Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Grace owner/chef Curtis Duffy (Photo: Michael Muser)
We've been waiting to hear this one for awhile.
The celebrated, two Michelin-star rated chef Curtis Duffy will finally start taking reservations for Grace on Nov. 6. Just to help you remember that date, it is also Election Day.
The restaurant's set to open late November, but they're taking those resos for December seatings. Here's the number.
Tuesday, October 30, 2012
One local restaurant group is stepping up to help in the wake of the devastation of Hurricane Sandy on the East Coast.
From Oct. 31 through Friday, Nov. 2, DMK Restaurants—which owns Ada Street, DMK Burger Bar and Fishbar—is throwing a Drink Them Dry benefit where 20 percent of beverage sales goes toward the American Red Cross relief efforts.
They'll also sell raffle tickets for a few lucky people to win a $250 gift card to DMK Restaurants.
I'll give them a pass for putting Morton's on the list because after all it originated in Chicago.
But the fact that Crain's dedicated much of its Best Steakhouses For Business list to chains is pretty inexcusable.
Not to say that Capital Grille, Mastro's and Smith & Wollensky aren't good, but there's nothing unique about any of them. You can get those exact same menus all over the country.
Monday, October 29, 2012
Interior of Custom House (Photo: Custom House)
That's really too bad because they made one helluva burger and the bartenders were very skilled in their craft. Custom House was also a great place to hit up before or after a performance at the Auditorium Theatre.
The husband-and-wife team behind the Printers' Row restaurant also owns Eggy's and Maison in the Lakeshore East neighborhood.
Eater Chicago has the scoop on additional closings . . .
UPDATE: Here is the official statement of the closing from the owners:
Paul McGee pic (left) via Haberdash Men; Jason Hammel photo via Chicago Reader
• Lula Café owner/chef Jason Hammel and Three Dots and a Dash partner/mixologist Paul McGee have teamed up for the ultimate Halloween bash at the trendy Logan Square resto. They've assembled some of the city's top bartenders as Lula transforms into The Violent Hour. Talent includes Brad Bolt (Bar DeVille), Josh Pearson (Sepia) and Benjamin Schiller (BOKA), who will serve scary signature cocktails at numerous stations. Starts at 7pm Oct. 31. No reservations; cash only.
• Grant Achatz (Alinea, Next, The Aviary) is participating in the annual Chicago Humanities Festival on Nov. 4. Too bad it's sold out!
• Former Erwin chef Michael Lathrop is now at Acre. Look for him to interpret the restaurant's farm-to-table concept in his own style.
Thursday, October 25, 2012
This year we've indulged in Chicago Restaurant Week, Chicago Craft Beer Week and most recently Chicago Craft Spirits Week, so this next big event makes absolute sense.
When the Chicago Fine Chocolate Festival happens again in November, it's adding a new component: the first-ever Chicago Chocolate Week. That's when a number of high-profile restaurants showcase signature desserts Nov. 11-18, with 10 percent of sales benefiting Share Our Strength.
Here's who is on board thus far:
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
I typically don't write about what's going on in the local wine world because frankly the players appear to be a bit stuffy. Their cocktail counterparts are the ones with the colorful stories and events, but this upcoming November event should change that.
The inaugural Spiaggia Sommelier Smackdown, which will be hosted by Spiaggia sommelier Jason Carlen and The Boarding House partner/Master Sommelier Alpana Singh, happens on Nov. 14 and benefits The Cancer Research Foundation. It will also have top wine experts from some of the hottest restaurants in town going head to head in some "juicy" competitions.
Ming Tsai will be in Chicago next week.
• Kampai Mondays debuts on Oct. 29 at Arami with Ervin Guinto pairing eight courses with sake. The restaurant's certified sake professionals will team up with different sake producers each month for this event that's $50 per person (includes tax and tip). Two seatings available: 7-8:30pm and 8:30-10pm. Call the restaurant for a reso.
• Celebrated chef Ming Tsai will also be in town on Oct. 29 to promote his latest cookbook, Simply Ming in Your Kitchen. He'll first do a cocktail reception and book signing at Slurping Turtle (3-5pm), and then team up with Takashi Yagihashi at his eponymous restaurant for a six-course tasting menu featuring recipes from the cookbook (6-9pm).
