Tuesday, May 31, 2011

I Scream, You Scream . . .


The heat's on and you need to cool off.

If you're not down with the rolling street carts and old-school ice cream trucks, here are some gourmet options you will love:

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Billy Dec Stiffs Sunda Servers of $1,000 Tip

Restaurateur and nightlife impresario Billy Dec (Rockit Ranch Productions)

I couldn't believe this story when I first heard it, but apparently it's managed to be kept under wraps for a couple of weeks.

An Ultimate Insider tells 312DD that nightlife/restaurant impresario Billy Dec (Rockit Bar & Grill, Sunda, Underground) stiffed two Sunda servers of a $1,000 tip the entire Blackhawks' team wanted to give them. The worst part of this story?! They are both single mothers.

'Top Chef' Host Hints of Next Season in Chicago!


Tom Colicchio of Top Chef fame was in Chicago over the weekend for the National Restaurant Association Show, and hinted to Yum Sugar that Season 9 might possibly take place in Chicago again.

That would be freaking fabulous, especially since you know there would be cameo appearances by Stephanie Izard (Girl & The Goat) and Dale Levitski (Sprout).

And if they need a guest judge, ahem, 312DD's available . . .

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Firefighter's Winning Meatballs to be Featured on Rosebud's Menu


Meatball lovers united Sunday at Rosebud on Taylor to cheer on eight amateur chefs who made it to the finals of the annual Do You Have The Meatballs? contest.

But it was firefighter Bill Anaszewicz who blew the competition away with his baked meatballs of ground beef, pork and veal. He told 312DD that he used his fellow firefighters as guinea pigs for three weeks, testing out various recipes until he perfected a winning formula the night before the finale.

As the grand prize winner, Anaszewicz will be treated to a luxurious trip to Wine Country for two, plus his meatballs will appear on Rosebud on Rush's menu all next week.

Check out the Gold Coast institution next week, or you can also make them at home because we've got the recipe!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Drawing Room Makes Esquire's Best 'New' Bars List

(Photo: The Drawing Room)

The Drawing Room opened fall 2007.

Yet that didn't stop Esquire's spirits writer David Wondrich from including it as the only Chicago venue on its sixth-annual survey of favorite NEW places to drink.

Wondrich gushes over DR, saying "The bar itself is small and distinguished not by clever lighting or fancy architecture but by the humble metal rack holding dozens of bar tools—again, functional, not fancy. In this, it merely reflects the demeanor of Charles Joly, the bar's presiding genius (as they used to say)—unassuming, hardworking, and smart."

Well put, and well deserved for all at the establishment, but a new bar Drawing Room is not.

Eight additional local watering holes made the cut for the Best Bars in America 2011 list:

Why Did Kith & Kin Close?!

Kith & Kin Executive Chef Andrew Brochu (Photo via StarChefs.com)

The details are sketchy right now, but I just got confirmation that Kith & Kin is closed. This comes as a shock, considering the fact that Executive Chef Andrew Brochu snagged an award for Best Neighborhood Restaurant at the Jean Banchet ceremony in January.

I spoke to an employee this afternoon, and he said that he found out at 2pm Tuesday, but not from the owners. He was called by another employee. He added that there was a private event on Monday, so the last day of business was Sunday.

Monday, May 23, 2011

A Bulls-Themed, 3-Foot Long Pizza

"Bring on the Heat" al metro pizza at Dough Boys. (Photo: Dough Boys)

Maybe, just maybe, this will be the motivation the Bulls need to win the fourth game Tuesday.

Dough Boys just introduced a Bring on the Heat pizza special for its signature, three-foot-long al metro.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Dante LoPresti is 'The Star of the Bar!'

Dante LoPresti is the mixologist at Double A. (Photo: Jay Schroeder)

The Bulls effing lost again.

But that's OK because another Chicago hot shot made us proud Sunday during the National Restaurant Association Show's annual Star of the Bar competition.

Double A's fantastic mixologist Dante LoPresti won $5,000 for his Pink Lion cocktail, which contains Cazadores Blanco, Hum liqueur, Elderflower Lillet Blanc and fresh lemon.

I've had it at the bar and can assure you that it's one helluva concoction.

Congrats, Dante!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Your Best Hangover 'Cures' Are Right Here


You guys are CRAZY . . . when it comes to curing hangovers.

When I kicked off The Hangover Part II contest Monday, I had no idea I'd get a couple hundred recipes and remedies for hangovers almost immediately.

And some of them were so bizarre and out there that they made my head spin. I mean, I've never heard of whipping up Pedialyte & Red Bull together, but The Beer Bistro's Bob McDermott "swears by it."

I also received submissions like "rub a slice of lemon or lime in the armpit of (your) drinking arm before you start drinking to stop a hangover before it starts," drink "pickle juice straight out of the jar," and ummmm, quite a few calls for getting busy in the boudoir.

But it wasn't too hard to pick the Top Six winners (yeah, we decided to toss in another pair of tix!), who will all get advance screening passes to check out "The Hangover Part II" on Monday. The grand prize winner also gets a $30 gift card for Epic Burger. Yum.

Lynn House Hits Up ABC-7's 'Windy City Live'

Lynn House (left) with fellow local mixologists Carlos Enrique Cuarta and Debbi Peek. (Photo: Lynn House)

ABC-7's new Windy City Live show debuts next Thursday at 9am, but we're way more excited about Friday's show when one of our favorite people in the world is scheduled to appear.

Blackbird's head mixologist Lynn House will be on doing what she does best: making cocktails.

Haute Pastries in the 'Hood . . .


West Town's Leopold just snapped up one haute pastry chef in Erin Mooney, who was most recently at Atlanta's Dining Room (Ritz-Carlton) as well as BLT Steak.

And before she hit Hotlanta, the Jean Banchet Rising Star Pastry Chef winner (2003) was at Green Zebra and the now-shuttered Spring.

At Leopold, she'll serve as sous chef, but we're certain she'll be tinkering around with the desserts too!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Bad-Ass Butchering Skills . . .

(Photo: The Bristol)

Here's The Bristol's carnivore crazed chef Chris Pandel breaking down a Slagel Farm goat.

I'm certain he'll have some fantastic specials on the menu this weekend . . .

Bon V Liquor License Reinstated

(Photo: Bon V)

West Loop nightclub Bon V got its liquor license revoked Monday, but it was reinstated late Thursday afternoon, according to state officials.

"A representative from Bon V came to the downtown office and paid a substantial amount of money to get their license back for at least 30 days," said my source.

That means the spot will be back in business just in time for the weekend.

Food & Wine's Essential Cocktail Guide


It came in the mail today.

Food & Wine's awesome and indispensable little cocktail party guide spotlighting the country's top culinary and cocktail kings and queens.

And you know we wouldn't even be gushing about this if it didn't include Chicago's stars of the highest order. In the Party Food section, you'll find a recipe for Chickpea Fritters with Tapenade from Girl & The Goat's Stephanie Izard. Apparently she eats cooked chickpeas straight from the can.

Next Now Offers Late-Night Reservations; Plus New Schwa Reso System?!

(Photo: Next)

This right here is great news for all you late-night dining fans:

Grant Achatz and Next just announced that beginning Thursday they've got 54 late-night resos available. The 10:15pm tables are on offer until the end of June (or maybe if it takes off, they'll continue through the summer!).

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Who Doesn't Love A Good Lobster Boil?!

A New England-style lobster boil. (Photo via Carla's Tasty Treats)

As summer finally creeps its way back into our lives, there's one awesome occasion we can look forward to: the lobster boil.

You may be lucky enough to have generous friends who invite you over for such fabulous fetes, but in case you don't, we've got you covered.

Several places around town are going out of their way to make sure you don't miss out on the action like Tripoli Tap Tavern in Lincoln Park. This seventh-annual lobster boil (and clam bake!) goes down Memorial Day weekend 3pm-until May 29.

Oprah Lunches at Table Fifty-Two

There's Oprah (in teal sweater) surrounded by adoring fans, as usual, Wednesday afternoon. (Photos: Amy Halik)

I sure do hope Oprah didn't expect to enjoy a quiet lunch Wednesday at Table Fifty-Two following her star-studded farewell show at the United Center and equally celeb-packed party at the Four Seasons Tuesday night.

Oprah's All-Star Wrap Party Was 'Top Secret'


First, I was told RL (likely because of all the autograph seekers lingering around the area). Then it was the West Loop's Tasting Room, which actually made sense seeing as though it was only a few minutes away from the United Center. Someone also told me Paris Club was where Oprah was going to throw one last fabulous bash with her celebrity friends late Tuesday night.

But it was actually The Four Seasons, and, of course, the guest list did not disappoint.

My Ultimate Insider, who was at the party, said A-List sightings included the likes of Jerry Seinfeld, Kelsey Grammer, Michael Jordan, Alicia Keys, Lisa Ling and Tom Hanks. And because celebrities on this level need an all-star lineup when it comes to who's actually making their cocktails, the Four Seasons pulled out all stops.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Why Did Bon V's Liquor License Get Revoked?!

(Photo: Bon V)

Just a few weeks ago, hip-hop/movie star Common held a party here. And, as everyone knows, Casey Urlacher (brother of Bears star linebacker Brian Urlacher), is one of the owners.

So what exactly happened to Bon V for it to lose its liquor license Monday?!

Who Makes The Best Meatballs in Chicago?!

Homemade meatballs from a friend's generations-old recipe. (Photo: Freddy Love)

You'll get the answer to that question, plus get your fill of meatballs all day at the second-annual Do You Have the Meatballs? event at the original Rosebud in Little Italy.

The festival is free and in addition to live music and tastings of Rosebud's signature Mama's Meatballs, you'll get to watch the judging of some of the city's top meatballs made by amateurs.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Is Dirty Betty's The Next Doughnut Vault?!

Some of the yummy goodness expected at Dirty Betty's when it "pops up" in Lincoln Park. (Photo: Dirty Betty's)

Looks like Doughnut Vault is getting some competition as Lincoln Park's Cookie Bar jumps into the doughnut-making biz.

And what's awesome about this grand little operation—that'll be known as Dirty Betty's—is that they'll be making 10 daily flavors of artisan doughnuts. The "pop up" store is set to open Wednesday, and hours will be 7-10am Monday-Friday and 10am-10pm Saturdays.

What's Your Fave 'Hangover' Cure?!

Your best "hangover cure" recipe could win you advance screening tickets to "The Hangover Part II" as well as food for two at Epic Burger. (Photo: Epic Burger)

We've all been there.

One too many the night before could easily put us out of commission for hours and hours. But who has time to lie around all day when you need to be productive?!

So 312DD is looking for your very best cure for a hangover. We're looking for your tried-and-true recipe (think comfort food!) that should get even the most overindulgent revelers back on their feet.

And what do you get in return?

33 Club Has Closed in Old Town

(Photo: 33 Club)

Turns out that tip I received about 33 Club's eventual closing happened sooner than expected.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Rodman Celebrates Bday, Bulls Player Misbehaves at Aviary

Dennis Rodman celebrates his 50th birthday at Stanley's Sunday. (Photo: Michael Jurecki)

How did former Bulls star Dennis Rodman spend his 50th birthday?!

As part of the weekend celebration (His actual bday was May 13), he took in the Bulls/Heat game at United Center Sunday, then kicked it to the stage of Stanley's for live band karaoke.

Tom Colicchio Hosts First-Ever NRA Bash


Here's your chance to schmooze with the one and only Tom Colicchio—head judge of Bravo's Top Chef reality show.

He's set to host the National Restaurant Association's first-ever Restaurants Rock party, happening 9pm-midnight May 22 at LaSalle Power Co.

We're especially excited about this event because the Star of the Bar finale takes place, when some of the country's top bartenders square off against one another with their signature cocktails.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Will Aisha Tyler Get Her Wish?!


Stayed at home Thursday morning to catch hottie actress/comedian Aisha Tyler on WCIU-TV's You & Me This Morning (I will be on the set live Friday at 7am to talk about Mayor Daley's favorite Chicago restos!).

She was funny as always, but my ears particularly perked up when she was asked by hosts Jeanne Sparrow and Melissa Forman about her favorite Chicago restaurants.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Another Server Outs A 'Bad Tipper'


Remember the infamous "two cents" tipper from earlier this year?!

Well, now he's got some competition. A server at Wrigleyville's Red Ivy tweeted this photo Wednesday from yet another cheap ass tipping her $0.99 on a $12 bill.

Is this some sort of trend or something?

'Flavor Tripping:' 100% Sugar-Free Cocktails

Homaro Cantu's ING restaurant is poised to bring us 100 percent sugar-free Manhattans and more this summer.

There's nothing better than sipping sexy cocktails alfresco on a Chicago summer day. But all that daydrinking—and nightdrinking—can go straight to your hips, ass and thighs (I call it the HAT area) and that's the last thing you want.

But ING chef/owner Homaro Cantu believes he's found a solution to your worries with what he's calling the "world's only 'Flavor Tripping' cocktail menu." Will this scientific method, all the cocktails will be 100 percent sugar free.

How will this happen?!

May Is Mighty Nice For Munching

Mity Nice's "Hangover Burger" is available on Sundays only through May. (Photo: Mity Nice)

Look, we're all supposed to be getting it together before skimpy-wear season is here for the next three months, but there are soooo many damn temptations.

Case in point is over at Mity Nice, on the mezzanine of Water Tower Place, which is offering The Hangover Burger every Sunday in May as part of its Burger Month promotion.

You might need to share this one with a friend as it's a plumped up beef patty between two bacon grilled cheese sandwiches. Yes, you heard that right. Add a Bloody Mary and it's $21.

You can score one at lunch or dinner Sundays only in May.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Warm Weather Is Finally Here . . .


. . . so why not celebrate with a nice refreshing cocktail?!

I've rounded up some delicious drinks on Dining Chicago you can enjoy alfresco on your deck or at some wonderful places around town, including Hubbard Inn, Lula Cafe and Market.

Get out and about!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Chicago Gets Smacked Down at Beard!


"Thanks to the James Beard Foundation for recognizing mac 'n cheese and fried chicken," said Alex Young, the chef/owner of Zingerman's Roadhouse in Ann Arbor, Mich.

Young seemed as shocked as everyone else when his name was called at the annual awards in culinary excellence Monday in New York, especially seeing as he was up against an entire Chicagoland contingent in his category of Best Chef: Great Lakes.

You likely won't find "mac 'n' cheese and fried chicken" on the menus at Avenues, where Curtis Duffy helms the kitchen; Paul Virant's Vie, Michael Carlson's Schwa or at Bruce Sherman's North Pond, but I guess Beard wasn't looking for anything innovative this year. Oh, and did I mention that three of these restaurants received one or two Michelin stars?!

Another Reason To Lust Over Lillie's Q

Photo of Lillie's Q chef/owner Charlie McKenna via the Chicago Tribune.

This weekend marks the seventh year in a row that Charlie McKenna, owner/chef of Bucktown gem Lillie's Q, has competed in the May World Championship Barbeque Cooking Contest in Memphis.

He placed first in 2007 in the "whole pork shoulder" category, and he's looking to do it again with his signature smoked swine at the restaurant he opened in 2010. The Southern-style spot was also just named Food & Wine's No. 1 of the Best New Barbecue Restaurants in the country.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Bartender Takes On Project of a Lifetime

Logan Lavachek of Duchamp Chicago. (Photo: Logan Lavachek)

It was by fate Logan Lavachek stumbled upon her grandmother's long-forgotten "bar aid," a vintage cocktail accessory popular in the 1950s and 1960s.

The perky mixologist at Double A, Duchamp and Sepia—which all feature solid cocktail programs by the way—found 80 cocktail recipes from the Adonis to the "Zazerac" in the bar aid, and a lightbulb went off in her head. Why not re-create all these drinks in their original form?!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Make Friday The 13th A 'Thirsty' One

Thirsty Girl founder Leslie Sbrocco hosts a wine-focused event at Sushi Samba rio. (Photo: Thirsty Girl)

Now, she looks like fun!

Thirsty Girl founder Leslie Sbrocco is coming to Sushi Samba Rio Friday, May 13, bringing delight to a day most folks dread.

The 16-town tour wouldn't be complete without stopping in our fair city, and this highly recognized wine and lifestyle expert aims to spread her knowledge to those who attend this lively after-work event.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Old Town Social Chef Kicks Off 'Meet The Market'

Old Town Social Executive Chef Jared Van Camp (Photo: Old Town Social)

So, this is pretty sweet.

Old Town Social's super star chef Jared Van Camp is on Green City Market's brand new junior board and he's kicking off the season (which begins today, by the way) with an awesome event series.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

This Photo Is Making Me Thirsty!

Raise your hand if you're drinking Margaritas on Cinco de Mayo!

With Mother's Day celebrations happening all over town this weekend, you can't be getting all jacked up before you take her out.

But man is it tempting with all the Cinco de Mayo and Kentucky Derby events going down.

Here are some you don't want to miss because it's so hard to turn down a good Margarita or Mint Julep:

He's Cooking For One Lucky Reader!

Paul Virant photo via Chicago Reader

Thanks to all who entered the contest to win dinner for two at Perennial Virant, which opens in Lincoln Park in mid-May.

But there was only one winner, and Harold Smith's heartfelt email about how he wanted to take his foodie momma out for a nice dinner pulled on my heartstrings:

Monday, May 2, 2011

Worst Pickup Line Ever: 'I Got A Groupon'

Photo via runninginheels.com

I'm all about a great dining deal, and I'm sure you are too.

But this story right here is not the business.

So guy meets girl at house party. Girl is somewhat interested in guy, but appropriately hesitant because he's aggressively pursuing her.

Here's her story: