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?!