Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Wolfgang Puck Grand Cafe Closes Doors

IN THE NEWS: Chicago magazine Dish columnists Penny Pollack and Jeff Ruby note the opening of Asian fusion spot Thalia (833 W. Chicago Ave., 312-226-6020) and report: Wolfgang Puck Grand Cafe (1701 Maple St., Evanston) unexpectedly shuttered its doors on Sept. 16, while Delicioso y Sabroso Grill, Geno Bahena’s two-pronged Mexican restaurante just off the Skyway (10468 S. Indianapolis Blvd.), opened in May and closed last week after the sale of the building. ... Dish also chats with Dave Wolfgram, 49, CEO of San Francisco–based bakery Boudin SF, which opens in west suburban Lombard (348 Yorktown Center) on Oct. 9. chicagomag.com ... Joe King, a partner at Le Colonial (937 N. Rush St.; 312-255-0088), is working on King Cafe Gourmet & Go, which is taking over the former Corner Bakery space at 900 North Michigan Avenue. ... ChicagoBites.com reviews Tizi Melloul (531 North Wells). ...

The Tribune's Phil Vettel awards three stars to Sepia (123 N. Jefferson St., 312-441-1920), while Monica Eng reviews Curio Cafe (3400 N. Lawndale Ave., 773-463-2233, www.curiocafe.net). ... Glenn Jeffers and Trine Tsouderos takes a first bite at the new Bluebird Bistro & Wine Bar (1749 N. Damen Ave.; 773-486-2473) and Trine Tsouderos takes a first bite at The Reagle Beagle (160 E. Grand Ave.; 312-755-9645, www.reaglebeaglechicago.com). ... Vettel reports good news for chef Grant Achatz (Alinia), whose battle with oral cancer has become a coast-to-coast story. Doctors say the primary tumor, located on the chef's tongue (there has been, and continues to be, fear that the surgical removal of part or most of the tongue might be necessary eventually), has shrunk by 75 percent. This based on chemotherapy alone, and not the combination of chemo and radiation treatment that's just now getting underway. ... Vettel also reports the Sept. 18 shutdown of Bice Chicago Ristorante (158 E. Ontario St.) by the Chicago Department of Public Health. Inspectors reported a cockroach infestation in the two kitchens and a fruit-fly infestation in the bar area, among other citations. Bice remains closed pending re-inspection. ... Kevin Pang raves about the roast beef and bacon sandwich at Perry's Deli (174 N. Franklin St., 312-372-7557) and also visits Dirk's Fish and Gourmet Shop (2070 N. Clybourn Ave.; 773-404-3475). chicagotribune.com ...

TimeOut Chicago's Heather Shouse gives two stars to Rosebud Prime (1 S Dearborn St, 312-384-1900) and four stars to Korean eatery Su-Ra (2257 W North Ave, 773-276-9450), and also notes the opening of Macello (1235 W Lake St, 312-850-9870). ... David Tamarkin notes the opening of Reggie’s Music Joint (2105 S State St, 312-949-0125). timeout.com/chicago ... The Sun-Times' Pat Bruno recounts the most notable closings (Ambria, Le Francais) and openings in the Chicago area thus far in 2007. And while doling out birthday wishes to Twin Anchors on North Sedgwick (75 years), Charlie Trotter's (20 years), and Le Titi de Paris in Arlington Heights (35 years), he lists his hot spots of the moment: The Gage (24 S. Michigan, 312-372-4243), Sepia, Table Fifty-Two (52 W. Elm, 312-573-4000), Maijean (30 S. Prospect, Clarendon Hills, 630-794-8900), Anteprima (5316 N. Clark, 773-506-9990), Room 21 (2110 S. Wabash, 312-328-1198), Gloria's Cafe (3300 W. Fullerton, 773-342-1050), Boka (1729 N. Halsted, 312-337-6070), and Quartino (626 N. State, 312-698-5000). suntimes.com ... The Reader rounds up what's new, including Exposure Tapas Supper Club (1315 S. Wabash, 312-662-1082). chicagoreader.com ... Menu Pages notes the opening of Pannenkoeken Cafe. blogs.menupages.com/chicago ... Metroblogging Chicago visits Gene & Georgetti steakhouse. chicago.metblogs.com ... GapersBlock.com's Drive-Thru visits coffeehouse Sweet Bean and More (1855 W. Diversey Pkwy. 773-857-3100), Star Lounge Café (2521 W Chicago Ave. 773- 384-7827), and The Gage. ... LA-based blogger The Delicious Life raves about Lou Malnati's Pizzeria (1.800.LOU.TO.GO, www.loumalnatis.com). thedeliciouslife.blogspot.com

Compiled by Pat Embry, WhereTheLocalsEat.com

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Revived Palmer House Readies Lockwood

IN THE NEWS: Chicago magazine's Dish columnists Peggy Pollack and Kevin Ruby note the $150 million renovation of The Palmer House Hilton, which includes a new restaurant called Lockwood, a 125-seat contemporary spot with French and Italian touches. It launches in early November in the former Windsor’s Bar and gift shop spaces with exec chef Phillip Foss (Le Cirque in New York, Bistrot Margot in Chicago) on board. ... Dish's reported chef moves: Dudley Nieto (the closed Xel-Há) to former small-plates spot Zócalo (358 W. Ontario St.; 312-302-9977) in place of Saul Roman, who moves to Zapatista (1307 S. Wabash Ave.; 312-435-1307.) ... Noted openings: Thai Urban Kitchen (500 W. Madison St.; 312-575-0266) from the owners of Sura (3124 N. Broadway; 773-248-7872), and Eppy’s Deli (224 E. Ontario St.; 312-943-7797) adds another location in the Loop area (162 North Franklin Street) sometime in October. ... Sarah Stegner’s shepherd’s pie recipe from Prairie Grass Cafe (601 Skokie Blvd., Northbrook; 847-205-4433) appears on page 70 of Bon Appétit’s October issue. chicagomag.com ... The Tribune's Phil Vettel gives two stars to Bluprint (222 Merchandise Mart Plaza, 312-410-9800). ... Monica Eng notes the slated Sept. 29 opening of Willie Wagner's Honky Tonk Barbecue in Pilsen (1213 W. 18th St., 312-226-RIBS). chicagotribune.com ... The Sun-Times' Pat Bruno gives one star in reviewing Tavern at the Park (130 E. Randolph, 312-552-0070), while Thomas Witom considers Tivoli Ristorante (956 N. Neltnor, West Chicago, 630-957-6500) and Aroma Tapas Restaurant (3907 W. Algonquin, Algonquin; 847-658-5656). suntimes.com ... The Reader's Dawn Reiss reviews MetroKlub (733 W. Madison, 312-602-2104), while the paper also rounds up supper clubs and steakhouses. chicagoreader.com ... CenterstageChicago.com reviews Cuban eatery Cafe Bolero. ... Menu Pages visits The Orbit Room, a bar and grill in Avondale. blogs.menupages.com/chicago ... ChicagoGluttons.com visits Chicken Hut and Kuma's Corner. ... Saveur magazine's October 2007 issue features Chicago in numerous stories, including "Eight Chicago Taverns". Among them: circa-1881 Schaller's Pump (3714 South Halsted Street, 773/376-6332), seven blocks from Comiskey Park on the South Side and reputed to the city's oldest bar. saveur.com ... The San Francisco Chronicle reports that Mexican food expert Rick Bayless, chef-owner of Frontera Grill and Topolobampo, will open his first restaurant outside of the Windy City at Macy's Union Square in November with Frontera Fresco, a modified quick-service spot serving Mexican street food. sfgate.com ...

