Monday, April 30, 2007

James Beard Awards Await

Roughly the dining out equivalent of The Academy Awards, The James Beard Foundation annual awards ceremony takes place Monday, May 7, at the Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center in New York City. Talented Chicago chefs Grant Achatz of Alinia, Carrie Nahabedian of Naha, and Bruce Sherman of North Pond are among the five nominees for Best Chef: Great Lakes. Go to for the complete list, but here's a partial list of national nominees:
-- Outstanding Restaurant: Boulevard, San Francisco; Frontera Grill, Chicago; Magnolia Grill, Durham, N.C., Picholine, New York; Spiaggia, Chicago.
-- Best New Restaurant: A Voce, New York City; Chochon, New Orleans; Cut, Beverly Hill, Calif; L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon, New York City; Momofuku Ssam Bar, New York City; Restaurant Guy Savoy, Las Vegas.
-- Outstanding Restaurateur: Thomas Keller, The French Laundry, Yountville, Calif; Keith McNally, Balthazar, New York City; Richard Melman, Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises (R.J. Grunts, Wildfire, Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba!), Chicago; Drew Nieporent, Myriad Restaurant Group (Tribeca Grill, Nobu, Rubicon), New York City; Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Jean Georges restaurant, New York City.
-- Outstanding Chef: Tom Colicchio, Craft, New York City; Lee Hefter, Spago, Beverly Hills, Calif.; Jean Joho, Everest, chicago; Paul Kahan, Blackbird, Chicago; Michel Richard, Michel Richard Citronelle, Washington, D.C.
-- Rising Star Chef: Nate Appleman, A16, San Francisco; Graham Elliot Bowles, Avenues at The Peninsula Hotel, Philadelphia; David Chang, Momofuku Noodle Bar, New York; Patrick Connelly, Radius, Boston; Daniel Humm, Eleven Madison Park, New York City.

Restaurant magazine just released its list of the world's top 100 restaurants. ( Here are the U.S. entries:
The French Laundry, Yountville, Ca. (No. 4)
Per Se, New York City (No. 9)
Jean Georges, New York City (No. 18)
Le Bernardin, New York City (No. 26)
Charlie Trotter's, Chicago (No. 30)
Daniel, New York City (No. 32)
Alinea, Chicago (No. 36)
Chez Panisse, Berkeley, Ca. (No. 40)
Masa, New York City (No. 56)
L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon at the Four Seasons, New York City (No. 64)
Peter Lugar, Brooklyn, NY (No. 69)
Nobu New York, New York City (No. 89)
Gramercy Tavern, New York city (No. 90)
WD-50, New York City (No. 91)
Zuni Café, San Francisco (No. 98)
Alex at Wynn, Las Vegas (No. 100)

Chicago magazine's list of best new restaurants in the May issue: Aigre Doux, Blu Coral, Chalkboard, Chiyo, DeLaCosta, Erba, Ginger Asian Bistro, Habana Libre, Koda, Marigold, Mulan, Niche, Osteria Di Tramonto, Sage Grille, Sam & Harry's, Sequel, Sol De Mexico, Tay Do, Tepatulco, Tramonto's Steak & Seafood, and Xel-Ha. Elsewhere in the issue: Smoque barbecue restaurant's Barry Sorkin is interviewed; nods go out to new restaurants Meli Cafe & Juice Bar 301-305 S. Halsted St.) and Bistro Monet at 462 Park Blvd. in Glen Ellyn, hidden gem Praga at 229 West St. Charles Road in Lombard; and Kevin Shikami plans to open Shikago, contemporary Asian restaurant at 190 S. LaSalle St. in early May.

North Shore magazine's April issue features both editors and readers favorite dishes at area restaurants. Editors winners include Morton's for Best Bar Snacks (Yard House and Johnny's Kitchen & Tap were readers picks), Cafe la Cave for Best Retro Dining (Wildfire, readers), Carnivale for Best Party Atmosphere (Wildfire, readers), That Little Mexican Cafe as Best Mole (El Jardin, readers), Szechwan Kingdom as Best Crab Rangoon (Ben Pao, readers), Eggshell Cafe as Best Omelet (Egg Harbor, readers), Vie as Best Worth the Drive (Country Squire, readers), Shaw's Crab House as Best Crab Cake (Bob Chinn's Crabhouse, readers), Timo as Most Inventive Pasta (Maggiano's, readers) Prairie Joe's as Kitchiest Wall Art (La Casa Del Gordo, readers), Mocha as Best Neighborhood Wine Bar (Flight, readers), Tsunami as Best Unconventional Steak (Morton's, readers), Savannah's as Best Soulful Southern Cooking (Dixie Kitchen, readers), L. Woods as Best Apple Strudel, readers and critics.

Playboy magazine's May issue includes its list of America's 10 Best Steakhouses. (Hey, now you can say you really DO read the articles!) Those deemed bunny worthy include:
Bone's in Atlanta.
Keefer's in Chicago
Cresecent City Steaks in New Orleans
Cut in Los Angeles
Bern's in Tampa
Craftsteak in Las Vegas
Grill 23 & Bar in Boston
El Raigon in San Francisco
Red in Cleveland
Sparks in New York City

IN THE NEWS: Roscoe Village favorite Brett's Cafe Americain closed the last weekend in April, the blog reports, along with rumors that Orange will open its third location in the spot. ... Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises has announced it will close its critically acclaimed Lincoln Park fine dining restaurant Ambria on June 30 after nearly 27 years in business. The restaurant could be replaced with a concept for San Francisco star chef Laurent Gras, although not necessarily on the same site, the Chicago Tribune's Phil Vettel reports. ... A new gastropub across from Millenium Park called The Gage is featured by the Trib's Chris LaMorte. ... Alison Neumer Lara of Crain's Chicago Business ( raves about Viand, 155 E. Ontario St. ... Waco Brothers guitarist Dean "Deano" Schlabowske has opened his own wine store, Cellar Rat, the Chicago Reader reports. ... The Sun-Times' Denise O'Neal reviews Plan B Bar & Kitchen at 1635 Milwaukee, while critic Pat Bruno reviews the new Yucatan spot Xel-Ha (pronounced shill-ha), at 710 N. Wells ( ... The Chicago Reader reviews Baccala at 1540 N. Milwaukee, the revamped Boka at 1729 N. Halsted, and HB Home Bistro at 3404 N. Halsted. ( ... Fredhots and Fries in Glenview is featured at the blog ... Midori Japanese Restaurant is reviewed at ... Kitsch'n River North, 600 W. Chicago Ave., is reviewed at ... TimeOut Chicago's Heather Shouse reviews new West Town sushi joint Blu Coral, 1265 N. Milwaukee Ave., while David Hammond reviews the 12-year-old Polish eatery Smak-Tak, 5961 N. Elston Ave. In the same issue, chef Michael Shrader of N9NE Steak House gives a shout-out to Goose Island Brewery, 1800 N. Clybourn Ave. And Shouse reports on the scheduled April 27 opening of the spacious, lush Moroccan restaurant Alhambra Palace, 1240 W. Randolph St., headed by award-dinning French chef Eric Aubriot. (