Monday, December 31, 2012

Here Are Some Non-Boozy Alternatives When Drinking Around Town

A non-alcoholic Peach Melba Cooler via

I'm pretty burned out on booze after an especially lushy holiday season, so I am looking forward to taking it down a few notches in the coming weeks. I'm not a huge fan of sodas and there's only so much tea I can drink, so I sought out some tasty alternatives.

From a Caipirinha Bubbly “Champagne” at Chicago French Market to Storefront Company's delightfully refreshing Pomegranate Fizz, here are some of the best mocktails around town.

Friday, December 28, 2012

This Is The WORST Restaurant Tipper of 2012!

Restaurant receipt via The Bitchy Waiter.

You guys know how I love outing terrible tippers, and this guy right here has got to be the lowest of the low.

As you can see above, he actually subtracted his tip from the bill when his party dined at an Andersonville restaurant on Christmas.

Here's what went down, according to the server, as he explained to The Bitchy Waiter.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Year 2012 Was An Incredibly Outrageous Time For Chicago's Restaurants & Bars

Left photo via Proof nightclub; right photo via Jessica Harr's Facebook page.


This year has really gone by quickly. Part of the reason is because 2012 was one of the most outrageous years to date for the dining and drinking scene.

Here's what really stuck out in my mind:

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

9 Cure-All Cocktail Recipes For Your NYE Hangover

Adam Seger's Libertad Real. (Photo: Libertad)

No one wants to wake up with a massive hangover on New Year's Day, but it's inevitable.

So instead of suffering and shuffling through the day like a burnt-out zombie, whip up one of these cure-all cocktail recipes from some of Chicago's hottest culinary and bar stars.

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Another Shutter Report: Park 52 Closes In Early 2013, Cites 'Personal Obligations'

(Photos: Park 52)

This just dropped into my inbox regarding the upcoming closing of Park 52 in Hyde Park:

The Staff Meal of All Staff Meals: The Grace Team Gets A Special Delivery From Their Friends At Next

Curtis Duffy and his team at Grace enjoying their meal. (Photo: Michael Muser)

The hard-working team at the newly opened Grace were treated to a well-deserved meal from the chefs over at Next/The Aviary Wednesday afternoon.

What did they get to eat?! No doubt the ramen was an iteration from the current Kyoto menu. No word on whether The Aviary chipped in with cocktails, but something tells me that definitely didn't happen considering this meal was right before service!

Scott Walton is Leaving Markethouse

(Photo: DoubleTree Hotel Chicago Magnificent Mile)

Markethouse Executive Chef Scott Walton posted this to his Facebook last night:

"Many of you know Markethouse has been my home, my life for the past 4 years. And it was a great 4 years. I'm grateful to everyone I met along the way; peers and wonderful patrons. I'm happy to announce that I am moving on to bigger and better things, a new challenge. A great challenge. New opening early spring. Details to follow! I hope to see everyone at my new place, ready to enjoy great food and good times."

Good luck to him, and we're looking forward to his next project!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Get Ready For A Second Kuma's In Chicago. . .

One of Kuma's signature burgers via The New York Times.

This is major news!

Dish reports that a second Kuma's is on its way in early 2013:

Five Top Bars Spreading The Holiday Cheer

Coq d'Or interior via Popsugar.

No holiday season is complete without at least one visit to Coq d'Or—that legendary Drake hotel bar that opened the day after the repeal of Prohibition.

We go for the well-crafted cocktails (from the Mai Tai to the Manhattan) made by old schoolers, but another appeal is this option: the twice as nice portions of the "executive" size.

Lite Bites: What Your Favorite Chefs & Mixologists Are Up To Around Town This Week

Dana Cree and her winning bûche de noël at Cafe Des Architectes Monday. (Photo: Sofitel Chicago)

So sweet and bittersweet . . .

Blackbird Executive Pastry Chef Dana Cree was the big-time winner at the second-annual bûche de noël contest Monday at Cafe Des Architectes. Her winning cake—which she said was based off an Austrian dessert she once made to impress Wolfgang Puck—was a hit with the official judges (including 312DD!) as well as the people's choice. It tasted like a combo of a "burnt" crème brûlée and the most decadent caramel brownie I've ever had. She beat out the likes of Balena's Amanda Rockman and Meg Gaulus of NoMI.

• Speaking of red-hot pastry chefs, Trenchermen is hosting an all-star event with Dana Cree, plus chefs from the likes of Momofuku Milk Bar and Noma. It's $100 per person, happens on Jan. 3 and also includes wine pairings from Alpana Singh (The Boarding House) and cocktails from Jenny Kessler of Masa Azul.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Who Dat?!

(Photo: 312 Dining Diva)

This talented, award-winning pastry chef sported some mighty funky-looking socks Monday at the Cafe Des Architectes' benefit for the Greater Chicago Food Depository.

Can you guess who she is?!

We're Digging On This Delightful Holiday Treat From West Town Tavern

West Town Tavern's holiday ice cream sandwich is a work of art. (Photo: West Town Tavern)

I'm a sucker for a great ice cream sandwich, so I couldn't resist this latest offering from West Town Tavern.

They've combined two festive favorites of the season—Christmas cookies and candy cane ice cream—to create this delight that should please young and old. To make it, they've folded crushed peppermint candy into their rich vanilla bean ice cream and put between sugar cookies with a hint of lemon zest. It's then drizzled with berry and chocolate sauces.

Fitness Experts' Sound Advice on Dining & Drinking During the Holidays

Shred415 instructor Mark Beier. (Photo: Shred415)

You're pretty disciplined with diet and exercise most of the time, which may tempt you to slack off during the holiday season. But a few fitness experts around town advise that while it's okay to treat yourself occasionally, don't allow the indulgence to completely throw you off your plan.

Further, recommends Flywheel Chicago instructor Antonia DeSantis, eating healthier on your own when you're not at holiday gatherings is more important than ever.

"Make sure you are eating extra clean when you aren't celebrating," DeSantis says. "Your daily food intake should remain healthy to offset the heavier foods at the parties."

That's some pretty solid advice! Here are some additional tips from DeSantis as well as other fitness experts on what to eat and where they enjoy wining and dining in Chicago.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Add Charlie Trotter's Latest Antic To Most Outrageous Things To Happen in 2012

Photo via the Inquisitr.

A few weeks ago I wrote a post detailing the incredibly outrageous moments in Chicago's bars and restaurants in 2012.

Who knew there would be a late and juicy entry so close to the end of the year?!

According to Chicagoist:

The Twelve Drinks of Christmas . . .

Benjamin Schiller's Sowing Wind Punch for Boka. (Photo: NOLET's Silver Dry Gin)

Well, this makes sense.

We sought out 12 of the most creative holiday cocktails around town . . . so you can make them at home:

Benny's Chop House's The Snow Leopard

Blackbird's The Maiden and the Huntsman

Boka's Sowing Wind Punch

David Burke's Primehouse's Passion Berry Cobbler

The Gage's Christmas Manhattan

Grass Fed's Hot Buttered Pecan Rum

Lite Bites: What Your Favorite Chefs & Mixologists Are Up To Around Town This Week

Your first look at Bub City, which houses Paul McGee's Three Dots and a Dash on the lower level. (Photo: Bub City)

Raise your glass . . .

• Can you believe Quartino's been around for seven years?! It feels like it just opened a few years ago. To celebrate, chef/partner John Coletta's doing $7 specials of all the food on the menu, plus two wines by the bottle. But you'll have to wait; the deal only happens on Jan. 7. That's perfect timing because right after the holidays, we'll all be trying to save those $$$.

Three Dots and a Dash maestro Paul McGee previews the cocktail list of what to expect when the subterranean spot has its soft open this weekend. We're really excited about the frozen Mexican Firing Squad special of Corozon blanco tequila, pomegranate, lime and angostura.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Alpana Singh's Boarding House Has An Opening Date

Master Sommelier Alpana Singh

For those dreaming of the day they can finally get their mitts on The Boarding House's signature pork tots, the wine-focused restaurant finally has an opening date: Dec. 20.

Owned in part by master sommelier Alpana Singh, the restaurant has been one of the hotly anticipated openings of the season.

According to Singh, the restaurant will "soft open (Dec. 13) with the Bar & Cellar. (It) will be available without reservations."

That's the 100-seat, first floor bar and the intimate, 75-seat subterranean cellar lounge. In both areas, guests can experience Singh's 20 wine selections by the glass as well as craft cocktails and beers alongside a modest menu by Executive Chef Christian Gosselin.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Stephanie Izard's 'Little Goat Bread' Opens Inside Little Goat On Dec. 13 in the West Loop

Chef Stephanie Izard of the Goat empire. (Photo: Girl & the Goat)

Fans of the highly personable Stephanie Izard are going to have to wait until the end of the month to finally check out contemporary diner concept Little Goat, but they'll get a sneak preview when Little Goat Bread opens Thursday.

Here are some facts about the venue within a venue:

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Is This The Best Grilled Cheese in Chicago?! Food & Wine Says Yes . . .

grahamwich's grilled cheese. (Photo: grahamwich)

A chilly day like today is ideal for chowing down on a luscious grilled cheese bubbling with brie, cheddar or pepper jack, and according to Food & Wine, the best spot to snap one up in Chicago is grahamwich:

Friday, December 7, 2012

There’s Something About Sherry . . .

A flight of sherries at Vera. (Photo: Vera)

Sherry's no longer exiled to the back of menus as wine directors and bartenders have given the Spanish fortified wine new life.

From BIN 36 to Vera, several Chicago bars and restaurants put sherry back in the spotlight this season . . .

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Acadia's Ryan McCaskey Insists That He Has No Plans To Open Additional Venues

Ryan McCaskey, owner/chef of Acadia (Photo: Anthony Tahlier for Acadia)

According to Acadia publicist Jenn Galdes, this is not true:

"(Ryan) McCaskey's long-term goal is to make Acadia the cornerstone of his restaurant empire and branch out into more casual endeavors. 'I want to open up a bar and a more casual spot. A dingy clubby little restaurant. I want to open a breakfast/lunch place. Right now I'm kind of in the mood to open up a killer bar with family meal food,' he says."

Apparently the quote originated in a mock article posted on Eater Chicago on Monday. A candidate for the open editor position submitted the story following a "mock" interview with the chef/owner, and for some odd reason, they decided to publish it.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Spread Joy & Cheer To Those Less Fortunate At These Restaurant And Bar Holiday Events


From BIN 36's annual Bubble Bath sparkling wine party to the food drive at Publican, here's where you can spread a little joy:

• A number of the city's top pastry chefs compete in the annual Holiday Rock & Roll benefit at Cafe des Architectes. The likes of Dana Cree (Blackbird), Meg Gaulus (NoMI) and Amanda Rockman (Balena) will present their modern interpretations of the Bûche de Noël, a traditional French holiday dessert. Yours truly will serve as one of the media judges. There will also be savory appetizers, punch bowl cocktails and plenty of holiday jingles from Rod Tuffcurls and The Bench Press. Proceeds from the $35 ticket benefit Share Our Strength. 6-8pm Dec. 10.

• Indulge in three hours of all the sparkling wine you can gulp down at BIN 36's annual Bubble Bath. In addition to more than 75 bubblies, you'll get appetizers and enough desserts to send you into sugar shock. A portion of the proceeds—as well as retail sales through Dec. 31—benefit Lincoln Park Zoo. 6-9pm Dec. 12. Get the $48 tickets right here.

• The decadent turtle pie at Joe's Stone Crab is the December feature for the Pie It Forward program. Order a slice and $1 benefits the Greater Chicago Food Depository.

Lite Bites: What Your Favorite Chefs & Mixologists Are Up To Around Town

Tad Carducci and Paul Tanguay of the Tippling Bros. (Photo: Mercadito Hospitality)

Countdown to Christmas cocktails . . . and more:

Little Market Brasserie's set to open later this month, and we're especially excited about its innovative new beverage program. Of course that program's from the dynamic duo The Tippling Bros.—who are also behind the cocktails at Mercadito and Tavernita. At LMB, they're doing what they've dubbed as "charged cocktails" with five different charger (or soda) flavors made from fresh juices, exotic teas, fruit peels, flowers and herbs. The flavors will be Meyer lemon sour, hibiscus vanilla, smoked salted cream soda, cornflower yuzu and blood orange cinnamon, and they may be combined with the guest's spirit of choice (e.g. gin, vodka, tequila, whiskey). The cocktails will be priced $10-$14. On the menu also will be a number of stirred or shaken specialties such as a Champagne Cobbler, Ginger Smash, and Bengal Sidecar of chai-infused cognac, curacao, lemon, blood orange, and a Bengali Tiger IPA Float.

Curtis Duffy, Michael Muser and the team at Grace have to be ecstatic and anxious at the same time. The long-awaited, fine-dining restaurant finally has an opening date: Dec. 11.

• Save Chrissy Camba! The Bar Pastoral exec chef was sent packing her knives on "Top Chef" last week, but here's a way to bring her back on the show. Don't forget that she was the only Chicago chef on this season!

• Speaking of "Top Chef" contestants, former fiery contender Heather Terhune of Sable Kitchen & Bar has teamed up with Falafill to create an exclusive Mediterranean treat, the December Chefs for Charity Wrap. For every wrap purchased, $1 will be donated to Purple Asparagus, a charity dedicated to nutritional education for families.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

All About The Bubbly: Champagne Cocktails And Where To Drink Sparkling Wine Around Town

(Photo: Freddy Love)

'Tis the season to indulge in sparkling wine.

To be honest, drinking Champagne is somewhat of a national pasttime for many of you glamorous types, but it just feels a little more special during the holidays.

For those who enjoy the classic Champagne cocktail, we asked several of Chicago's top mixologists to add sexy new twists such as Blackbird's Lynn House and The Maiden and the Huntsman. It's a fascinating concoction of Campo de Encanto Pisco, Pernod absinthe and house-made pear/caraway nectar that's topped with sparkling wine.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Sneak Previews Of Two New Menus You Don't Want To Miss: Roka Akor, Municipal Bar + Dining Co.

Roka Akor's robata grilled Alaskan halibut with chile miso butter. (Photo: Roka Akor)

Here's a first look at two menus you'll crave this season: the six-course winter kaiseki from Roka Akor and a sampling of what to expect at Municipal Bar + Dining Company when it opens Dec. 15.

Roka Akor Executive Chef Ce Bian unveils the traditional multi-course Japanese menu Wednesday. It's $85 per person and highlights some tasty seasonal, exotic and local ingredients:

First course: oyster trio of Kumamoto with ponzu mignonette, fresh chive, lime; Hama Hama tempura with chile ginger, parsley puree, shaved vegetables; roasted oyster with yuzu koshu soy butter

Second course: flame-seared uni nigiri; truffled hotate nigiri; chef's special sashimi selection

Third course: gobo soup with root vegetables

Fourth course: robata-grilled Alaskan halibut with chile miso butter, parsnip chips and micro green salad

Fifth course: robata-grilled Wagyu confit short rib with truffle maitake mushroom; robata-grilled sweet potato with ginger teriyaki sauce

Dessert: apple tartare with fig puree and sancho pepper cream; toasted rice ice cream

If Roka Akor's menu is a little too out there for you, Municipal Bar + Dining Co.'s might be more up your alley. Executive Chef Jeffery Arasi once cooked for the Queen of England (at The Savoy Hotel in London), but don't expect any fussy fixin's at this upscale sports lounge. Just so you know, I'm particularly excited about the braised lamb shank that comes with truffled white corn grits.

Here's a sampling of what to expect when it opens later this month:

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Vegan 'Yelper' Unleashes Fury On Next Restaurant's 2013 Season Of Menus


A little dramatic much?!

Next exec chef Dave Beran recently unveiled to GrubStreet Chicago of what to expect for the 2013 season of menus.

The "Hunt," which launches in early January, focuses on wild game as well as various kinds of plants and vegetables native to the Midwest. Following that will be "Vegan," which Beran says "showcases the flavors of vegetables."

As you can see above, the Yelper, vegan Howard F., didn't like the idea of an all-vegan feast following a game-heavy theme.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Erin Hayes Bids Adieu To Perennial Virant; Joins The Cocktail Program At La Sirena Clandestina

Photo of Erin Hayes via Time Out Chicago.

It's the last week at Perennial Virant for beverage director Erin Hayes, whose last day of work is Saturday.

Next week, she'll start a new gig over at the red-hot La Sirena Clandestina, which is so poppin' right now that it was reviewed by the Chicago Tribune and Time Out Chicago within 24 hours. She'll work on the team with head bartender Justin Anderson.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Shop . . . Then Drop Into One Of These Delightful In-House Dining Destinations

The Walnut Room's famous chicken pot pie. (Photo: Macy's State Street)

When you're in a zone—a shopping zone in this case—the last thing you want to do is stop and think about where you're going to grab a bite.

Lucky for you, a number of prominent retail department stores, luxury boutiques and others have taken this dilemma into account so that customers don't have to succumb to the evils of fast-food joints.