Zagat Buzz reports that to celebrate its 20th anniversary, the James Beard Foundation is hosting a series of food festivals and special dinners in 20 cities nationwide. The events kick off on September 18th in New York with a lavish menu inspired by Beard at Four Seasons. The celebrations continue the next week with elaborate dinners cooked by first-rate toques in Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, Short Hills, NJ and Washington, DC. All of the events are unique, with different chef lineups and dining formats ranging from gala dinners to walk-around tastings, so check the individual city pages for details. Though prices for the dinners vary, all of them will be followed up on September 29th with special events at local Williams-Sonoma stores where chefs will be offering cooking demos, book signings, specialty food tastings and kids' educational activities free of charge. For more information about the event, logon to www.jbftasteamerica.com. zagat.com

Compiled by Pat Embry, WhereTheLocalsEat.com

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Flagship Ann Sather to Close, Relocate

IN THE NEWS: Gapers Block's Drive-Thru blog reports the flagship Ann Sather on Belmont is closing temporarily, as soon as next month. Alderman Tom Tunney has sold its building and has begun renovation on 909-913 W. Belmont, the building just east of the entrance to the Sather's parking lot (and former home of the alderman's service office). gapersblock.com/drivethru ... Chicago magazine's Dish column notes the recent opening of Mohammad Afzal's (Baba Palace) additional Pakistani spot, Village Restaurant (310 S. Canal St.; 312-880-0010). chicagomag.com ... The Tribune's Phil Vettel lists 10 great restaurant salads, including salade lyonnaise at La Sardine, while Joe Gray reviews Cuisine of Vietnam (2269 N. Lincoln Ave., 773-248-0884), and Trine Tsouderous has a first bite at the new gastropub English. chicagotribune.com ... The Sun-Times' Pat Bruno reviews Table Fifty-Two (52 W. Elm, Chicago, 312-573-4000) from former Oprah Winfrey chef Art Smith, and visits Erie Cafe (536 W. Erie, 312-266-2300). suntimes.com ... TimeOut Chicago reviews Bluebird (1749 N Damen Ave, 773-486-2473) and Cafe 103 (1909 W 103rd St, 773-238-5115) and features the opening of Rockwell Lounge (710 N Clark St, 312-787-2675). timeout.com/chicago ... The Reader's Mike Sula reviews Turkish spot Nazarlik (1650 W. Belmont, 773-327-5800). chicagoreader.com ... The Chicago Burger Project visits Pop's Italian Beef (10337 S. Kedzie Ave., 773-239-1243). chicagoburgerproject.blogspot.com ... Veal Cheeks reviews Otom (951 W. Fulton Market, Chicago, West Loop, 312-491-5804, www.otomrestaurant.com). vealcheeks.blogspot.com ... The Detroit Free Press reports that Certified Master Chef Michael Russell, executive chef of Detroit's MotorCity Casino for more than eight years, has been named executive chef of Chicago’s McCormick Place, the largest convention complex in North America. freep.com ... The Arlington Heights Daily Herald reports the closing of Erik & Me, a riverfront restaurant that over two decades became a staple of dining in downtown suburban St. Charles. dailyherald.com

Compiled by Pat Embry, WhereTheLocalsEat.com

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Chef Eastwood's Olo Set for Late October

IN THE NEWS: The Tribune's Phil Vettel gives one star to Cooper's Hawk (15690 S. Harlem Ave., Orland Park, 708-633-0200) and notes the planned late-October opening of chef Sean Eastwood's (late of Isabella's Estiatorio in Geneva) Olo (1152 W. Randolph St.), while Monica Eng's Cheap Eats gives two forks to the Ethiopian eatery Blue Nile (6118 N. Ravenswood Ave., 773-465-6710), and Trine Tsouderos has a first bite at Trattoria 225 (225 Harrison St., Oak Park; 708-358-8555). ... Eng has a first bite at Su-Ra (2257 W. North Ave.; 773-276-9450), while Vettel follows up that Hot Doug's (3324 N. California Ave., 773-279-9550) will reopen later than previously reported, more like mid-September, because of owner Doug Sohn's foot surgery. chicagotribune.com ... TimeOut Chicago reviews Otom (951 W Fulton Mkt 312-491-5804), and Table Fifty-Two (52 W Elm St, 312-573-4000) and notes the opening of Paramount Room (415 N Milwaukee Ave, 312-829-6300). timeout.com/chicago ... The Reader's Mike Sula reports on the Sept. 1 closing of chef John Bubala's Baccala in Wicker Park. ... The Reader reviews Mexx Kitchen at the Whiskey (1015 N. Rush, 312-475-0300), The Bluebird Bistro & Wine Bar (1749 N. Damen, 773-486-2473), and CJ's Eatery (3839 W. Grand, 773-292-0990). chicagoreader.com ... The Sun-Times' Pat Bruno gives one star in reviewing Maijean (30 S. Prospect Clarendon Hills, 630-794-8900). suntimes.com ... In its September 2007 edition, Chicago magazine's Dennis Ray Wheaton also reviews Maijean as well as Viet Bistro (1346 W. Devon Ave., 773-465-5720), while Jill Rohde's Budget Beat visits the Peruvian spot Machu Picchu (3856 N. Ashland Ave., 773-472-0471). chicagomag.com ... The Oregonian reports that Alfred Peet, founder of Peet's Coffee & Tea, died Aug. 29 at his Ashland, Ore. home at age 87. Peet opened the original Peet's store on the corner of Walnut and Vine in Berkeley, Calif. in 1966, and eventually added shops in Menlo Park, in Oakland and another in Berkeley across from the Claremont Hotel. Although he retired in 1983, Peet never fully gave up his passion in coffee. He continued to consult with coffee companies and was often known to drop by coffee stores and taste samples of coffee beans with its proprietors, his company said in a statement. oregonlive.com ... ChicagoBites.com visits Adesso (3332 N. Broadway). ... Gapers Block's Drive-Thru considers Julius Meinl and Shikago (190 South LaSalle). gapersblock.com/drivethru ... The Wall Street Journal's Janet Adamy details Alinea chef/owner Grant Achatz's battle with tongue cancer. online.wsj.com

Compiled by Pat Embry, WhereTheLocalsEat.com

Monday, August 27, 2007

A Year Later, The Effect of Foie Gras Ban

IN THE NEWS: The Tribune's Phil Vettel blogs about the one year anniversary (Aug. 22) of Chicago's controversial ordinance banning the sale of foie gras taking effect. Vettel notes the only person fined in defiance of the ordinance has been Doug Sohn of Hot Doug's (3324 N. California Ave) ... Vettel also notes that Sohn recently broke his leg on vacation, prompting the hot dog emporium to remain on its late-summer break until Aug. 28. ... Vettel also has an encouraging update on Grant Achatz, the 33-year-old wunderkind chef of four-star Alinea, last year dubbed the "Best Restaurant in America" by Gourmet magazine, who announced in July that he had been diagnosed with Stage 4 oral cancer ... Judy Hevrdejs noted the closing of 53-year-old Augie's Restaurant in Andersonville ... Lisa Arnett reviews Urban Grille (524 W. State St., Geneva; 630-262-0100), while Donna Pierce visits The Hot Spot (2824 W. Armitage Ave., 773-276-0115) and Monica Eng looks at campus coffeehouses. ... Trine Tsouderos has a first bite at Trattoria 225 (225 Harrison St., Oak Park; 708-358-8555). chicagotribune.com ... NPR's Adriene Hill reports on All Things Considered Aug. 22 that despite the year-old Chicago ban on foie gras, restaurants are still serving it. Some get around the ban by "giving it away for free" (with an $18 salad). Other restaurants don't have it on the menu, but will serve it if you ask (a local French chef calls them "duck-easies" — like speak-easies). npr.org ...

The Sun-Times' Pat Bruno reviews Sepia (123 N. Jefferson, Chicago, 312-441-1920), while Thomas Witom considers Tivoli Ristorante (956 N. Neltnor, West Chicago, 630-957-6500). suntimes.com ... Chicago magazine Dish columnists Penny Pollack and Jeff Ruby report on the closings of Barcello’s Restaurant and Pizzeria (1647 N. Milwaukee Ave.) and Sugar & Brown’s (158 W. Ontario St.) and the openings of: Bien Trucha Restaurante (410 W. State St., Geneva; 630-232-2665), Sweet Collectives (5333 N. Lincoln Ave.; 773-293-0888), Shish Kebab Shack (8542 S. Cicero Ave., Burbank; 708-423-0057), and Pompeii Bakery (212 E. Ohio St.; 312-482-9900) ... Dish also reports that The Twisted Spoke, which closed its Wrigleyville outpost (3365 N. Clark St.) on July 28, will redo the original location (501 N. Ogden Ave.; 312-666-1500). chicagomag.com ... Meanwhile, the Nashville Scene's Carrington Fox reports that Shop at Home network chef Freddy Brooker, formerly of The Trace in Nashville, will help recast the Wrigleyville Twisted Spoke into Brodey's Neighborhood Bar & Grill, named after Nashville investor Bill Thomas' infant son. ... TimeOut Chicago's David Tamarkin reviews Il Triasco (5101 N Clark St, 773-769-9700), while Heather Shouse considers C.J.'s Eatery (3839 W Grand Ave, 773-292-0990). ... Noted opening: Pannenkoeken Café (4757 N Western Ave, 773-769-8800). timeout.com/chicago ... The Reader's Mike Sula considers libations at The Violet Hour (1520 N. Damen, 773-252-1500). chicagoreader.com ... ChicagoBites.com visits Sepia. ... Menu Pages details the move of Trattoria Trullo from Evanston to Lincoln Square. blogs.menupages.com/chicago ... Chicago Burger Project visits Susie's Drive Thru (4126 W Montrose Ave, 773-283-6544). chicagoburgerproject.blogspot.com ... Chicago Foodies reviews Custom House. www.chicagofoodies.com ... Chicagoist.com considers Top Notch Beefburger (2116 W. 95th Street; 773-445-7218), and The Bongo Room (1470 N. Milwaukee, and 1152 S. Wabash).

