Nando’s Peri-Peri cooking good and doing good

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Chicago Fire soccer stars will “take over” the grills at the new Nando’s in the SouthChicago Fire Player at Nandos Loop on Saturday July 30, delivering succulent PERi-PERi chicken to hungry fans. Nando’s will pay it forward by donating 100 percent of sales to the Chicago Fire Foundation, which improves the lives of disadvantaged youth in and around Chicago. 


Nando’s PERi-PERi, the South African-Portuguese restaurant known worldwide for its spicy flame-grilled chicken, has just hatched its seventh Chicago-area restaurant. The newest Nando’s is located at 1005 South Delano Court, in the Roosevelt Collection in the South Loop.

“Nando’s is thrilled to partner again with the Fire to warm up Chicago,” said Burton Heiss, CEO of Nando’s PERi-PERi USA.  Since opening in Chicago in spring 2015, Nando’s has raised more than $100,000 for local non-profits.

“It’s wonderful to see a company like Nando’s invested in this city to join with the Chicago Fire Foundation to give back to the community,” added Chicago Fire Foundation Executive Director Jessica Yavitz.

Playing With Fire
Chicago Fire personalities scheduled to appear at Nando’s include general manager Nelson Rodriguez, midfielders Matt Polster, Michael Stephens, Joey Calistri, Drew Conner and Alex Morrell, defender Patrick Doody and goalkeepers Matt Lampson and Patrick McLain. They will turn up the heat at Nando’s in South Loop with player appearances from 1:30pm to 7:00pm CT on July 30. The restaurant is opened from 11am to 9pm that day, with all sales throughout the day going to the Chicago Fire Foundation.

Seven Chicago Restaurants…and Counting
Nando’s moved to Chicago in spring 2015 and has quickly opened five restaurants in the city, plus locations in Naperville and Oak Park. The newest Nando’s is located at Roosevelt Collection between W. Roosevelt Rd. and W. Harrison St. at 1005 S. Delano Ct.

Nando’s has built an intensely loyal following, from London to the Loop, by providing fresh food in a relaxed atmosphere with friendly service. Nando’s is known worldwide for its succulent PERi-PERi chicken, marinated for 24 hours, flame-grilled to perfection, and basted to the customer’s preferred flavor and spice.

Every Nando’s is painstakingly designed and completely unique, with earthy textures and bright colors that reflect its sunny African-Portuguese heritage.  The new Nando’s in the Roosevelt Collection is no exception and features a panoramic view of the Loop skyline. With thousands of pieces of original works of art that are a constant reminder of where the restaurant came from, Nando’s has become the largest collector of South African contemporary art in the world. In the United States alone, there are more than 600 pieces of original African art in Nando’s restaurants.

 

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Osteria La Madia

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Update: As of March 25, 2017, Osteria La Madia is closed. The owners are now focused on building their Firecakes brand.
Osteria La Madia, 59 Grand Ave., sits in the heart of the red-hot River North section of downtown Chicago – a great place for drinks and unique appetizers. Or try their handmade, wood-fire-grilled pizzas or a full meal from among entrees that include fresh seafood to short ribs and housemade pastas with a variety of proteins. Several salads on offer range from a selection of greens with unique dressings to a full-meal version of Ahi Tuna Nicoise.
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The bar and a small seating area form a cozy spot at the front of the divided space. Then a line of booths leads down a short path to the main two-level, large, airy dining area set with varying size tables and comfortable chairs. And the wood-fire grills are centered at the back of the space; it’s cool to watch the pizzas being made behind the protective glass shield. The overall effect is of a room that’s spacious with cozy areas. The decor is unobtrusively simple yet modern with a truly comfortable ambiance.
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Osteria La Madia's fabulous Spinach cheese fondue
Osteria La Madia’s fabulous Spinach cheese fondue

Our server happily recommended favorites when we asked. She especially recommended the Spinach & Taleggio Fondue appetizer. Picturing something oozing with oily cheese, we hesitated but decided to trust her – she said it is the restaurant’s most popular appetizer. We were amazed when she brought out a platter with a huge slab of puffy, clearly-wood-fired, pita-type bread that dwarfed a small crock of beautifully smooth and creamy-looking green sauce drizzled with truffle oil. The proper approach, she explained, was to rip off a piece of the bread, place it on your individual plate and spoon some of the green stuff over top. Wow, it was really good. Would never believe it was spinach – rich with the velvety consistency of heavy cream without betraying the slightest hint of iron, as spinach can sometimes do, or greasiness, as melted cheeses often do. The truffle oil dribbled on top gave the fondue extra pizzaz. The Sardinian bread was made of the same dough they use for their pizzas, several of which we’d tried and enjoyed on an earlier visit. They offer a wide variety of unique pizza toppings and offer several of them at bargain prices during their bar-only happy hour (currently 4:30 to 6:30 M-F). Excellent way to slake your thirst and gratify your hunger after work.

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Our other appetizer, the mussels in a tomato onion broth was simply scrumptious. The mussels perfectly cooked, the broth deeply flavored with stock and tomato and just a hint of spice. I couldn’t resist mixing some of the dark, rich, red broth with some of the spinach fondue. It turned out to be a fabulous flavor combination, although mixing the colors green and red results in a not-too-attractive shade of grayish brown. I didn’t care; it tasted SO good.
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The heirloom tomato salad was in season and just delightful. The bright range cherry tomatoes were super sweet and tasty. And the thick slice from a giant red tomato reminded us both of the tomatoes our fathers used to grow. Hard to get much better than that. The burrata was gooey and creamy and good.

Housemade ricotta-stuffed tortellacci with summer vegetables and truffle shavings
Housemade ricotta-stuffed tortellacci with summer vegetables and truffle shavings

Our entrees: scallops were nicely seared without being overdone, while the side dish of farro was a bit salty; the housemade ricotta-stuffed pasta and vegetables were all good individually without feeling quite melded in the overall dish. In any case we enjoyed both dishes, and they went perfectly with the fine, light red wine our server recommended from among the nicely rounded list of wines by the bottle and by the glass (priced as 4oz, 7oz and full bottle portions). A shared dish of strawberry gelato along with an after-dinner liqueur put a mellow ending on a nice evening. We’d gotten there early and by the time we finished, the place was hopping with diners, including several large families sharing a meal together.

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The whole experience was lovely, with wonderful service in comfortable surroundings. We’d recommend visiting Osteria La Madia any time; check their hours of operation here. In case you don’t want to fight traffic or pay through the nose for parking, get to La Madia in a snap via the 156, 36 or 22 buses or the Red Line (Grand/State station). It’s a short walk from any of those lines. You’ll feel welcome while you’re there and leave feeling glad you came.

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And by the way, the same folks who operate La Madia also operate the top-rated Firecakes bakeries. If you like donuts, do not fail to visit one of their locations. Hint: We highly recommend the coconut cream-topped cake donut. And La Madia recently started offering brunch on Saturdays and Sundays (10 – 3pm) and guess what? You can feast on Firecakes donuts there in addition to either their prix fixe brunch or lots of variety priced a la carte.
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The restaurant provided a meal to facilitate this review. All opinions are strictly those of the writer.
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Steadfast, From The Fifty/50 Restaurant Group, Opens Today

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Steadfast, From The Fifty/50 Restaurant Group, Opens Today

WHO: Steadfast…
WHAT: … the highly-anticipated new concept from Chicago’s Fifty/50 Restaurant Group, opens its doors today welcoming guests to experience the chef-driven concept inside The Kimpton Gray Hotel (opening soon).  Presenting a dining room reminiscent of old Hollywood glamour and beautifully composed food and beverage programs, a new dining adventure now awaits, all with The Fifty/50 Restaurant Group’s special touches.

Steadfast showcases food done by no one else in the city at this price point, with elegant, vibrant salads, small plates, and entrées at a value.  Executive Chef Christopher Daviesand Executive Pastry Chef Christopher Teixeira showcase seasonality and creativity through collaborated New American cuisine, incorporating Mediterranean and Portuguese influences.  Fried Chicken Skins, Chocolate Covered Foie Gras, Smoked Oxtail Croquette, and other playful bites begin meals.  Sharable items and larger plates showcase Smoked Sweetbreads, Carrot Salad Pave, Chicken Ballontine, and Cioppino, and for the table, Whole Roasted Duck, Butter Poached Maine Lobster, and Cote en Boeuf.  From the pastry kitchen, diners find a selection of house-made breads and indulgent desserts like crème brûlée with yuzu gelée, and elevated s’mores with coconut cream.  An exhibition kitchen invites guests from every seat in the house to personally connect with the culinary team, and a charcuterie room with windows allows guests to peek in.

Behind the bar, Beverage Director Benjamin Schiller and Bar Manager Tomasz Sasset the tone of Steadfast’s progressive cocktail menu incorporating the regional flavors of the cuisine throughout. Highlights of the spirits program feature progressive drinks incorporating big and bright flavors and remarkable presentations, one of Chicago’s largest antique whiskey collections, tableside drink options, and more. Shannon Hill-Sancheztakes the role of Sommelier, establishing a global wine program.

The intimate restaurant showcases a bold design reflecting the historical building’s classic revival style architecture.  Integrating original elements with custom-built components, the opulent space includes separated dining areas each boasting its own vibe.  The 100-seat dining room includes a series of chef’s tables, bar seating, a 14-seat, pre-ticketed tasting room, and a 16-seat patio.  Bespoke furniture with dark, plush accents and sleek marble, rich woods and lacquers, gold accents, and a zinc bar tie together the gracefully styled space.

Steadfast is open for lunch and dinner, with breakfast launching later this summer. More information and reservations may be found by calling (312) 801-8899.

WHERE: 120 W Monroe St.
Chicago, IL 60603
WHEN: Steadfast is open seven days a week, Monday through Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.
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The NEW Chicago Restaurant Examiner

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Welcome to the new ChicagoRestaurantExaminer online magazine. Join us as we navigate the culinary scene around town. You’ll get glimpses of it through the eyes of writers, chefs, restaurant owners, and the makers of wines and spirits.

We are gradually uploading material from our archives from the former Chicago Restaurant Examiner site. Stay tuned.

Open the door to Chicago's rich culinary scene
Open the door to Chicago’s rich culinary scene
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