All posts by Barbara Payne, Editor

Chicago restaurants step into the breach on virus lockdown

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Chicago – view from closed Cafe Brauer in Lincoln Park

The Coronavirus lockdown continues. Many courageous restaurateurs are continuing to offer service for pickup and/or delivery – and many of their brave employees are continuing to serve. We are grateful for these opportunities to continue partaking of delicious food despite the forced closures for dining out. And happy to report many restaurants and brewing companies and bars are offering alcohol to go in Chicago, per this list from Thrillist.

A new website has sprung up that focuses on aggregating the names of restaurants that are continuing to offer takeout and delivery options. It’s called Dining at a Distance, and here’s the link to Chicago’s collection. Always be sure to call to make sure your chosen restaurant is still offering these services.. Meanwhile, here are a few opportunities to continue partaking of delicious food despite the forced closures for dining out.

Doc B’s Restaurant + Bar is providing a more valuable food delivery and pick-up experience for customers by introducing “Doc B’s Stimulus Package” to help people earn 50% back on what they spend. All delivery or pick up purchases made between March 18-April 14 can be redeemed for a gift card worth 50% of people’s total purchases. All you have to do is save their receipts from a delivery platform or Doc B’s, and bring them to the restaurant (April 15-30) to receive the gift card. Delivery order for Doc B’s (River North ONLY – 55 E Grand Ave) can be made DocBsDelivery.com or on most major food delivery sites.

Roka Akor, steakhouse, sushi and seafood. announced that all locations have adjusted takeout/delivery options. Check out the new Family Packs for $24pp, adding ramen and Bao’s to the menu and adding ways to donate to the Employee Relief Fund. Here’s a link to the full menus for Chicago, Old Orchard and Oakbrook. They also have the Drink and Donate 20/20 Deal (With every bottle of wine or sake purchased you will receive 20% OFF and Roka Akor will DONATE $20 to our Employee Relief Fund).

Umai Aji-Ya is one of those spots still open for business. Umai Aji-Ya is an authentic Japanese restaurant featuring ramen and other Japanese dishes and appetizers. Located in the heart of Naperville, this new restaurant is remaining open during the current COVID-19 pandemic, delivering Japanese straight to your door. As of March 16th, Umai Aji-Ya is no longer offering dine-in options for customers in an effort to ensure safety in the midst of the current pandemic. Umai Aji-Ya is practicing social distancing and reassuring the community that they are making an effort to protect the patrons. Umai has also partnered with local businesses to offer free delivery, free kids meals, and 25% off for first responders and local medical personnel. As a way to limit contact, Umai Aji-Ya is no longer accepting cash and delivery drivers will be taking advanced safety and sanitary measures while making deliveries.

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Help for laid-off restaurant workers

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Sheltering at home with no income (Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash)

We are grateful to all those restaurant owners and employees who are continuing to make and distribute food for us all in this difficult time. Many thanks to all of you.

For the many restaurants that have not been able to remain open, help is on the way for their laid-off workers. It’s really great to see this kind of caring partnership in action.

In partnership with the @LEEInitiative, @chefedwardlee (610 Magnolia, The Mind of a Chef), One Off Hospitality (Big Star, The Publican, avec, The Violet Hour) and Chef-Partner Paul Kahan have announced that beginning on Tuesday, March 24th at 5pm, Big Star Wicker Park will transform into an ongoing headquarters for restaurant workers relief. With the help of @makersmark, the One Off team will prepare and pack hundreds of to-go dinners & grocery bags each night that will be offered to recently unemployed restaurant workers who are in dire need of food and supplies.

The Restaurant Workers Relief program will be offered seven nights a week throughout the quarantine period or for as long as supplies last. The LEE (Let’s Empower Employment) Initiative, works to bring more diversity and equality to the restaurant industry. All donations are welcome at www.leeinitiative.org and will help extend this service throughout the current public health crisis.

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Chicago restaurants pickup/delivery during Coronoavirus shutdown

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God bless the folks who are keeping our restaurants open for pickups and deliveries. Here are a few for your consideration – even one for you western ‘burbanites. Don’t forget to tip the staff and/or delivery person generously for staying on the job for us. Same for Instacart, UPS and FedEx. Thanks, people.

