Monday, May 21, 2007

Several Locals on Esquire's Best Bars List

Esquire magazine's second annual Best Bars of America list is out in the June 2007 issue. They include:

Lou's Pub & Package, Birmingham, Ala.; J Lounge, Golden Gopher, The Edison, The Broadway Bar, La Cita, Bordello, Redwood, and Bar 107, Los Angeles; Musso & Frank Grill, Hollywood, Calif.; The Polo Lounge, Beverly Hills; Beach Ball, Newport Beach, Calif.; Brennan's Pub, Marina Del Ray, Calif.; Bourbon & Branch, The Owl Tree, Vesuvio, and Zeitgeist, San Francisco; The Sportsman, Sonora, Calif.; Cruise Room, and El Chapultepec, Denver; Jimbo's, and Churchill's Pub, Miami; The Clermont Lounge, Atlanta; Lewers Lounge at the Halekulani Hotel, and La Mariana Sailing Club, Honolulu; The California Clipper, The Red Lion Pub, Bungalow, The Matchbox, Hideout, and Chipp Inn, Chicago; The Red Key, and Nicky Blaine's, Indianapolis; The Old Seelbach Bar, Louisville; The Chart Room, The Bar at Tujague's, Fritzel's European Jazz Pub, and Napoleon House, New Orleans; The Brewer's Art, and Shamrock Inn, Baltimore; B-Side Lounge, Cambridge, Mass.; No. 9 Park, Boston; Doyle's Cafe, Jamaica Plain, Mass.; The Bar at Seldom Blues, Detroit; Miller's Bar, Dearborn, Mich.; Bulldog NE, and Nye's Polonaise Room, Minneapolis; Half Time Rec, St. Paul; John D. McGurk's, St. Louis; Any bar on the Strip, Double Down Saloon, and Petrossian Bar, Las Vegas; Bemelmans Bar in the Carlyle Hotel, Little Branch, The Bar at Keens Steakhouse, Minetta Tavern, Jimmy's Corner, The Angel's Share, The Brooklyn Inn, The Rose Bar at the Gramercy Park Hotel, Flatiron Lounge, The Saloon, San Domenico Restaurant, Spuyten Duyvil, 21 Club, Grassroots Tavern, Bill's Gay 90s, Julius', and Pegu Club, New York City; Freddy's Bar & Backroom, Brooklyn; Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden, Queens; Thomas Street Tavern, Charlotte, NC; Andyman's Treehouse, Columbus, Ohio; The Library Bar & Grill, Norman, Okla.; Friendly Lounge, The Grey Lodge, and Southwark, Philadelphia; Dee's Cafe, Pittsburgh; Tootsie's Orchid Lounge, and Robert's Western World, Nashville; La Tuna, San Antonio; Donn's Depot, Austin; The Inwood Lounge, Dallas; Shooting Star Saloon, Huntsville, Utah; Sambar, Zig Zag Cafe, and Fu Kun Wu, Seattle; Hawk 'n' Dove, and The Tune Inn, Washington, DC; Holler House, Milwaukee.

IN THE NEWS: David Tamarkin of TimeOut Chicago writes, "Since 1938, few restaurant names have held as much cachet in Chicago as the Pump Room (1301 N State Pkwy at Goethe St). But just like many of the celebrities who flocked to this famous Gold Coast dining room in the ’60s, the restaurant has fallen out of favor, its name overshadowed by the bigger, newer, glitzier restaurants in town. The famous Pump Room isn’t so famous anymore, and it’s suffering because of it. “We should be doing 50 [people] every night, and we’re not,” executive chef Nick Sutton says. “Some nights we’re lucky if we do ten.” Everybody involved seems to agree that the problems started in 1999, when management duties were passed from Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, which had been running the restaurant for a few years, to the Omni Hotel, which at that time owned and operated the Ambassador Hotel. According to Sutton, the Omni didn’t run the Pump Room like the Pump Room. “When Omni used to own it, it was just considered a hotel restaurant—there wasn’t any pride taken in it,” he says. Now, both the Ambassador Hotel and the Pump Room are run by Portfolio Hotel Group, a company that boasts former Pump Room general manager Helmut Horne as a partner. Having worked at the restaurant in its glory days, Horne is interested in bringing the restaurant back to what it once was. But problems still persist. ..."

... TimeOut also stops by Vella Cafe (1912 N Western Ave), Cordis Brothers Supper Club (1625 W Irving Park Rd) and Manor (642 N Clark St) and chats with chef Bruce Sherman of North Pond ... The Sun-Times looks at the welcome trend of downsized desserts, including those at Vong's Thai Kitchen. ... Critic Pat Bruno offers a wrapup of the area's top outdoor dining spots, including Athena and Riva. ... Thomas Witom reviews La Granja (1572 N. Rand in Palatine) and Wildfish (730 Waukegan in Deerfield), while Denise O'Neal takes a first look at the much-anticipated Alhambra Palace Restaurant (1240 W. Randolph) ... The Trib's Trine Tsouderos looks at the growing popularity of seasonal restaurant menus, mentioning: Prairie Grass Cafe, Bistro Campagne, North Pond, and many more ... The Trib also looks at the influx of fresh grapefruit in dishes and cocktails at area establishments, while the Trib's blog The Stew: does David Burke's Primehouse on the (relative) cheap; critic Phil Vettel visits and reviews Parlor (1745 W. North Ave.); and First Bites stops by The Gage and Coalfire Pizza ... The Reader reviews new restaurants The Gage (24 S. Michigan), Amphora (7547 N. Clark), and Republic Pan-Asian Restaurant & Lounge (58 E. Ontario) and its The Food Chain blog runs a report from Martha Bayne on the growing pains of Coalfire Pizza, which opened recently and got so much business thanks in part to mention on the foodie blog, it ran out of dough one night and had to close early.

Chicago magazine's June edition includes an interview with Jerry Kleiner (Carnivale, Red Light), whose latest multimillion-dollar venture is the American-style bistro Room 21 (2110 S. Wabash Ave.), in an old Capone hideout. ... Bloggers Chicago Bites stop by Frontera Grill the day after the restaurant won its best U.S. restaurant award from the James Beard Foundation ... The Menu Pages reports, "In a blow to performative dining in Chicago, the only local branch of Benihana closed (May 15). Just where are tacky people going to get their Japanese food now? Good news! RA Sushi is owned by the Benihana people, and is in no danger of going anywhere. We went to a Benihana once, and the guy who was doing our shrimp missed when he he tried to flip the shells into his chef's hat. Also, the steak wasn't great, and it was expensive. We don't say good riddance, because we the theatricallity eventually wore down our jaded demeanor, but...we don't think it's a crime that the closest Benihanas are in Lombard, Wheeling and Schaumburg - exactly where they belong." ... Blogger The Chicago Burger Project stops by Bin Wine Cafe and Rosebud Steakhouse ... The Tampa Bay Business Journal reports that Hooters Inc., the founders of the original Hooters restaurant concept, and Hooters Management Corp. plan to switch to zero trans-fat frying oil in its 22 restaurants in Tampa Bay, Chicago and New York City. ... looks at outdoor dining options.

Compiled by Pat Embry,

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