Thursday, September 29, 2011

Michelin's 'Bib Gourmand' Released Soon

(Photo: Michelin Guides)

For some reason, 312DD was included on the media distribution list for the Michelin Guide New York City 2012 Bib Gourmand announcement. Odd. It was released Wednesday, by the way.

I took that opportunity—of course—to ask them when they were going to make an announcement about the Michelin Guide Chicago 2012 Bib Gourmand recipients. They said Wednesday, Nov. 9.

To refresh your memories, Bib Gourmand selections are restaurants serving two courses and a glass of wine or dessert for $40 or less (tax and gratuity not included). According to Michelin, "While the Michelin stars remain the most celebrated designation in the Michelin Guide, Bib Gourmand is a highly desired distinction among restaurateurs. "

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Dine & Drink For Pink


Do your part to help support Breast Cancer Awareness Month by participating in the Lynn Sage Foundation's annual In Good Taste campaign.

You can choose from a list of more than 100 of Chicagoland's most-buzzed about restaurants, and donate at least $1 on your check. The promotion happens throughout October and you can see the entire list of participants here.

Here's what is also going down in October in support of breast cancer awareness:

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Hot Restaurateur's 'Gastro' Diner Location Revealed

Brendan Sodikoff

When I was first given the scoop on Brendan Sodikoff's hot upcoming "gastro" diner concept, I was told it was going to be named Ox Diner.

But now that's all changed, according to an Ultimate Insider, who was also the reliable source who gave me the exclusives on Sodikoff's Gilt Bar, Maude's Liquor Bar and Doughnut Vault.

Competition Finally For Doughnut Vault

Table Fifty-Two's new pop-up Sweets Stand opens this weekend with doughnuts and more. (Photos: Table Fifty-Two)

River North's runaway sugar-high hit Doughnut Vault has had a few copycats since opening earlier this year as a daily morning pop-up next to Gilt Bar, but no one has come even close to its deliciousness.

But Table Fifty-Two pastry chef Celeste "CeCe" Campise may finally give them some competition with her very own pastry pop-up just outside of Art Smith's superb Southern-focused eatery.

Sept. 29 Is 'Chef Priscila Satkoff Day'

Priscila Satkoff of Salpicon! in Old Town. (Photo: Salpicon!)

She's set to be inducted into the Chicago Culinary Museum and Chef's Hall of Fame on Nov. 16, and now Priscila Satkoff has been given her very own special day.

The chef/owner of Old Town's iconic Salpicon! has been granted Chef Priscila Satkoff Day by Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Sept. 29.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Love Over Mac 'n' Cheese?!

Signature Mac 'n' Cheese dishes from Southern. (Photo: Southern Mac & Cheese Store)

Maybe, just maybe, we'll be able to help two mac 'n' cheese lovin' folks get a love connection going on.

A female diner visited the just-opened Southern Mac & Cheese Store last week, saw a guy she wanted to get to know better and posted an ad in the Missed Connections section of Craig's List:

More Pop-Ups & Fall Previews . . .


Some tasty fall happenings to keep you warm this season:

The brand-new menu at CHICAGO q will change your mind if you think of it as only a summertime spot. Executive Chef Lee Ann Whippen has added to dinner BBQ shrimp with lemon-infused grits, a smoked salmon salad with roasted beets and candied walnuts, and linguine with smoked seasonal veggies, olive oil and fresh herbs. There's also a happy hour menu 3-6pm Monday through Friday where you'll get dishes for half-price ($3.25-$3.75), including bacon cheddar hush puppies, fried green tomatoes and smoked dry-rubbed wings.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Bluebird Crew Starts New Tradition


Brand new Bluebird Executive Chef Jack Stankovic has found a new way for the kitchen crew to bond.

He tells 312DD:

"As of last week, a couple of us guys at The Bird get Harold's Chicken, like a big ass bucket for lunch. Last week we destroyed the thing, this week it left us sad and angry. 36 is the number that Harold's is on Milwaukee, you dig. At the end, we wash it down with bubbles and start service."

Bubbles & yardbird?! What is there to be sad and angry about?

Unveiling of Hennessy KAWS at Blackbird

Hennessy KAWS models with Blackbird Chief Mixologist Lynn House (second, left). (Photo: Hennessy)

I'll admit it. I had no idea who graffiti artist KAWS was before I was invited to the spirited dinner hosted by Hennessy cognac at Blackbird Wednesday.

Apparently the New York-based star is such a big deal that the famed French spirit decided to collaborate with him on a limited-release Hennessy KAWS "very special cognac." The company produced 420,000 numbered bottles (I took home bottle number 54,930 by the way) with KAWS' signature artwork as its centerpiece.

There's even a message from the artist on the back of the bottle: "Friends work music art. It's important to find the right blend." The official launch unveiling party for the bottle was held in New York (of course) last week, and there are plans to host additional celebrations in Hennessy's top markets.

Chicago's event in Blackbird's sleek upper level private dining room included a four-course dinner created by Chef de Cuisine David Posey and five cocktails by Chief Mixologist Lynn House. And to give guests an idea of what KAWS' artwork is like, models strutted around the room in memorable signature bodypaint.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

It's Official!


Bravo just confirmed that Sable Kitchen & Bar's Heather Terhune is on Top Chef: Texas.

Check out what she had to say in this here video.

Now maybe this can finally come true!

The rules have changed drastically for the ninth season. Apparently, she will first compete against a record 28 chefs—almost double the amount of chefs in season’s past—and only 16 will go on to compete across the Lone Star State (in Austin, Dallas and San Antonio).

Here's the entire list of participants, which includes SIX Chicago chefs in all:

Beverly Kim, Aria Restaurant

Richie Farina, MOTO

Sarah Grueneberg, Spiaggia

Chris Jones, MOTO

Chuy Valencia, Chilam Bilam

The show premieres at 9pm CST Wednesday, Nov. 2.

Good luck to EVERYONE!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Blackhawk Brothers' Night Out!

Blackhawks' team captain Jonathan Toews (left) with new teammate and brother, David Toews (Photo via

Believe it or not, I prefer not to write about misbehaving celebrities, whether they're acting up at nightclubs or leaving crappy tips in some of Chicago's top restaurants.

Instead, I'd prefer to write stories like this one:

Your New Favorite Day of the Week

Photo via official "Meatless Monday" campaign.

I spent my recent birthday week at Expanding Light, a yoga and meditation retreat in the foothills of Northern California.

And while I went with the goal of a glam detox, I came away with valuable information that'll help me enjoy a healthier and happier lifestyle.

In addition to daily yoga and meditation classes, I indulged in the most delicious vegetarian cuisine I had ever tasted. Yes, indulged. The chefs there demonstrated that you don't have to limit yourself to salads and a bunch of veggies to get a good, satisfying vegetarian meal. They incorporated whole grains, nuts, beans and tofu for a number of impressive dishes.

And, to be frank, I'm not trying to adopt a vegetarian lifestyle, but the program I endured had me researching the Meatless Monday campaign.

For at least once a week, diners are encouraged to cut out meat in order to improve their health as well as the environment. In particular, going "meatless" can reduce heart disease and carbon footprints as well as limit cancer risk and minimize water usage.

I don't know about you, but I will be visiting some unconventional restaurants to observe Meatless Monday from now on:

Friday, September 16, 2011

Off The Grid Grubbing . . .

Tim Williams (left), Brandon Baltzley (Photo: BOOM Photography!) and Troy Graves

You're already aware of fall's biggest foodie fests, but didja know about some of the more under-the-radar events happening around town?

Here's what is going down, from a few unconventional pop-up restaurants to a cocktail party with sippin' and swagger:

Thursday, September 15, 2011

I Want Mussels!


One of my good girlfriends almost passed out when I sent her info on the seventh-annual Mussels Festival, which kicks off Friday and continues through Sept. 30.

Apparently, they're at their peak this time of year, so a number of local restos that make up the Chicago Originals take advantage and celebrate with unique offerings on their menus.

And what's even better is that if you go to the Chicago Originals website, you can print out coupons for 50 percent off regular prices at participating restaurants like Cyrano's Bistrot, Hemmingway's Bistro, Oceanique and May St. Cafe.

Looks like we're having mussels every week until the end of the month!

The Best Fries in the City?!

Foie Gras Fries from Big and Little's. (Photo via Serious Eats)

Betcha didn't know today was National Double Cheeseburger Day. And what goes better with a juicy, homestyle burger than a perfect side of crispy French fries?!

These days, however, some places specialize in fries so well that they can stand out on their own.

And so you don't have to traipse all over town looking for the best ones around, Serious Eats did all the hard work for you with its Chicago: 10 French Fries We Love rundown.

In their quest to pick superior spuds, they "measured texture (that important balance between crisp outsides and fluffy insides), cooking styles, toppings, and most importantly of all, flavor:"

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

People Want Locally Owned!

More than 100 hungry folks waiting in line on the first day of the new M Burger at the Thompson Center. (Photo: M Burger)

So. Here's the scene during lunchtime on the first day of M Burger at the Thompson Center.

Its 100-plus person line is proof that Lettuce Entertain You's first-ever burger concept wasn't just a fad, and that folks are willing to choose local spots over the typical big-name chains!

'3 Guys in a Booth' Looking For Fab Fourth

James Rhine (left) and Jerry Azumah are two-thirds of Three Guys in a Booth. (Photo: Three Guys in a Booth)

I was particularly intrigued when the latest dining-focused media dynamo came across my radar.

OK, it does have something to do with the fact that Three Guys in a Booth—a new webisode series checking out Chicago's hottest restaurants—are all exceptionally good looking (not exactly something that happens often in this industry!), but also because of who they are.

You'll immediately recognize former Bears star Jerry Azumah, who revealed to me his fondness of food when he excitedly gave 312DD an exclusive first look at Next.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Local Bar Stars Reinvent Chocolate Martini

Godiva Chocolate Raspberry Vodka (Photo: Godiva Chocolate Vodka)

When two bottles of Godiva Chocolate Vodka—compliments of Godiva Chocolate Vodka—arrived on my doorstep one afternoon, I decided to have some fun with them.

Instead of immediately gulping them down straight out of the bottle (so chocolaty, so smooth, so incredibly rich!), I convinced two talented, local mixologists to make me some inventive cocktails you too can make at home.

GT Fish & Oyster's Johnny Costello hooked me up with about five different cocktails, which he somehow managed to pair with the rich seafood served at the River North hot spot. He used Godiva Chocolate Raspberry Vodka. One was a Negroni-style sipper he dubbed Dark, Bitter and Sweet (Hey, is that drink named after me?!).

And Chasity "Bar Star" Beasley of Fulton's on the River created sweeter, more dessert-like libations such as the Peppermint Patty. She used Godiva Chocolate Vodka in her cocktails. Think creamy, chocolate-mint ice cream.

Wanna find out what else they made and get the recipes?! Here's the story at


Monday, September 5, 2011


Photo via

See you Beautiful People soon! It's time for a GLAM DETOX.

312DD will be back in action Sept. 13.