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

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Top-Rated Le Francais Shutters Doors

The Sun-Times' Janet Rausa Fuller reports in today's (June 6) editions, "Le Francais, once the gold standard of haute cuisine in the Chicago area, has bid a quiet adieu. The Wheeling restaurant, which opened in 1973 under now-retired legendary chef Jean Banchet, shut down right before Memorial Day, after serving dinner that previous Saturday. Le Francais restaurant has temporarily suspended service. We hope to have more information in the near term future," an answering machine recording said Tuesday (June 5). Though the Mobil five-star restaurant has closed temporarily before during ownership changes, this time it appears to be for good. The restaurant filed a notice with the Wheeling Fire Department within the last week that it was no longer operating, said James Lang, economic development director for the Village of Wheeling. A busboy and food runner who did not want to be named said staff were not told ahead of time of the closing by owner Michael Moran. It was only after getting a phone call from Moran the day after Memorial Day that the busboy said he learned he had already worked his last day." ... suntimes.com

Compiled by Pat Embry, WhereTheLocalsEat.com

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Gene and Georgetti's Gets 'Saveur' Honor

Saveur magazine's saveur.com July 2007 issue includes the piece "Our 7 Favorite Steak Houses"," which include:

1. Bern's Steak House, Tampa
2. Craftsteak, Las Vegas and New York
3. Five O'Clock Steakhouse, Milwaukee
4. Gene and Georgetti, Chicago
5. Gorat's Steak House, Omaha
6. Pacific Dining Car, Los Angeles
7. Peter Luger, Brooklyn, New York

The mag also garners steak-grilling tips from Mario Navarro, a Mexico native who has been chef at Chicago's Gene and Georgetti's for more than 30 years.

IN THE NEWS: The Trib's metromix.chicagotribune.com Chris LaMorte and Monica Eng stop by the highly anticipated new organic pizza joint Crust in Wicker Park, while critic Phil Vettel blogs http://leisureblogs.chicagotribune.com/thestew/ about a look back at two of his favorite Chicago burgers, Rosebud Steakhouse (192 E. Walton St.) and Poag Mahone's (333 S. Wells St.; 175 W. Jackson Blvd.), and also recommends the burger at the new Hop Haus (646 N Franklin St) ... The Trib's Monica Eng blogs that her recent interview with famously volatile British chef-author Marco Pierre White that she failed to name the Korean BBQ restaurant that he pronounced "one of his favorite restaurants in Chicago." "Sorry, sorry, sorry. For the record, the place is called Boo Il Restaurant (3346 W. Bryn Mawr Ave.) but the only English words on the outside of the restaurant say "Korean BBQ." ... Blogger ChicagoBites.com visits Korean restaurant Jin Ju (5203 N. Clark St.). ... The Reader's Mike Sula stops by the new Anteprima (5316 N. Clark). chicagoreader.com ... Chicago magazine's chicagomag.com Dish column from Penny Pollack & Jeff Ruby reports, "Som Thumhathai and Ake Chaowsaowapa, the pair behind Bucktown’s popular sushi spot Coast (2045 N. Damen Ave.), have joined the South Loop gold rush by quietly opening South Coast (1700 S. Michigan Ave.)" as well as noting the opening of Peruvian eatery Machu Picchu (3856 N. Ashland Ave.). ... TimeOut Chicago timeout.com/chicago reviews Anteprima (5316 N Clark St) and Sura (3124 N Broadway), while stopping by Wicker Park's new Via Carducci La Sorella. ... Adam Peltz's Chicago Menu Pages blog blogs.menupages.com/chicago welcomes Where the Locals Eat, sorta (but thanks for the mention, Adam!) and dishes on the new menu at the troubled new restaurant Alhambra. "The new executive chef, Daniel Wright - who helmed Alhambra's previous incarnation, Souk - has fashioned a more orthodox Morrocan menu, reducing (but not eliminating) the French accent of the prior offerings. While the rack of lamb with ratatouille, basil puree and a light herb sauce ($36) and the risotto in a savory Parmesan and creme fraiche sauce ($18) are gone, the lobster ravioli remains, with a few slight alterations (like dropping in price from $26 to $24). New items include the tasty sounding grilled scallops tagine, with seared sea scallops and fresh tomato basil sauce, chic peas, and pistachio nuts ($26), which reminds us that Moroccan cuisine had a built-in French element long before Aubriot was born." ... You'll want to check out Hungry magazine's hungrymag.com's interview with Dave Hammond, Michael Morowitz, Cathy Lambrecht, and Michael Gebert from LTHforum.com, the Chicago online dining chat site that just celebrated its third birthday.