You can go the "ladies who lunch" route and check out Fred's at Barneys New York or treat some very special little girls to a day they'll never forget at American Girl Café.

Looking for more places where you can drop those bags and chow down in-house?! Here are some of my favorites around town.

Electric Diner—Au Cheval's 'Big Sister'—Opens In London In Early December

Electric Diner, Sodikoff Restaurant Group's first venue outside of Chicago, opens in London in early December. (Photos: Sodikoff Restaurant Group)

Remember way back in July when 312DD revealed that Sodikoff Restaurant Group was opening a restaurant in London?!

SRG CEO Brendan Sodikoff tells 312DD to think of Electric Diner, which debuts in the trendy Notting Hill 'hood on Dec. 3, as "Au Cheval's big sister."

According to Electric Diner's website, the menu will highlight some of Au Cheval's top sellers, including the "fried house-made bologna sandwich, roasted bone marrow with beef cheek marmalade, cheeseburger, and honey-fried chicken with chilli and sesame seeds. There's a dedicated eggs section on the menu, while deserts include toffee date cake and a pie of the day." There's also a number of classic cocktails, including a Hemingway Daiquiri, bloody Mary and Old Fashioned that have been popular at the West Loop restaurant.

Hey, if you're in London anytime soon, check it out. In the meantime, here are a couple of interior shots:

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Lite Bites: What Your Favorite Chefs & Mixologists Are Up To Around Town

Happy first anniversary to The Slurping Turtle! (Photo: The Slurping Turtle)

• Chef Takashi Yagihashi celebrates the first anniversary of Slurping Turtle on Nov. 28. They are now making all of their noodles in-house for that extra homemade touch to their Japanese comfort food.

Bistronomic chef/owner Martial Noguier pays homage to his homeland by celebrating National French Toast Day. That's ummm, on Nov. 28, and he'll have as a special—for one day only—Brioche French Toast (crème brulee batter, orange candied Grand Marnier syrup). The $11 item will be available all day and night; it's usually only served during weekend brunch.

• There's a new restaurant concept coming in June 2013 from chef Chris Curren and the partners of Stout Barrel House & Galley. It'll feature wood-fired Neapolitan-style pizzas, an on-site brewery and a large outdoor seating area at its West Loop location (840 W. Washington Blvd.). Curren will serve as executive chef at the still-unnamed spot.

• You'll find coffee craft cocktails behind the bar at Hot Chocolate, now that head bartender Alex Gara and head barista Alex McDaniel have collaborated on a few drinks. Look for tasty liquid treats like The Seraph (Benedictine, espresso, cognac, ground nutmeg, pumpkin spice) and The Siren (Rittenhouse Rye 100, espresso, dark chocolate, paprika/cayenne rum).

So Haute, So Fresh: Best Hot Cocoa Around Town

Doesn't this hot cocoa from David Burke's Primehouse look good?! (Photo: David Burke's Primehouse)

Baby, it's cold out there, which means that what you need right now is to get your mitts around a hot cup of cocoa.

But you shouldn't settle for just anyone's hot chocolate, so we sought out some of the most unique offerings around town for your drinking pleasure.

From the hot chocolate pop-up shop from David Burke's Primehouse to the boozy, avant guarde offering from The Aviary, here are the best bets.

Monday, November 19, 2012

When It Comes To Tipping, What Is The Proper Etiquette For Takeout Orders?!


So. A lively debate ensued late Friday afternoon when this question was brought up on Facebook:

Do you guys tip when you order takeout? And, if so, do you tip the full 20 percent?

Now, I'll admit . . .I wasn't too knowledgeable on this subject as I don't do takeout orders often; I get delivery service. And I tend to bypass those little tip jars at the cash registers of my local coffeehouses. Really?! A tip to pour me a cup of tea?!

But from everyday diners to those in the restaurant industry, here's what folks had to say about tipping on takeout orders:

Lite Bites: What Your Favorite Chefs & Mixologists Are Up To Around Town

Carrie Nahabedian (Photo: Carrie Nahabedian)

There's a lot to be thankful for . . .

Carrie Nahabedian (Naha) revealed that Brindille is the name of her forthcoming French-focused restaurant. She's also shed more than 140 pounds since February. Go, Carrie!

Scott Malloy is no longer the chef at Arami. There's no word yet on what he's planning next.

Yusho's Matthias Merges is looking at a mid-December opening for Billy Sunday, his offbeat cocktail lounge in Logan Square with Alex Bachman at the helm.

Bar DeVille 'tender Seth Feldman gives us the 411 on the Ukrainian Village cocktail lounge's efforts to help fight prostate cancer in his Boozy Beggar blog. Proceeds from the Dick Cancer cocktail (rye, lemon, ginger beer, club soda and bitters with orange oil) benefit the Movember movement throughout the month.

• New Acre Executive Chef Mike Lathrop introduces a raw bar deal on Nov. 21. Get there during the week for "oyster hour" (5-7pm or 10pm-midnight) for $1 on every variety of bivalve.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Feast Your Eyes On Kitsch'n on Roscoe's Decadent 'Twinkie' Tiramisu

(Photo: Kitsch'n on Roscoe)

Have no fear, Hostess fans!

Kitsch'n on Roscoe has had the Twinkie Tiramisu on the menu for 14 years. It's $5.49, and made with fresh Twinkies, mascarpone, ricotta, chocolate and coffee liqueur.

Where To Give Back This Thanksgiving Season


Quite a few restaurants are jumping in to help those less fortunate. Here's where you can also help:

DMK Burger Bar. Each month, the Lakeview burger joint supports a well-known charity by donating a portion of the proceeds from a signature sandwich and drink. This month's organization is Meals on Wheels.

Headquarters Beercade. Through Sunday, customers are encouraged to drop off frozen turkeys to benefit the Lakeview Pantry. Last year they collected 120 turkeys and this year they're looking for kind souls like yourself to donate at least 500 birds.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

An Anonymous Commenter On Eater Puts The Entire Michelin Chicago Guide Drama In Perspective

(Photo: Michelin Guides)

Bravo to whomever wrote this in Eater Chicago's comments section:

"Tough times in the country brings out the real winners and the others. The griping over this announcement has me depressed about how Chicagoans look at things. We are one of only three cities in the United States that Michelin chose to be worthwhile to promote. LA and Las Vegas failed for goodness sake. While people complain about Lula (not getting a Michelin star), the Mexique chef is in tears of joy celebrating his accomplishment. Lula is packed every night and doesn't need anybody to tell Logan Square it is a good restaurant. Mexique may now become busier and remain open because of the new life. Keeping people in jobs, not to mention the achievement of a Mexican chef in Chicago. Stop the bitching. We sound like a bunch of poor losers. Don't get mad, get better!"


Big Star Named One Of 'America's Best Taco Spots' By Food & Wine Magazine. Do You Agree?!

Tacos from Big Star (Photo: Grant Kessler)

Food & Wine supposedly searched all over the country to track down the Best Taco Spots. Only one Chicago eatery made the cut, Big Star:

"'Tacos, whiskey, hillbilly music' is how star chef Paul Kahan describes the ultracasual Mexican spot he opened in Chicago's Wicker Park in 2009. Though he calls the place a dive (it's not), the classic tacos—excellent spit-roasted pork and beer-battered fish—are impressively fresh, and the beer list is one of the city's best. One way to battle the seemingly endless crowds: head over to the takeout window."

People are apparently really passionate about their tacos. Right now there are 2,405 comments disputing or agreeing with their picks . . .

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

M Burger Now Serves Breakfast & Do-Rite Donut Holes At Thompson Center Location

Breakfast at M Burger now includes Do-Rite Donuts. (Photo: M Burger)

Good news for those working in the Loop: The Thompson Center location of M Burger now serves breakfast.

But it's not just any breakfast; they've joined forces with Do-Rite Donuts to satisfy that sweet tooth with treats like the buttermilk Old Fashioned as well as assorted flavors of donut holes.

Tanqueray's Mixology Expert On Chicago's Vibrant Bar Scene, Cocktail Trends & More

Angus Winchester, global brand ambassador for Tanqueray. (Photo: Tanqueray)

I warmed up to Angus Winchester the moment he told me his favorite cocktail was The Negroni.

The dashing Englishman, who was in town last week for the Tanqueray Green Room Tour, serves as the well-known spirit's global brand ambassador, which means he is one hell of a cocktail expert.

Winchester has one of the greatest jobs on the planet: He travels the world sharing his vast knowledge of gin, cocktail culture and his experiences in the scene (The James Bond of Bartending?!). He's so popular, in fact, that he was named the Best International Brand Ambassador during last summer's Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards. On Tuesday, the talented 'tender was named Wine Enthusiast's Mixologist/Brand Ambassador of the Year.

Chicago was one of several cities on the tour he visited to conduct a number of cocktail seminars and bartender evaluations. A few hours were also set aside to hang with several of us food & drink writers at some of his favorite bars in town.

He took us to The Aviary, Sable Kitchen & Bar and Violet Hour, which he believes have some of the city's best gin cocktails. We sipped a number of classics, including the Aviation, Bee's Knees, Gimlet, and, of course, the Negroni.

During our little cocktail pub crawl, he answered a few burning questions:

Lite Bites: What Your Favorite Chefs & Mixologists Are Up To Around Town

"No Reservations" star Anthony Bourdain is coming to Chicago!

It's a very busy week. Check it out . . .

• Tickets go on sale at 10am Nov. 16 for Good vs. Evil: An Evening With Anthony Bourdain & Eric Ripert. The event happens at the Auditorium Theatre on May 9, 2013, and this thing WILL sell out immediately, so you should jump on it. The Bristol's Chris Pandel will serve some of his signature bites as part of the program.

Eater Chicago takes a look at the good, bad and ugly of the Michelin Chicago stars for 2013, including the snubbing of Paul Virant (Perennial Virant, Vie) and Bruce Sherman (North Pond).

• The Jean Banchet Awards for Culinary Excellence nominees are in. Most interesting is that mixologist Paul McGee got a nod for Three Dots and a Dash, which hasn't opened yet. The awards will be presented on Feb. 8, 2013, at the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation's annual Grand Chefs Gala.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Chicago Tribune's Phil Vettel Believes Blackbird Deserves Two Michelin Stars, Plus More Predictions

Blackbird exterior via Taste with the Eyes.

"I've argued for two years that Blackbird's one-star rating is too low; perhaps this will be the year Blackbird moves up," Vettel writes about the venerable West Loop hot spot.

The 2013 edition of the Michelin Chicago guide comes out Nov. 14, so we will just have to wait and see, but these predictions are always fun to read.

Will.I.Am, Russell Simmons, Obama Staffers Party Into Wee Hours On Election Night at Primebar


Too bad I couldn't get a photo!

President Obama campaign staffers and a host of celebs that included Russell Simmons, Will.I.Am and former Destiny's Child star Michelle Williams partied hard at Primebar following the president's election night speech at McCormick Place.

Celebrity DJ Cassidy spun the tunes as the likes of Valerie Jarrett and Obama's former right hand man, Reggie Love, finally got the opportunity to blow off some steam on the dance floor. The party went until 3:30am as guests celebrated with champagne and hors d'ouevres.

The Prez and First Lady were nowhere in sight . . .

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Charlie Trotter’s, Glazed & Infused Pastry Vet Christine McCabe Breaks Out On Her Own

Pastry photos via InterUrban

Our friends at Urban Daddy Chicago have uncovered a secret walk-up window café located in a Lincoln Park alley from a Trotter's pastry alum.

Christine McCabe was also the opening chef for the Glazed and Infused doughnut shop, but you won't find any of those on her new menu at Interurban Cafe & Pastry Shop. Instead, you'll find tasty items like vanilla-cranberry scones, fruit-infused granola bars, red velvet "cake bites," and cupcakes in every flavor.

Michelin Guide Reveals Chicago's 2013 Bib Gourmands

Au Cheval made Michelin's Bib Gourmand list along with 19 new restaurants. (Photo: Au Cheval)

Eater Chicago has the scoop on Michelin Chicago's 2013 Bib Gourmands (defined as two courses and wine or dessert for $40 a head), which includes 19 new restaurants.

New to the list include Au Cheval, City Tavern and Storefront Company. I'm a little shocked, however, that City Tavern made the list, considering the fact the South Loop restaurant recently experienced some turmoil with the dismissal of chef Kendal Duque . . .

Lite Bites: What Your Favorite Chefs & Mixologists Are Up To Around Town

Tru partner/executive chef Anthony Martin (Photo: Anthony Martin)

All is right in the universe . . .

• Peep a host of hot new fall dishes from Tru's Anthony Martin on YouTube.

• Indulge in chef-driven fried chicken from the likes of Bill Kim (bellyQ), Takashi Yagihashi (Slurping Turtle) and Matthias Merges (Yusho).

• The U.S. Bartenders Guild of Illinois' Hurricane Sandy benefit at Salud Monday raised $8,011.92. WOW. The money will go to the U.S. Bartenders Guild of New York, who will put the money to good use.

GT Fish & Oyster's Giuseppe Tentori launches brunch on Nov. 17 with tasty items like Biscuits and Lobster Gravy and crab Benedict. We're also looking forward to the French toast from his talented pastry chef, Sarah Jordan. It'll be crafted with key lime, grapefruit and mascarpone.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Sunday Dinners Are The New Brunch

Vera's lobster paella is only available on Sunday. (Photo: Vera)

I am so over brunch.

It should be stress free, yet the long waits, screaming babies, and impatient and sometimes rude crowds can ruin what should have been a pleasant outing.

That's why we're all about Sunday dinners. By evening, people are calm and back to being civilized. Plus, it's an opportunity to catch some of the best deals of the week.

From Brasserie 54 by LM's new $25 prix-fixe French meal to Vera's lobster paella for two, we've gathered a host of fabulous feasts you don't want to pass up.

Jimmy Bannos Jr. Gets Big Honor From Food & Wine


So this is pretty sweet.

The Purple Pig's Jimmy Bannos Jr. is the only Chicago chef to be honored in Food & Wine's newest cookbook, America's Greatest New Cooks.

The tome features 12 up-and-coming culinary stars from around the country, with 100 recipes and photos of dishes from red-hot Mexican cuisine to ingredient-obsessed Italian food. The book is $32.95 and is available for sale right here.

Here's the cover:

Monday, November 5, 2012

Animal Tots, Foot-Long Grilled Cheese Highlights Of Menu At West Loop Newcomer Park Tavern

Park Tavern's foot-long grilled cheese (Photo: Park Tavern)


Just in time for late fall, Park Tavern opens with a menu that's ideal for cold-weather noshing.

The sports bar upgrades typical pub grub with twists on classics such as Animal Tots (pulled pork, cheese curds, grain mustard, fried egg, and Bell’s Kalamazoo gravy over tater tots) and a foot-long grilled cheese of cheddar, chihuahua, pepper jack, candied Applewood bacon and chipotle spread that's topped with two fried eggs on a baguette. More exciting offerings include the Little Jar of Jam (bacon jam, pickled cherries, brie and garlic toast), jalapeño-bacon mac, bacon doughnuts and an Ooey Gooey Butter Cake.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

One Good Turn Deserves Another?! Not For One Server Who Left A $5 Tip On $147 Comped Bill

Storefront's dining room (Photo: Storefront Company)

I was pretty bummed when I heard this story because I have always witnessed service industry folks having each others' backs:

According to one of Storefront Company's owners, a group of four women had brunch Sunday at the Bucktown restaurant and were visibly upset about how long they had to wait for their food.

To smooth matters over, their server extended an apology and a comped fruit platter. Apparently that wasn't enough because they complained to the manager on duty after their meal—with one of the diners making it known that she was a server herself . . . at Sunda.

Chicago Bartenders Raise $$$ For Hurricane Sandy Victims; Restaurants Also Pitch In With Fundraisers


The duo behind monthly industry night Party Rock Cocktail Crew celebrates its first-year anniversary at Salud with a blow-out bash featuring an all-star cast of cocktailists.

But what's particularly cool is that organizers Daniel de Oliveira (Olmeca Altos) and Sergio Serna (The Drawing Room) are using this grand opportunity to raise money for a great cause.

They've gathered the likes of Charles Joly (The Aviary), Lynn House (Blackbird), Paul McGee (Three Dots and a Dash), Josh Pearson (Sepia) and other members of the U.S. Bartenders Guild of Illinois to serve as guest bartenders to raise money for those suffering from Hurricane Sandy. One hundred percent of tips and donations will go to the U.S. Bartenders Guild of New York, which will make certain the money goes to good use.

The party happens 8pm-2am Monday, Nov. 5 with two different bartenders working each hour. There will also be complimentary food, shots, punch and beer sponsored by Becherovka and Altos Tequila.

Raffle tickets will be sold for a chance to win gift cards for Mercadito, Bangers & Lace, The Gage, GT Fish and Oyster, Farmhouse, 2 Sparrows and The Anthem as well as a St. Germain bike. There will also be a live auction for an in-home, 10-person single malt scotch tasting party (1am-2am). DJ Konsept spins; there's a $20 suggested donation at the door.

Here are additional hurricane relief events happening around town until the end of November: