Monday, February 28, 2011

Hot News For Andersonville!

Kyle McHugh of Lady Gregory (Photo: Kyle McHugh)

The guy who's known as the Boozehound around town is taking his grind to Andersonville.

Kyle McHugh, who shuttered the upscale River North spirits shop Drinks on Dearborn at the end of 2010, has been named beverage director at Lady Gregory's.

Cheers To Harry . . . And Ron Santo!

Ron Santo (left) and Harry Caray (Photo: Harry Caray's)

If you didn't have plans at 5:55pm CST March 1, you do now.

That's when the 13th annual Worldwide Toast to Harry Caray happens at Harry Caray's. New this year is also a tribute to Cubs announcer Ron Santo, who passed away in 2010.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

While You Were Watching The Oscars . . .


. . . Schwa's eccentric super chef Michael Carlson was chowing down at Alinea, according to this tweet from Grant Achatz:

"What do u do when Michael Carlson dines? Buy a pill press and make onion sweet tarts."

Wonder if he helped in the kitchen?!

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Sweetest B-Day Ever For Bulls Star?!

(Photo via Twitter)

Chicago Bulls star Joakim Noah celebrated his 26th birthday at Underground Thursday.

The best part about it—in addition to a big win over LeBron James and the Miami Heat—was his Bulls-themed birthday cake that was made by Sarah's Pastries.

Accordingly, Noah loved the cake so much that "he wouldn't let them cut it up and he took it home."

Great idea!

Happy Birthday to Joakim!

This Is Gonna Sell Out!

(Photo: James Beard Foundation)

Oh. My. Freaking. God.

Alinea super duper chef/owner Grant Achatz just posted this to Facebook:

Freebies . . . on Friday . . .


Low on cash, but got an appetite for the good life?! Every Friday, 312DD features the best bargain bets around town:

This is absolutely amazing!

Why bother going to one of those cookie-cutter chain restaurants when you can support a local gem like Big Jones with the family. What makes it even better is that if you arrive between 4-7pm, kids dine free when accompanied by an adult. That goes down every day.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Words of the Week . . .


Local food journalist Michael Nagrant's tweet on the mayoral changing of the guard was retweeted more than 100 times Tuesday night:

"Rahm Emanuel just ousted Richard Daley as the mayor of city hall on @foursquare."

You cannot say that that ish wasn't funny as hell!

Are You Pissing Off Your Bartender?!

Photo via Nirvino.

We get it.

You educated yourself enough about elixirs and bitters and all things cocktail related that you can make a Manhattan with your eyes closed.

But when you're not a professional behind the bar and you spout off to the bartender just how knowledgeable you are . . .you just become annoying.

That's the sentiment behind the article by spirits writer Camper English, who colorfully describes the ultimate bar snob:

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Say Hello To Perennial's New Exec Chef

Photo via Chicago Sun-Times.

Paul Virant has just been named Perennial's new executive chef and partner. The force behind Western Springs' Vie has also been on Iron Chef and won Food & Wine's Best New Chef.

He replaces Ryan Poli, who leaves his post March 7 to take over Tavernita.

Congrats, Paul!

UPDATE: The restaurant will now be called Perennial Virant.

ANOTHER UPDATE: 312DD finally snagged an interview with Kevin Boehm and Rob Katz—the very busy managing partners of the Boka Restaurant Group, which owns Perennial as well as Boka, Girl & The Goat, the forthcoming GT Fish & Oyster and Landmark.

Thank God For Facebook & Twitter!

The Bristol. (Photo: Neil Burger)

It's hard enough getting into Bucktown's offbeat eatery The Bristol, but now AT&T has made it even more difficult, according to a tweet from owner John Ross:

"Bristol phones are down, but we will be open all week! AT&T says the phones are out in North Bucktown&wont be fixed until Friday? Wow."

Yikes. Get it together, AT&T!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

312DD Makes Top 5 Restaurant Week Picks . . .

May St. Cafe's housemade ceviche. (Photo: May St. Cafe)

Still in need of reservations for Chicago Restaurant Week?!

312DD made her Top 5 tasty picks on WCIU-TV's You & Me This Morning. Watch the video here.

Chicago Restaurant Week runs through Feb. 27.

Don't Forget To Vote!


It's a big day for some important Chicago people.

It's time to VOTE . . . for one of our local culinary stars.

This year, Food & Wine has launched a new contest—The People's Best New Chef 2011—and here's who is on the ballot:

Monday, February 21, 2011

Sola Stays Put; Plans For Relocation Scrapped

(Photo: sola)

Just got word that Carol Wallack, owner/chef of popular North Center's sola, has scrapped plans to relocate to downtown this spring.

Instead, she's going to stay in the original space, and plans will soon be underway for some remodeling. In addition, she'll make the menu of Hawaiian-inspired dishes more affordable and neighborhood friendly.

It will remain open during the changes.

The Biggest A-Hole In The World?!


A server at a popular Lakeview eatery Saturday didn't find the humor in the above photo of a customer's receipt.

Apparently, the brunch guest—who happened to be a financial analyst—thought it would be a good idea to leave his "two cents" in lieu of a tip because he felt the establishment "needed faster cooks." Oh, and to add insult to injury, he drew a picture of a smiley face emoticon.

She had some advice for him as well:

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Office Is Achatz's 'Secret' Bar . . .

Nick Kokonas (left) and Grant Achatz of Alinea are opening The Office on the lower level of The Aviary in April. (Photo: Alinea)

What a sneaky little article the Sun-Times' Janet Fuller wrote on The Aviary Friday.

Buried at the bottom of the story was a bit about a speakeasy that owners Nick Kokonas and Grant Achatz are apparently planning on the lower level of the Warehouse District bar when it debuts in April:

". . . know that in the basement of Aviary will be a tiny bar called the Office, behind a door marked 'Office,' with yet its own food and drink menu, and to which 'we either invite you, or you book it,' Kokonas says."

Oooof. And now there is a video walkthrough of The Aviary space!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Freebies . . . on Friday . . .

Artisan chocolate and cheese paired with wine at Eno. (Photo: Eno)

Betcha didn't know today was National Drink Wine Day.

And now that you do, it's time to do something about it. My recommendation is to head over to Eno after work and wind down with a glass or two. If you do, you'll get a complimentary piece of artisan chocolate.

To get the sweet treat, all you have to do is "check in" on Twitter, Foursquare or Facebook and show your phone to the sommelier. Available this Friday only.

Even more deals to indulge in all weekend:

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Reality of the Beard Award Noms

Charles Joly (from left), Stephanie Izard and Dale Levitski were named semifinalists for the 2011 James Beard Awards.

Here's the entire list of the 2011 James Beard Foundation Awards Restaurant and Chef Award Semifinalists, which was released Thursday morning, and you'll be happy to know that Chicago represented.

Three of Chicago's nominees are pretty much celebrities in their own right:

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Ryan Poli Leaving Perennial For Mercadito Start-Up

Chef Ryan Poli of Perennial. (Photo: Perennial)

The word's out and Eater busted the story wide open Wednesday afternoon.

Ryan Poli, Perennial's colorful executive chef, is apparently leaving his post to helm Mercadito's new venture in the old Martini Park space.

Words of the Week . . .

Blue 13's Dan Marunowski. (Photo: Blue 13)

"Has internet made people lose the ability to hold conversations over the phone? I'm taking reservations @Blue13Chicago and it's painful..."—Tweet from Blue 13 partner Dan Marunowski

Stanley's Kitchen & Tap Lands At O'Hare

Original Stanley's Kitchen & Tap in Lincoln Park. (Photo: Stanley's Kitchen & Tap)

One thing's for sure, you won't see any travelers belting out "Proud Mary" karaoke style when the O'Hare location for Stanley's Kitchen & Tap opens Feb. 26 in Terminal 2.

But they'll get to experience the down-home flavors for which the Lincoln Park institution has become known, including fried chicken, Southern-style brunch and more.

According to an Ultimate Insider, the owners have partnered with the Chicago Blackhawks for this venture, which means that it'll be pretty sports oriented as well.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

'Chicago Restaurant Week' Starts Friday!

