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?!