Thursday, May 31, 2012

Do-Rite Donuts 2.0 Pop-Up Shop Debuts May 31

Do-Rite Donuts bacon doughnut (Photo via Time Out Chicago)

New-ish pastry gourmet shop Do-Rite Donuts & Coffee has done so well in its first few months that the owners are already considering a second location.

As a test, they're doing a trial-run, pop-up event 6-10am Thursday at 2 N. Riverside Plaza, which is directly behind Lyric Opera. If all goes well, look for it to happen every Thursday morning around the same time.

What to expect?!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

It's Time To Chill . . .

Gelato flavors from Black Dog. (Photo: Black Dog Gelato)

No matter how old you get, one thing that never gets old is ice cream.

But since we're way too advanced in years to chase down the Good Humor guy's truck, it's time to get sophisticated when it comes to everyone's favorite summer treat.

Adam Seger's 'Pop-Up Bar,' $175 Cocktails, More!

Klug Farms' crimson rhubarb will be one of the ingredients in Adam Seger's cocktails this weekend at the pop-up bar at Lush Wine & Spirits. (Photo: Adam Seger)

Make plans Friday and Saturday to spend your evening at Lush Wine & Spirits in University Village, where cocktail king Adam Seger will host its first-ever "pop-up" lounge. He's bringing with him loads of lush fruits and herbs he snapped up at Green City Market, so expect some of the most inventive market-fresh cocktails you've ever tasted.

He's actually dubbed them "drink like you eat" inspired cocktails, and he'll make them with Seedlings strawberries, Smith Farms herbs, Klug Farms rhubarb and Flaming Fury cherries. Look for bourbon, organic gin, artisan tequila, Hum and Bell's Beer to add to the liquid joy. The setup will be omakase style, where guests will have the opportunity to offer input on the ingredients. Cocktails will be $9; or flight of three for $15.

To soak up all that booze, Lush will offer Bahn Mi sandwiches and Green Acres French breakfast radishes with cultured butter and fancy salt. And for those guests who order a bottle of hooch from Lush, Seger will create a signature customized cocktail recipe for them to take home. The event happens 6-10pm Friday and Saturday.

Ohhhhh, but there's so much more going down that you don't want to miss . . .

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Southern Mac & Cheese Store Now Offering Gourmet Sandwiches!

(Photo: Southern Mac & Cheese Store)

The latest to get in on the gourmet sandwich trend is Southern Mac & Cheese Store, which launched a new menu of five items this week.

Of note are the Piggly Wiggly (thick sliced ham with Carolina mustard, red cabbage slaw and a pickle on a roll) and the Kentucky Hot Brown (slow-roasted turkey, smoked Gouda, bacon and tomato on Challah).

Each comes with a slice of watermelon or potato salad. Why can't I have both?!

'Why Are African Americans Not Participating in Chicago's Vibrant Dining Scene?'


That was a question a reader posed to me over the weekend, and he went into detail:

"I am a married African-American man in my late 40's who has been in Chicago since the early 1990s. My wife and I have been dining out in the city since moving here. Over past 5 years we have become more adventurous with our dining options, trying many of the new and established mid priced restaurants (i.e. avec, Davanti Enoteca, xoco).

Daily Webb is Out at Blokes & Birds


312DD got the exclusive details of why Daily Webb severed his ties over at popular Lakeview spot Blokes & Birds more than a week ago:

"We have respectively decided to go our own ways," the former gastropub partner said. "It's important to me that people know that the voice that's coming out of B&B now is no longer my voice. I wish them all the success in the future and whatever direction they decide to take the concept."

What's his next move?!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Bleeding Heart Expands Organic Beer & Cocktail Menu For Brunch


The new, weekend-only cocktail menu over at Bleeding Heart Bakery & Cafe looks pretty good, but alas, you can only get it during Saturday and Sunday brunch.

The specialty cocktails are made with organic ingredients and organic liquor, so you won't feel too bad about indulging (I wonder if you'll still get a hangover?!).

Peep the menu also for organic and gluten-free beers:

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Get Ready For A Disco Inferno . . .


. . . during brunch!

Leave it to Kit Kat Lounge & Supper Club to host such an awesome event to honor the late disco greats Donna Summer and Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees this weekend.

This Sunday they're doing it in typical Kit Kat style—a Disco Drag Brunch—featuring live performances by Diva Madame X.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Seasonal Sippers To Savor This Spring . . .


It's never a bad time for wine.

And now that the weather's favorable, it's time to break out the chilled vino!

We checked out some of the best spots around town where you can indulge, from the Riesling-influenced Alsatian wines at Everest to the peculiarly tasty "orange" vino at Telegraph.


