds yet another prestigious title to her shelf.

She tweeted Tuesday:

"I think the secret is out... off to early morning photo shoot for Food & Wine Best New Chef!! Woooooohooo! Super excited!"

What an honor! Congrats, Stephanie!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Reigning 'Top Chef' on Grant Achatz


Richard Blais, red hot following his big win on Top Chef All Stars last week, had this to say about Chicago's own Grant Achatz:

"(He) intrigues me as a chef and human."

Nice. Achatz's second restaurant, Next, is set to open Wednesday.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Foodie, Fashionista Frenzy at GT Fish & Oyster

Gnocchi with Black Squid Ink, Carrot Lobster Broth, Prawns and Fava Beans at GT Fish & Oyster (Photo via Krebs' Foodspotting page)

Made it to GT Fish & Oyster on its second day of business Friday around 6:30pm. According to staffers, when they opened at 4:30, there had been people waiting anxiously outside since 4pm. When we arrived we could barely squeeze past the hungry, stylish crowd at the hostess stand.

And now we know why.

One of my dining companions, Krebs, who's completely obsessed with Foodspotting, documented everything we inhaled that night.

Go Where The Insiders Go . . .

Dante LoPresti hosts "Tippling Tuesdays" at Double A. (Photo: Double A)

Shift Drinks. Tippling Tuesdays. And Book Club.

This week's a particularly busy one for Chicago's bar and restaurant industry insiders.

Here's where to go if you want to be down . . .