Wednesday, July 10, 2013

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

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

Nothing's hotter than July in Chicago.

Rick Bayless (Frontera Grill, etc.) is apparently zeroing in on the West Loop dining scene, according to Chicago Real Estate Daily:

"Celebrity chef Rick Bayless plans to open a restaurant in the West Loop, joining a frenzy of operators hoping to set up shop in and near the fast-gentrifying neighborhood.

"Mr. Bayless is negotiating to lease space at 900 W. Randolph St., sources said. It's likely Mr. Bayless would offer Mexican food, his culinary forte, at the establishment, his first major project here since 2009."

Right now, he's not going on the record about any of this, but we'll certainly be on the lookout to see what materializes.

New Deleece Executive Chef Ernesto Palaia (Photo: Deleece)

In other news:

• Farm-to-table fave Farmhouse opens in Evanston today (July 10). The project, engineered by Executive Chef Eric Mansavage, was supposed to debut in May, but got behind schedule. Look for the same basic menu of locally sourced ingredients, craft beer, wine and cocktails. The space, however, is much larger with a spacious outdoor patio.

• Tickets are on sale for the first-ever James Beard Foundation’s Taste America: Local Flavor from Coast to Coast. Events occur Sept. 20-21 and showcase culinary "greats" of the Great Lakes region. Some of the weekend's highlights include a cocktail reception at the Beard-nominated Violet Hour; an all-star dinner with Beard winners and nominees Tony Mantuano (Spiaggia), Giuseppe Tentori (Boka, GT Fish & Oyster), Patrick Fahy (Sixteen); and a number of free, in-store consumer events featuring the likes of Paul Kahan (Blackbird, etc.). Ticket prices range from $75 to $350.

• The Gapers Block hot dog cookoff happens 2-7pm July 13 in Schubas' parking lot. Chefs Michael Jarvis (Kuma's), Abraham Conlon (Fat Rice), Dion Antic (Haute & the Dog) and others will compete for top dog. Doug Sohn of Hot Doug's, David "The Food Dude" Lissner (Dining Chicago) and Bruce Kraig, author of the book "Man Bites Dog," serve as judges. It's $20 for adults; $10 for children, which includes tastes of all the hot dogs. Get tickets right here.

Avec has finally thrown in the towel and admitted that the "earlier" SUNDAY SERVICE IS BRUNCH. Beginning July 21, new chef de cuisine Perry Hendrix goes all in with a menu that includes torrejas (Spanish-style French toast) with fresh ricotta, cherries, almonds and mint; wood-fired oven baked eggs with summer squash and corona beans, cooked in a traditional guanciale amatriciana sauce; and roasted hanger steak topped with a fried egg, and served with papas brava. Brunch officially ends at 2pm, but they'll stay open so you can get your drink on. The kitchen re-opens at 3:30pm, which to me is still late brunch.

• A new executive chef has landed at Deleece, the popular Southport Corridor resto adjacent to the Mercury Theater. Former New Yorker Ernesto Palaia has added many new entrees to the menu, but what caught my eye is the Duck Club made of pan-roasted Indiana duck breast, house-made pepper pear jam, avocado, Nueske’s bacon, alfalfa sprouts, bib lettuce, tomato and Dijon aioli on marbled rye.

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