Friday, May 18, 2012

Bryce Caron Out at Blackbird

Award-winning pastry chef Bryce Caron via

Here's the bombshell of the week:

An Ultimate Insider tells 312DD that pastry chef Bryce Caron is no longer at Blackbird. This comes as a surprise because Caron was recently named Best Pastry Chef in the Midwest by Food & Wine editors.

UPDATE: Whoa. Eater got an interview with Caron, who said he was told by Blackbird's owners he "just wasn't a fit." Ouch.

Notes From . . .

Chefs Gilles Epié (left) and Martial Noguier (Photos: Isabelli Media Relations Photography)

. . . Chicago's Culinary Crossroads at Bistronomic.

• To celebrate the nations represented during the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Summit, the Illinois Restaurant Association hosts the first-ever Chicago's Culinary Crossroads through May 25.

• As part of the initiative, chefs from visiting nations teamed up with executive chefs from a number of high-profile Chicago restaurants for special menus.

• At Bistronomic, chef Martial Noguier reunited with Gilles Epié, the chef/owner of the Michelin-starred Restaurant Citrus Etoile in Paris. The Frenchmen worked together in the early 1990s.

What You Want: PQM Burgers & More

A juicy look at the Publican Quality Meats' signature burger. (Photo: Publican Quality Meats)

Watch out for the mega commotion outside Milk & Honey Cafe between 6-10pm Monday. That's when Publican Quality Meats conducts a "test run" of its new Burgers, Bourbon & Beer program that's slated for Tuesdays at the West Loop spot beginning June 5.

In the meantime, Monday's event features chefs Justin Large (Big Star) and John Manion (La Sirena Clandestina) slinging burgers. Here's the menu of what to expect during the preview event:

Thursday, May 17, 2012

You, Your Girls & Free Margaritas!


What are you doing on May 31?!

312DD and Milagro Tequila are giving away a very special invite to one lucky girl and her girls to an intimate tequila tasting at Cantina 46.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

She Wants You To 'Jam Out'

Chef Grayson Schmitz (Photo: Bravo)

If you know what Top Chef Texas contestant Grayson Schmitz means by this, then you already know you're in for one helluva ride if you decide to attend her first-ever Chicago event.

The Wisconsin native's making a permanent move here and for her inaugural dinner, she's teaming up with Chicago-based, Latin-influenced brewery 5 Rabbit Cervecería for a benefit at Logan Square Kitchen.

So Much Good Stuff Happening Right NOW

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

Those busy guys from Mercadito are at it again.

This time they've taken over the first-floor space in the Talbott Hotel for a restaurant that's due out in the fall. In the meantime, they're doing an ambitious pop-up project called PT at the Talbott that should finally bring some energy to that little corner.

The menu features daily all-you-can-eat treats (Taco Tuesday, Fried Chicken Friday), and, as always, the award-winning Tippling Bros. (Paul Tanguay and Tad Carducci) are behind the cocktails. Accordingly, the menu changes daily, but here's a sampling of what to expect:

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Roots Debuts Girl & The Goat Pizza

(Photo: Stephanie Izard)

That's right, Stephanie Izard of the famed Girl & The Goat is collaborating with the West Town pizzeria for a signature pie.

Of course there's goat involved!

It's made of Pleasant Meadows goat sausage ragu topped with Quad Cities mozzarella blend cheese, smoked cheddar, sharp aged cheddar, and finished with a yuzu-maple drizzle.

How can you get a sneak preview taste?!

Say Cheers To These Globally Influenced Elixirs

Tru's Scotsman Can Take A Punch. (Photo: Tru Restaurant)

The NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) Summit hits Chicago this weekend and folks are tense because of the many expected clashes with protestors. One way they can loosen up is to explore the city's best options for globally inspired cocktails.

That's right, cocktails.

Nothing brings people together better than discussions over drinks (Remember the infamous "beer summit" at the White House?), so we've compiled a list of where and what you should be drinking at

Monday, May 14, 2012

Michael Muser to Move on to Grace!


Peninsula Chicago wine director Michael Muser made an announcement on his Facebook page Monday that a lot of folks had been waiting for:

"(I'm) very excited to FINALLY announce my commitment as General Manager and Partner of Grace!"

This is certainly exciting news as that partnership reunites him with talented chef Curtis Duffy, who worked with Muser when he acted as chef de cuisine of Peninsula's now-shuttered Avenues. He'll join the Grace team on May 31.

In January, Muser was named Best Sommelier during the annual Banchet Awards, so expect an exceptional wine program when Grace opens this fall.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Pete Gugni Wins Big in NYC; Leaves Bedford For Scofflaw


Props go out to Scofflaw bartender Pete Gugni, who won the Plymouth Gin/ cocktail contest for the Chicago region in New York over the weekend.

