Welcome to the ChicagoRestaurantExaminer.com online magazine. Follow us as we report on the culinary scene around town – news from chefs, restaurants, bars and more. New menus, happy hour goodies, wine dinners and specials galore.
We are gradually uploading material from 8 years of archives from the former Chicago Restaurant Examiner site. It’s an ongoing effort that usually takes a backseat to current news. Which means you’re getting the scoop on recent and upcoming happenings in Chicago Restaurant news!
#SpringtoLoire was the name of a recent presentation by two reps from French Loire Valley wineries. Isabel Moreau from Monmousseau and Juliette Monmousseau from Bouvet Ladubay explained the intricacies of the flavors in a broad selection of delightful white wines from this region that flows along the valley of the Loire River in France. Characterized by fruity complex aromas and crisp, palatte-pleasing tastes, the wines were professionally paired by sommelier Arthur Hon and served in the beautiful surroundings of the elegant private dining space of Sepia Restaurant, 131 N. Jefferson. Attendees learned about several dry and sparkling selections and enjoyed them with small plates of delectable creations by Sepia Chef Andrew Zimmerman and his team.
Velvety rich spring-onion-potato soup, handmade spinach pasta served with smoked trout and crispy fresh pea shoots, salmon grilled to exquisitely juicy perfection, to name a few. Plus a fabulously tender and succulent slice of breast of chicken served with sausage bread pudding and two sauces in a dish that was reminiscent of Julia Child’s most outrageously good poultry recipes. Dessert was a luscious pear-ginger-rum tart with a dollop of creme fraiche ice cream. All gloriously flavorful and perfectly paired with the floral, fruity elegance of the AOC Loire Valley whites.
The Loire Valley, known for its magnificent chateaux and rich history, runs through the heart of France and contains 5 distinct wine regions – Pays Nantais, Anjou, Saumur, Touraine, Centre-Loire – each with its own characteristics of grapes, appellations and styles. The wine-growing regions dotting the Loire’s banks feature no less than 4,000 wineries, 170,000 acres of vineyards and 61 appellations of origin, thus making the Loire Valley the third largest French wine making region. Producing 380 million bottles per year – be they red, rosé or white, still or sparkling, dry or semi-dry, supple or sweet – the Loire Valley is also France’s leading producer of white wines and ranks second for rosés. The region as a whole exports 68 million bottles every year to 157 export markets.
Notable among the wines presented at Sepia were:
If you love white wines, consider one or more of these for your next fine meal. You will not be disappointed.
Antonio Rallo, winemaker at Donnafugata Wineries is a tall, slender, handsome man who is currently president of Sicilia DOC. He came to Chicago recently to share news about Sicily’s passionate rededication to consistently high quality. He spoke fervently about the new consortium of Sicilian winemakers, Sicilia DOC. As of 2012, he said, every winemaker on the island banded together to form Sicilia DOC—a rare case of consensus in Italy, where winemakers tend to be fiercely independent.
Sicilia DOC intends to be a new force in the wine world with its many winemakers, one of whom, Alberto Buratto of Baglio di Pianetto, came visiting with Antonio. “Sicily has the biggest vineyards in the world,” said Antonio. In the small area around Trapani on the northwest segment of the island, he said they produce 3,500,000 hL (hectoliters) of wine every year. Surprisingly, despite Sicily’s 600 miles of coastline, the country has no vineyards in those areas. But since a mere 11% of the land in Sicily is flat—not good for growing grapes—they’ve got plenty of other space to do so. The island is home to 90 wine producers (where they crush and process the grapes), some of whom are also part of the 3000 vintners who grow their own grapes.
The soil of Sicily is so varied, said Antonio that it is said to “change from the width of one palm to another”—so the country can offer a great variety of wines. The climate is gentle for growing grapes—and makes it easy to grow organically. Summers are dry; in fact, May to September is generally completely dry, and since there is no water to irrigate with, winemakers instead reduce the quantity of grapes to conserve their resources. “Constant breezes help the grapes do their job and eliminate any concerns about mildew,” he said. “The island has the lowest-yield grapes and greatest amount of wine produced per hectare compared to any other location in Italy.”
Antonio and Alberto graciously showcased some of the DOC members’ wines. A few notables included Stemmari 2014 Grillo (distinctive lemony long-finish unoaked white), Planeta Rosé (fresh and fruity, perfect with almost any food), Baglio di Pianetto Ramione 2013 (blend of Nero D’Avola/Merlot with aromas of red berries followed by vanilla and licorice notes), and Donnafugata SurSur 2014 (100% Grillo with fruity and wild flower notes).
Antonio talked a little about Sicily’s multi-cultural history and the fact that Sicily has for centuries been a strategic location for armies on the move. Arabs dominated the area for 300 years. Next the Phoenicians, then the Romans, and then the barbarians, the Byzantines, the Normans, and the Germans. “The Greeks finally brought the concept of growing grapes to Sicily around 800 B.C.E.”
“Sicily is the highest producing area for wine in all of Italy,” he said. The DOC was formed in order to exert better control of the processes for growing and the quality of final products on the market, and the only DOC in Italy that is bigger is Prosecco DOC. A panel of tasters travels about the Sicilian countryside tasting wines in the facility and then tasting the same wines after they’re bottled and arrive in the shops and restaurants. The mission is to make sure the quality and flavor of each wine are consistent at each step with what originally went into the bottles. Anything labeled DOC undergoes this rigorous tasting and chemical analysis and must be certified.
The agriculture and artisanal production of grapes is in the blood of many winemakers. Each succeeding generation brings its own contributions of experience and expertise to the process. Antonio remembers going with his grandfather to the wine cellars when he was only three and a half years old. “I rode around on my little bike with an extra training wheel.” His family has been in the industry since 1851, and now the fifth generation is involved in all aspects of it – the business side, the law, the language, etc.
Antonio talked about how he, as a winemaker, tastes wines. “It might take seven hours to taste up to 300 wines,” he said. Starting with white wines, then old reds (in the barrel), they progress to new reds and then dessert wines. The tasters eat grissini (unsalted, crispy breadsticks) to help cleanse the palate. “After 100 to 150 tastes, it’s hard to tell the difference anymore,” he admitted. So they might taste from 9 am to 1 pm, then have lunch and continue tasting from 3 to 6:30 pm. “In the old days—say, 1975,” he said, “we might have had 35 people tasting a thousand bottles of wine, with five people washing bottles. Today, with modern machinery, three people can do 7000 bottles in an hour.” Staggering numbers, indeed. He said Italy is a constant source of innovation in winemaking machinery and that, in fact, France and Napa Valley often buy machines developed in Italy.
He went on to reveal an interesting trick of the trade. “All wines taste good with fennel,” according to Antonio. A common ingredient in Italian cooking, “that flavor makes even a bad wine taste better.” In fact, it is such a common ruse that people in the industry have made a verb of the word itself. Some give it to tasters because it clouds their ability to determine the real quality of the wine.
The Sicilia DOC wines are anxious to bring their goodness and complexity to the United States market. The consortium will exercise strict control and carefully record data for each Sicilia DOC wine via the Internet. For more information, watch for Sicilia DOC mentions on Facebook and Twitter and in advertorials in Wine Spectator and other American publications. They are intent on bringing the good news about Sicilian wines to the “passionate and demanding American public.”
Jeff was kind enough to do a brief Q&A about being a Food Network star. Jeff originally wanted to be a comedian, but after years of cooking and working in delis and four years as a private chef in a big corporation, he also knew he wanted to be on Food Network. So, on his third try at the contest, he finally got cast.
“What’s your favorite story about how you got started?
“I was in NY for 11 weeks. My son was 2 years old. We just got done living in the basement with my in-laws. It was so stressful leaving, but I was pursuing this dream. When I came home from the call, I was in the top two and I knew I was going to make it. I went to my house—that I’d saved up for so long—and after thirteen years, my house, family, son. I was elated to be with my family again.” He went on to win the Food Network star competition.
How do they choose contestants for competitions on Food Network TV?
“The show’s producers hire a casting company and these folks do an incredibly thorough job of vetting contestants. First, you make and submit a video, then you wait for a casting call. Then you go and then wait for a call back, then you compete. They do background checks, psychological testing, incident testing, on-camera test, ask very personal questions, and so on. They want to be very sure that this person will make a good appearance on television in terms of behavior, attitude and strength of character. It’s a long process. But my wife just knew that last time that I’d make it. She told me, ‘This video is going to get you there. Your life is going to change forever.’ She was right.”
How did you become known as the “Sandwich King”?
“When we were in the midst of the competition and I’d been mentioning all the diners and delis I worked at, Bobby Flay said to me, ‘So, you’re gonna be the sandwich king, eh?’ And it stuck. That became my name henceforth. That had been my point of view for years as I went from butcher shop to sandwich catering company. I knew I was good at constructing those.” For handy hints on making a non-slip sandwich, visit Mauro’s Sandwich King web page.
What do you enjoy most—besides money!—about being a Food Network star?
“All the travel is hard, but it’s great that I can include my family and travel places and experience foods. You get treated a certain way in restaurants. It’s unique. I don’t take it for granted. We still live in the same house and same neighborhood. I love making television. I’ve been doing it four years now.”
What do you like most about Chicago as a foodie heaven?
“I’ve been in LA and NY. I’m in New York four to five times a month. I go to all the great restaurants everywhere, but I absolutely adore Chicago. It is a place where chefs can exercise their creative chops without the intense pressure that chefs in, say, New York have to face every moment when they’re paying tens of thousands of dollars a month in rent. Chicago allows chefs to experiment and feel comfortable with trying new things, without always worrying about being first or how high they are in the competition.”
What are some of your favorite restaurants in the Chicago area?
“I’m a neighborhood guy as opposed to downtown. I like, for example, Boka (Michelin star 2015) is one of my favorites right now. Boho (Bohemian House)—phenomenal schnitzel and housemade sausages. Jimmy’s Place in Forest Park for pizza, Vesuvio Bakery and sandwiches, Gibson’s. Hot dogs at Gene and Jude’s, in River Grove. Johnny’s Beef & Gyros.”
Jam Restaurant in Logan Square is owned by a Jeff Mauro, but that’s not the same guy.
“Yeah, it’s a different Jeff Mauro who owns Jam Restaurant. I actually had him appear as a guest on my Sandwich King show.”
What would you say to anyone who aspires to become a famous chef?
“Work in the kitchen at a restaurant for a summer. That’ll tell you whether you really want to cook and whether you can stand the life. Short order cook, work the line, whatever—for free most likely. Save yourself 30-40 grand for culinary school.”
Is there a book in your future?
“Maybe. Probably a memoir, though, not a cookbook. Anybody can get my recipes from TV. If I do write one, it’s more likely to be the story of my life.”
Anything else you’d like to say to our readers?
“God bless America!”
Top 3 winning burgers
3rd Annual Redeye Battle of the Burger sponsored by Amstel Light
Nothing says party like food cooked on the grill – meat, chicken, vegetables, whatever. The smells alone make me want to invite people over. One way to put those meals over the top is to brush with spirits-infused sauces and toppings. And another way is to wash ‘em down with tasty cocktails made with matching spirits.
Below are a few rum-, whisky- and gin-infused food and drink ideas for your next family and/or friends gathering. These food recipes are so good you don’t even have to have an outdoor grill – your oven’ll work fine. You could even adapt them to cook in a big covered skillet if you don’t want to heat up the kitchen when your A/C is straining to keep up with blistering temps or soggy humidity (and yes, that can happen these days even in football season).
BBQ Chicken Bacon Bites
Recipe and photo courtesy of Georgia Johnson, The Comfort of Cooking
Instructions: Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil. Spray lightly with cooking spray. Wrap each chicken piece with a small strip of bacon. Secure with a toothpick and place on the baking sheet. Brush with BBQ sauce. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove pan from oven, brush bites with more BBQ sauce, and return to oven. Bake for 15 more minutes. Serve warm.
Spicy Sweet BBQ Sauce
1 1/2 cups brown sugar1/2 cup chili sauce1/2 cup Captain Morgan® Original Spiced Rum1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce1/4 cup ketchup1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce2 garlic cloves, crushed1 teaspoon ground dry mustardGround black pepper, to taste
Instructions: Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan over low heat. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes, or until thickened as desired. Stir occasionally. Use immediately as you wish, or store in refrigerator until ready to use.
Play Action Spiced Rum Punch
1.5 oz. Captain Morgan® Original Spiced Rum2 oz. pomegranate juice1 oz. apple cider1 oz. fresh lime juice0.5 oz. simple syrup
Instructions: Combine all ingredients in a punch glass. Add ice and stir well to blend. Garnish with a mixture of orange wheels, apple slices or pomegranate ice cubes.
Whisky recipes (Photo courtesy of hirejoejohnson)
Brats with “Maple-ized” Onions
2 large onions1 1/2 tablespoons butter1 tablespoon olive oil3 oz. Crown Royal® Maple Finished WhiskyPinch of SaltBuns
Instructions: Grill bratwursts over medium heat, turning them every three minutes until they turn golden brown or the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
Meanwhile, melt butter and oil in skillet on medium-high heat. Thinly slice the onions and stir them in and add a pinch of salt frequently, until the onions begin to brown, about 5-10 minutes. Add Crown Royal® Maple Finished Whisky to the skillet and continue to cook onions, stirring occasionally, until well “maple-ized.” Simmer until there is very little moisture left in the pan. Place brats on buns and top with generous amount of onions.
Bull Rush cocktail
1 oz. Crown Royal Black® Whisky0.5 oz. Triple Sec Liqueur1 or 2 splashes grenadine3 oz. club soda
Instructions: Combine all ingredients in a punch glass. Add ice and stir well to blend. Garnish with a mixture of orange wheels, apple slices or pomegranate ice cubes.
Gin & Tonic Reimagined
1 ½ oz Bombay Sapphire East Gin3 oz Fevertree tonicLime wedge OR different garnish (lemongrass, juniper, coriander, cassia bark, etc)
Press lemongrass stem and lime wedge into base of old-fashioned glass. Fill with ice and build. Garnish with lime wedge, lemongrass stem.
Sapphire Peppered Peach Tea Collins
1 ½ oz. Bombay Sapphire Gin¾ oz. Fresh Lemon Juice½ oz. Simple Syrup1 ½ oz. Peach Iced TeaPinch of Black PepperClub Soda
Build with ice in a highball glass. Top with Club Soda. Garnish with peach slide and lemon twist
1 part Campari1 part Bombay Sapphire1 part MARTINI Gran Lusso
Stir the ingredients over ice. Strain into a lowball glass with a large chunk of ice. Garnish with an orange slices.
Had a chance recently to learn a little about the island of Sardinia. Where’s that, you may ask? North of Sicily about 120 miles west from the edge of the boot. It’s a land where, so they say, people tend to live longer than people anywhere around them – many living to 100 and beyond. Credit goes to the Mediterranean diet, of course, but also to their specific wines, made with native Cannonau grapes (similar to Grenache but unique to Sardinia). These fruits are said to have three times higher levels of antioxidants and flavonoids that are known to “slow down aging in your cells” and – imagine! – “reduce stress in males.” What? Only guys?
Ladies, never fear. Wine of all types reduces our stress.
Tasted several Italian wines imported by Cantina Oliena (a group founded to promote the wines of Sardinia) and ate some scrumptious Sardinian-inspired dishes by Executive Chef John Caputo of the popular Itaian restaurant, Trattoria No. 10, located at 10 N. Dearborn. Walk in from the street and take either the stairs or the elevator down to the lower level. Despite lots of dark wood and heavy, embroidered, lacy-looking curtains shirred on rods on the windows separating the private dining area from the public spaces, the place has a light and comfortable feeling.
The Sardinian dinner menu included a light yet piquant salad of arugula and shaved fennel topped with Parmesan chips, dressed with a light hand and sprinkled with Bottarga di Muggine (a grated fish egg preparation that gave it a touch of salty tang). Excellent!
The wine that accompanied the salad was a standout – Istrale Vermentino Bianco 2012 (retails at about $16). This is a white wine worth searching out. Dry, but round and full and smooth in the mouth with lots of herbal notes – one of few wines that go well with green things like artichokes, asparagus and so on. Buon Gusto Market, importers of Sardinian goods, including cheeses, wines and olive oils, provided the wines and a number of the food items in Chef Caputo’s American take on Sardinian foods. They don’t sell direct to consumers but do have a page on their website listing all the Illinois restaurants where you can expect to find their products.
Next was a grilled octopus – marinated first, then grilled nice and brown and crispy. It was so well browned that it almost looked overdone, but the taste was marvelous and went perfectly with the little chunks of watermelon and pieces of heirloom tomatoes, all dressed in a light tarragon vinaigrette. The wine in this case was a dry, darker pink rosé called Jannas Rosé Cannonau DOC (no vintage). Nice pairing.
The main course was a seared lamb loin, cooked pink, and served with a small pool of rich, translucent brown reduction I couldn’t quite identify – delicious – and accompanied with a hunk of lamb-pecorino sausage. That same type of sausage had been cooked long hours in the tomato sauce that the side of pasta, rapini and sweet corn was served in. Oh, man, that tomato sauce was full of flavor and quite unique. I’d come back again to Trattoria No. 10 just for that sauce. The whole dish was most enjoyable. And it was served with two different red wines – one light and dry, and the other deeper and richer-flavored. The first was Lanaito Cannonau IGT 2011 (a blend with 20% Monica grapes) and the second, Nepente Cannonau (100% Cannonau) DOC 2011. I give them 3 stars and 4 stars respectively.
The dessert, ravioli filled with young Pecorino, was served with a scoop of Torrone Gelato (Torrone is a hard nougat made of honey, sugar, egg whites and toasted and chopped almonds and nuts). The whole dish was drizzled with Sardinian bitter sweet honey. Loved the gelato! The two different red dessert wines paired nicely.
I wouldn’t hesitate to come back to Trattoria No. 10 and sample from their regular menu. Clearly Chef Caputo has a passion for combining flavors and cooking to perfection that I’d like to experience more of.
I asked LM co-owner Nicole Quaisser what the new partnership will mean to customers. She said they’re very excited about the partnership. That Martial, a long-time Chicago guy, and she and Stephan have known each other for a long time. “We are a French company,” she said, “and we love the idea of having a French partner.”
I told Nicole how much I loved the look and feel of the 111 W. Huron location when I visited LM Bistro recently. I heard they’d done a recent revamp of the space, so I asked her about it. Nicole said their original LM in Lincoln Square was a much smaller space with a very warm and welcoming ambiance. Because the current location has very high ceilings, they did a few things to cozy it up, but returning customers kept remarking they missed the warm and cozy feeling.
“Our new approach was to divide the space to create several smaller rooms and rearrange seating to break up individual areas,” said Nicole. “Plus we also revamped the lighting to make the space feel warmer.” A truly great job in my book. Bulletin: As of January 8, the 111 W. Huron location (formerly LM Bistro) has been christened Troquet River North. This is one of the first changes to come out of the partnership.
I asked Nicole about her background and experience. “My husband and I have built the LM group together,” she said, “and we both have extensive experience. We both worked in hotels – from housekeeping to dishwashing. We know how to do everything – and how important each position is.”
Nicole says she is more into the sales and PR side of building the business. “I make connections and focus on gaining repeat business. Stephan is more of a concepter – choosing things from France to do here. We complement each other,” she said.
LM and Bistronomic owners want to combine what Americans recognize as French with what is actually going on in France today. I asked if that related more to types of restaurants or to menu choices.
“There are two aspects,” said Nicole. “The American market has presumed French dining is always fine dining – fancy tablecloths, stuffy attitudes, etc.” But as the new partners all know, she said, the French aren’t always going out for fine dining. They also go to the bar and have cheese and so on. LM offers Troquet as a model of a French neighborhood bar, a place to go for a drink and a snack. Brasserie by LMis more a brewery or diner. Bistro as used in France is different from here. Bistro is still casual but presents more of the higher-end dining experience.
“All our restaurants are at different price points,” she said, “but they all offer attentive service and strict attention to detail.” With Martial coming on board, she said they’ll be doing more things that are going on in France, such as smaller, neighborhood places. Martial told them that the young folks in France tend to go to small places like Troquet – a different level, more affordable than higher-end French food in the market.
As to the sorts of dishes customers can expect to be seeing in the new LM restaurants, Nicole said Martial and the chefs are working an actual menus right now. “He wants to bring experimental, market-fresh, local produce, so different things may pop up on menu any time, changing all the time. All truly French. The brasserie has more traditional menu items. LM Bistro may have a few new items.” They will also focus on French catering. Check out the LM reception catering menu available for 10 or more guests. “We’ll be upscaling that a little bit,” she said.
Judging from past experience at LM Bistro and at Troquet, this promises to be a fun time for Chicago French food lovers.
Whether you’re going out partying all night on New Year’s Eve or, like me, you’ll be in bed long before the ball drops, you may want to seek out gratifying no-cook food options for the next day. Here are 12 Chicago restaurants that have delicious food and drink specials to help you welcome in the new year. Enjoy!
AMERICAN JUNKIE CHICAGO, opens 11 am January 1
15 Illinois St. | Chicago, IL 60654 | 312.239.0995
Wake Up and Rally with Bowl Game Drink Specials
American Junkie invites Chicagoans to continue their New Year’s celebrations with $5 mimosas, $7 Fireball shots, $16 domestic beer buckets and $20 premium beer buckets. Guests can combine cocktails with upscale bar bites including $7 nachos, $1 sliders and .75 cent wings. The River North sports bar is the perfect spot to catch all of the New Year’s Day Bowl Game action including the Outback Bowl where the University of Iowa will take on Louisiana State University (kick off at 12 p.m.).
BRASSERIE by LM, opens 6 am January 1
800 S. Michigan Avenue | Chicago, IL 60605 | 312.431.1788
New Year’s Day Brunch at Brasserie by LM
Brasserie by LM invites Chicagoans to enjoy their brunch menu. Brasserie’s brunch menu includes traditional favorites as well as new creations with entrées, pastries and classic brunch items like French Toast ($10), LM Benedict ($10), Crepes ($10), Savory Tart ($7) Brasserie Burger ($12) and more. Guests can also enjoy Brasserie’s Croque menu which includes Croque Monsieur ($9), Croque Vegetable ($9) and Croque Salmon ($11). For an additional $2, guests can add an egg on top of any Croque to create a Croque Madame. Brasserie Bloody Marys and Mimosas will be available for $7 each.
In addition, a bottomless Mimosa and Entrée special will be available for $25 per person. The full menu is available upon request. Photos available upon request.
CHICAGO CUT STEAKHOUSE, 12 pm – 10 pm January 1
300 N. LaSalle St. | Chicago, IL 60654 | 312.329.1800
$20 Burger Special
Chicago Cut Steakhouse welcomes guests to indulge in their special New Year’s Day Burger Specials. Guests can select from three specialty burgers including:
In addition, the Chicago Cut Prime Burger, $14, will also be available. All burgers are served on a buttery brioche bun, unless otherwise noted, with fresh, homemade fries and a side of coleslaw.
A perfect complement to any burger, the restaurant will offer $7 Elliott Ness Christmas Ale.
CHICAGO q, opens 11 am January 1
1160 N. Dearborn St. | Chicago, IL 60610 | 312.642.1160
Chicago q will be open for brunch on New Year’s Day. Menu items, created by Chef/Partner Lee Ann Whippen, will satisfy brunch-goers’ “sweet tooth” and “meat tooth” by featuring house-made confections and house-smoked meats. Brunch dishes three different kinds of benedict: Smoked Chicken on honey butter cornbread, Kobe Brisket on Cheddar-Chive Biscuits with a Whole Grain Mustard Hollandaise, and Southern with Fried Green Tomatoes, Pulled Pork and a Cajun Hollandaise, Sweet Potato Hash and Eggs, Sweet Potato and Signature Carrot Cake Pancakes and more.
As a special, the restaurant will serve Black Eyed Peas. In the Southern United States, these peas are eaten on New Year’s Day as good luck treat thought to bring prosperity for the year.
CLARK STREET DOG AND BAR, opens 9 am January 1
3040 N. Clark St. | Chicago, IL 60657 | 773.281.6690
Start your new year Chicago style with Clark Street Dog and Bar’s always fresh and never frozen menu including favorites like the Signature Clark Street Dog, Italian Beef and the newly available Vienna Bistro Chili. The Lakeview staple will open at 11 am, just in time for kickoff of the first college football bowl games in 2014. Grab a Goose Island draft beer, available for $3.50, or a signature pickle-back shot, available for $5, while enjoying the games with friends.
GO ROMA, all locations open 12-8 pm January 1
848 N. State Street | Chicago, IL 60610 | 312. 252. 9946 | www.goroma.net
Other Locations in Bolingbrook, Lincolnshire, Northbrook and Deer Park.
THE GRID, opens 11:30, Lounge opens at 7 pm on January 1
351 W. Hubbard St | Chicago, IL 60654 | 312.321.1351
Start 2014 off on the right foot at The Grid with College Football and some of Chef Eric Romano’s delicious brunch offerings. The Grid will treat recovering party goers to their Build Your Own Mimosa Bar with 8 different mixers as well as their Build Your Own Bloody Mary Bar. Featured brunch items include: Eggs in Purgatory with poached eggs in diablo tomato, chupacabra sausage and goat cheese;
Eggs Florentine with spinach, hollandaise, stuffed peppers served on an English muffin and the Signature Smoothie with berries, banana, Greek yogurt, kale, B12, protein powder and pedialyte.
LM BISTRO, opens 6 am January 1
111 W Huron St | Chicago, IL 60654 | 312.202.9900
Guests are invited to celebrate the New Year at LM Bistro with their delicious brunch. Brunch specials include savory favorites in their two special brunch sections: a cheval, a selection of fork-and-knife, breadless sandwiches, and les tartines, open faced sandwiches.
A Cheval includes:
· Traditional, $13, with caramelized onion, gruyere and a sunny side up egg
· Vegeterien, $10, with portabella mushroom, brie and truffle scrambled eggs
· Poisson, $11, with whitefish, tartar sauce and poached egg.
Les Tartines include:
· Benedict 111, $13, with cured ham, poached eggs and cider béarnaise
· Tomate, $9, with heirloom tomato, olive oil, garlic
Steak and Eggs, $14, with roquette, horseradish and fried eggs
In addition, there are a variety of plates to satisfy sweet tooths like as like Buttermilk Pancakes with blueberry jam, maple syrup and homemade butter ($10), Brioche French Toast with almonds, orange marmalade and fromage blanc ($11), Crepes and more.
A bottomless mimosa and entrée special will be available for $25 per person.
THE LOCAL CHICAGO, Opens 6:30 am January 1
198 E Delaware Place | Chicago, IL 60611 | 312.280.8887
New Year’s Day Burger Party at The Local Chicago
$20 Burger and Fries Special
The Local Chicago welcomes guests to indulge in their special New Year’s Day Burger Menu on New Year’s Day. Guests can select from five specialty burgers including:
In addition, The Local Chicago’s regular burgers, The Ahi Tuna Burger, $20, with Pickled Daikon, Kimchi and Sesame-Wasabi Aioli, the TLC Burger, $14, with a USDA Prime Patty and Aged Cheddar, and The Mushroom and Gruyere Burger, $16, with a Porcini Crusted Steak Burger, Marinated Portobello Cap and Mushroom Mayo, will also be available. All burgers are served on a buttery brioche bun, unless otherwise noted, with fresh, homemade fries and a side of coleslaw.
A perfect complement to any burger, the restaurant will offer The Local Chicago Beer created by Two Brothers Brewery for $7.
NOUVEAU TAVERN, opens 11 am January 1
358 W Ontario | Chicago, IL 60654 | 312.915.4100
Begin the New Year at Nouveau Tavern. On Wednesday, January 1, Nouveau Tavern will open early at 11:00 a.m. for the Nouveau Hangover Brunch. Guests can cheer on their favorite football team while enjoying a free Bloody Mary with the purchase of an entree from the brunch menu.
PORKCHOP, opens 11:30 January 1
941 W Randolph St. | Chicago, IL 60607 | 312.733.9333
Special New Year’s Day Slider Bloody Mary and Bloody Mary Flights
Porkchop invites Chicagoans to start the New Year out right (and recover from last night’s festivities) by indulging in an epic Pork Slider Bloody Mary (Bloody Mary topped with a pork slider, rib and slice of bacon, drizzled with BBQ sauce). The meal of a cocktail is in honor of National Bloody Mary day. Those looking for a lighter variety can try a Bloody Mary flight featuring sample sizes of the “Bakon” Bloody Mary, Jalapeno Bloody Mary and Pickle Bloody Mary.
Customers looking for recovery can find reprieve in the V8, a Bloody Mary made with Chopin potato vodka garnished with vegetables; $9. Pair that with some good old comfort food including The Fat Elvis (bacon-studded Belgian waffle served with sliced bananas and peanut butter maple syrup; $12), Chicken and Waffles (southern fried chicken served on top of a Belgian waffle with ancho chile infused maple syrup; $12) or their Pulled Pork topped with a Fried Egg served on a Fried Mac & Cheese Bun. The resolutions can wait until Thursday.
WEATHER MARK TAVERN, opens 11:30 am January 1
1503 South Michigan Avenue | Chicago, IL 60605 | 312.588.0230 |
Weather Mark Tavern invites Chicagoans to recover (or continue the New Year festivities) with a delicious bottomless mimosa brunch (bottomless mimosas and any brunch entree for only $13.95). Guest can top off their champagne cocktail with peach, cranberry or orange juice. Bloody Mary’s and Screwdrivers are also available for $5 each.
Cocktails can be paired with featured brunch dishes including Steak and Eggs; $9.50, Buttermilk Pancakes or French Toast; $7.95, Huevoes Rancheros; $7.95 and made to order skillets; $9.95. More unique options include the Caprese Eggs Benedict; $8.95, Weather MarCristo (sausage patty inside two Belgian waffles, syrup battered and fried; $9.95) and The First Mate’s Burrito (scrambled eggs, peppers, onions, house potatoes and sausage wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla and covered with chipotle cheese sauce; $11.95).
I grew up in Chicago but left here before I turned 21. Boo-hoo. Except for a few places downtown and a rare visit to a couple of the hot Rush Street clubs when I was underage (yes, it was a lot easier for not-yet-legal kids to get in to bars and clubs back then), I didn’t get much chance to enjoy Chicago as a grownup. Which is what makes it so much fun to do so now!
It was hot as hell when my daughter and I took off for Chicago’s Little Italy section for lunch last week. She’d attended college here in Chicago and had been a frequent visitor in the Little Italy section of town, so she suggested we try a place there. Our destination DaVanti Enoteca at1359 W. Taylor Road at Loomis St. And oh, yeah, and it was a taste of Italy for sure.
Nice ambiance—light shining in the high windows onto oak panel tables with big red numbers painted on them. Track spotlights highlighting the same oak panels in wine racks lining the walls. Big clear glass lanterns scattered around, some reflecting extra light via outsized wall mirrors.
The menu was unusual and included some Italian words we couldn’t decipher, so we figured we’d ask the server Martha for ideas. We’d already noticed and thought how reasonable most of the prices seemed when she advised that the plates are all tapas-sized smaller servings. We appreciated knowing that ahead of time, and then we did, in fact, end up ordering from just the items she pointed out.
Started out with a tasty room-temperature salad of roasted fresh corn with arugula and walnuts, dressed with a drift of goat-cheese-rich dressing. Mmmm. Next we split a plate of cold oil-dressed tuna salad sparked with red onion bits and served on some marvelous Italian toast. The bread was perfectly grilled in olive oil, the crust crunchy but not too hard. The tuna tasty, though not outstanding. And the finale was a buttery nest of linguine noodles that had absorbed a rich transparent brown sauce along with some pasta water and was flecked with small bites of crab and bits of sea urchin. Very nice.
Martha helped us with our wine choice as well—the name itself a mouthful, Alto Adige Terlano Terliner—and we were delighted. Just enough crispness and body in a substantial white wine. A perfect choice for both the food and the atmosphere—and for the heat.
As we left the restaurant we thought to cross Taylor Road and check out the menu of the competitor place Francesca’s. Looked good, the ambiance a bit more formal, the prices higher. But then again, they probably don’t serve tapas style.
Then something across the other street caught our eye: a freestanding sidewalk sign covered in—I’m not making this up—big yellow feathers. When we first crossed we found a delightful little pet specialties shop called Tails on Taylor, full of unusual toys, specialty food and treats/surprises for cats, dogs and so on. Then we had to go look at Zia 925, the home of the yellow-feathers sign, and were rewarded with a fancy/funky atmosphere full of an eclectic mix of merchandise—jewelry, hair ornaments, hats, scarves and more—at quite reasonable prices. I walked out with a pair of unique dangling, gold-painted earrings but could have spent a lot more if the budget were bigger.
I wouldn’t hesitate to visit this little corner of Little Italy again. Definitely recommend DaVanti for other baby boomers looking for a unique Italian food experience in an enjoyable atmosphere. Read more at DaVanti Enoteca. And oh, my, how I love experiencing Chicago as a grownup!