Compiled by Pat Embry, WhereTheLocalsEat.com

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

'Conde Nast Traveler' Notes Local Eateries

IN THE NEWS: Conde Nast Traveler magazine's August 2007 issue features Chicago and mentions the restaurants NoMi in the Park Hyatt, North Pond (2610 N. Cannon Dr.), Spring A Restaurant (2039 W. North Ave.), Atwood Cafe (Burnham Hotel), Cafe des Architectes in the Sofitel Chicago Water Tower, Heaven on Seven (111 N. Wabash), and Manny's Coffee Shop & Deli (1141 S. Jefferson St.). cntraveler.com ... Chicago magazine's Dish columnists Penny Pollack & Jeff Ruby report: The chef at Brasserie Ruhlmann, the offshoot of a classic NYC brasserie/raw bar opening opposite Japonais (600 W. Chicago Ave.) in early October, will be Christian Delouvrier. A native of Gascony, Delouvrier is a veteran of New York standouts such as Alain Ducasse at the Essex House, Lespinasse, and Miami’s La Goulue. ... Tavern at the Park (130 E. Randolph St), the grill from John Hogan and the Keefer’s group, finally opened, joining Park Grill and The Gage as the go-to places near Millennium Park. ... La Poupée Café (3706 N. Southport Ave.), a budget-friendly breakfast/lunch/dinner spot, opened recently. ... The fourth area McCormick & Schmick’s (3001 Butterfield Rd., Oak Brook) opens the week of Aug. 19. ... Congratulations to Charlie Trotter’s, which celebrated its 20th anniversary on Aug. 17. ... Not to be outdone is Le Titi de Paris, which turns 35 this month. chicagomag.com ... The Tribune's Phil Vettel reports that Roland Liccioni (formerly of Le Français) will be back in the kitchen, this time at Old Town Brasserie Market (1209 N. Wells St.), opening next month. Liccioni has big plans for the restaurant, owned by Mike Mokri and Bob Djahanguiri (Toulouse). ... Vettel gives two stars to Maijean (30 S. Prospect Ave., Clarendon Hills) and Bistro Monet (462 N. Park Blvd., Glen Ellyn), while Trine Tsouderos takes a first look at Tavern at the Park. chicagotribune.com ... TimeOut Chicago reviews Between Boutique Cafe and Lounge (1324 N Milwaukee Ave) and Sepia (123 N Jefferson St), and notes the opening of Su-Ra (2257 W North Ave.), timeout.com/chicago ... The Reader's David Hammond has a first taste at Shikago and raves about the experience, while Mike Sula reports that Cafe Las Delicias, the Salvadoran pupuseria in Lincoln Square, is reopening Sept. 1. ... Anne Spiselman stops by the new Sepia, while Sula visits the new Otom (951 W. Fulton). chicagoreader.com ... ChicagoBites.com reviews Karyn's Cooked (738 N. Wells St.). ... Menu Pages reports: From the ashes of Max & Benny's rises Niu, a self-described "Japanese Fusion Lounge" blogs.menupages.com/chicago ... ChicagoBurgerProject.blogspot.com visits Paradise Pup (1724 S River Rd, Des Plaines). ... The Sun-Times' Pat Bruno gives two stars to Bluprint (222 Merchandise Mart Plaza, first floor), while Thomas Witom considers Scapa Italian Kitchen (31 S. Prospect, Clarendon Hills). suntimes.com

Compiled by Pat Embry, WhereTheLocalsEat.com

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Mag's Best-Ofs Tap La Sardine, Toro Sushi

IN THE NEWS: Chicago magazine's August 2007 Best of Chicago issue includes critics picks for La Sardine (111 N. Carpenter St.) as Best Affordable French, City), Toro Sushi (2546 N. Clark St.) as Best Cheap Sushi, and Pasticceria Natalina (5406 N. Clark St.) as Best New Bakery. ... Critic Dennis Ray Wheaten reviews new gastropub The Gage (24 S. Michigan Ave.), and restaurateur Jerry Kleiner's (Marche, Opera, Carnivale) new Room 21 (2110 S. Wabash Ave.) ... The mag notes: Otom (951 W. Fulton Market), Anteprima (5316 N. Clark St.), Whiskey Bar & Grill (Sutton Place Hotel, 1015 N. Rush St.), Chaise Lounge (1840 W. North Ave., Sepia (123 N. Jefferson St.), and Xni-Pec (5135 W. 25th St., Cicero) ... Dish columnists Penny Pollack and Jeff Ruby's Hot List for August: Crust, Room 21, Coalfire, Anteprima, The Cage, Cordis Brothers Supper Club, Caoba, Pinstripes, South Coast, and Uber Burger. ... Pollack and Ruby chat with Frank Brunacci, the chef that will anchor the restaurant coming to the 16th floor of the Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago (401 N. Wabash Ave.) when it opens in December. A native of Melbourne, Brunacci, 36, has worked under Alain Chapel and Joël Antunes, learning the ropes in kitchens from London (Les Saveurs) to Atlanta (Ritz-Carlton Buckhead) to New Orleans (Victor’s) to Sedona, Arizona (L’Auberge de Sedona). ... Dish also reports: Sean Eastwood and Dean Georgelos, the chef and partner respectively in Isabella’s Estiatorio (330 W. State St., Geneva;) plan to open Olo, a 110-seat Mediterranean restaurant, at 1152 West Randolph Street this fall. ... Allen’s (217 W. Huron St.), Allen Sternweiler’s River North café, will close after Aug. 18. ... O’H American Grill (9300 W. Bryn Mawr Ave., Rosemont), the new upscale comfort-food restaurant in the Hyatt Regency O’Hare, is the centerpiece of the hotel’s $60-million makeover. ... Café Bionda, Joe Farina’s Southern Italian restaurant at 1924 South State Street, has spawned another location, this one in Wicker Park at 1467 North Milwaukee Avenue. ... Ditto for Davis Street Fishmarket (501 Davis St., Evanston), Evanston’s 22-year-old seafood standby, which is branching out to Schaumburg (1383 Meacham Rd.) on Aug. 13. ... Paddy Long’s (1028 W. Diversey Ave.), co-owned by Loyola rugby coach Patrick Berger, recently opened in the old Lawry’s Tavern space. chicagomag.com. ....

Chicago chef Charlie Trotter is preparing to return to Vegas, Zagat Buzz reports. A representative from Las Vegas Sands has confirmed the "worst-kept secret in Vegas", namely that Trotter is preparing to open a 100-seat restaurant in the new Palazzo hotel currently being built next door to the Venetian. The new restaurant, which has the working title Restaurant Charlie, will have a full bar and a seafood focus and is scheduled to open in November. According to the Sun-Times, John Shields will be running the kitchen. This is Trotter's second go at running a restaurant in Vegas. In 1995 he opened a restaurant at the MGM Grand, but left within a year over disagreements with new hotel management. zagat.com ... The Daily Southtown reports that longtime family restaurant Harry's in Midlothian (14753 Cicero Ave.) closed July 5 after the family that leased the eatery for 13 years didn't pay rent or taxes for months. Catherine Nakos, whose family has owned Harry's since the 1970s, has been awarded $64,437.90 in Cook County Court, records show. She could receive more money if a judge grants her attorney fees. dailysouthtown.com ... The Trib's Phil Vettel gives three stars in reviewing Boka (1729 N. Halsted St.). ... The Trib's Kevin Pang takes a first look at Table Fifty-Two (52 W. Elm St.). ... Vettel reports, "The bad news: Scylla (1952 N. Damen Ave.) is serving its last meal on August 25, confirms chef/owner Stephanie Izard. The good news: Takashi Yagihashi, the award-winning chef who was once chef de cuisine at Ambria, is taking over the space, and hopes to open Takashi, a contemporary-French restaurant with plenty of Asian influences, by mid-November." ... Patrick Cassata, last seen running 10 West in downtown Naperville and Eclectic in Barrington (both gone the way of all flesh), is back in business, the executive chef of The Bank (121 W. Front St., Wheaton), scheduled to make its debut on Sept. 10 in downtown Wheaton. chicagotribune.com ... The Sun-Times' Frank Bruno gives two stars to Wishbone (6611 W. Roosevelt, Berwyn; www.wishbonechicago.com). suntimes.com ... The Reader's David Hammond looks at Filipino cooking, including Cid's Ma Mon Luk (9182 Golf Road, Niles), and rounds up off-the-beaten-path Asian eateries, including Adobo Express (5343 N. Lincoln). chicagoreader.com ... TimeOut Chicago reviews Shikago (190 S LaSalle St), Jerry's Sandwiches (1938 W Division St), and notes the opening of the Reagle Beagle (160 E Grand Ave). timeout.com/chicago ... Menu Pages notes the openings of Il Fiasco and Pie. blogs.menupages.com/chicago ... ChicagoBurgerProject.blogspot.com visits Lux Bar (18 E Belleview, Chicago). ... Chicagoist.com stops by Mundial-Cocina Mestiza.

Compiled by Pat Embry, WhereTheLocalsEat.com

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Mag Picks Alinea As Its National Favorite

IN THE NEWS: City magazine in New York has named its 101 favorite restaurants in the country, with Alinea ( 1723 N. Halsted St., www.alinea-restaurant.com). No. 1 overall. city-magazine.com ... From Chicago magazine's Dish column: "Birthday greetings to the rib joint Twin Anchors (1655 N. Sedgwick St.), celebrating 75 years in Old Town. ... Stephanie Izard is closing her popular Bucktown Mediterranean spot Scylla (1952 N. Damen Ave.) on Aug. 25, but it looks as though Bon Appétit got the news a little late—the September issue profiles Scylla as one of the 12 best small restaurants in the country. ... Congrats to Go Roma (www.goroma.net for restaurant locations), the local Italian chain restaurant group, for receiving Nation’s Restaurant News’ Hot Concepts! award. ... Much to the chagrin of Streeterville loyalists, Original World Famous Gino’s Pizza shuttered its historic spot at 930 North Rush Street two summers ago. The beloved pizza parlor finally resurfaced mid-June in Lincoln Park (1417 W. Fullerton Ave.), but vows to reopen in its original location in about a year. ... Extra Virgin (741 W. Randolph St.) closed two weeks ago. ... Dish also has five questions for Elizabeth Dahl, the new pastry chef at Boka (1729 N. Halsted St). chicagomag.com ... TimeOut Chicago reviews Bluprint (222 Merchandise Mart Plaza, suite 135), and BBop (3952 N Sheridan Rd), and notes the opening of The Orbit Room (2959 N California Ave) timeout.com/chicago.

The Tribune's Phil Vettel gives three stars to The Gage (24 S. Michigan Ave.) and looks at the growing trend of mini-burgers, including those at Homaro Cantu's Moto, and the Trib rates 25 of them. ... Chris LaMorte notes new restaurants Cafe 103 (1909 W. 103rd St), Table Fifty-Two (52 W. Elm St), Bluebird Bistro & Wine Bar (1749 N. Damen Ave), and Nazarlik (1650 W. Belmont Ave). ... Bill Daley's Cheap Eats visits Shan Restaurant (5060 N. Sheridan Road). ... The Trib's Kevin Pang has a first bite at Marge's Still (1758 N. Sedgwick Ave), while Monica Eng has a first bite at Otom (951 W. Fulton Market). chicagotribune.com ... The Sun-Times' Pat Bruno raves about chef/owner Michael Taus' Zealous (419 W. Superior), while Lisa Donovan considers the soft-shell crabs at Cy's Crab House on North Ashland. suntimes.com ... The Reader compares upscale ice cream, including Hot Chocolate (1747 N. Damen). ... Mike Sula takes a first look at two new Turkish restaurants, Cafe Orchid (1746 W. Addison) and Nazarlik (1650 W. Belmont). chicagoreader.com ... Menu Pages notes the recent opening of Rosebud Prime in the South Loop. blogs.menupages.com/chicago ... ChicagoBites.com reviews Dine (733 W. Madison St.). ... ChicagoBurgerProject.blogspot.com visits Twisted Spoke (501 N Ogden Ave, 3365 N Clark St). ... Chicagoist.com reviews Sweets & Savories and the South Side's Racine Bakery and Deli. ... USA Today rounds up tiki bars, including: Portland's Alibi Lounge, River Grove (Ill.)'s Hala Kahiki, Los Angeles' Tiki-Ti, San Francisco's Tonga Room, Atlanta's Trader Vic's, Saugus (Mass.)'s Kowloon, Fort Lauderdale's Mai-Kai, and Smyrna (Tenn.)'s Omni Hut. usatoday.com ... Crain's ChicagoBusiness.com reviews Republic Pan-Asian Restaurant & Lounge (58 E. Ontario St), and Marche (833 W. Randolph St).

Compiled by Pat Embry, WhereTheLocalsEat.com

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Alinea's Achatz Vows To Battle Ailment

As reported by Pete Wells in The New York Times' Diners Journal and others: Grant Achatz, the 33-year-old chef of the award-winning Alinea in Chicago, released this statement July 23 through his publicist: “I wanted to personally report that I have been very recently diagnosed with an advanced stage of squamous cell carcinoma of the mouth. I have consulted several prominent physicians and will likely begin aggressive treatment within the next few weeks. I remain, and will remain, actively and optimistically engaged in operations at Alinea to the largest extent possible. Alinea will continue to perform at the level people have come to expect from us — I insist on that. I have received amazing support from friends, family, and everyone who has thus far been told of the disease, and I look forward to a full, cancer-free, recovery.” Writes Wells, "I traded instant messages with Mr. Achatz a few minutes ago. He said that his dentist had noticed a “dot” on his tongue back in 2004 but a biopsy came back negative. Then around a month ago, his tongue began to hurt pretty seriously, and he went back for a biopsy. This time it was positive. His energy level is high, he said, but because eating is painful he has lost about 12 pounds in the past two weeks. While he weighs his treatment options, he said he was “trying to work as much as possible,” and has already started planning his fall menu. He said his staff had responded to the news “amazingly, as I expected them to.” Mr. Achatz sometimes gives the impression that he is either working or thinking about work all the time. Now his staff is getting accustomed to receiving some of those thoughts on e-mail and instant messages tapped out in the waiting room of his doctors’ offices."

IN THE NEWS: Grist magazine's list of the world's top 15 eco-conscious chefs includes: Alice Waters, Chez Panisse, Berkeley, Calif; Dan Barber, Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Pocantico Hills, N.Y.; Chris Cosentino, Incanto, San Francisco; Andrea Reusing, Lantern, Chapel Hill, N.C.; Ted Walter, Passion Fish, Pacific Grove, Calif.; David Kinch, Manresa, Los Gatos, Calif; and Peter Hoffman, Savoy, New York, N.Y. Runners-up include Frank Stitt, Highlands Bar & Grill, Birmingham, Ala; and Christine Kim, Green Zebra, Chicago. grist.org ... Chicago magazine's Dish column reports: Set to open in three weeks, Ai Sushi Lounge (358 W. Ontario St.) is the third brain child of Agnes Yoshikawa and Eugene Chua, the brother-and-sister team who own Tsuki (1441 W. Fullerton Ave.) and Ringo (2507 N. Lincoln Ave.). ... Dan Sachs of Bin 36 Sachs will unveil A Mano directly below Bin 36 at 335 North Dearborn Street in September. ... Hometown classic Harry Caray’s (see www.harrycarays.com for all locations) will be expanding to Lombard in August with two new restaurants, an Italian steak house and a seafood restaurant, both in the Westin Lombard Yorktown Center. ... Blair and Shirley Makinney of Beverly’s Pantry (1907 W. 103rd St.) are opening next door Café 103 (1909 W. 103rd St.), a fine-dining spot and natural extension of their gourmet retail store where they were already running sit-down dinners for private parties. chicagomag.com ... Blogger Tablehopper.com raves about a visit to Avec (615 West Randolph St.). ... The Sun-Times' Pat Bruno awards two stars to the chain J. Alexander's (4077 Lake Cook Northbrook). ... Sandy Thorn Clark profiles Doug Zell, owner of the 12-year-old coffee company Intelligentsia, which has grown from a no-name to a company with 110 employees and a 25,000-square-foot warehouse at 1850 W. Fulton that produces more than 1.25 million pounds of freshly roasted coffee a year. There also are three retail stores (3123 N. Broadway, 53 E. Randolph and 53 W. Jackson), and more than 700 wholesale customers. In addition, Intelligentsia recently opened a store and roasting facility in Los Angeles. Among the wholesale customers are some of Chicago's finest chefs -- Rick Bayless of Frontera Grill and Topolobampo, Charlie Trotter of Charlie Trotter's, Grant Achatz of Alinea, Paul Kahan of Blackbird, Shawn McClain of Custom House, and Michael Shrader of N9Ne Steak House -- who hand-select beans to customize specialty brews for the discriminating tastes of their patrons. suntimes.com ...

The Trib's Phil Vettel awards one star (good) to Alhambra Palace (1240 W. Randolph St.) and two stars (very good) to Room 21 (2110 S. Wabash Ave.), while Cheap Eats visits Smitty's on the Corner (15 E. Main St., St. Charles). ... Terry Armour visits Martini Park (51 W. Erie St.; www.martinipark.com). chicagotribune.com ... The Reader reviews new luxe lounges La Pomme Rouge (108 W. Kinzie), Chaise Lounge (1840 W. North) and Vice (840 W. Randolph). chicagoreader.com ... TimeOut Chicago reviews Mexx Kitchen at The Whiskey (1015 N Rush St) and Trattoria 225 (225 Harrison St, Oak Park). Noted openings include Oprah chef Art Smith's Table Fifty-Two (52 W Elm St), chef John Hogan's Tavern at the Park (130 E Randolph St), Crimson Lounge (329 N Dearborn St), and Tamalii (2459 W Armitage Ave). timeout.com/chicago ... Bloggers ChicagoBites.com rave about their visit to Moto (945 West Fulton Market St.). ... Menu Pages notes, "From the bowels of Hell, a.k.a. Bubba Gump Shrimp, issues forth a new Italian restaurant on Navy Pier called Capi's Italian Kitchen. ..." blogs.menupages.com/menupages.com ... Chicagoist.com stops by Winston’s Market (3440 N. Southport Ave.). ... ChicagoBurgerProject.blogspot.com visits David Burke's Primehouse (616 N. Rush St.) ... USA Today features the new movement of top-flight, celebrity chef-driven steakhouses, including Chicago's Tramonto's Steak & Seafood (Westin Chicago North Shore hotel, 601 N. Milwaukee Ave., Wheeling), Las Vegas' StripSteak (Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, 3950 Las Vegas Blvd. S.), Los Angeles' Cut (Beverly Wilshire hotel, 9500 Wilshire Blvd.), Kansas City's Plaza III Steakhouse (4749 Pennsylvania Ave.), and New York City's Craftsteak (85 10th Ave.). usatoday.com ... Crain's Chicago Business reviews Marche (833 W. Randolph St.), Custom House (500 S. Dearborn St.), Hop Haus (646 N. Franklin St.), Monk's Pub (205 W. Lake St.), and chicagobusiness.com ... Chef Jimmy Bannos of Heaven on Seven has been chosen by the American Culinary Federation Chicago Chefs of Cuisine Association as their second inductee into the Chicago Chefs of Cuisine Culinary Hall of Fame and Museum. Last year's inaugural inductee was Chef Charlie Trotter.

Compiled by Pat Embry, WhereTheLocalsEat.com

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Bleeding Heart Bakery on the Move

IN THE NEWS: Chicago magazine's Dish column takes a first look at Nazarlik (1650 W. Belmont Ave), Caoba (1619 N. Damen Ave), Trattoria Trullo (4767 N. Lincoln Ave), Nine Fish (2426 Main St., Evanston), Blu Restaurant and Sushi Lounge (1710 Orrington Ave., Evanston), Chaise Lounge (1840 W. North Ave), Shikago (190 S. LaSalle St), and Sepia (123 N. Jefferson St). ... Dish also notes, On Aug. 31, The Bleeding Heart Bakery (2018 W. Chicago Ave.), a certified organic bakery serving vegetarian and vegan fare, will close and shift the operation to 1955 West Belmont Avenue, where management expects to reopen early September. ... Closed: Cereality Cereal Bar & Cafe (100 S. Wacker Dr.; 1622 Sherman, Evanston) ... Opened: Cy Oldham (Silver Cloud) and Howard Natinksy (Five Star) have teamed up for Fat Cat (4840 N. Broadway), a neighborhood bar featuring comfort food. ... La Pomme Rouge (108 W. Kinzie St.), featuring American contemporary small plates, opened quietly in mid-June. ... Milk & Honey Bake Shop (1543 N. Damen Ave.), a spin-off of the original café, specializes in coffee and panini. ... Via Carducci La Sorella (1928 W. Division St.) opened on July 16. ... Dish interviews Jose Garces, a 35-year-old Chicago-born Kendall grad who owns two highly acclaimed restaurants in Philadelphia: Amada, an Andalusian tapas bar, and Tinto, a Basque-inspired wine bar. And he’s about to launch Chilango, a high-energy Mexican spot in Philly, and plans to open Mercat early next year in the renovated Blackstone Hotel at 600 South Michigan Avenue). chicagomag.com ... TimeOut Chicago rounds up dive bars, reviews Chaise Lounge and V.I.C.E. (840 W Randolph St), and notes the openings of Il Fiasco (5101 N Clark St), Otom (951 W Fulton Mkt) and The Bluebird (1749 N Damen Ave). ... The mag also blogs about the spiked milkshakes at the new bar Relax (1450 W Chicago Ave). timeout.com/chicago. ... ChicagoBusiness.com reports, "Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises Inc. is opening a third Wow Bao restaurant at the northwest corner of State and Lake Streets in the Renaissance Hotel. Wow Bao, a quick-casual concept that specializes in steamed Chinese-style buns filled with meats and vegetables, opened its first location at Water Tower Place in 2003 and a second in the southern Loop at Van Buren Street and Financial Place in February." ...

The Trib's Phil Vettel reports, "Kizoku (358 W. Ontario St.), the restaurant that gave Chicago "body sushi" (sushi pieces served atop a supine, scantily clad model) is no more, but the west edge of River North won't go without dragon maki for very long. Coming to the space in another week or two will be Ai Sushi Lounge (not to be confused with Sushi Ai in Palatine), a sushi spot by Agnes Yoshikawa, Eugene Chan and chef Toyoji Hemmi, the trio responsible for Tsuki and Ringo in Lincoln Park. ... Vettel also reports, "Word that a new Melman restaurant is aiming for a Spring 2008 opening at the corner of Hubbard and Dearborn Streets might not seem terribly eyebrow-raising; Rich Melman opens new Lettuce Entertain You restaurants all the time. But we're not talking about Rich Melman. The principals of this project, to be called Hub 51, are R.J. and Jerrod Melman. Rich's sons. The boys -- ages 28 and 24, respectively -- have more going for them than mere genetic predisposition. R.J. is the general manager at R.J. Grunt's (Daddy's very first restaurant), and Jerrod is the number-two manager at Osteria Via Stato, both Lettuce concepts. (It's not settled whether Hub 51 will be part of Lettuce or a separate division.)" ... Joe Gray blogs about a first visit to Il Fiasco. ... Monica Eng looks at carryout at Sola (3868 N. Lincoln Ave.; www.sola-restaurant.com) and Trader Joe's (3745 N. Lincoln Ave.; www.traderjoes.com) ... Kevin Pang has a progressive feast at Bolingbrook restaurants. chicagotribune.com ... Chicagoist.com reviews Art of Pizza (3033 N. Ashland), La Cantina Grill (1911 S. Michigan Ave.), and Martini Park (151 W. Erie St.). ... ... GapersBlock.com reviews M. Henry. ... The Sun-Times' Pat Bruno awards three stars to Park Grill (11 N. Michigan) and stops by Kamehachi Sushi Cafe (311 S. Wacker), while Thomas Witom reviews Chef's Station (915 Davis, Evanston) and Harbour House Restaurant (566 Chestnut, Winnetka). suntimes.com ... The Reader's Nicholas Day looks at the kitchen changes at Blackbird (619 W. Randolph). chicagoreader.com

Compiled by Pat Embry, WhereTheLocalsEat.com

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

'Bon Appetit' Features Crust

The August 2007 Bon Appetit magazine's Top Tables feature includes: Seattle's Brasa (2107 Third Avenue, brasa.com); Boulder, Co.'s The Kitchen (1039 Pearl St., thekitchencafe.com); Brenham, Texas' The Inn at Dos Brisas (9400 Champion Drive, dosbrisas.com); Kansas City's Bluestem (900 Westport Road, bluestemkc.com); Chicago's Crust (2056 W. Division St.); Atlanta's The Farmhouse (10950 Hutcheson Ferry Road, Palmetto, serenbe.com); and San Francisco's PlumpJack Cafe (3127 Fillmore St., plumpjack.com). epicurious.com/bonappetit

IN THE NEWS: The Sun-Times' Janet Rausa Fuller reports, "A sesame seed paste called tahini, used to make the popular Middle Eastern dip hummus, may be at the center of a salmonella outbreak linked to the Taste of Chicago, said the owner of the restaurant that served the hummus. Max Pars, owner of the Pars Cove restaurant at 435 W. Diversey, said health officials were zeroing in on tahini, which the restaurant purchased in late June. Pars bought the tahini from Ziyad Brothers Importing, a Cicero distributor whose products are in 48 states and six countries." Some 126 festival-goers were sickened and 10 were hospitalized. as officials try to trace the Taste outbreak. ... Critic Pat Bruno reviews Anteprima (5316 N. Clark), while Thomas Witom considers Scapa Italian Kitchen (31 S. Prospect Clarendon Hills). suntimes.com ... The Trib's Phil Vettel gives two stars to chef Gino Bahena's Tepatulco (2558 N. Halsted St.) and lists his favorite area pies, among them the lemon chess pie at West Town Tavern (1329 W. Chicago Ave.), while Renee Enna reviews Rosangelas (2807 W. 95th St., Evergreen Park). ... Vettel notes: the opening of Merchandise Marts' Bluprint, the brainchild of Jim Horan, owner of Blue Plate Catering ... Rosebud Prime, a clone of Rosebud Steakhouse, will open July 21 at 1 S. Dearborn St. in The Loop. chicagotribune.com ... The Reader's Martha Bayne reviews Bonsoiree (2728 W. Armitage), while Mike Sula reports that Gene's Sausage will be taking over the Meyer Delicatessen space in Lincoln Square. chicagoreader.com ... Chicago magazine chicagomag.com notes the closing of Palmito (3605 N. Ashland Ave.) and the openings of: Tavern at the Park (130 E. Randolph St., early August), Sepia (123 N. Jefferson St.), Il Fiasco (5101 N. Clark St.), Lucky Strike Lanes (100 Yorktown Center, Lombard), English (444 N. LaSalle St), Between Boutique Café and Lounge (1324 N. Milwaukee Ave.), Otom (951 W. Fulton Market), and The Bluebird Bistro & Wine Bar (1749 N. Damen Ave.) ... Business First of Louisville reports, "The name might no longer be "Gumbo A Go-Go," but the rechristened restaurant company is ready to go-go across the nation with what a new group of franchising executives believe will be the next hot Louisville-based franchise concept. The owners of the J. Gumbo's Down-Home Cajun Cookin' chain plan to add stores during the next few months in such markets as Chicago, Las Vegas, Nashville and New Orleans, said Don Larose, president of the parent company, Gumbo Development LLC." ...

TimeOut Chicago chats with chef Kevin Hickey of Seasons, reviews Wicker Park's new Lobos Al Fresco Tacos, and West Rogers Parks' Tapsilog At Iba Pa, and notes the openings of Piccolo (859 N Damen Ave), The Violet Hour (1520 N Damen Ave) and Sepia. timeout.com/chicago. ... Cold Stone Creamery's parent company is adding another restaurant franchise to its roster, the Business Journal of Phoenix reports. Scottsdale, Ariz.-based -based Kahala-Cold Stone has acquired Chicago-based Cereality Cereal Bar & Café. Cereality was founded in 2003, and customers at the restaurants choose from more than 30 cereal varieties and signature blends, plus 40 toppings and mix-in combinations to create their meals. Offerings also include parfaits, smoothies, cereal bars and other bakery items. ... ChicagoBites.com rates Yolk (1120 S Michigan Avenue). ... Menu Pages blogs.menupages.com notes the opening of Between Cafe & Lounge in Bucktown. ... The Chicago Burger Project chicagoburgerproject.blogspot.com visits Billy Goat Tavern (430 N. Michigan at Lower Level). ... Chicagoist.com reviews Jerry's, The Medici on 57th (1327 East 57th Street), and Baccala in Wicker Park. ... Crain's ChicagoBusiness.com reviews Kiki's Bistro (900 N. Franklin St.), Nick's Fishmarket and Nick's Fishmarket Grill (51 S. Clark St.), and Chez Joel (1119 W. Taylor St.).

Compiled by Pat Embry, WhereTheLocalsEat.com

Monday, July 9, 2007

Schwa To Reopen Aug. 3 With New Menu

IN THE NEWS: The Reader looks at recent restaurant transformations, including Il Covo (2152 N. Damen), and Martha Bayne blogs, "The answering machine at Schwa confirms a rumor from a few days ago: the teeny Ashland storefront is closed for the month of July and will reopen August 3 with a new menu." chicagoreader.com ... The Trib's Phil Vettel reviews Bravo Tapas (2047 W. Division St.) and Haro (2436 S. Oakley St.), while Kevin Pang considers Jockey Wok 'n' Rolls (1017 N. Roselle Rd., Hoffman Estates, www.jockey2go.com). ... New restaurants noted include Al Primo Canto (5414 W. Devon Ave), Trattoria Trullo (4767 N. Lincoln Ave), Bluprint (222 Merchandise Mart Plaza, Suite 135), and Sepia (123 N. Jefferson St.) chicagotribune.com ... The Sun-Times' Pat Bruno looks at kid-friendly courses at area restaurants. suntimes.com ... TimeOut Chicago timeout.com/chicago reviews Halsted's Bar & Grill (3441 N Halsted St), and Cosmopolitan (954 N California Ave), and notes the new Jerry's Sandwiches (1938 W Division St), Al Primo Canto, English (444 N LaSalle St), and Paddy Long's (1028 W Diversey Ave). ... The New York Times reports on the opening of the Mexican eatery Mexx Kitchen at the Whiskey (1015 N. Rush St.) from New York restaurateur Richard Sandoval (Maya, Pampano) and Rande Gerber. nytimes.com ... ChicagoBites.com visits Sola (3868 N. Lincoln Ave). ... Menu Pages blogs.menupages.com/chicago notes the opening of Village Restaurant on Canal Street, serving a standard complement of Indo-Pak dishes, mostly under $7 a la carte. ... Hungry magazine hungrymag.com spotlights the opening of Jerry’s Wicker Park.

Compiled by Pat Embry, WhereTheLocalsEat.com

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

State St.'s Melvin B's Making Way for Hotel

IN THE NEWS: The Sun-Times' Janet Rausa Fuller reports that Melvin B's, the beer-and-burger bar at 1114 N. State, will close in September to make way for a 200-room boutique hotel. ... Denise O'Neal reviews Sura Thai Bistro (3124 N. Broadway), while Sandy Thorn Clark profiles Hot Diggity Dogs' Joe Marsico and also writes about award-winning Frontera Grill chef-owner Rick Bayless. ... Pat Bruno awards two stars in his review of Crust (2056 W. Division) and reports that Andy's Jazz Club (11 E. Hubbard) now offers a Sunday Jazz Brunch. suntimes.com ... The Trib's Glenn Jeffers interviews Gabino Sotelinom, who spent 27 years as executive chef at Ambria, which closed June 30. ... The Trib's Monica Eng blogs about the secret Japanese menu at Itto Sushi (2616 N. Halsted St) and stops by the new V.I.C.E. (840 W. Randolph St), while Phil Vettel gives his best bets at Taste of Chicago, and Trine Tsouderos reviews Helen's Restaurant (1732 E. 79th St.) chicagotribune.com ... The Reader looks at new restaurants Delicioso y Sabroso (10468 S. Indianapolis), Machu Picchu (3856 N. Ashland), and Chicago Ale House (2200 W. Lawrence). ... The Reader's Mike Sula blogs about New Albany neighborhood spot Al-Khaymeih. chicagoreader.com ...

Chicago magazine's July 2007 issue chicagomag.com features "A Food Lover's Guide -- Where to Find the Freshest and Finest". The mag also writes on the exclusive underground restaurant scene, including Wellfleet and the Sunday Dinner Club, while Dennis Ray Wheaton reviews Le Lan (749 N. Clark St) and Boka (1729 N. Halsted St.). ... Penny Pollack and Jeff Ruby of the mag's Dish column report: "After a seven-year run in Evanston, Giovanni DeNigiris moved his Trattoria Trullo to Lincoln Square (4767 N. Lincoln Ave.), where he opened the doors June 22; Carol Johnson recently bought Il Covo (2152 N. Damen Ave.) from Jeff Greaves, Covo’s former owner and her former boss there; Terry Alexander morphed the former Del Toro space in Wicker Park into The Violet Hour (1520 N. Damen Ave., with a June 28 opening), but this time around the focus will be more on cocktails than on cuisine; Egglectic Café (145 N. Hale, Wheaton), a gourmet brunch spot, has opened its second location in Wheaton in the Danada Town Square shopping center (221 Town Square); The next of Alex Dana’s Rosebud restaurants, Rosebud Prime (1 S. Dearborn St.), is scheduled to début in late July; Paddy Long’s (1028 W. Diversey Ave.), a Lincoln Park pub and grill, opens this week; Ice-cream and sweet shop Sweet Occasions and More!, already a hit in Andersonville and Ravenswood, makes its move on Uptown in late August (northwest corner of Bryn Mawr and Kenmore)". ... TimeOut Chicago reviews Crust, Vella Cafe (1912 N Western Ave), and notes the openings of Wicker Park bakeries Sweet Cakes Bakery (935 N Damen Ave), Milk & Honey Bakeshop (1543 N Damen Ave), and Lovely: A Bake Shop (1130 N Milwaukee). timeout.com/chicago ... ChicagoBites.com visits Republic Pan-Asian Restaurant & Lounge (58 E Ontario St.). ... Centerstage visits The Fish Keg. centerstagechicago.com ... Menu Pages blogs.menupages.com stops by the new Chaise Lounge in Wicker Park and notes the opening of Al Primo Canto on Devon and Central. ... Chicagoist.com considers Bobtail Ice Cream (3425 North Southport) and Delicioso y Sabroso (10468 S. Indianapolis Blvd). ... GapersBlock.com stops by Sweet Maple Cafe (1339 W. Taylor). ... ChicagoBusiness.com reviews Chez Joel (1119 W. Taylor St.).

Compiled by Pat Embry, WhereTheLocalsEat.com

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

State Street's Papa Milano Closes

IN THE NEWS: The Sun-Times' suntimes.com Sandra Guy reports that Papa Milano Restaurant (951 N. State) closed May 31 and that Sarah Levy's high-end sweets shop Sarah's Pastries and Candies (11 E. Oak) will close June 30 and reopen July 3 in much-expanded quarters at 70 E. Oak. ... Sun-Times Critic Pat Bruno reviews breakfast and Southern fried chicken spot Ina's (1235 W. Randolph) and notes Columbian spot Gloria's Cafe (3300 W. Fullerton) mole master Geno Bahena's new Delicioso y Sabroso Restaurant (10468 S. Indianapolis). ... Thomas Witom visits Chef's Station (915 Davis, Evanston) and Salt Creek Barbecue (220 N. Randall, Batavia). ... TimeOut Chicago's timeout.com/chicago David Tamarkin reviews Delicioso y Sabroso (10468 S Indianapolis Blvd) and notes the openings of African Harambee (7537 N Clark St) and Trattoria 225 (225 Harrison St, Oak Park). ... The Trib's chicagotribune.com Monica Eng blogs about stops at the new La Pomme Rouge and Sura, while Phil Vettel blogs that he'll stick with at least his original 1999 review of three stars for mk (868 N. Franklin St) and reports that Allen Sternweiler will shut his restaurant, Allen's New American Cafe (217 W. Huron St.), on August 18. ... The Trib's Glenn Jeffers reports that Cucina Paradiso (814 North Blvd., Oak Park) is going to be out of the commission following a kitchen fire early June 19 ... Kevin Pang reports that Sunshine Cafe, the venerable Japanese restaurant in Andersonville, is set to reopen June 27. Owner Joni Ishida closed the restaurant for eight months due to health problems. ... Trine Tsouderos reports that chef Chris Jones at Otom, molecular gastronomy whiz kid Homaro Cantu's soon-to-open casual version of Moto, is out and Cantu's other sous chef at Moto, Daryl Nash, is in. ... Meanwhile, Cheap Eats dines on the Yucatecan fare of Xni-Pec (5135 W. 25th St., Cicero) ... The Chicago Reader's chicagoreader.com Alan Mammoser reviews Polish bakery Delightful Pastries (5927 W. Lawrence), and the paper rounds up other East European bakeries and eateries. ... Centerstage centerstagechicago.com chats with Aria chef Noah Bekofsky. ...

Chicago magazine's chicagomag.com Dish column reports, "Blue Water Grill (520 N. Dearborn St.) expects to updrade when new exec chef Joel Dennis (Tru) begins on June 25; Chad Starling (ex-Tru and ex-Blackbird) takes over as executive chef at Mediterranean/Asian Saltaus (1350 W. Randolph St.); Jenny’s Hoffbrau (20 Kansas St., Frankfort), a friendly 150-seat all-American spot owned by Carl Courtright and a group of investors, has opened; Bluprint (222 Merchandise Mart Plaza, Suite 135), a 192-seat spot, opens in mid-July with chef Sam Burman, (Tru, Avenues, and most recently exec chef at Tramonto’s Steak & Seafood); Al Primo Canto (5414 W. Devon Ave.), Edgebrook’s Brazilian chicken spot, opened on June 22; Off the Vine (5823 S. Madison St., Hinsdale, a wine boutique and lounge, opens June 23. ... Sunshine Cafe (5449 N. Clark St.), after a long hiatus during which owner Joni Ishida recovered from health issues, plans to reopen by June 27; Salad Spinners, a Chicago-based restaurant company that just opened its fourth Loop-area location (300 S. Wacker Dr.), is on the verge of franchising nationally. ... ChicagoBites.com visits Colonial Cafe (1625 E. Main St., St. Charles) and 18 North (18 N. 4th Street, St. Charles). ... The Menu Pages blogs.menupage.com/chicago mentions the Loop opening of Palatine-based Middle Eastern spot Roti, notes that the new Coalfire has changed its pizza menu after just six weeks, and praises the top-notch Chinese dining offerings in Chicago, specifically Opera in the South Loop, Mulan in Chinatown, Shanghai Terrace at the Penninsula Hotel, and Lao Sze Chuan in Chinatown. ... ChicagoFoodies.com stops by Hot Doug's ... Chicagoist.com discovers great food on a visit to Ole Lounge on the North side and sizes up the few bargains at the upcoming Taste of Chicago festival, June 29-July 8, specifically Robinson's No. 1 Ribs, Abbey Pub, and Connie's Pizza. ... GapersBlock.com visits John's Place (corner of Racine and Webster) and reports on the expected early July opening of Iggy's3 (800 N. Dearborn St.).

Compiled by Pat Embry, WhereTheLocalsEat.com

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Gras To Take Over Melman's Ambria Space

IN THE NEWS: Reports Chicago magazine chicagomag.com: "We knew the acclaimed chef Laurent Gras (Fifth Floor in San Francisco) was hooking up with Rich Melman and his Lettuce cronies, but we weren’t sure how or where. Now it’s clear: Gras is taking over the Ambria space (2300 N. Lincoln Park West). “Our goal all along has been to build the best seafood restaurant in all of Chicago,” says Melman, who also tried to make a deal (ultimately unsuccessful) in the new Trump building. Ambria’s last meal is June 30th, then renovations should begin in July." ... The mag notes: Aaron Whitcomb, the highly touted executive chef of Room 21 (2110 S. Wabash Ave.), has left. Owner Jerry Kleiner has replaced him with Fred Ramos, a veteran chef currently running the show at Kleiner’s Gioco (1312 S. Wabash Ave.); the recent opening of Chaise Lounge (1840 W. North Ave.), Isaac Holzwarth’s “American eclectic” restaurant; and "contrary to rumors, Cuban all-star Cafe Bolero (2252 N. Western Ave.) is not closing for good. It will reopen (this) week under new management." And it has five questions for Rande Gerber, 45, whose Gold Coast establishment, Whiskey Bar & Grill (Sutton Place Hotel, 1015 N. Rush St.), reopened June 15th with an upscale Mexican theme ...

In its July 2007 issue, Food & Wine magazine foodandwine.com features its prestigious Best New Chefs of 2007 list, including: Ian Schnoebelen of Iris in New Orleans, Sean O' Brien of Myth in San Francisco, Paul Virant of Vie in Western Springs (Ill.), Gabriel Rucker of Le Pigeon in Portland (Ore.), Gabriel Bremer of Salts in Cambridge (Mass.), Gavin Kaysen of El Bizcocho in San Diego, April Bloomfield of The Spotted Pig in New York City, Johnny Morris of Komi in Washington, D.C, Steve Corry of Five Fifty-Five in Portland (Maine) and Matthew Dillon of Sitka & Spruce in Seattle. ... The mag also features the Best New Wine Lists of 2007, including: San Diego's Addison, San Francisco's Perbacco, New York's Craftsteak, Wheeling, Ill.'s Osteria Di Tramonto, Las Vegas' Restaurant Guy Savoy and Boston's Bin 26 Enoteca. ... A Florida-based restaurant chain is putting out feelers that it wants to greatly expand its reach, the Denver Business Journal reports. Earl of Sandwich, founded in 2004 and based in Orlando, says it's looking for franchisees around the United States, including Chicago. ...

The Menu Pages blogs.menupages.com/chicago notes the recent opening of Cosmospolitan, a Greek/Mediterranean/American restaurant ... Hungrymag.com considers the sausage panino at Vella Café. ... ChicagoBurgerProject.blogspot.com visits McCormick & Schmick's (One East Wacker Drive). ... ChicagoFoodies.com raves about Sweet Maple Cafe ... OliveandMason.com consider Avenue M. ... TimeOut Chicago timeout.com/chicago reviews Gloria's Cafe (3300 W Fullerton Ave), the Bohemian-American restaurant Klas (5734 W Cermak, Cicero), previews the new Chaise Lounge, and notes the soft shell crab Po-boy at Heaven on Seven (111 N Wabash Ave). ... The Trib's Terry Armour features the opening of Plan B Bar and Kitchen (1635 N. Milwaukee Ave.), while Janet Franz notes the new Icosium Kafe (5200 N. Clark St.), which specializes in Algerian-style crepes. ... Joe Gray reviews Carthage Cafe (3446 W. Foster Ave.). chicagotribune.com ... The Reader notes the openings of Jerry Kleiner's Room 21 (2110 S. Wabash), Cordis Brothers Supper Club (1625 W. Irving Park), and Crust (2056 W. Division). ... The paper also provides a guide to al fresco dining and blogs that The Illinois Restaurant Association's lawsuit against the legality of the foie gras ban has been dismissed. chicagoreader.com ... CenterStageChicago.com reviews Big Buns and Pita on North Clark ... The Sun-Times' Pat Bruno gives two and a half stars to The Gage (24 S. Michigan), while Tom Witom reviews Sam Houston's Charhouse (1175 W. Lake Bartlett). suntimes.com ...

UPCOMING EVENT: Sixth Annual Artistry of Wine Benefit, for the Foundation Fighting Blindness. Participating restaurants, chefs and wines, include Michael, May St. Café, Avenues, NoMi, Avenue M, Roy’s, Sushi Wabi, Devon Seafood and Grill, Lush, Ambria, Winediva and Carmichael’s. Silent auction. Friday, June 22, 6:30-10 pm at The Peninsula Chicago (108 E. Superior St.) Tickets are $150.00, non-refundable. To purchase call 847-680-0100.

Compiled by Pat Embry, WhereTheLocalsEat.com

Monday, June 11, 2007

Aigre Doux Makes 'Bon Appetit' Hot List

The June issue of Bon Appetit magazine epicurious.com/bonappetit lists 10 restaurants as "summer's hotspots," new foodie destinations around the country. Prices range from $10 pizzas at Pizzeria Mozza in Los Angeles to the $54 and $67 prix fixe menus at Bijoux in Dallas. Here's the full list:

Momofuku Ssam Bar, 207 Second Ave., New York City
Central Michel Richard, 1001 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, D.C.
Trois, 1180 Peachtree St., Atlanta
Pizzeria Mozza and Osteria Mozza, 641 N. Highland Ave., and 6602 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles
Tavolata, 2323 Second Ave., Seattle
Radda Trattoria, 1265 Alpine Ave., Boulder, Colo.
Aigre Doux Restaurant & Bakery, 230 W. Kinzie St., Chicago
Bijoux, 5450 West Lovers Lane, Suite 225, Dallas
Osteria, 640 N. Broad St., Philadelphia
Ad Hoc, 6476 Washington St., Yountville, Calif. (Napa Valley)

IN THE NEWS: Benihana officials say the company has signed a lease agreement for a new Benihana teppanyaki restaurant in downtown Chicago, the South Florida Business Journal reports. The location, at State and Erie streets, is to replace a recently closed downtown restaurant at 166 E. Superior St., a location the company had occupied for almost 40 years. For its RA Sushi brand, the company has seven locations under development, including suburban Lombard, Ill. ... The Sun-Times' talented Dave Hoekstra features Bill Carroll and James "J." Spillane, owners of the hot new Coal Fire (1321 W. Grand) restayrabt, which is the first thin-crust coal oven pizzeria on the North Side. (D'Amato's, 1124 W. Grand, uses a coal oven for bakery goods and pan-style pizzas.) Coal Fire's thin crust Neapolitan style has been a been a big hit since its May 8 opening. ... The paper also profiles Four Seasons Executive Chef Kevin Hickey, whose day starts at 5 am and who oversees three restaurants (Seasons, The Cafe and Seasons Lounge). ... Critic Pat Bruno gives one star in his review of the splashy new Middle Eastern eatery Alhambra Palace Restaurant (1240 W. Randolph) and takes a first look at Coal Fire. suntimes.com ... The Reader's Anne Spiselman details at length the early troubles at Alhambra Palace, while Mike Sula blogs a review of Village Hut (130 E. Army Trail Rd., Glendale Heights). chicagoreader.com ... Chicago magazine's dish column chicagomag.com has a conversation with Chris Jones, 26, exec chef of Moto’s upcoming mirror-image comfort-food restaurant, Otom (pronounced “autumn”), 951 W. Fulton Mkt., opening July 11 two doors down from Moto. Dish also reports on gastropub English (444 N. LaSalle St.), opening later this month in a stand-alone building in River North, joining the likes of Paramount Room, The Gage, and Hopleaf: "This one is a major undertaking by Eat Well Drink Better Inc. (Bar Celona) that includes three levels of terra cotta, cast-iron bars, giant chandeliers, and walnut flooring. French doors open onto LaSalle, and giant windows boast a view of the skyline." ... Dish also reports that V.I.C.E. (840 W. Randolph St.), an “amuse-bouche boutique,” had its soft opening on June 6. The name stands for “Vivo Ice Cream Emporium” (it’s next door to the West Loop Italian stalwart Vivo), but chef Christopher Laramie (Everest, MK) serves dishes like pancetta-wrapped quail and Kobe steak and eggs. Dan Krasny, the owner (and a founder of Marché and Red Light), plans to open V.I.C.E. in the afternoon and keep it open late. ... The mag also reports: "Graze (35 W. Ontario St.), a small-plates spot with only six months of business under its belt in River North, has closed. ... Sarah’s Pastries & Candies (11 E. Oak St.) is moving down the street to 70 East Oak Street in July. ... Whiskey Bar & Grill (1015 N. Rush St.) has hooked up with chef Richard Sandoval, a pioneer of modern Mexican cuisine, and will open a redesigned Gold Coast space with a Latino tone. ... Cool Mirchi (814 E. Nerge Rd., Roselle), a self-proclaimed “trendy” Indian restaurant in the west suburbs, has opened. ... Coming soon: Exposure Tapas Supper Club (1313 S. Wabash Ave.), a 15,000-square-foot Spanish spot from chef David Wennerlyn (O’Donovan’s, Café Med), in late June. ...

TimeOut Chicago's timeout.com/chicago David Tamarkin reviews Jerry Kleiner's Room 21 (2110 S Wabash Ave), while Heather Shouse sizes up Coal Fire. ... Featured openings include La Pomme Rouge (108 W Kinzie St) and Blind Robin (853 N Western Ave), while chef Laura Cid-Perea of Bombon Bakery raves about the "fatboy" burgers with grilled onions at The Twisted Spoke (501 N Ogden Ave). ... The Trib's Monica Eng blogs leisureblogs.chicagotribune.com/thestew about her first trip to the new Anteprima, while critic Phil Vettel blogs about the recent closing of Le Francais and Trine Tsouderos blogs about Orange on Roscoe, slated to open June 7 for brunch in the storefront recently occupied by another mostly-breakfast joint, Brett's Cafe Americain. ... Vettel, Trine Tsouderos, Kevin Pang and Eng pick some of their favorite outdoor dining spots. ... Eng also lets you know which restaurants feature insects on the menu ... Cheap Eats visits Blue Oasis Cafe (12947 S. Western Ave., Blue Island). ... The Trib's Chris LaMorte has a rundown on rib joints, including Sheffield's and Uncle John's Barbecue. chicagotribune.com ... ChicagoBites.com reviews The Gage (24 S. Michigan Ave). ... Chicago Menu Pages blogs.menupages.com/chicago notes the relaunching of lunch at chef Bruce Sherman's North Pond. ... ChicagoFoodies.com stops by Le Bouchon (1958 North Damen Avenue). ... The Chicago Burger Project chicagoburgerproject.blogspot.com visits Moody's Pub (5910 N Broadway). ... Moonstruck Chocolate Co. has signed leases to open eight more of its chocolate cafés across the country by 2009, the Portland Business Journal reports. That will bring the total number of cafés owned and operated by the Portland-based company to 17 nationwide. Moonstruck Chocolate opened its first chocolate café in Portland in 1996, and the company currently operates nine cafés in Oregon, California and Illinois. Each of the eight new cafés will be located in malls. Five will open this fall in Natick Collection in Natick, Mass.; Oakbrook Center in Oak Brook, Ill.; Tysons Galleria in McLean, Va.; Twelve Oaks Mall in Novi, Mich.; and The Mall at Partridge Creek in Clinton Township, Mich.

Compiled by Pat Embry, WhereTheLocalsEat.com