He beat out Sepia's Josh Pearson with The Speedwell Cooler of Plymouth, watermelon, aperol, lemon juice, simple syrup, absinthe and sea salt.

That may sound like an odd combo, but Gugni said it plays with the idea of sprinkling salt and fennel on watermelon—something he did during childhood.

His big win means that he'll join other regional winners (from Boston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York and San Francisco) for a lavish, weeklong trip to London in June. Gugni's crossing his fingers that it'll happen during the summer Olympics.

A few weeks ago, Gugni left his partnership with The Bedford to go back behind the stick at Logan Square newcomer Scofflaw. Why?!

Friday, May 11, 2012

More Places To Party Perched High Above

Tavern at the Park's under construction rooftop lounge. (Photo: Susan Schmidt Donaldson)

Here's the view from Tavern at the Park's new rooftop lounge overlooking Millennium Park and Michigan Avenue.

It's still under construction, and set to open in about two weeks, but you don't have to wait that long if you're looking to drink on a rooftop right now.

What Is Au Cheval Supposed To Be?!

Au Cheval's exterior (Photo: Au Cheval)

The West Loop's Au Cheval is not The Violet Hour, but apparently it wants to be.

An outing last Thursday turned into quite an unfavorable experience at the new so-called upscale diner when they wouldn't seat five of us at the completely empty bar. And I mean completely empty, during happy hour on a Thursday when everyone is looking for a good place to drink.

Why wouldn't they seat us?!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Notes From . . .

(Photos: Susan Schmidt Donaldson)

. . . Hanzell Vineyards Wine Dinner at Bespoke Cuisine.

• The Sonoma, Calif.-based winery's been around since 1957, cranking out premium chardonnay and the nation's first-ever pinot noir.

• More than 20 members from Hanzell's Chicago Chapter Ambassador's Circle gathered for a multi-course, interactive dining event at the West Loop venue. 312DD was invited to participate.

• Bespoke Cuisine's Executive Chef/owner Kim Shambrook and chef de cuisine Calvin Roberson led the diners in creating each course. Teams broke into four groups and were paired with a chef to prepare a dish.

Exclusive Sneak Preview of Trump's Summer Cocktail Program

The "Magnificent" drink-for-two (left) and Mandarin Vanilla Float with Goose Island Vanilla Soda and a beaker of Combier Orange Liqueur. (Photos: Trump Chicago)

Leave it to The Terrace at Trump to take its summer cocktail menu to extravagant levels.

Executive Chef Michael Fiddler and Executive Pastry Chef Sarah Kosikowski get in on the action, adding culinary accents to a number of classic summer drinks ranging $18-$85.

$85 for a cocktail?!

Yeah, I thought that was nuts too, but they've commissioned local artist Eric Bladholm to create custom, blown-glass carafes for the Magnificent, a cocktail-for-two with Absolut Sweet Tea Vodka, white cranberry juice, sliced peaches, mint and a splash of elderflower.

Most cocktails will also include fresh juices and exotic ingredients, but what we're extremely excited about is the Secret Shake—an off-the-menu item that will only be available upon request. It's a concoction from Chef Kosikowski, with house-made caramel spiked ice cream and Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey Whiskey, served in a pint glass for $12.

Peep the entire menu below:

Rockit's Top Mixologist Moves On . . .

drumBAR's Benjamin Newby.

Let's just say he's going back to his roots.

Underground head mixologist and operator Benjamin Newby is more of a cocktail lounge specialist than nightlife impresario, so it's no surprise he leapt at the chance to become vice president of nightlife for Menin Hotels—which owns the forthcoming drumBAR.

But have no fear, he's not going totally corporate. Newby's infamous "cocktail kits," or "tableside mixology" that created more of a communal mixology experience at UG (as well as other Rockit Ranch Productions venues), will live on at drumBAR when the ultra-sexy lounge opens on the Raffaello Hotel's rooftop in June. And on those nights when the outdoor terrace isn't so favorable, the indoor "speakeasy-style" lounge includes a fireplace, sweeping bars and sky-high ceilings.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Mother's Day Dining (& Drinking!) Around Town


It's her big day and she can do whatever she wants.

And since no Mom should go hungry no matter what she winds up doing, I've created this mini-Mother's Day Guide for Dining at

Enjoy It!

G.E.B. Chef Hits Prime Time on Bravo Show

(Photo: Bravo)

John Vermiglio serves as sous chef at G.E.B. when it opens in June.

But before that happens, look for this Michigan native on Bravo's latest chef-driven reality show, Around The World in 80 Plates, when it premieres at 9pm Wednesday.

The talented young chef is no stranger to high-pressure kitchens (he previously worked at Charlie Trotter's and Table Fifty-Two) or television, so we're looking forward to see what he brings to the 10-week series.

To get an idea, 312DD asked him a few questions:

Monday, May 7, 2012

'I Thought This Day Would Never Come'

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

That was North Pond's Bruce Sherman on Monday in New York as he accepted his first-ever James Beard award for Best Chef: Great Lakes. He had been nominated previously for the prestigious award five years in a row, and this year he was up against exceptionally strong contenders in Chicago's Stephanie Izard (The Girl & The Goat), Andrew Zimmerman (Sepia) and Michael Carlson (Schwa).

He told ABC-7's Steve Dolinsky in his first post-win interview:

"The most difficult part of doing what we do is keeping it up. It's persistence, stubbornness, whatever you want to call it...and it's maintaining standards and keeping it up."

Sherman was one of three Chicago winners this year.

Mercer One Thirteen Opens Thursday

mercer interior
Mercer's interior boasts an "earthy" atmosphere. (Photos: Mercer One Thirteen)

This weekend, Mercer One Thirteen joins a jam-packed block of trendy favorites that range from the Asian-focused Slurping Turtle to fashionable steakhouse Epic.

It's owned by Roman Sanchez, who's been tinkering with sports-bar ventures lately with Social 25 and Moe's Cantina). Though it'll have televisions for sports viewing, Mercer promises to be a lot more glam, with a plushy, yet earthy setting and focusing more on food.

Here's a sneak preview of the menu:

Hot Chocolate Reopens This Week

Hot Chocolate's Mindy Segal. (Photo: Mindy Segal)

In mid-April, 312DD reported that Hot Chocolate was closing for a few weeks to undergo some renovations.

It's been open for more than 10 years and owner Mindy Segal (freshly crowned James Beard's Outstanding Pastry Chef 2012) decided it was time for an update. As scheduled, the Bucktown mainstay reopens in time for Mother's Day. Segal told 312DD Monday that she's "planning to reopen Wednesday."

What to expect?!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

La Madia Goes Late Night

(Photo: La Madia)

One of the challenges for night owls is getting some decent after-hours fare, and La Madia aims to fill the void.

They've extended hours for late-night noshing for 10:30pm until 1am Thursday-Sunday with a prix-fixe menu for two. You'll get a choice of antipasti or salad as well as one of their specialty Neapolitan-inspired pizzas for $19. You can also get items a la carte.

Check the menu below:

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Rick Bayless Is Apparently Not Alone!

Frontera Grill's Rick Bayless. (Photo: Frontera Grill)

Following S. Pellegrino's annual World's 50 Best Restaurants announcement earlier this week, celebrated chef Rick Bayless (Frontera Grill, Topolobampo) boldly questioned its selection process, according to Eater Chicago.

While some might think he has a case of sour grapes, a prominent restaurant professional (who wanted to remain anonymous) agreed with him, saying that "lots of chefs don't like the Top 50 list."

Freebie Alert: The Bedford!

The Bedford's interior. (Photo: The Bedford)

You gotta get a load of this deal . . .

So The Bedford fetes its first anniversary, and to honor this festive occasion, they're doing it up pretty hot on Thursday.

Executive Chef/partner Mark Steuer has gathered some of his favorite chef friends (Matt Troost, Three Aces; John Manion, La Sirena Clandestina; and Mindy Segal, Hot Chocolate) for a three-course feast that should be quite memorable.

Here's the menu:

'Andersonville Wine Walk' Returns . . .


Cross your fingers for good weather when the Andersonville Wine Walk returns on May 20.

That's your chance to shop, sip, shop, sip at all the cute little retail stores in the area, as you learn all you can about vino.

Arami To Open Second Location in River North

Ukrainian Village's Arami interior photo via

If you know sushi in Chicago, then you know Ukrainian Village's Arami is a serious power player.

It's garnered all types of accolades with industry insiders and the media, so it wasn't a surprise when an Ultimate Insider told 312DD the partners were planning a second location in River North.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A Sure Sign Warm Weather Is Back!

Green City Market photo via Italianhandful.

On Saturday, Green City Market returns to its outdoor venue.

Also . . . tickets for the annual Green City Market Chef's BBQ go on sale this weekend.

That foodie extravaganza happens on July 12.

Your Guide to the Art of 'Day Drinking'

You'll get an ample selection of Italian-focused cocktails and vino at Quartino in River North. (Photo: Quartino)

It finally looks like we're about to get some relief. . .and warmer weather.

And with that comes slacking, and the urge to day drink.

Now, because there's an art to that craft, I've decided to hook you up with a guide you should follow if you want to do it effectively. It includes some wise tips, plus a few spots you should hit up such as Big Star, Luxbar and The Purple Pig.