• Iron Chef winner and Mercat a la Planxa partner/chef Jose Garces stopped through Chicago over the weekend to promote his new cookbook, The Latin Road Home. He also took time to introduce new items to the fall menu, which included such stunners as sopa de fortmage de cerveza (soup with crispy pork belly, truffle and potato) and ropa de cabra (braised goat with goat cheese with grilled baguette).
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Jake Melnick's bottled "Mexico: 5 A.M." cocktail. (Photo: Jake Melnick's)
I first encountered bottled cocktails during the recent Chicago Gourmet event when Olmeca Altos tequila had them on standby for chefs working the Supreme Lobster tent. What made these bottled Palomas especially delicious was the fact that they were carbonated, which meant that their all-natural ingredients would stay fresh longer.
We were treated to a host of even more bottled drinks at bellyQ during its first-ever Chef Karaoke Throwdown. For the event, Stephanie Izard (Girl & The Goat), Brian Huston (Publican), John Manion (La Sirena Clandestina) and others were charged with coming up with a signature cocktail to be bottled. We sampled everything from a margarita to a fernet-based elixir.
Unfortunately none of that bottled booze can be had on a regular basis, which makes the new offerings at Jake Melnick's particularly special. I know, right?! Who would have thought this Gold Coast sports bar would carry such concoctions!
For fall, they're serving up five specialty bottles, each priced at $12:
Monday, October 22, 2012
Jonathan Ory of Bad Wolf Coffee at Star Lounge Coffee Bar. (Photo: 312 Dining Diva)
In the late 1990s, there was a really cool coffeehouse in Roscoe Village called Kerouac Jack's, named after the famed novelist and poet. The colorful spot was popular for its regular poetry events and strong coffee, but unfortunately had some terrible pastries.
Coffee connoisseur Jonathan Ory doesn't remember Kerouac's, but he feels that the neighborhood is in desperate need of a good coffeehouse serving good pastries.
"You can get one or the other, but you cannot get both in this area and most parts in town," he says, adding, "That's why I want to open a coffeehouse."
When Ory opens Bad Wolf Coffee with wife Sarah in mid- to late-November a block away from the old Kerouac Jack's, his plan is to serve house-made pastries with coffee "the way it is supposed to be made."
The self-taught chef worked his way up from the bottom, taking jobs from busboy to dishwasher until he eventually found his way inside the kitchens of a number of highly regarded restaurants. He's had stints at the likes of the now-defunct, high-end Heat sushi restaurant, as well as Atlanta's Restaurant Eugene, Schwa, and most recently Momofuku Ko in New York.
Thursday, October 18, 2012
Leopold Executive Chef Michael Dean Reynolds. (Photos: Leopold)
By the time the smoked rabbit leg arrived to the table we were completely stuffed. We had already consumed 11 courses—and there were seven more to come!—but we couldn't resist this glistening piece of meat that was drizzled in rabbit reduction and sat atop rich layers of lentils, dandelion greens and mission figs.
For me it was the standout dish of the special media tasting from Michael Dean Reynolds, Leopold's new executive chef. It represented the type of hearty fare he cranked out when he was chef de cuisine at The Gage for five years.
And while The Gage is more formal with a downtown price tag, the Belgian-inspired Leopold is very neighborhood friendly with entrees not exceeding $23. Reynolds has also scaled down the menu from some of the heavier items (though he left the poutine and pierogi) and integrated his lighter style and approach to seasonal cuisine.
One of the biggest additions is the plats du jour, where he'll do daily specials such as braised short ribs on Wednesdays, a white bean cassoulet with duck confit and sausage on Thursdays, and a $30 three-course, prix-fixe mussels dinner on Sundays. Also, look for a Belgian-influenced brunch to start on Nov. 11.
Here are some of the highlights of the new fall menu:
Rodan's new Korean BBQ of marinated beef kalbi, hot rock, steamed rice and house-made kimchee. (Photos: Rodan)
It's been a few weeks now since Wicker Park's Rodan had a dramatic makeover under new owner, Eric Chaleff. The self-proclaimed heavy metal guitarist also curated the Asian-inspired beverage program and recruited a talented team to help him fulfill his dream of making the late-night hang a legit dining destination.