The Dover Sole at Benny's Chop House is one of the featured deals during the third-annual Chicago Restaurant Week. (Photo: Benny's Chop House)

It's time again for the third-annual Chicago Restaurant Week, happening Friday through Feb. 27.

The 10-day event features special prix-fixe menus of $22 for lunch and $33-$44 for dinner. Benny's Chop House, in River North, however, is the only spot featuring its special lunch menu all month long.

Make reservations now if you want to get the deals all over town because they will sell out!

Monday, February 14, 2011

One Big Year For Benjamin Schiller

Ben Schiller photo via Chicago Reader

As head mixologist for Boka Restaurant Group (Boka, Girl & The Goat, GT Fish & Oyster, Landmark, Perennial), Ben Schiller is one of the hardest-working guys in Chicago's ever-growing spirits scene. That's why it came as a bit of a shock when we found out he was taking on yet another major project.

The multitasking, multi-talented bar star also consults over at the just-opened River North lounge, Hubbard Inn, owned by the team from English and LaSalle Power Co.

Friday, February 11, 2011

End Your Evening With A Sexy Nightcap


Soooo, you've already picked out an outfit, bought a gift, and made those Valentine's Day dinner reservations, but something's missing.

How about a change of venue after dinner . . . something a bit sexier to set the mood for things to come?!

Check these recommendations around town of where to enjoy the perfect little nightcap:

Freebies . . . on Friday . . .

Find out how this sushi from Sunda can be yours for free! (Photo: Sunda)

Low on cash, but got an appetite for the good life?! Every Friday, 312DD features the best bargain bets around town:

District: You'll get 30 percent off your entire tab tonight only at this upscale sports lounge in River North.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Indulge In 'Black Swan' Cocktails During Oscars

Kit Kat's White Swan (left) and Black Swan cocktails. (Photo: Kit Kat Lounge and Supper Club)

You knew it was gonna happen.

At least one spot in the city was going to throw a "Black Swan"-themed Oscars bash. And we're not mad at Kit Kat Lounge and Supper Club, whose annual viewing parties have never disappointed.

'No Tell Motel' Returns to Debonair . . .

A performer at the "No Tell Motel." (Photo: Debonair Social Club)

All you little pervs and pervettes will be happy to know that Debonair Social Club is bringing back that infamous No Tell Motel.

For those out of the loop, that's when Debonair transforms into one of the sleaziest "motels" in the city—and believe us when we tell you that's a good thing.

Tango In New Parisian-Themed Places

Escargots à la Bourguignonne from Paris Club. (Photo: Anjali Pinto Photography)

Last year was all about tequila and tacos and English pub grub, but 2011 is already shaping up to be a French Revolution as three very high-profile Parisian-style eateries have opened in less than two months.

Today will see the debut of Paris Club, a scene-y showstopper brought to us by the guys from HUB 51/SUB 51.

The savvy sons of Lettuce Entertain You Chairman Rich Melman, Jerrod and R.J. have yet another hit on their hands with a dining/nightspot taking New York's iconic Pastis to the next level.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Dynamic Duo At 'Chicago Live!'

Nick Kokonas (left) and Grant Achatz of Alinea. (Photo: Alinea)

WGN Radio's Chicago Live has snagged a big one.

Later this month, Alinea head honchos Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas will appear on the weekly live stage show with host Rick Kogan.

This Deal Is A Mighty Fine Steal!

Erick Williams is the executive chef at MK. (Photo: MK)

This is FAN-freaking-tastic.

The guys over at MK know how much I crave their soups, fries and roast chicken thighs and now they want you to find out.

Through May 1, the contempo American resto in River North is offering Friends of 312DD 25 percent off their entire dinner—and this includes wine!

To get the discount, all you have to do is mention that you're a Friend of 312DD when making that reservation Sunday through Thursday only. Now, isn't that a sweet deal?!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Swine At Its Finest At Baconfest

(Photo via The Bacon Games)

Tickets to Baconfest don't go on sale until the end of the month, but they're teasing the hell out of us with the just-released list of participating chefs.

Oh, just the names on this list will have you salivating, as your imagination goes wild with what they'll have in store for us when the pork party goes down on April 9 at the UIC Forum (725 W. Roosevelt Rd.).

Friday, February 4, 2011

That GT Is Such A Tease . . .

(Photo: GT Fish & Oyster)

GT Fish & Oyster—named after chef/partner Giuseppe Tentori—isn't opening until March, but they just released this tasty-looking photo of miniature lobster and shrimp pot pies.


The Buzz Is Hot On This One!

(Photo via Metromix)

"You are going to love Hubbard Inn if you have not checked it out," writes an Ultimate Insider who got a chance to attend a preview party at the upcoming River North venue Thursday night.

But this made me even more excited:

"They are having their own house bourbon made."


It's set to open Feb. 7.

Whoops! It Ain't Over Yet . . .

(Photo: Ole Hardwood)

The drama apparently isn't over for the South Loop space formerly known as Ole Hardwood.

Police are continuing to investigate the fire that burned down the "gastro-smokehouse" in December, according to Chicago Journal:

Freebies . . . on Friday . . .


Low on cash, but got an appetite for the good life?! Every Friday, 312DD features the best bargain bets around town:

Benny's Chop House: One of the best deals during the Super Bowl, the menu at this River North steakhouse will offer $2 prime beef sliders, truffle & mushroom flatbreads, and $3 craft beers from Green Bay and Pittsburgh. Also, bring the kids along for generous deals 3-7pm every Sunday. Each child (per paying adult) eats for free from a menu that includes Chef Jonathan's Chicken Noodle Soup, all-natural chicken fingers, petite filet with fries, classic cheeseburger, and an ice cream sundae with chocolate sauce.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

'Hottest Chef' Contestant, Others Cook For Vital Bridges

Chef Ryan Poli of Perennial. (Photo: Boka Restaurant Group)

Perennial's Ryan Poli made it through the first round of Eater Chicago's first-ever Hottest Chef Poll, and now you can meet the baby blue-eyed culinary star at a benefit happening Feb. 8.

John Manion Leaves Branch 27

John Manion. (Photo via Chicago Reader)

John Manion is out as executive chef of Branch 27 to start his own Latin venture, according to an Ultimate Insider, who also tells 312DD that sous chef Rich Phelps is also gone and leaving for MK.

We expect something pretty big, considering Manion was one of the forces behind the nuevo Latin cuisine scene back in the late 1990s as executive chef of now-shuttered Mas and Otro Mas.

We'll keep you updated as more info comes out about location, concept, etc. . . .

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Some Great News From South Beach!

Chicago's own Todd Appel (far right) won second place in the prestigious Bacardi Legacy Competition, which took place in South Beach Tuesday. (Photo: Lynn House)

While we're up here fighting this dreadful blizzard, three of Chicago's top bar stars have been in Miami all week for the annual Bacardi Superior Rum Legacy Cocktail Competition.

Brad Bolt (Bar DeVille), Lynn House (Blackbird) and Todd Appel (Piranha Bros.) all repped Chicago and the Midwest, but it was Appel who came out on top.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Local Family Sends Pizza To Troops For Super Bowl

Uno's famous deep-dish pizza.

This story just warms my cold heart on this blustery day.

The third-annual Operation Pizza Bowl is what an Elk Grove, Ill., family calls its mission to send more than 7,000 pizzas to military troops serving in Iraq, Afghanistan and Korea—just in time for the Super Bowl.

Apparently, Uno's is responsible for making most of the deep-dish pizzas, and a private label pizza company helped with the rest.

SO awesome!

Is Someone Impersonating Cyrano's Chef?!

(Photo of Didier Durand via the Chicago Sun-Times)

Could this possibly be true?!

Was passed along this email by an Ultimate Insider, which was randomly and allegedly sent to him by Cyrano's owner/chef Didier Durand:

Brave The @#$%^&*&^%$ Blizzard!

(Photo via Favors in the City)

Leave it to my Mom to start reciting the "Ant and the Grasshopper" to me now that the Blizzard of 2011 is upon us. And I will admit that I'm a bit of a grasshopper when it comes to getting ready for these events, but I know I'll be fine in the end.

One of the reasons is because I've got the stamina—and the right winter boots—to trek it to a cool spot for yummy cocktails and cuisine. Plus, many are doing noteworthy deals in our time of need: