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). ... 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). ...

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). ... 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). ... 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). ... The Reader's Mike Sula considers libations at The Violet Hour (1520 N. Damen, 773-252-1500). ... visits Sepia. ... Menu Pages details the move of Trattoria Trullo from Evanston to Lincoln Square. ... Chicago Burger Project visits Susie's Drive Thru (4126 W Montrose Ave, 773-283-6544). ... Chicago Foodies reviews Custom House. ... 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,

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.). ... 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. ... 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. ... 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.), ... 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). ... 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" ... 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).

Compiled by Pat Embry,

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. ....

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. ... 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. ... 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. ... The Sun-Times' Frank Bruno gives two stars to Wishbone (6611 W. Roosevelt, Berwyn; ... 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). ... 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). ... Menu Pages notes the openings of Il Fiasco and Pie. ... visits Lux Bar (18 E Belleview, Chicago). ... stops by Mundial-Cocina Mestiza.

Compiled by Pat Embry,

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., No. 1 overall. ... 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 ( 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). ... 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)

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). ... 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. ... 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). ... Menu Pages notes the recent opening of Rosebud Prime in the South Loop. ... reviews Dine (733 W. Madison St.). ... visits Twisted Spoke (501 N Ogden Ave, 3365 N Clark St). ... 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. ... Crain's reviews Republic Pan-Asian Restaurant & Lounge (58 E. Ontario St), and Marche (833 W. Randolph St).

Compiled by Pat Embry,