Corey Gillom (NoMI, Japonais, Longman & Eagle, The Slurping Turtle) and Michael Torto (Lockdown Bar & Grill) are behind the new menu with dishes that are contemporary and focused, yet remain neighborhood friendly. There's nothing above $15, with highlights ranging from the curry croquettes that come with a dill yogurt sauce to bao steamed buns filled with tofu, pulled pork or beer-battered fish.
What's certain to be a scene stealer will be the burgers—which have the influence from Torto's stellar days over at popular burger destination Lockdown. This time, they're dripping with Asian flavor, from the black bean burger with wasabi mayo to the Korean kimchee burger with pulled pork, chili aioli and a fried egg. He's also created a banh mi that comes with fried chicken, lemongrass tofu or pulled pork and topped with mushroom pate, pickled carrot, daikon and jalapeno.
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Ryan Poli of Tavernita. (Photo: Ryan Poli)
Sixteen's Thomas Lents wants Michelin stars.
Ryan Poli of Tavernita fame has a hot new French-focused project in the Gold Coast.
Talented new Leopold chef Michael Dean Reynolds (formerly of The Gage) launches a rockin' Belgian brunch on Nov. 11.
Time Out's nine-step plan of how to get in a chef's pants. Seriously, if this is a man we're talking about, it should be only one step.
New York chef/restaurateur Joe Bastianich talks to Eater Chicago exclusively about Eataly coming to Chicago in 2013.
Lula Cafe's Jason Hammel has got an all-star lineup of chefs coming to his Logan Square restaurant in November.
John Manion's sexy South American-inspired La Sirena Clandestina is finally open in the Warehouse District.
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Avec chef Erling Wu-Bower (Photo via Star Chefs)
Bon Appetit Restaurant & Drinks Editor Andrew Knowlton recently caught up with new avec Chef de Cuisine Erling Wu-Bower on his high-profile position at one of the West Loop's hottest restaurants.
Here are the highlights, including some of the 15 fresh new dishes he's added to the menu:
Monday, October 15, 2012
These tasty treats from RM Champagne Salon would certainly pep up any "Sweetest Day" celebration. (Photo: RM Champagne Salon)
Sweetest Day is Oct. 20, but whether you have a significant other or not, there's no reason why you should miss out on these five decadent delights:
1. Fresh Biscuits at Bang Bang Pie Shop. You can have pie yes, but the other highlight is the delicious biscuit scene they've got going down. They're crunchy on the outside and super moist inside and available piping hot and fresh until about 1:30pm daily. Dress them up at the "biscuit topping bar" where you'll find black pepper honey butter, blueberry lavender jam, cherry chai or strawberry butter. The biscuits—and pies—are certain to go well with Bang Bang's signature roasted coffee.
2. Bistronomic's Baked Alaska. The old-school dessert feels modern at this trendy Gold Coast bistro helmed by chef Martial Noguier. And those confection-y layers of sponge cake, ice cream, meringue, caramel and almonds taste good right down to the last morsel with a bottle of bubbly.
The ensemble cast of the Chicago Cabaret Project. (Photo: Chicago Cabaret Project)
Halloween comes early to Hamburger Mary's, the lively corner restaurant and tavern in Andersonville.
That's because the colorful cast of the Chicago Cabaret Project is doing limited performances of their rendition of The Rocky Horror Show in the upper level Mary's Attic.
Thursday, October 11, 2012
The thought of a nice, juicy lobster in front of me sounds great any day of the week, but that can get costly.
So thank God for Socca's Roger Herring, who is once again going all out with Lobster Night for $10 a la carte of the decadent crustacean.
It's happening Oct. 24, so get on the phone NOW because this thing will sell out the moment the word gets out.
This most certainly caught my eye.
The possibility that I might have the chance to chow down for FREE for a year at the city's top steakhouses. And I could keep this secret to myself, but I'm going to share it with you.
The Chicago Private Dining Steakhouse Group and the Futures Industry Association are behind an online campaign to raise a significant amount of money for the Greater Chicago Food Depository. Apparently the nonprofit organization is serving 59 percent more people than three years ago, so they need all the help they can get.
Through Nov. 1, every $25 donated to the Great Chicago Steak Out campaign will give you the opportunity to enter the contest to win dinner for a year at 12 top local steakhouses (the gift certificate is worth approximately $1,400).
This is all kinds of awesomeness, coming from iNG owner/chef Homaro Cantu:
"ING Restaurant got its own TV Show!!! Yay!!! This one will make Future Food look like a walk in the park. I can't tell you where it will air (because my executive producer will kill me), but it's going to be big folks. Nothing has ever been done like this before. The name of the show is CookiNG Under Pressure. And we actually landed a multi-season deal!! First episode airs November 13th!!!"
So what happened here?!
The annual World's 50 Best Bars Guide was just released and no places from Chicago made the cut.
Several spots were reserved for cocktail lounges in Kentucky, Los Angeles and New York, but no love for our beloved The Aviary, The Drawing Room, Sable Kitchen & Bar or The Violet Hour.
Oh well. Better luck next year, right?
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Homestead's main dining room. (Photo: Homestead)
Did you get a chance to make it over to Homestead over the summer?!
If not, you've got once more opportunity Saturday when the farm-to-table eatery hosts a seasonal closing party. Beginning at 5pm, guests will get 30 percent off on all food, cocktails, craft beers and wine (by the bottle and glass). That's a pretty good deal.
But wait, Homestead's not entirely gone until next spring.
This is Moto/iNG chef/owner Homaro Cantu's candid account on Facebook of why he decided to cook for a living:
"Did I ever tell you why I went to culinary school?
"In 1996, I was living in my car. A 1985 Ford Capri 5.0 that I bought from my Uncle Robert for 400 bucks. It had been about 2 weeks since I slept in a bed. This was not a situation I was unfamiliar with. It would be the second and last fucking time I would allow this to happen to me. I mean, it really wasn't my fault I was in this situation. Sometimes life tells you to fuck off and you either fuck off or you figure it out.
The action on the dance floor in The Pump Room. (Photos: Jeff Schear/WireImage)
So, Ian Schrager had a little party Tuesday night at The Pump Room.
He had most of the dining room tables removed, threw in vibrant party favors, acquired the deejay talents of legendary producer Jellybean Benitez, and created a diverse guest list of some of the most colorful personalities in town, and suddenly it was the soiree of the season.
The celebration was for the first anniversary of Public Hotel and The Pump Room, and in classic Schrager style, the former Studio 54 owner transformed the space into the place that put him on the map. He even had Mark Benecke—one of the original Studio 54 doormen—working the velvet rope (Hopefully he wasn't too hard on folks!).
Also in attendance were former Bulls star BJ Armstrong, actor Billy Zane, the controversial cast from Chicagolicious as well as a host of drag queens, media types and more.
Here are some additional pics from the party:
Tuesday, October 9, 2012
Alex Bachman behind the stick at Yusho. (Photo: Serious Eats)
Sepia head mixologist Josh Pearson was pretty frank when he exclaimed, "(Here's a) list of places to call first if I ever go missing!"
He was, of course, referring to the latest awesome guide from Serious Eats Chicago. This time around the editors tracked down some of the city's top 'tenders to find out where they go drinking when they're off the clock.
Photo via Eater Chicago.
You might not know what you're going to be for Halloween, but at least one restaurant has donned another identity for the dark occasion.
Lula Cafe transforms into The Violent Hour, giving props to popular Wicker Park cocktail lounge The Violet Hour.
Monday, October 8, 2012
Boka executive chef/partner Giuseppe Tentori celebrates with staff. (Photos: Eric Kleinberg/Boka)
Remember that highly anticipated Pappy Van Winkle/Three Floyds Brewing dinner at Boka that sold out in less that 40 minutes?!
Well, it happened last week. But just in case you missed it, I stumbled across some photos that are certain to make you go mad with envy . . .
Friday, October 5, 2012
Bacon jam and toasted baguettes from Sable Kitchen & Bar. (Photo: Sable Kitchen & Bar)
Excuse me as I wipe the drool off my computer screen, but I became totally distracted when I received an email about the newest offering from Sable Kitchen & Bar's Heather Terhune.
Apparently the former "Top Chef" contestant has created something she's calling bacon jam, and she's doing it by packing bacon, onions, garlic, brown sugar, vinegar, maple syrup and brewed coffee together and serving it with a side of creamy brie and toasted baguettes.
Damn, that looks GOOD.
BellyQ's Bill Kim as his alter ego. (Photos: bellyQ)
Don't you just love it when you get to see your favorite chefs doing cool stuff outside of the kitchen?!
Bill Kim is utilizing his very sleek and contemporary karaoke lounge at bellyQ to host the first-ever Chef Karaoke Throwdown, which debuts at 7pm Oct. 8.
He's doing it in particular to showcase a collection of stylized photographs of local chefs portrayed as their alter egos. Participating chefs were Brian Houston (Publican), John Manion (La Sirena Clandestina), Mindy Segal (Hot Chocolate), Mark Steuer (The Bedford, Carriage House), Stephanie Izard (Girl and the Goat) and Jared Van Camp (Nellcote, Old Town Social).
Loop newcomer Tesori offers a great deal for Chicago Marathon runners. (Photo via Eater Chicago)
Our pals at Eater Chicago have created a useful guide for those who need to fuel up for the Chicago Marathon on Sunday. Included on the list is Loop newcomer Tesori, which will offer runners 10 percent off bills—as well as for family and friends joining them.
Thursday, October 4, 2012
Chef Dirk Flanigan and mixologist Clint Rogers of Henri. (Photo: 312 Dining Diva)
Henri mixologist Clint Rogers has gathered some of the city's most talented barmen for a series of spirited dinners you don't want to miss.
This sounds pretty cool—even though no female 'tenders are in the lineup—because each event takes on a different spirit that's paired with Executive Chef Dirk Flanigan's food.
For example, the first dinner takes place at 6pm Oct. 10 with Stephen Cole and his team from Barrelhouse Flat. They're charged with coming up with five whiskey craft cocktails using Buffalo Trace, Elmer T. Lee and Weller bourbons. The evening will begin with a cocktail reception featuring whiskey-based punches from Rogers and Thomas Mooneyham, the head mixlogist from Henri's sister restaurant The Gage. Then the guest bartenders will create cocktails to complement a five-course feast.
Here's the lineup for additional spirited dinners this fall:
Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Sushi Samba rio's quinoa waffles with kuromitsu and vanilla cinnamon butter. (Photo: Sushi Samba rio)
First there was Bel 50 with its sweet and savory waffle sandwiches stuffed with slow-roasted BBQ pulled pork or braised short rib.
Then Square One teamed up with Waffles in the South Loop to offer an all-you-can-eat waffle brunch.
Now comes Sushi Samba rio with its brunch offering for fall: quinoa waffles with kuromitsu (a Japanese sugar syrup) and vanilla cinnamon butter.
OK, so that wasn't Tavernita's missing dog in the Craigslist ad.
Just call me Detective 312DD because I've gotten to the bottom of this very inhumane crime. Apparently, Red Door general manager RJ Wall swiped Pinxto at a fund-raiser last week and has been toting him all over town, according to Tavernita chef/partner Ryan Poli.
"Ask him why they stole it," Poli said to 312DD. "He still has not given me an answer!"
Wall could not be reached for comment at press time, but here are some additional photos of his heinous crime:
Raquel LeDuc of Three Aces.
Remember that terrible story in mid-September about two people getting shot minutes apart in Ukrainian Village?!
Well, one of the victims was Raquel LeDuc, a local burlesque performer and bartender at Three Aces in Little Italy. She was walking from her car to her home when she was attacked and shot in the abdomen.
I don't know the identity or condition of the guy, but LeDuc is apparently recovering nicely, however, her hospital bills were pretty high.
That's why Three Aces has decided to throw a bash in her honor to help. From what I can tell, the turnout will be pretty outstanding with many prominent folks in the industry pitching in to relieve her of some of those bills.
Here's The Aviary's original "In The Rocks" cocktail, which paid homage to the Old Fashioned. (Photo via endlesssimmer.com)
It's been well over a year since Grant Achatz's The Aviary first introduced In The Rocks, the innovative sipper that set the standard for molecular gastronomic cocktails.
But it's time for a change, now that new head mixologist Charles Joly is in charge of the beverage program. The original paid homage to the classic Old Fashioned, and the guest shattered a spherical-shaped ice cube to release the liquid contents into a rocks glass. According to Esquire's David Wondrich, The Old Fashioned was conceived in 1806, so it made sense to launch the beverage program with such a classic offering.
Joly's rendition takes on a more modern elixir, the Vieux Carre, which was born in the 1930s in a New Orleans hotel.
Tuesday, October 2, 2012
Waffles' Green Tea waffles. (Photo: Waffles)
OK, so I am going to tell you something, but you've got to promise to remain calm.
South Loop newbie Square One has teamed up with Waffles for what they're dubbing an adult brunch. Now what that is supposed to mean I don't really care because it's not like they're offering bottomless Mimosas and/or Bellinis.
Here's enough poutine to feed a family of four! Now available at Local Root. (Photo via Thrillist Chicago)
Our friends over at Thrillist Chicago introduce us to Streeterville newcomer Local Root. Now, while folks who live in the area have got to be excited to have another budget-friendly brunch and breakfast option in the 'hood, the fact that it offers seven different poutines is especially fascinating.
We took a peek at the menu and think you'll agree:
Doughnut Vault's chocolate glazed doughnuts. (Photo: Doughnut Vault)
The local restaurateur, who's behind Gilt Bar, Maude's Liquor Bar and Bavette's, is getting some exceptional national media attention this week.
First, the burger at his West Loop diner Au Cheval was named America's Best New Burger by Bon Appetit.
And now, his River North sugar shop Doughnut Vault was the only local spot to make Food & Wine's America's Best Doughnuts list:
Monday, October 1, 2012
The crowd at Coast Sushi Bucktown on a busy night. (Photo: Coast Sushi)
Online concierge newcomer Table Host hopes you do, and the owners want you to shell out the $$$ to them for hard-to-get seats at the likes of The Gage, Hot Chocolate and Coast Sushi.
Here's why they really launched this service, according to the site:
Could it be him?!
It's possible that Tavernita's missing dog sculpture has not entirely disappeared after all.
If you recall, the story of the restaurant's beloved mascot, Pinxto, was first reported on Eater last week after it was stolen at a charity event. This totally looks like him in this Craigslist ad for a used bar cart. More interesting is that the dog is not for sale.
OK, I cannot believe I'm actually writing this story. Excuse me now while I go strangle myself . . .
Chef Shin Thompson's photo via ElIdeas.
I got this tip from an Ultimate Insider over the weekend:
"Not sure if Shin Thompson's restaurant name has leaked yet, but he applied for a liquor license under the name Roast at 952 W. Lake St."
If you remember, the Michelin star-rated chef left Bonsoiree over the summer to work on a new West Loop project with Gemini Bistro co-owner Ryan O'Donnell.
Au Cheval burger via Bon Appetit.
The editors from Bon Appetit were in town over the weekend as the media sponsor for Chicago Gourmet, and they didn't waste time eating at all the new spots.
They apparently fell hard for trendy diner Au Cheval, and its burger, as noted in their blog:
Luis Pedroza of Benny's Chophouse during Supreme Lobster's "oyster shucking" finale at Chicago Gourmet on Sunday. (Photo: 312 Dining Diva)
The secret ingredients of the three most winning-est restaurants of Chicago Gourmet: grilled watermelon, a metallic glove and bone marrow salt.
At the kickoff Hamburger Hop event on Friday, more than 1,000 guests gathered to chow down on 15 different burgers made from chefs around the city. The judges picked Yoshi's Cafe, whose executive chef/owner Yoshi Katsumura whipped up a burger of Allen Brothers Steaks' Wagyu beef, panko-crusted fried green tomato and pickle, Asian pear jam, brie cheese and micro wasabi. It was topped with smoky Asian style BBQ sauced, presented on a poppy seed brioche bun and complemented by that grilled watermelon on the side.