And by the way, as you may already have noticed, things are changing rapidly in this regard, so be sure to check with your chosen restaurant or delivery service to make sure they’re still doing it when you’re ready to place an order. If you want to see more, check the feeds at Twitter and Instagram.

Maggiano’s, 516 N. Clark. Family meals for pickup, delivery or via DoorDash. Choose from a variety of Maggiano’s classics, portioned for two people. Choose a salad, a pasta, and an entrée. Freshly baked ciabatta rolls and six Vera’s Lemon Cookies will accompany the meal. Please note Family Meal entrées do not include a side dish. Family Meal for Four, $60.00 – double the portions at only 50% more.

Cafe Spiaggia, Northwest Corner of Oak & Michigan. Offering curbside pickup available daily from 11a-8p. To pick up: Pull your vehicle to the Northwest Corner of Oak & Michigan under the 1000 Lake Shore Plaza Awning. Please call the restaurant at 312.280.2750 and let them know you have arrived. A team member will meet you at your car with your order.

Jake Melnick’s Corner Tap, 41 E. Superior. Offering curbside pickup available daily from 12 – 9p. For Pickup: Pull Your Vehicle in Front of Jake Melnick’s Located at 41 E. Superior St, with call the Restaurant at 312.266.0400 and let them know you have arrived. a team member will meet you at your car with your order. Delivery available via DoorDash and ChowNow.

River Roast, 315 N. LaSalle St. Offering Family Meals to serve 3-4 via delivery and curbside pickup daily 11a – 8p. To place your order, use DoorDash or call us directly at (312) 822-0100. Delivery is also available via DoorDash and Grubhub. To pick up: Pull your vehicle in front of River Roast (315 N. LaSalle St.) and put your hazard lights on. Call the restaurant at (312) 822-0100 to notify us of your arrival. A team member will meet you at your vehicle with your order.

Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, 431 N. Dearborn St. When you order directly through the restaurant, they’ll take 25% off your total.*(not valid with delivery services). Here’s their special takeout menu. Upon arrival, remain in your vehicle or wait outside the restaurant; just let us know where you’ll be when placing your order. We will gladly greet you outside.

Weather Mark Tavern, 1503 S. Michigan Ave. Offering pickup and delivery through DoorDash, GrubHub and Seamless. Call 312.588.0230 for takeout. Call for details on menus available.

And in case you live in the Oak Brook area…

Perry’s Steakhouse & Grille, 5 Oakbrook Court, Oak Brook. Offering to-go meals with curbside pickup.  630-571-1808. Two-course lunch menu $29, available Monday-Saturday, 11a to 4p; Sunday, 11a to 9p. Three-course dinner menu $45, available Monday-Saturday, 11 to 10;.Sunday, 11 to 9.  First course includes choice of Wedge Salad, Caesar Salad or Kale Salad. The second course includes choice of 8 oz. Bacon-Wrapped Filet (6 oz at lunch), Perry’s Famous Pork Chop, Grilled Salmon with Lemon Dill Butter, Ultimate Chicken Parmesan, or Fried Shrimp. For an additional $5, Crispy Skin Wild Red Snapper; an additional $6, 14 oz Prime Ribeye (10 oz at lunch); or an additional $7, 14 oz Prime New York Strip (10 oz at lunch), are options.

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Music, mood & menus – winter merriment at 3 Chicago spots

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We always enjoy hearing about the interesting promotions our local hotels and restaurants come up with to entice us to get out of the house in our traditionally-the-worst-time-in-the-winter days and nights. We like some of these for starters: music-themed fun throughout, late Restaurant Week fun and honoring women entrepreneurs with tequila and tidbits.

Fairmont Chicago, Millennium Park, 200 N. Columbus Dr., is turning its February environment into a paean to the joys of music. From cocktails at The Bar to special pricing for Spa services and dining options at Columbus Tap, the Sweet Sounds of Fairmont programming kicked off with a complimentary concert for guests featuring Jalen N’Gonda. Look for weekly Culinary Concertos and the Bar’s classic cocktails through March 29. This symphony for the senses extends to much-need R&R with mySpa treatments, guestroom packages, and meetings and events promotions. For more information, visit their website or call 312-565-8000.

 

Grant Park Bistro Restaurant Week

Grant Park Bistro, 800 S. Michigan, part of the LM Restaurant Group, you can still get in on Restaurant Week through Sunday February 9. For $36++. You choose from starters like Wild Mushroom Soup brioche, thyme oil; or Fennel Ceviche grapefruit, espelette, cilantro, noisette; or Burnt Endive red wine poached pear, blue cheese, pistachio, red wine vinaigrette. Moving on from there, entrees included in the deal range from Duck Breast, Scallops, Butternut Squash or Celeriac Steak. Then dessert options Cinnamon Apple Tart or Brownie fudge brownie, with praline cremeux and caramel mousse. Or check out their very cool daily specials – like BYOB with your dinner on Saturday nights (no corkage fee)!

 

VU Rooftop steak

VU Rooftop bar, 133 E. Cermak Rd., invites you on Sunday March 3, 11zm to 2pm, to celebrate international women’s day with an exclusive boozy brunch to honor women entrepreneurs with an all-inclusive brunch and special guest, former State Senator, Toi Hutchinson. With exquisite dishes and liquor forward cocktails, the event is co-hosted by Fino Tequila, the Connection for Abused Women and Children (CAWC), and Toi Hutchinson, the former Illinois State Senator and the current senior advisor to the governor for cannabis control. A portion of the proceeds from select Fino Tequila cocktails will go to benefit the CAWC. For $35 get all you can eat from VU’s signature brunch men – items like Buttermilk Fried Chicken & Belgian Waggle; Chilaquiles Casserole with eggs, beans, roasted corn, and Chihuahua cheese; a Vegetable Frittata and more. The event will feature pop-ups that showcase women-focused brands, including makeup by Dior and more.

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Happy hour and other news at 10 Chicago eateries

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Raised rooftop bar at the Renaissance Hotel downtown Chicago

We never run out of news on the restaurant front in Chicago. Recently discovered a new and long-awaited improvement at French Market’s Pastoral bar and a bunch of rooftop and regular happy hours to perhaps put in rotation for your early-evening pleasure. Here are a few ideas for getting out there and enjoying.

If you’re like me, you’ve probably wondered why in the world Pastoral at the French Market did not have a place to sit down and sample their wares. You had to choose your bottle and go home. With Pastoral’s nice menu of artisanal cheeses, sandwiches and more, it only makes sense that customers should be able to relax and enjoy right while they’re there. And finally now we can!! It’s a cozy new spot located within the market that offers small production wines by the glass and bottle; cheese, charcuterie boards and gourmet snacks; a new wine club; and a selection of craft beers and cocktails. The Wine Bar will be open Monday to Friday beginning at 11am with last call at 7pm and on Saturday beginning at 10am with last call at 5pm. Click here for full menu.

Bobby’s Lincoln Park, Lincoln Park’s new contemporary American restaurant, is offering a delicious happy hour. Guests may indulge themselves with a list of intricate chef creations with an Italian flare and quench their cocktail thirst with decadent beverages, both classic and new, in Bobby’s beautiful upscale dining space. Patrons may start off with a selection of signature cocktails for $8, a selection of $6 wines by the glass, $3 regular Hop Beers, and an assortment of $4 Crafted Hops. The happy hour menu is available from 4-6:30pm during the week and 2:30-4pm on weekends.

VU Rooftop Bar, South Loop’s first rooftop bar, set 22 stories above the city, has refreshed their happy hours Monday through Thursday from 4pm to 6pm to include $5 Bites, $5 Miller High Life, $8 Red or White Sangria, and an $8 Dealers Choice Specialty Cocktail where the mixologist will ask guests a few questions and create a specialty cocktail based on their likes.

ROOF on theWit, the newly renovated hotspot rooftop bar in the Loop, has added a refreshed happy hour deal to accompany their brand new space. Ultra-chic and sophisticated, the completely rejuvenated ROOF includes a new open-aired space, The Gallery, and their Patio has undergone a fresh, stylish renovation. The new lush lounge seating invites guests to step in and soak up a ROOF like never before, with captivating contemporary art and dynamic video technology amidst a stunning ambiance and Monday through Friday from 4:30 to 7:30, guests can receive 20% off the entire menu at ROOF.

ROOH Chicago, one of Chicago’s only fine dining Indian restaurants, located at 736 W. Randolph St., is offering Chicagoans and visitors alike happy hour specials to accommodate all taste buds with its rotating cocktail and wine selections. These deals include $5-6 beers and featured cocktails and glasses of wine for $8. Dishes include an $8 “Chicken 65” crafted with peanut chutney, podi masala and lemon sour cream; and a $7 Cauliflower Koliwada with curd rice mousse and peanut thecha. Happy hour is available from 4:30-6PM on Sunday, and Tuesday through Thursday.

Replay Lincoln Park, Chicago’s popular arcade bar known for fun pop-ups located at 2833 N. Sheffield Ave., is hosting a weekly happy hour every Friday from 4 – 8 p.m. The Friday Funky Hour features $3 cocktails, $3 craft cans, $3 craft drafts and free funk!

Kinton Ramen Wicker Park offers 50% off all appetizers like Kimuchi, Takowasabi, Salmon Tataki, Ton Ton Don, Edamame, Ikapiri and the restaurant’s famous original and spicy Karaage every Monday-Friday from 4pm-7pm. On top of this, the restaurant’s happy hour includes $2 Sapporo Draft, $3 House Sake, $4 Wines by the glass and $5 cocktails such as Kinton Panache with Sapporo Beer and Kinton Lemonade; Matcha Colada with rum and coconut cream; Saketini made with vodka and sake infused cucumber; and Shochu Hi complete with shochu and green tea. The 2,100-square-foot restaurant features 54 main dining room seats and 11 open-kitchen bar seats.

Raised, perfectly situated on the third floor of the Renaissance Chicago Downtown Hotel at 1 W. Wacker Drive, is inviting ski enthusiasts of all calibers to experience the Alpines without ever leaving the city with the official launch of its Apres This Way indoor winter activation. Guests will also have access to a special Happy Hour and enjoy après ski, a time to warm up and unwind with friends, available Mondays through Thursdays from 4-6 p.m. featuring $6 draft beer selections, $12 rotating old fashioneds, and $9 glass & a half wine pours.

Ocean Prime Chicago, located at 87 E. Wacker, offers a special happy hour Monday through Friday from 4-6p.m. including both drinks and specialty dishes. Patrons may receive half off select wines by the glass, all beers, and signature cocktails featuring the Prime Manhattan, Cucumber Gimlet, Black Orchid and Pineapple Picante. In addition to quenching guests’ thirst, Ocean Prime Chicago’s happy hour includes half off any appetizer, sushi or oysters.

The Albert, located in Hotel EMC2 at 228 E. Ontario, offers a happy hour special Monday through Friday from 3-5p.m. The menu is inclusive of drivers, cocktails, wine and small bites. Featured drinks include the Lavender Lemonade, This & That, C.O.T.D, the Albert Red, and Fireside. Those looking for a light snack may choose from an array of options including the Puffed Anson Mills Hominy, House Made Pretzel, Herb Tossed Fries, Salt Cod Croquettes and House Made Bread.

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3 food and drink news items for late summer in Chicago

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No matter what the season, Chicago restaurants are always coming up with interesting offers that tempt us to partake. Now’s a good time to share the news in case you want to schedule some fun occasions with friends or family. Herewith, descriptions of a new kid-friendly venue – complete with beer and wine – in our wonderful in-city zoo, a delicious selection of goodies during happy hour at Eddie V’s, and a fascinating cocktail program at all 70 locations of the Fairmont Hotel chain.

Bird’s Eye Bar & Grille offers Levy foods – and catering, too

Lincoln Park Zoo has reimagined and rebranded the expansive rooftop outdoor space above the gift shop. Now called the Bird’s Eye Bar & Grille, the shaded, breezy area offers comfortable chairs and tables for a restful break from the rigors of navigating the zoo. The new spot features Levy-provided foods like sandwiches, salads and snacks and a select few options of wine and beer. Best of all for parents, there are table games like foosball and air hockey and plenty of room for kids to play together. The gift shop with the restaurant on top – oh, and by the way, there is a ramp in the rear for non-stair-climbing visitors – isn’t far from the main zoo entrance. Another good reason to visit our wonderful last-of-the-free-zoos-in-the-country treasure.

Eddie V Hours – Spicy marg arita and tacos

Eddie V’s, 521 N. Rush St. offers happy Eddie’s Hours with an impressive array of options, including 13 teasers and appetizers and four masterfully prepared oyster dishes served on the half-shell ($7-$8). Think:East Coast Oysters ($2/oyster), Asian Fusion Oysters – two half-shells ($7), Mini Filet Sandwiches with blue cheese and onion jam ($9), Salt and Pepper Shrimp with spicy soy ginger vegetables ($9). Pair with one of five cocktails, including the Spicy Margarita and Bulleit Sour, or one of four wines poured by the glass for $8. Consider trying some of their seafood flown in from pristine waters around the world or their premium hand-carved steaks. And check the website for hours for daily duets and trios playing soothing jazz performances.

Fairmont Hotel new cocktails

Fairmont Hotel, 200 N. Columbus Drive, is the Chicago star in the Fairmont Hotel global galaxy of hotels and resorts – over 70 properties, including The Savoy in London, The Plaza in New York, as well as properties in Shanghai, Barcelona, Vancouver, Bali, Montreal, among others. The new cocktail menu, Classics Perfected – available at every single property in the world – pays homage to some of the most well-known cocktails in history – and exciting new ones:

  • Material Girl: Inspired by the Cosmo, this gin-based version features Botanist Gin and St-Germain, lemon and apple juice.
  • Orange Trip: Inspired by the Whiskey Sour this one features Woodford Reserve bourbon, orange juice, bitters and lemon.
  • Chai Tai: Pulling inspiration from the Mai Tai, this one’s made with Botanist Gin along with Mount Gay Black Barrel rum, pineapple juice, lime and a hint of chai.
  • Soul Reviver: Honoring the classic Corpse Reviver, this mix is Botanist gin, Casamigos Blanco, Cointreau and Lillet Blanc, blackberries, lemon and a touch of absinthe.

 

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Chicago it’s summer! (almost) – 5 new ways to enjoy

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Every nice day in summer is another great excuse to indulge yourself – after you work, do your chores and exercise of course, right? And Chicago is a place ideally suited to such indulgences. Everywhere you turn, another opportunity presents itself to help you get creative with your enjoyment. Here are just a few restaurant ideas and home cooking/drinking products to get you rolling:

1. River Roast is getting ready to celebrate summer with their weekday happy hour Oysters & Rosé special. Every weekday from 3 to 5 pm enjoy a dozen oysters and bottle of Rose wine for $35. Sit at the bar or along the river soaking in the sun all while enjoying a refreshing summer combo that’s irresistible. AND on National Donut Day, Friday, June 7th, get a complimentary skewer of three donut holes with the purchase of coffee from Reid Bar. What’s a better way to kick off the morning than with free donuts??

Round Barn sangria makes a great aperitif – or even dessert!

2. Round Barn Winery, located in the hills of Southwestern Michigan, complete with tasting room, is making canned wine products – like their most popular one, Sangria. A fizzy, lightly sweet version of the drink beloved by so many in Spain, this Sangria is a nice combination of fruit, dry wine and sweetness. Be aware of the calories, though. A single 12-ounce can packs a whopping 290 calories, so feel free to consider this dessert, even though it doesn’t taste overly sweet at all. A no-fuss way to chill your cocktail (or dessert) and bring it to the picnic or other outdoor celebration.

3. Pereg Natural Foods makes classic spice blends that are perfect to rub on your meat, poultry and even vegetables. They’re made from fresh, natural, 100% pure spices, and bring quality to your table that’s backed by more than 100 years of experience. Herewith a few examples:

  • Pereg’s Koobah starts with baharat, a ubiquitous Israeli and Mediterranean staple, and then adds warm layers of cinnamon, allspice, rose, nutmeg, and cardamom for a complex finish.
  • It wouldn’t be shish kabab without Kabab seasoning. Douse cubes of chicken, beef, or lamb liberally with Pereg’s hearty mash-up (paprika, black pepper, coriander, garlic, and cumin) and thread on skewers with vegetables of your choice.
  • Another food truck favorite, Shawarma is easy to make with Pereg’s perfect mixture of cumin, coriander, allspice, garlic, paprika, turmeric, and salt rubbed onto thin slices of chicken, beef, lamb, or turkey. Marinate a zipper top bag with olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and red onion, and grill.
  • Traditional recipes for Moroccan Ras el Hanout seasoning call for up to 100 ingredients! You could make your own, but why not try Pereg’s intriguing blend of cinnamon, coriander, nutmeg, allspice, cumin, ginger, turmeric, cardamom, to enhance anything from burgers to brisket. A key component of soups, stews, and tagines, it can also be used a table-top condiment. Sprinkle it on vegetable dishes or even over popcorn for a punch of flavor.
Come on in for Carnivale cocktails

4. Carnivale Restaurant, 702 W. Fulton St. Things are heating up outside AND inside at Carnivale, where talented chefs and mixologists have created a new Lounge menu that features a Charcuterie Tabla, Sliders, Carnivale Mai-Tai, Jackie’s Daiquiri, and much more! Lounge open: Monday – Thursday from 4-10, Friday 4-11, Saturday 5-11, Sunday 5-9. *Every Weekday, enjoy Happy Hour from 4-6:30pm.

5. Cindy’s Rooftop, 12 S. Michigan Ave. Pride in Our Industry: An Afternoon of Drink & Discussion, on Sunday, June 23, from 11:30am to 1pm at The Tank on the building’s first floor. Chicago’s community of strong LGBTQ+ voices helps mold the city’s bar, restaurant, and events scene in innovative and progressive ways. Join us to hear from leading individuals in hospitality on how to create greater representation, produce intentionally progressive menus, and offer safe spaces for all guests to feel welcome. Try one of June’s featured cocktails: Fire Island Sunset – $16, made with Plantation 3-Star rum, Aperol, Manzanila sherry, lemon and love, and garnished with a rainbow umbrella. Best paired with the summer sunset over the terrace view. Queen of Hearts – $16, made with Plantation Xaymaca rum, Rhine Hall oak-aged plum brandy, Campari, and Cocchi di Torino. Perfect to celebrate Negroni Week (Monday 6/24 – Sunday 6/30), when a portion of proceeds is donated directly to the Greater Chicago Food Depository,

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3 Chicago restaurant news notes as we lumber into summer!

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  1. Blue Door Farm Stand, 2010 N. Halsted St., has red, white and blue pancakes for Memorial Day weekend. All day May 25 through 27, enjoy some red velvet pancakes with white yogurt sauce and blue blueberries.Num!!

Music Bar Bingo at Jake’s, Rush & SuperiorFor those who like the idea of games at the bar but hate the idea of thinking too much, come hang out and drink with your friends for Music Bingo – and win prizes! The game is almost exactly the same as regular Bingo, except we’ll play clips of popular songs rather than reading off letters and numbers. The music ranges from the 50’s to today’s top hits including fun themed rounds like 80’s rock, 90’s hits, and more! Music Bingo is free but pays out in real prices every single time. Upcoming Bar Bingo Dates June 11, 25 (partnering with 21st Amendment)

Torchio Pasta Bar, 738 N. Wells St. in River North, is now open serving authentic Italian-inspired cuisine. Chef/Owner Bill Varley says Torchio means “press” in Italian, and relates to both the vintage hand-crank pasta press and the torch-base pasta shape from Abruzzo. He and wife, Janice, traveled the country and studied with Nonnas from Venice to Palermo. Dinner menu examples: Baked Semolina Gnocchi, Bucatini Puttanesca with anchovies, capers, Gaeta olives, Spring Vegetable Pappardelle in a lemon basil butter sauce, Gemelli and Pesto with string beans and sautéed potatoes) and more. Dinner served 5-9pm T – Th and 5-10pm F and Sat – prices $9 to $32. Lunch service starts Friday, June 7.

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5 cool ChiTown food news bits for late spring 2019

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Okay, gradually we’re getting warmer… Well, some days, but it’s coming. But never fear, our great city has plenty of food and drink activities to keep you on the go no matter what the weather. So without further ado…

ZED451, 739 N. Clark St., celebrates 10 years in River North on Thursday, May 16, 5-11:30 pm. This authentic Brazilian steakhouse kicks off Chicago’s highly anticipated alfresco season with a Rooftop Launch Party featuring DJ music (8:30pm) with fabulous food and drink samples. Take in cool views of the city on their new rooftop and sample the ZED451 Experience by trying complimentary chef selections like charcoal-grilleld bottom sirloin and Moroccan chicken, along with samples of William Grant Hendrick’s Gin and ZED451 signature cocktails like Caipirinha or Leblon Spritz. A cash bar will also be available all night. Rooftop capacity is limited and the event is first come, first serve.

Nando’s PERi-PERi really appreciates teachers! They’re proving it this Teacher Appreciation Day, Tuesday, May 7, by offering teachers free flame-grilled chicken at all Nando’s restaurants. Any teacher, educator or school employee with a valid school ID is entitled to a free ¼ chicken entrée at Nando’s in Chicago and all across the 42 U.S. locations. The promotion is valid from opening (11am) to closing on May 7. No purchase necessary; sides sold separately.

Chicago City Markets! Next Thursday morning (May 9), COUNTRY Financial and the City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) will announce the winner of the Chicago City Markets reusable bag design contest. The winner is a local high school student, and his/her artwork will be featured on more than 11,000 reusable bags that are given out at the market. The student and the first two runners-up will also receive scholarships from COUNTRY Financial. The finalists will be in attendance and are available for interviews and photos. This announcement will take place during the official kickoff of the Chicago City Markets on Thursday, May 9 at 9 a.m. at Daley Plaza. The reusable bags are free to patrons of the market. More info on the Chicago City Markets. More info on the Chicago City Markets Reusable Bag Design Contest

Mr. Maki, the latest from the team behind Ramen-San and Sushi-San, just rolled into Streeterville at 676 N. Saint Clair. New from LEYE, Mr. Maki offers quality fish with touches that make for unique takes on classic Japanese dishes. The Softshell Crab Maki with avocado and masago aioli is the team’s version of a spider roll; the Tempura Shrimp Roll gets a blast of spice with Korean gochujang and a sprinkling of black sesame. Spicy Tuna Roll at Mr. Maki includes avocado, cilantro and jalapeño. Their Super Combo Teishoku is a version of the home-style all-in-one meal found in local eateries throughout Japan. Mr. Maki’s teishoku sets come with a choice of a main dish plus roasted edamame, miso soup, a side and house salad. Choose from a variety of stir-fry, teriyaki, maki and sashimi.

Old St. Pat’s street fest. W. Monroe St. & S. DesPlaines. The 35th Annual World’s Largest Block Party (WLBP) is Chicago’s ultimate summer party, featuring fun music and entertainment for all ages, along with great food. Directions for getting there.

Friday, June 21 | 2-9:30pm. Live bands, great food and a dance party fill the evening.

  • 5—6pm Happy Hour with free admission. Otherwise $10 entry fee.
  • Bands: 5:15pm Stache, 8:15pm Hello Weekend
  • In the courtyard: 5:30–9:30pm the 50 and older crowd will dance to swing, jazz and groovin’ oldies provided by Burnell Music.

Saturday, June 22 | 2-10:30pm. Family activities and performers on tap.

  • 2–6pm. Block Party Kid family activities including bounce houses, balloon artists, games and snow cones! Live bands begin at 2 p.m., with plenty of music, food and drinks.
  • Attendees can cheer on the Jesse White Tumblers.
  • Bands: 2pm Motown Nation, 3:30pm Walk-Ins. 5:30pm Seventh Heaven, 8pm Sixteen Candle
  • Attendees can also take part in a bags tournament, starting at 6pm each evening, and try for cash and prizes.
  • Food trucks & food vendors provided by Old St. Pat’s Grill, Taste of the Philippines, Three Legged Taco, Bob CHA, Tacos Mario’s, Dinky Delights, Beaver Donuts
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Spring 2019 news from 6 more Chicago restaurants

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Spring is a great time in Chicago, made even more exciting by the special offerings and cool event venues in our fine city. Here are just 6 ideas for spicing up your springtime leisure: a new gourmet French restaurant in South Loop, a chef-inspired wine dinner in Lakeview, a graduation-party planning bonus, a  happy-birthday-
Rome dinner downtown, a street party raising funds for a cool Chicago ‘hood, and a tried-and-true Latin-inspired food and entertainment experience in the West Loop for your next gathering.
Grant Park Bistro chicken liver mousse

Grant Park Bistro, 800 S. Michigan, just opened in the Hotel Essex. This new French Bistro from LM Restaurant Group is daily serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, all featuring shareable French dishes like house-made terrines, quiches, and flatbreads along with grilled meat and seafood. French classics get new twists: Boeuf Bourguignon is made with braised beef cheek instead of brisket, and their Coq au Vin is simmered in white Vouvray (made with Chenin Blanc grapes) instead of red wine.

Your mouth will water when you read the breakfast/brunch menu, too. Check out the French-inspired beverage program, too. Happy hour specials Monday-Friday from 4-7pm in the bar area. Outdoor patio seating for 40 will be coming as the weather warms up. Reservations for Grant Park Bistro are available on Resy or by visiting grantparkbistro.com. And while you’re there, pick up a shamelessly decadent dessert at Petite Vanille, also open now in the hotel – pain au chocolate, almond croissants, French macarons and slices of Vanille signature cakes

mfk restaurant, 432 w. Diversey. On Monday April 29, come join a pair of James Beard-recognized chefs as they present a four-course family-style prix fixe menu highlighting fresh seafood, conservas and seasonal vegetables. Chef Alisha Elenz was recently announced as a James Beard award finalist for Rising Star Chef. At only 25 years old Elenz has worked her way up the ranks in the kitchen to lead this award-winning Michelin ranked Lakeview restaurant. This month she’s teaming up with another young female chef, Sarah Rinkavage (Marisol, Lulu Cafe), who was a 2018 finalist for the same award. One fun night of collaborative cooking will pay homage to the restaurants namesake, MFK Fisher. Tickets are $100 per person and include drink pairings and tax and gratuity.

Maggiano’s, any location, always a grand place to celebrate graduation – or any occasion – is offering a special bonus when you book a sumptuous family-style banquet for your larger circle of extended family and friends. Book your graduation or other celebration by June 30 and receive $50 in Be Our Guest cards for every $500 you spend in banquet events booked between May 1 and June 30. If you’d rather do your party in your own home or other space, Maggiano’s will cater it and give you a $25 Be Our Guest card for every $250 spent in catering booked between May 1 and June 30. Contact a Maggiano’s catering specialist.
Osteria via Stato Roman dinner

Osteria via Stato, 620 N. State St., by-the-way an LEYE restaurant, invites you to celebrate the birthday of the “eternal city” with a Roman Dinner on May 1, 6:30pm. You’ll start with passed Roman pizzas and go on to a four-course dinner featuring dishes that honor Roman cuisine, all served with wine and cocktail pairings for $65 ++. Reserve your spots here.

Pilsen Cantina Crawl returns on Saturday, May 4, `12 – 6 pm to celebrate Cinco de Mayo and support the year-long fundraising efforts for the community’s signature cultural event in August, Pilsen Fest. Sponsored by Banhez Mezcal, Cantina Crawl invites patrons to dress in Cinco de Mayo costume and either stroll or ride complimentary trolleys to 13 participating bar and restaurants offering live musical performances, specialty dishes and hand-crafted cocktails vying for best in the ‘hood honors. Participating Cantina Crawl 2019 venues include: Alula Brewpub, Caminos de Michoacán, Harbee Liquors & Tavern, Honky Tonk BBQ, La Luna, La Pulquería, La Vaca Margarita Bar, Monnie Burke’s, Punch House, Simone’s, The Barrel, La Mejikana, and the Twisted Cantina. Tickets are $35 at BrownPaperTickets.com.
Carnivale has event spaces for any size party

Carnivale, 702 W. Fulton Market, is another fabulous event space. From an intimate gathering of 10, to an extravagant 1,000-person event, Carnivale delivers exotic cuisine and exceptional service for every celebration.​ Their expert private dining team works closely with you to create a one-of-a-kind experience for you and your guests. They can accommodate a wide range of events in one of our 7 event spaces, from weddings and graduations to corporate parties and seminars. Full-venue buy-outs available for truly private events.

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