Thursday, December 19, 2013

Wrapping Up The Holidays In One Fell Swoop

Carnivale hosts lively, Latin-inspired Christmas Eve and Christmas dinners. (Photo: Carnivale)

I'm certain you've had your share of celebrating this season, but why not take it to the next level with a number of cocktails made just for Christmas?

Instead of the usual eggnog or Champagne cocktail, I highly encourage you to indulge in the 12 Drinks of Christmas, which range from a hot Mexican punch from Punch House to Signature Lounge's Bourbon Apple Spice.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Yes, Virginia, Chivalry Still Exists In Chicago

Public House doorman Ralph Wieczkowski (Photo: Facebook)

Chicago nightclub doormen typically get a bad rap, but not this time. Public House door guy Ralph Wieczkowski not only helped a damsel in distress who couldn't find a taxi during the frigid temperatures Saturday night, but he also paid her fare—out of his own pocket.

"Bonita" was so grateful that she tweeted about it:

Sunday, December 8, 2013

This Is How One Wrigleyville Bar Honored World War II Vets Of Pearl Harbor Over The Weekend


Classy group of guys over at Murphy's Bleachers, eh?!

An interesting little tidbit is that the tavern was built in the late 1930s, during the actual World War II. Also, note the tribute to World War II heroes on the right side of the photo. Original owner Ernie Pareti has GOT to be turning over in his grave.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Eat, Shop & Sip At These Hot Chicago Stores

The Walnut Room's famed chicken pot pie (Photo via sassnasty)

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.

From the famed chicken pot pie at Macy's Walnut Room to dainty sandwiches, salads and wraps at Ikram Café, here are the spots you should savor as you shop.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Make Those Last-Minute Thanksgiving Reservations


For whatever reason, you're not getting a home-cooked meal this year on Thanksgiving. But have no fear, your 312DD is here with a sweet list of top Chicago restaurants serving Thanksgiving dinner.

From the steakhouse-focused Benny's Chop House to casual American State and Lake, these spots are guaranteed to make you feel right at home for the holidays.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

R.I.P. Jason Cevallos, A Dynamic Force of the James Beard Award-Winning Aviary Team

(Photo: Lou Stejskal)

Chicago's culinary and mixology communities have lost a giant with the sudden death of Jason Cevallos, a Chicago native who most recently worked at The Dawson and Aviary/The Office.

His untimely passing happened Saturday during a trip to Asia, according to his former employer Aviary:

"The staffs of the Aviary, Next and Alinea are beyond saddened to learn that Jason Cevallos, former employee and bartender in The Office, passed away this morning due to complications related to salmonella poisoning.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

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

'Still Life Moving Fast' course from the Salvador Dali menu at iNG (Photo: iNG Restaurant)

Tim Havidic's new menu at iNG will blow your mind. The chef's multi-course tasting menu was inspired by the great surrealist Salvador Dali, and we were treated to a sneak preview last week. From vibrant colors to artistic accents, Havidic's offering demonstrates that he's quite the artist himself.

Alas, we only got three courses (menu ranges from three to 10), but if that was any indication of what to expect, diners are certainly in for a treat. Honey is Sweeter Than "Bulls" Blood—based on one of his famed works of art—consisted of roasted beets, roasted beet sorbet with pine nut purée, orange zest preserves and pickled beets. It also came with bulls blood salad that was topped with frozen beet vinaigrette. You obviously need to be a beet lover to enjoy.

Still Life Moving Fast, inspired by another Dali creation, is an explosion of sweet and savory market fresh flavors. Spiced pear butter puree, pumpkin nuggets, pumpkin-enhanced butter and roasted red peppers converge for a masterpiece. Each course is paired with a specialty cocktail, beer or wine to further enhance the experience.

The Dali menu is now underway, and guests can make reservations for 10 courses ($105), six courses ($85) or three courses ($50). Reservations are required by calling the restaurant.

Monday, November 18, 2013

High Time For Holiday Tea In Chicago

Allium's sharing tower stacked with finger sandwiches and childhood pastry faves. (Photo: Four Seasons Chicago)

You'll want to savor the season with afternoon tea service featured at one of many spots around town, including Allium and Pleasant House Bakery.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

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

Frontier's Brian Jupiter (Photo: Frontier)

It's been an exhausting week for all.

Who isn't obsessed with New Orleans these days?! The Saints continue to kick ass in the NFL. Top Chef's current season completely embraces its culture as chefs continue to battle it out. And American Horror Story: Coven not only focuses on the Fourth Quarter's past and present, but it also features fierce witches taking on voodoo priestesses.

All that NOLA talk has got to make you hungry for some gumbo, and Frontier chef Brian Jupiter is just the man for the job.

The Bayou native hosts Chicago's first-ever gumbo cookoff, which pits professional chefs against home cooks. It's going to be quite interesting to see who comes out on top, seeing how Jupiter has recruited some of the best chefs in the biz, including Steve Danan (Trenchermen), David Dworshak (Takito Kitchen), John Gatsos (Tavern on Rush), Lamar Moore (Tanta) and Justin White (Small Bar).

Yours Truly emcees the festivities (Hey, I'm there for the gumbo!), which is free and takes place 2-6pm Nov. 17. There will also be food and drink specials. See you there!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Chicago Sun-Times 'Leaks' 2014 Michelin Star Recipients

Grace owner/chef Curtis Duffy (Photo: Michael Muser)


The Chicago Sun-Times posted a story at 3:30am Tuesday that apparently "leaked" some of the 2014 Chicago Michelin star-rated restaurants.

I knew something was off because the chefs are always given a courtesy call before official announcements are made. The original article was deleted, but we found it (312DD broke the first-ever Chicago Michelin star leak story in 2010).

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Haute and the Dog Shutters; Here's Why

(Photo: The Haute and the Dog)

Dion Antic, one of the partners of The Haute and the Dog, explains why the Wicker Park encased meats shop closed Sunday:

"The Haute and the Dog closed its doors to the public yesterday. But only partially. The Dog still will continue offering its unique dog creations as a strictly catering option. Owners want the freedom to do other projects and with catering they can still get the Haute product in front of a larger audience. Owners also state that there are licensing talks for retail stores of the brand in San Antonio and Oklahoma City."

An Old Fashioned Old Forester Party At Big Star

Old Fashioned photo via

Big Star's known for its daily $3 whiskey specials, but this is one certainly not to be missed.

They just acquired a 90-proof bottling of Old Forester—the first private selection in the state—and they're celebrating in grand style by hosting an Old Fashioned Old Forester Party.

That goes down 6-9pm Nov. 12 with specialty cocktails and $3 shots. Also look for bartenders to pour Old Forester Birthday Bourbon, which we hear is supposed to be pretty fantastic, too.

Friday, November 8, 2013

This Is What Happens When You Attempt To Steal An iPhone From Juno Restaurant In Lincoln Park

Juno's Jason Chan holding down suspect as he calls police (Photo: Eric Sawitoski/Facebook)

You might want to rethink your strategy if you plan on stealing iPhones. That's some especially sound advice if you plan on swiping phones in Lincoln Park, home to sushi hot spot Juno.

It's owned by longtime restaurateur Jason Chanwho also happens to be a personal trainer and trained martial artist. He's also now apparently a superhero as he stopped a suspect who attempted to steal a phone from one of his diners Thursday night.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Touching Trotter Tributes; More Culinary News


Colleagues, media and friends reflect on Charlie Trotter's incredible life and impact on the culinary world on Twitter.


• Also, I talk to some of the country's top bar industry experts, including Mercadito's Tippling Bros., on secrets to increasing bar sales during the coldest months.

A Bongo Room Bigot Just Made Brunch Lines Shorter

(Photo: Bongo Room facebook)

Really, Mary?!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

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

Paul Kahan in one of the kitchens of his many restaurants (Photo: Facebook)

Halloween is coming.

I've never quite looked forward to December as much until I found out the opening date for Nico Osteria, which opens Dec. 2, according to chef/partner Paul Kahan. That's the Italian-seafood concept by One Off Hospitality (avec, Blackbird, Big Star, Publican, Publican Quality Meats, The Violet Hour) on the lobby level of new luxury property Thompson Chicago. Former avec and Publican chef Erling Wu-Bower is at the helm.

Kahan also tells 312DD that plans are underway to expand the popular, taco-oriented Big Star. By next spring, there will be more outdoor patio seating in the parking lot adjacent to its property as well as more space for cooking, eating and drinking in a 1,500-square-foot storefront next door.

Monday, October 28, 2013

There's Nothing Scary About Chicago's Hottest Halloween Soirees

Redmoon's "table lady" (Photos: Al Sayed for Redmoon Theater)

If you haven't had a chance to check out Pilsen hot spot Punch House, it might come this weekend if you attend the annual Redmoon Theater Boneshaker bash. That's because the theater's new digs (2120 S. Jefferson St.) are not too far away from the lively new cocktail lounge.

Happening 9pm-2am Nov. 1, the post-Halloween party's produced and hosted by Youth Engineering Spectacle Committee (Redmoon's young professionals' board). You know those artsy, creative types plan to go all out with their costumes, so we advise you to do the same.

Look for them to also make great use of Redmoon's new warehouse studio, turning it into quite the spectacle for the soiree. In addition to Redmoon actors playing various characters throughout the space, expect imaginative uses of food and wine.

Friday, October 25, 2013

So Very, Very Hot Right Now.

The Pump Room's prime rib au jus with Yorkshire pudding, from the original 1938 menu (Photos: The Pump Room)

The glamorous Pump Room celebrates 75 years in October, and throughout the month, guests get the opportunity to dine on some of the original dishes from the 1938 menu.

Chefs Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Moosah Reaume along with pastry chef Kady Yon executed modern twists on the classics, resulting in dishes such as the juicy and flavorful prime rib au jus with Yorkshire pudding, flaming roasted chicken en brochette, and tempura fantail shrimp with sweet and sour sauce.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

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

Chef Grant Achatz

What a great week for Alinea owners Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas. On Tuesday, they taped a food-focused episode for Katie Couric's show with culinary stars Art Smith (Table Fifty-Two), Ming Tsai, Rocco DiSpirito and Cat Cora. All the chefs are featured in Joseph Levy's award-winning documentary, Spinning Plates, which spotlights the challenges of owning world-class restaurants. The show airs Thursday on ABC.

To celebrate, the Alinea guys are hosting a few parties that take place at Aviary Oct. 25-27. Here are the details, which include hors d'oeuvres, an open bar and an opportunity to meet the players.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Mario Batali Finally Announces Opening Date For Eataly Chicago

Here's hoping that the Chicago outpost will be as successful as the original Eataly in New York. (Photo: Eataly NYC)

One of the most frequent questions I've been asked lately: When is Eataly Chicago opening?!

I knew it was happening this fall, but other than that, celebrity chef/Eataly partner Mario Batali and company have been mum on those details.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Nominations Underway For Annual 'Jean Banchet Awards for Culinary Excellence'

Acadia chef/owner Ryan McCaskey at the 2012 Banchet awards (Photo: 312 Dining Diva)

The Jean Banchet awards—the highlight of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation's annual Grand Chefs Gala—doesn't take place until next winter, but nominations are now underway. That's the most glorious time of the year for Chicago's culinary community as they honor the best in the biz.

The nomination process is open to the public and runs Oct. 21–28. A committee will compile the results, and the top four names in each of the 11 categories will become the 2013 Jean Banchet nominees.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

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

Chef Stephanie Izard and her new husband, Gary Valentine (Photo: Facebook); the wedding cake (Photo: Little Goat Bread)

Girl and the Goat chef/owner Stephanie Izard got married last weekend to her long-time beau Gary Valentine. If you weren't lucky enough to get an invitation, don't worry, you can still get a slice of her whimsical wedding cake. Created by pastry chef Mathew Rice, it consists of chocolate ganache with peanut butter and chocolate-covered Cheez-its. WHAT?! It's now available at Little Goat Bread for $3.

A Review Of Bang Bang Pie's Hot New Biscuit Menu

Bang Bang Pie Shop's new bacon and collard greens biscuit (Photo via Time Out Chicago)

The pies at this Logan Square hot spot are phenomenal, so no doubt they'd strike gold again with a new line of savory biscuit options. Bang Bang Pie Shop recently launched such pairings as bacon with collard greens and hot sauce; ham with grits, pimento butter and pepper jelly; and sausage with gravy and concord grape jelly.

Here's what Time Out Chicago thought about them.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

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

Thomas Raquel of Acadia (Photo: Acadia)

An elite group of chefs with the sweetest jobs in the city gathers Monday, Oct. 14 for an event you don't want to miss. The first-ever Room for Dessert dinner happens at Storefront Company as sort of a kickoff event for the annual Chicago Fine Chocolate & Dessert Show at Navy Pier (Oct. 18-20). We're talking the cream of the crop here because hooking you up with their signature pastries will be the likes of Thomas Raquel (Acadia), Elissa Narow (Perennial Virant/Vie), Meg Galus (NoMI Kitchen), Patrick Fahy (Sixteen), Kym DeLost (Storefront Company) and Courtney Joseph (Takashi/Slurping Turtle). Their creations will be paired with wines and savory bites in between. Proceeds benefit Icing Smiles. The dinner starts at 7pm and you can get the $50 tickets right here.

Here's the scoop on what they'll serve that night:

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Fighting Words: Home Cooks vs. Chefs, Who Makes The Best Gumbo In Chicago?!

Photo via

Uh oh. Look what Frontier's Brian Jupiter has started.

The chef, who happens to be a Bayou native, has thrown down the gauntlet to see who brings the fire when it comes to the best gumbo in the Windy City. His first-ever Gumbo Cook-Off occurs Sunday, Nov. 17 at 2pm (during the Saints vs. 49ers game) at the restaurant.

And while the likes of Hugo's Frog Bar, SmallBar and Tavern on Rush will be competing, there will be some amateur cooks in the mix as well.

Michael Kornick's County Barbeque Offers Relief For Temporarily Displaced Government Workers

County Barbeque's pull pork sandwich (Photo: County Barbeque)

Well, here's somewhat of a silver lining in the government shutdown mess.

County Barbeque, the new Little Italy BBQ joint owned by famed local chef Michael Kornick, is hooking up government employees with free grub until Friday.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Carriage House, Embeya Make Esquire's Prestigious Annual 'Best New Restaurants' List

(Photo: Embeya)

It looks like Chicago finally got off Esquire's shit list.

We've been noticeably missing from John Mariani's prestigious annual list for Best New Restaurants two years in a row, so it's great to see that we're getting some love once again. The West Loop's Embeya and Wicker Park's Carriage House made the cut, with Embeya also getting honors of "dish of the year."

That's pretty sweet!

Here's what Mariani had to say about those props:

Mexican-Themed Deli Opens Soon With Arrival Of Mercadito Counter

Mercadito Counter's lobster dog (Photo: Mercadito Counter)

Mercadito Chicago just celebrated its fourth anniversary and the team behind the successful Mexican-themed restaurant is already set to open yet another spot.

Look for them to open Mercadito Counter—a Mexican-focused deli—some time this fall. That's another cool and contemporary deli to add to the list; we already love what Dillman's and Little Goat have brought to the table.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

So Very, Very Hot Right Now.

Nouveau Tavern's intimate interior (Photo: Nouveau Tavern)

The sweet tastes of Southern-inspired cuisine come to the western edge of River North with the arrival of Nouveau Tavern this weekend. African American-owned with a black chef at the helm in former Pierrot Gourmet toque Norman Hargrove, it promises to bring to the downtown area something that is noticeably missing.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

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

Big Star's Blue Line Swinger (Photo: One Off Hospitality Group)

It's nice and crisp outside. Enjoy.

• October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and One Off Hospitality Group contributes to the cause by donating a portion of proceeds from its food & drink programs to the Lynn Sage Foundation.

Each of its restaurants will donate $1 from the sale of the following items: select rose by the glass (avec); On Pointe cocktail (Blackbird); The Blue Line Swinger—a new take on the classic Manhattan (Big Star); Veal Breast Hash, available during Saturday and Sunday brunch (Publican); veal breast sandwich (Publican Quality Meats) and Old Fashioned cocktail (The Violet Hour).

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

DMK Burger Bar Donates Generous Tip To Ailing Barrelhouse Flat Employee

(Photo: Barrelhouse Flat)

I just happened to stumble across this photo on Barrelhouse Flat's Facebook page.

This awesomely generous tip was left by an anonymous staffer from DMK Burger Bar, which demonstrates that service people really look out for each other. Why was the tip so large?!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Rockit Snags Another Four Seasons Chef

Michael McDonald via Time Out Chicago

The news took everyone by surprise when Kevin Hickey announced last week that he was leaving the Four Seasons as well as Allium after 18 years to join Rockit Ranch.

That's effective beginning Oct. 1, but it looks like the Rockit team managed to scoop up another Four Seasons chef even before Hickey's arrival. Michael McDonald currently serves as a consultant for Rockit Bar & Grill.

Friday, September 27, 2013

So Very, Very Hot Right Now.

Art Smith and Jesus Salgueiro wedding photo via Politico

Table Fifty-Two's Art Smith participates in this weekend's Chicago Gourmet event, but he's also taking a stand against homophobia with an event of his own.

His response to the Barilla chairman's stance against gay marriage is Take the Hate Off the Plate, a brunch he's hosting at his house with his husband artist Jesus Salgueiro. The event takes place at 2pm Saturday in the garden of their Hyde Park residence. The first 50 people to email Art Smith will get an invite to the brunch to show their support.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Kevin Hickey Leaving Four Seasons Chicago To Pursue Dreams Of Own Restaurant

(Photo: Four Seasons Chicago)

I'm so bummed about this email I received Thursday morning:

"It is with mixed emotions today that we announce that Executive Chef Kevin Hickey is resigning effective Oct. 1 to pursue his dream of opening his own restaurant.

"'While we are truly happy and excited for Chef as he embarks on this new chapter in his outstanding culinary career, we will miss him as our Executive Chef and a long-time member of the Four Seasons family,' said Four Seasons General Manager Michele Grosso.

"'In Chef’s 18 years with this company, he truly has left his mark in every kitchen he worked–from Los Angeles to Dublin and London to Atlanta and right back here to his native Chicago where he led the team behind the former Seasons to Michelin Star and AAA Five Diamond status,' Grosso said. 'More recently he was the driving creative and culinary force behind the success of our new Allium restaurant.'

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

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

Signature Room Executive Chef Rosalia Barron (Photo: Signature Room)

• It's been a big year for the Signature Room as it continues to celebrate 20 years in business. In mid-October, the restaurant's staff will make a second trip to New York's famed James Beard House when Executive Chef Rosalia Barron cooks a five-course meal paired with all-American wines (The first trip was in 2011 when Trenchermen's Patrick Sheerin was at the helm).

During a sneak preview of the dinner Sunday, we had the opportunity to sample the entire James Beard menu, which allowed Barron to truly show off her skills. Highlights included geoduck clam with Osetra caviar and fresh wasabi-lemon gelee; pan-seared scallops with white truffle whipped potatoes, bacon and Champagne vinaigrette and pink snapper with poached pears and parsnips with sea urchin. Barron also paid homage to her Latin heritage with spicy braised pork empanadas topped with avocado mousse and poblano-sherry sauce.

She's certain to wow them in New York!

Monday, September 23, 2013

The 'Cheap' First Date Dilemma . . .

Photo via

I posed what I thought was a simple question on Facebook Sunday and received more than 60 responses:

A good girlfriend just informed me that a guy asked her on a first date for dinner at foodlife. What should she do?!

Now, before you react, know that this is a guy she met randomly a few months ago at a Starbucks in her neighborhood. For some reason, it took him this long to ask her out.

Here are some of the best responses from Facebook:

Thursday, September 19, 2013

So Very, Very Hot Right Now.

North Shore Distillery photo via Chicago Sun-Times

Next week is all about local pride.

Of course there's the Bearsand Blackhawks—but officially it's the second-annual Chicago Craft Spirits Week, which takes place Sept. 23-28.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

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


It's officially fall in a few days.

• There's never a bad time to drink French wine, yet French-focused Sofitel Chicago dedicates an entire week to the luscious grape. French Wine Week runs Sept. 23-30, and its purpose is to celebrate a new program promoting top French wines selected by French wine authorities Bettane & Desseauve.

Both Le Bar and Café des Architectes get in on the action with a series of promotions and events during the week. One of the highlights is the Les Amis du Chef dining series on Sept. 26.

Executive Chef Greg Biggers and pastry chef Leigh Omilinsky pair a multi-course dinner with some of the juiciest grapes in the region. The communal-style dinner is $150 and includes tip and tax. Call Café des Architectes for additional information.

For a more casual outing that's ideal for after work, Le Bar's hosting a French wine tasting 5-8pm Sept. 24. Guests get to enjoy pre-selected flights paired with cheese. It's $35 per person.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Veteran Chicago Bar Owner's Rant On 'Fake' Chicago Bar Owners


I've read a lot of rants, but nothing quite like this one I received from a local bar owner. He's pretty much fed up with other bar owners who he thinks are not in the business for the right reasons:

"Let me first start by saying I'm blessed for having seen several revered industry operators practice their craft and owners/entrepreneurs that I look up to who continue to amaze me with their innovative ideas alongside of their perfectionist approach to growing their venues.

"This rant is for the opposite end of that spectrum and the people who abuse their positions. Let's be honest, shall we?? Some people in our business are out to get things the easy way. Some say they own or manage places without actually doing it or going through the REAL hardcore journey respected operators have traveled to make that claim.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Michael Ruhlman Lunch At Balena

(Photo: Chronicle Books)

What are you doing for lunch on Sept. 17?!

Forget about heating up those usual leftovers and instead head over to Balena for an intimate lunch with author and media personality Michael Ruhlman.

Friday, September 13, 2013

So Very, Very Hot Right Now.

The Chicago Cabaret Project's "The Soiree Series" is an underground live performance/party taking place in fabulous Chicago homes. (Photo: Chicago Cabaret Project)

The Soiree Series heads to the South Side!

Put on by the invigorating Chicago Cabaret Project, the interactive cocktail party/live performance event this time around pays tribute to the great Judy Garland. Friends of Dorothy takes place in an architectural landmark home in the Kenwood neighborhood, which we hear is a shockingly short stroll to the President's house.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

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

GT Fish & Oyster partners Kevin Boehm (left) and Giuseppe Tentori (Photo: GT Fish & Oyster)

• It's not every day Spiaggia offers something this budget friendly, so I'd jump on it if I were you. The team's joining forces with GT Fish & Oyster's Giuseppe Tentori for a "funk & fish" edition of Stuzzi & Spritz. Head over 7-10pm Sept. 16 for swordfish and snacks as funk serves as background music in the bar area. It's $20 per person, with 50 percent off wines by the glass and specialty cocktails. Get advance tickets right here or pay at the door.

• Another awesome collaboration consists of Lee Wolen (Lobby at the Peninsula Chicago) and Ryan Poli (Tavernita). This one's a reunion of sorts because Wolen used to serve as Poli's sous chef back in the Butter days. They'll cook a multi-course, Mediterranean-inspired dinner at Lobby. It's $85 per person with optional wine pairings for an additional $25, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting Common Threads. 6:30pm Sept. 16.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

'Transformers 4' Party Commences At Parliament

Parliament's rooftop offers a great view of Chicago's skyline. (Photos: 312 Dining Diva)

I'm not much of a movie buff, so when I got a last-minute invitation to the private cast/crew party for Transformers 4: Age of Extinction, the only reason I accepted was because of its location. It was held Monday night at the hot new River North champagne lounge Parliament.

Of course I was excited about the possibility of meeting director Michael Bay (Who we met!), as well as stars Mark Wahlberg, Kelsey Grammer and Stanley Tucci, but I was even more excited about another bubbly bar in the area. The former home for the grimy Griffin Lounge had been successfully transformed into a luxury night spot that I could easily see myself hanging out in on a regular basis.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Trends: Filipino Cuisine

Pecking Order's roasted Cornish hen with slow-cooked white bean miso and ginger coconut sauce. (Photo: Pecking Order)

The September Details issue proclaims that Filipino cuisine is the next hot dining trend and highlights some of the top spots in the country.

Notably missing are Chicago restaurants—which shouldn't come as a surprise because when most folks think of Filipino food the Midwest isn't the first place they'd look.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

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


Four talented local toques gather at Tom Van Lente's TWO restaurant in West Town for a memorable, pork-focused feast. Van Lente, along with Derek Simcik (Atwood Cafe), Aaron Thebault (Girl & the Goat) and John Manion (La Sirena Clandestina), will create multiple courses from a whole Mangalitsa pig that will be paired with beer, wine and cocktails. Ninety bucks will get you smoked loin carpaccio, chile-smoked pork shoulder and pork fat buttermilk funnel cake. The event happens at 5pm Sept. 8 and a portion of the proceeds benefits charity.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

September To Remember: Allium's All-You-Can-Eat Fried Chicken, 'Green Tie Ball,' & More

Yowsa! A basket of Allium's all-you-can-eat buttermilk fried chicken deal. (Photo: Allium)

Just when you thought the coast was clear and all that awesome eating you did over the Labor Day weekend was a thing of the past, this happens.

In time to fete fall's return, Allium re-introduces its weekly all-you-can-eat buttermilk fried chicken special. Beginning Tuesday, Sept. 3, Executive Chef Kevin Hickey brings back his yardbird special that comes with a wedge salad, sweet corn on the cob, mashed potatoes, gravy and biscuit. Dessert is house-made peach pie with blueberry ice cream. It's $38 per person during lunch and dinner every Tuesday throughout September. Get it while it's hot!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Hot List: The Best Spots To Take Kids In Chicago

Photo via Delectably Chic.

Little kids can sometimes get out of control, but that's OK because that's what kids DO. But since not every establishment or diners relish in their growing pains (see story here), thank goodness for those that embrace the concept.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Brendan Sodikoff Drops 'Deli' Concept In Dillman's

Dillman's interior (Photo: Dillman's)

New River North eatery Dillman's has been open for less than two weeks and principle owner Brendan Sodikoff is already making changes. He admits that his vision for a contemporary deli concept has been lost on some customers, so he'll be "dropping the use of the word delicatessen in association with Dillman's," effective immediately.

He added, in a message to 312DD:

Thursday, August 15, 2013

So Very, Very Hot Right Now.

Michael Carlson photo via the Chicago Tribune

I should have known something was up when Juno partner Jason Chan gushed out of the blue Wednesday that Schwa owner/chef Michael Carlson stopped by his restaurant to drop off lunch for his staff. That certainly isn't in character of the elusive chef, so of course I was right on the money.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A Bang Bang Pie Shop Backyard Benefit

Bang Bang Pie Shop's Lavender Coconut Cream Pie. (Photo: Bang Bang Pie Shop)

Logan Square's Bang Bang Pie Shop teams up with Growing Home for a fundraiser that sounds like a ton of fun on its backyard patio.

They've gotten together some of the best folks on the local cocktail and culinary scenes for a family-style dinner party 5-8pm Sept. 15. Here's what to expect for a $65 (or more!) donation: