Category Archives: wine and spirits

Pre-summer food, music and wine

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Pre-summer blooms off Michigan Ave.

Summer is at hand, people. No reason not to start right now enjoying the music, food and fun that are always on offer throughout our great city from spring through late fall. Here are a few opportunities to get you rolling…

Belmont-Sheffield Music Festival, on Sheffield from Belmont to Roscoe St. Sun. May 27 – Mon. May 28, 2017 – noon to 10pm.  And don’t fail to check out Trader Todd’s karaoke stage and contest – try out for best singer and look forward  to the award ceremonies in June at Trader Todd’s tiki bar, 3216 N. Sheffield. Check out our review on Trader Todd’s brunch here.
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Happy 40thbirthday, Potbelly! Thursday, June 1, they’re giving a $40,000 donation to One Summer Chicago. Check out the limited-time Potbelly birthday menu items,  and enjoy 40% off Originals sandwiches in-shop at Potbelly nationwide between 11am-3pm. Find your nearest Chicago Potbelly location and go enjoy.
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Dog-friendly, burger/beer specials. Burger + Beer promotion at The Patio at Café Brauer. From May 26 – May 29, get a juicy, succulent burger and a domestic beer for $15.95 all Memorial Day weekend. Read our rave review of Cafe Brauer here.
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English: Band shell in Millennium Park by Fran...
English: Band shell in Millennium Park by Frank Gehry – Pritzker, from across Michigan Avenue (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Music at Pritzker Pavillion. Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start of summer – two weeks before the Grant Park Music Festival season begins. To celebrate, order a One Night Pass and get a reserved seat close to the stage for any Festival concert at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park. And when you order online this weekend, you’ll save 25% on select seats for any concert in June! Use promo code MEMORIAL when you order online at gpmf.org. Offer expires Monday,  May 29 at 11:59 PM. Or,  explore our entire 2017 season. Choose any four concerts (excluding Beethoven Symphony No. 9 on August 18 and 19) with a Choose Your Own membership and we’ll add the Festival’s Independence Day Salute as our way of saying thank you.

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Rich and rewarding Black Stallion Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

For home barbeques or hostess gifts, consider one of these excellent wines from Black Stallion Estate Vineyards. Black Stallion Chardonnay 2015, Black Stallion Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, and Black Stallion Sauvignon Blanc 2015 are deliciously complex and rich tasting. Perfect companions to grilled shrimp or lobster, super-marbled steak cooked a pointe on the grill, and any favorite traditional accompaniments like mustard potato salad, veggie pastasauteed fresh garlic asparagus or superb sauteed mushrooms.  Get your Black Stallion wines from these Chicago area retailers: SavWay Wine & Spirits, Garfield’s Beverage Warehouse, Sunset Foods, Woodman’s, Heinen’s, or talk to your friendly Binny’s folks.

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And if you’re into  higher-end wines, here’s a list of special Black Stallion wines that have garnered serious recognition lately:

  • Wine & Spirits magazine “100 Best Buys of the Year” – 2013 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon: 92 Points
  • James Suckling’s list of “Top 100 Reds of Napa Valley 2016” – 2013 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon: 93 Points
  • Decanter: 2013 Barrel Reserve Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon: Highly recommended, 91 pts; 2013 Transcendent Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon; Highly recommended, 91 pts;  2013 Gaspare Estate Vineyard, Oak Knoll District, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon: Highly recommended, 90 pts; 2013 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon: Highly recommended, 90 pts;
  • Wine Enthusiast: 2013 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon: 90 pts; 2014 Los Carneros Pinot Noir: 90 pts
  • Robert M. Parker, Jr. / Wine Advocate (Barrel samples): 2014 Bucephalus Red Blend: (91-93); 2014 Barrel Reserve Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon: (90-92); 2014 Transcendent Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon: (90-92)
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Fine brown spirits for moms, dads and grads who love them

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English: The mash tun of Glenfiddich distiller...
English: The mash tun of Glenfiddich distillery, Dufftown, Moray, Scotland Milled malt gets heated up, sprayed water vapour heats from top (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s the time of year when we all scramble to figure out what to get the fathers – or father figures – in our lives. Just saw an old episode of the Cosby show in which he complained that moms always get good gifts, but dads get crazy ones. To prove it, he  dragged out a chest full of the questionable Father’s Day gifts – ugly ties, google-eyes, stupid hats, etc. – he’d saved from over the years. Don’t be that desperate gift-buying person this year! Consider getting your father/figure a bottle of serious whiskey or Scotch whisky. Or take him – or mom or grad – out for a few tastes at one of the many Chicago restaurants that carry fine whiskies.

If s/he doesn’t appreciate that sort of thing, you can always get him some light-up suspenders… Here are a few whisk(e)y suggestions:

  • Tullamore D.E.W. 14 Year Old Single Malt Irish Whiskey (SRP $69.99). First of the new single malts from Tullamore D.E.W. Irish whiskey, the second largest Irish whiskey in the world. Surprise any Irish whiskey-loving dad with this great new expression on Father’s Day. Tasting Notes: Tullamore D.E.W. 14 Year Old Single Malt is vibrant and fruity, with a nose comprised of ripe apples, sweet citrus, and vanilla oak. The whiskey is rich and sweet to the taste, with a long-lasting finish.
  • Tullamore D.E.W. 18 Year Old Single Malt Irish Whiskey (SRP $109.99). Part of Tullamore D.E.W.’s newly launched single malts range, Tullamore D.E.W. 18 Year Old Single Malt is the brand’s oldest age statement to date. This uniquely smooth, warming expression makes a sophisticated Father’s Day gift for a dad who really knows his whiskey. Rich and oaky, its velvety smooth taste includes notes of cinnamon, apples, and toasted marshmallows, and its lingering finish is sweet and malty.
  • Glenfiddich India Pale Ale Cask Finish ($70.00), part of the Glenfiddich Experimental Series: Brian Kinsman, Glenfiddich’s Malt Master and a passionate creator and innovator, teamed up with a small Speyside micro-brewer to craft this first-ever single malt Scotch whisky finished in IPA craft beer casks. Aromas include ripe green apple, William’s pear and spring blossom, along with aromatic hops and fresh herbs are part of Glenfiddich fruitiness and sweet, vanilla oakiness with a long finish. Perfect for the whisky lover who loves to try the latest and greatest. For an unexpected twist, serve the whisky over ice with a squeeze of blood orange.
  • Glenfiddich Project XX ($79.99): Second in the Experimental Series, this whisky resulted from a blending of 20 very special single malts, each from 20 international whisky experts. They were all invited to explore and select a specific cask from a warehouse at the Glenfiddich Distillery in Dufftown. This smooth, unique expression makes a Father’s Day gift for a dad who really knows his whiskey.
  • The Balvenie DoubleWood 12 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky (SRP: $54.99): The most hand-crafted Scotch whisky, this one is aged up to 12 years in traditional oak casks and finished up to six months in sherry oak casks – The Balvenie’s signature. Look for notes of sweet fruit and Oloroso sherry layered with honey and vanilla. The long, warming finish draws out the nutty sweetness and delicate spiciness of this classic expression.
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Tortoise Supper Club – drink up and give to worthy causes

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Feel welcome in the cozy classy atmosphere of Tortoise Supper Club

Just discovered the Tortoise Supper Club during a press event featuring D.E.W. Tullamore Irish whiskey’s “DEW and a Brew” tour through Chicago. Love the leather-and-wood ambience and loved the food and service, too. Now this cozy, classy restaurant, known for its steaks, chops and fresh seafood, is inviting us to come have a special cocktail so they can donate $3 per drink to the worthy cause of the month.

Cocktails for a Cause teams the supper club each month with a local non-profit to help raise awareness and funds for that organization.  The restaurant/lounge creates an original limited edition cocktail and donates $3 of every one sold to that month’s non-profit partner.

This month, Tortoise Supper Club teams up with The Miracle Center, which provides arts-education-based programming for inner-city Chicago kids.  Through its afterschool and summertime programs, youths aged 11 – 22 work together to develop full-scale theater productions that are then performed for the general public.  These programs help kids strengthen their creative problem-solving abilities and build self-esteem by developing their leadership and general life skills.

Curtain Call is this March’s Cocktail for a Cause. House-infused dill vodka is mixed with fresh-squeezed lime juice and a housemade honey syrup, finished with a couple dashes of grapefruit bitters and garnished with a touch of grapefruit zest. Even if you’re not a huge fan of mixed drinks, this one sounds like a winner.

No reservations required. Just come in and relax this month, meet the owners who are almost always onsite greeting guests, and know that 3 bucks of your Curtain Call price will be donated directly to The Miracle Center.

P.S. Weekly specials include Half Priced Signature Cocktails on Wednesdays, Sautéed Frog Legs and Buttermilk Battered Cod on Fridays, Northwoods Dry Rubbed Prime Rib on Saturdays and $1 Oysters / $1 Shrimp Cocktail from 4:30 – 6:30 pm on weekdays.  Live Sinatra-style jazz music is played in the lounge every Friday and Saturday night.

 

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3 Chicago restaurants with late “winter” news

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It’s winter, right, people? 63 degrees? I don’t think so. 43 degrees? Not really. How about 70? Do I hear 70 degrees? In any case, it’s a great time to get out and try some of the delicious things going on at Chicago restaurants these days. Here are 3 of them.

Dim sum :Author: User:Das_O2 :Date: August 20t...
Dim sum :Author: User:Das_O2 :Date: August 20th, 2005 :Notes: Typical dim sum breakfast in Hong Kong. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Intro, 2300 N. Lincoln Park West, is now offering Dim Sum brunch, Sundays from 10am to 3pm.  The unique and delicious menu can be ordered a la carte, or shared family-style at $22.95 per person. Check out: Smoked Salmon Bao, “Everything Spice”, Caper Szechuan Aioli, Chinese Homestyle Eggs with Pork Belly and Congee Rice and Chinese Donuts with Cinnamon and Espresso Milk. Full menu here and call 773-868-0002 to reserve.

Dovetail Brewery Taproom dog friendly photo by Cindy Kurman
Dovetail Brewery is dog friendly

Not a festival, not quite a market but absolutely a great time. Dovetail Brewery, 1800 W. Belle Plaine, will be hosting some of the tastiest artisanal local craft vendors in its taproom from noon to 5 p.m. on March 25. Stop by and create your own charcuterie board of assorted breads, cheeses and meats to accompany your favorite Dovetail beers. And by popular demand, Dovetail has added a 1 pm. tour on Saturdays. Stop by the brewery at either 11 a.m. or 1 p.m. to enjoy an informative and fun tour. Tour admission is $15 which includes your choice of three Dovetail 0.3L servings of beer.

Ēma, 74 W. Illinois, another LEYE restaurant, is having its first-ever wine dinner on March 29 at 6:30. For $75 a person (plus tax and gratuity) you’ll be treated to a mezze feast of Ema favorites and specialty dishes crafted by Chef CJ Jacobson and accompanied by wines from Sandhi Winery in Santa Barbara, California. Leading the event is winemaker and James Beard beverage book winner Rajat Parr, author Secrets of the Sommelier, and recipient of the 2015 James Beard Award for Outstanding Wine Professional.  Call 312-485-5778 or email emaparties@leye.com to reserve.

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3 days only! 312 Chicago celebrates 19 years with $19 specials

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312 Chicago celebrates 19 years!

As a thank you to customers in celebration of 19 years in Chicago’s bustling Theater District and across from City Hall,  312 Chicago, 136 N. LaSalle, and Chef Luca are offering *all* dinner entrees for $19 each as well as $19 bottles of select red and white wine. Starting on their anniversary, 3/12/17 and evenings through Tuesday 3/14, you can get everything  at the party price – check the list below. Reservations are encouraged.

Here’s the complete menu:

  • Salmone, $27: Roasted Faroe Island Salmon, Tri-Colored Lentils, Cippolini Onions, Baby Spinach, Lemon Sauce
  • Branzino, $28: Mediterranean Skin-On Sea Bass, Cauliflower Puree, Manila Clams, Zucchini and Yellow Squash, Sun Dried Tomatoes, Garlic White Wine Sauce
  • Cacciucco, $29: Sauteed Scallops, Shrimp, Tuna, Mussels, Clams, Lobster, Light Spicy Tomato Broth, Grilled Garlic Crostini
  • Pollo, $23: Roasted Chicken Breast, Beech Mushrooms, Crispy Onion, Sweet Grilled Corn, Creamy Polenta, Chicken Succo
  • Maiale, $26: Roasted‎ Pork Chop, Black Tuscan Kale, Potato Cake, Prosciutto, Brandy Cream Sauce
  • Filetto, $35: Grilled Beef Tenderloin, Tri-Colored Fingerling Potatoes, Truffle Butter, Porcini Mushroom Sauce
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Eating out/carry out Christmas 2016 Chicago – redux

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We gave you some ideas for restaurants to eat out or carry out in Chicago at Christmas and Christmas Eve 2016 here. And as the holidays grow closer, here are a few more ideas you might find useful:

Delightful Pastries is at work for you this holiday

Delightful Pastries
Let Delightful Pastries (Jefferson Park, Chicago French Market) accent your holiday meal! Known for their outstanding baked goods and sweets, Delightful Pastries will offer an array of seasonal catering options such as Buche de Noel, a French yule log made out of genoise, filled with chocolate ganache and decorated with marzipan mushrooms and holly berries ($40); Traditional German Stollen, with candied orange peel, raisins, almonds and filled with marzipan ($20); Royal Gingerbread, filled with hazelnuts, almonds, walnuts, raisins and candied orange peel and dipped in chocolate ($15); and Butter Cookie Christmas Tree, butter cookies filled with apricot preserves and decorated with royal icing and holiday sugar ornaments ($35).

Savory dishes are an excellent accompaniment to the main course or served as an appetizer. Some of Delightful Pastries’ stand-out dishes include Red Borscht ($8/quart) & Mushroom Turnovers, filled with sautéed mushrooms in a puff pastry ($14/dozen); and Meat Pie, filled with pork and ham and wrapped in bacon ($40).
Additional items include the vegan Holiday Bread ($10), loaded with pecans, cherries, raisins, cranberries, candied orange peel and currants and the vegan Pecan Cranberry Sourdough ($6), a hearty option made with cranberries and chopped pecans. Rum Eggnog($15.99) is sure to be a hit and small or large trays of mini pastries, brownies or assorted cookies are available as well.

To order, call one of the Delightful Pastries locations by Tuesday, December 20 (Chicago French Market, 312.234.9644 or Jefferson Park, 773.545.7215).

Harvest at Chicago Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile
Located directly on the Magnificent Mile, Harvest at the Chicago Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile (540 N Michigan Ave.) will offer a festive and delicious feast. The all-you-can-eat buffet will feature a carving station of Slow-Roasted Prime Rib and House-Smoked Ham with au jus and smoked apple butter. A cold buffet will include a Kale Caesar Salad, assorted Local Cheeses and Housemade Charcuterie and Shrimp Cocktail. The hot buffet will feature dishes such as Celery Root and Apple Soup, Housemade Sausage and Sage Cornbread Stuffing, Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Michigan Apples and Bacon and Caramelized Onion Mashed Potatoes. The dessert table will include an assortment of Pecan Tarts, Eggnog Mousse Cups, Red Velvet Cake and more.

The menu will be offered on Christmas from noon to 10 p.m. Cost is $40 per adult and $20 per child under 10 years of age (exclusive of tax and gratuity). Reservations are recommended and may be made by calling 312.836.6334.

Smoke Daddy Will Smoke Your Bird
Smoke Daddy (1804 W Division St.) in Wicker Park will offer a delicious Christmas catering menu. The BBQ restaurant will offer House-Smoked Whole Turkey (11 lb., $65; 20 lb., $90), Pulled Whole Turkey (1 lb., $16) and Glazed Ham, a partial bone-in, smoked ham with a sweet mojo glaze (9 lb., $69). Sides such as Cornbread Stuffing with sausage and spices ($10 per quart); Brussels Sprouts, oven-roasted with a lemon butter sauce ($10 per quart); and Garlic Mashed Potatoes ($10 per quart) and desserts like Sweet Potato Pie ($22) and Pecan Pie ($24) round out the menu. In addition, guests may pick-up bottles of wine ($12-$15) and the fixings for a Bloody Mary Bar ($140 for 20 beverages) and/or Mimosa Bar($100 for 12 beverages).

Pick-up and delivery orders must be made by noon on Monday, December 19. Items will be picked-up cold with re-heating instructions on Thursday, December 22 and Friday, December 23. Guests may place their order online at www.thesmokedaddy.com.

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Where to eat in Chicago on Christmas/Christmas Eve 2016

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Chef Didier Durand and the Christmas goose

Super busy? Overworked? Under-assisted? Plain old tired out – or just want to treat yourself? Sometimes cooking for the holidays feels like simply  too much. Thank goodness many of our favorite Chicago restaurants choose to offer respite from the cooking, serving and cleaning up along with a warm and comfortable place to enjoy good food with whomever you choose to spend your holidays with. And don’t forget, if you eat out on these special days, be extra generous with your tips for the hard-working industry professionals who are making your day/night out possible and pleasant.

CHRISTMAS EVE, Saturday December 24, 2016

312 ChicagoTheater District/Loop, will be open Christmas Eve for brunch and dinner until 8PM featuring their regular menu. Walk-ins are available and reservations can be made by visiting www.312chicago.com or calling 312-696-2420.

Artango, 3 – 11:45 pm. Order from the regular menu or a three-course prix fixe menu for $55/adult and $24/child aged 4-12. Diners can enjoy classic Argentine dishes along with some holiday specials. An a la carte menu will be also available.

South Water Kitchen – Loop, reservations during regular hours until 7 pm. Chef Roger Waysok will be offering his brunch and dinner regular menu. South Water Kitchen is GREAT certified, which means guests of all dietary restrictions like gluten, can enjoy dishes like Cauliflower Steak, Pork Belly with Sweet Potato Gratin and Carrot Cake Twinkies. Walk-ins are available and reservations can be made by visitingwww.southwaterkitchen.com or calling 312-236-9300.

Big Bowl – Chicago, Lincolnshire, Schaumburg, contact your location for hours. Both locations open Christmas Eve, serving our regular menus as well as daily specials.  To view hours by location or to make a reservation, click here.

Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba!, brunch 9 am –3 pm; dinner 3 pm –10 pm. 
Our Christmas Eve gift to you: Happy Hour all day! Whether you’re finishing last minute shopping or relaxing with family and friends, join us in the bar area for $16 pitchers of red sangria, $2-4 select tapas and $1 pintxos. View the full selection here. Bar seating is first come, first serve. Our regular brunch and dinner menus will be available in the main dining room.

EverestTuesday, December 13 through Saturday, December 24. 
Christmas is a magical time in Alsace that holds many memories for Chef/Proprietor J. Joho, who grew up celebrating with family and friends over the dishes specially prepared for the occasion. Join him from Tuesday, December 13 – Thursday, December 29, as he brings these traditional preparations to Everest, serving a multi-course menu of elegant holiday fare, including foie gras, pike and roasted goose. This special menu is $135 per person (not including tax and gratuity). Wine pairings are available for $98 per person more. To make your reservation, call 312-663-8920 or visit www.everestchicago.com.
Intro, 4:30 – 8 pm. Join us on Saturday, December 24 for Executive Chef Stephen Gillanders family-style Chinese Christmas Eve Dinner including Black Truffle Egg Drop Soup with winter truffle, scallion, white pepperFoie Gras Fried Rice with Hudson Valley foie gras, ginger crumbsRoasted Peking Duck with traditional & nontraditional garnishes; and for dessert, Egg Tart Brulee. The cost is $98 (not including, beverage, tax and gratuity). Intro’s visiting Chef Osaka’s Japanese Trattoria a la carte menu will also be available. For more information and to make your reservation, visit www.introchicago.com or call 773-868-0002.
This Christmas Eve, enjoy a special holiday meal chosen from their selection of fresh salads, sandwiches, seafood and prime steaks, alongside signature sides, and of course, pie. Highlights include: fresh Florida Stone Crab, Colossal Lump Crab Cakes, Chilean Sea Bass, Bone-In Rib Eye and Filet Mignon. To view the full menus, click here.

Mon Ami GabiLincoln Park: 4 –9 pm; Oak Brook: 11 –10 pm. 
This year, celebrate Christmas Eve with French fare. From savory crepes and quiches to bubbly French Onion Soup, and classics from Steak Frites to Beef Bourguignon, satisfy all your holiday cravings. To view the full menus, click here.

Nacional 275 pm -10 pm. Offers a Christmas Eve special Cuban-themed, prix-fixe for $45 per person. Executive Chef Chico Vilchez’s four-course menu includes a tapas sampling, hearts of palm salad, choice of entree and pumpkin flan dessert. Guests may add an optional ceviche course for $9, along with a mojito or margarita for $11.
Osteria Via Stato4 pm – 9:30 pm. Join Executive Chef David DiGregorio this Christmas Eve as he prepares a dinner inspired by his family’s traditions, The Feast of Seven Fishes. Reputedly named for the seven hills of Rome, this multi-course, holiday meal captures the spirit of Italy with an abundance of seafood dishes from around the country, dessert and sides. The cost is $59.95 per person, plus tax and gratuity. A la carte menu will be offered, as well as the regular menu in the dining room. For reservations call 312-642-8450.
Oyster Bah, 11 am – 10 pm. Oysters seem to have a rich holiday tradition in the Midwest.  With oyster happy hour on Saturdays from 3-6 pm, guests can enjoy $1.50 oysters (one east and one west), a glass of bubbles, clam stuffies, shrimp and grits and more.  Enjoy watching the neighborhood traffic from the garage window or make yourself cozy in the back or downstairs in the Low Tide Lounge.
Ramen-san, 11 am – 10 pm. Ramen-san is the perfect place to spend Christmas Eve: There will be bowls of piping hot noodles, perfectly chilled Asahi beer, and holiday classics like Home AloneJingle All the Way and The Santa Clause playing all day. Call Ramen-san at 312-377-9950 or visit ramensan.com for reservations.
Reel Club, 11:15 am – 10 pm. Open on Christmas Eve, serving its usual dinner menu.  For location information or to make a reservation, click here.
R.J. Grunts, 11 am – 2 pm. Enjoy the famous “All-U-Can-Eat Weekend Brunch”, with items ranging from Pecan Bread Pudding French Toast and Mini Belgian Waffles to Grunts’ Thick-Cut Bacon, Scrambled Eggs, and Yogurt & Granola for just $15.95. As always, the world famous salad bar will be available (and included in the price!). Visit rjgruntschicago.com or call 773-929-5363.
RPM Italian3 – 11 pm.  Come and enjoyan updated version of the classic Italian celebration, Feast of the Seven Fishes. The festive menu includes an array of antipasti and traditional fare—think Frutti di Mare with artisanal pasta and Roasted Maine Lobster—before coming to a sweet ending. The Feast of the Seven Fishes is $75 per person (plus tax; gratuity not included). In addition to this festive offering, the RPM Italian dinner menu will also be available throughout the evening. Call 312-222-1888 or visit rpmrestaurants.com for reservations.
Shaw’s Crab House – Chicago, IL, brunch 10:00AM – 2:00PM, dinner 4:00PM – 9:00PM, Oyster Bar open all day. Saturday brunch will be in full swing for those who want to enjoy a special treat before cooking for friends and family at home.  Full main dining room menu will be available for dinner service which will include surf n’ turf, shellfish towers, many fresh fish selections and more.  Oyster Happy hour as usual from 4-6 pm for a little snack and a cocktail before heading over to your celebration.
 
Shaw’s Crab House – Schaumburg, IL, brunch 10:30AM – 1:30PM / full menu 11:30AM – 9:00PM. This Christmas Eve, be the first to enjoy brunch on Saturday as well!  With delectable new offerings and a fantastic new price of $39 per adult, $10 for kids 7-12 and kids 6 and under, consider starting a new tradition for you and your family.

Summer House Santa Monica, Lincoln Park, brunch 8 am – 3 pm; Lunch 11 am – 4 pm; dinner 4 pm – 10 pm. Spend your Christmas Eve surrounded by beach decor and summer vibes and enjoy your favorite California-inspired menu items, including the Wood-Grilled Hamburger with thousand island, Ancho-Marinated Chicken Tacos, and Grilled Faroe Island Salmon. A great place to relax before and on Christmas Eve – handcrafted cocktails and an extensive California wine list. To view the full menus, click here.

Stella Barra Pizzeriabrunch 10 am – 2 pm; dinner 2 pm –10 pm.
Take a break from your holiday hosting by letting us take care of Christmas Eve dinner. Share starters like  fresh, handmade Burrata, Italian Chopped Salad or Crispy Brussels Sprouts before trying one (or more!) signature artisanal pizzas. With options including the Smoked Bacon & Goat Cheese Pizza, Bloomsdale Spinach & Kale and Butternut Squash, there’s something for everyone. View full menu online, and call 301-770-8609 for reservations.

WHEN: Saturday, December 24th, 11:00AM to 8:00PM
Why not try something new for Christmas Eve?  Tokio Pub will be offering full menu, including bowls of hot ramen, savory potstickers, delicious sushi and more. Grab a snack while you are wrapping up your last gifts at the Streets of Woodfield or Woodfield Mall with happy hour (items in red on menu) 4-6 pm. Call 847-278-5181

Wildfire – Chicago, Oak Brook, Glenview, Lincolnshire, Schaumburg
Contact your location of interest for hours. All locations will be open on Christmas Eve and serving regular dinner menu plus daily specials.  To view hours by location or to make a reservation, click here.

Christmas /Christmas Eve CarryoutL. Woods,  orders must be placed by Wednesday, December 21, 2016. Let L. Woods cater your Christmas Eve meal with a special holiday carry-out menu. All items, complete with re-heating instructions, can be picked up at L.Woods on Saturday, December 24. Please call 847-677-3350 for pricing information, to place your order and to schedule a pick-up time. Menu items include Oven-Roasted Turkey, Chopped Salad, House-Made Stuffing, Au Gratin Potatoes, Pecan Pie and Butterscotch Bread Pudding. Orders must be placed by Wednesday, December 21.

For all the big-four holidays, you can leave it to Chef Didier of Cyrano’s fame. Fully cooked multi-course goose dinners available for pickup for the holidays. Also, you can order patés & rillettes, breads & morning pastries, vinaigrettes, soups & prepared dinner entrees, cheeses & more. To reserve yours, check out the entire menu here.  Chef Didier’s Cyrano’s On-The-Go is located at Polo Cafe, 3322 S. Morgan Street in Bridgeport, Chicago. Email for more info here or call 773-620-3986

CHRISTMAS DAY, Sunday December 25, 2016

312 ChicagoTheater District/Loop. 5 – 8 pm. Chef Luca Corazzina has whipped up a Four-Course Christmas-Inspired Prix Fixe Menu – think antipasti then primi (lasagna or other pasta), secondi (beef stak, branzino, chicken) and dolci (tiramisu, panettone or pot de creme) – for $55 per person. very festively decorated dining room (regular menu not available).

Artango Brazilian Steakhouse, 2 – 8 pm. Enjoy athree-course prix fixe menu for $55/adult and $24/child aged 4-12. Diners can enjoy classic Argentine dishes along with some holiday specials. Live entertainment will be provided by acclaimed cellist Ian Maksin and guitarist Gabriel Datcu playing Christmas songs and other famous covers!

Di Pescara, 12 – 7 pm. Treat yourself to a festive meal, featuring Di Pescara’s cold water Twin Lobster Tail special, served with house-made Mac and Cheese. The dinner is $32.95 plus tax (gratuity not included). The regular menu is also available from noon to 7:00PM. Reserve via OpenTable or by calling 847-498-4321.

Wildfire – Lincolnshire, IL, 11 am to 8 pm. Friends and family can dine all day at Wildfire Lincolnshire on Christmas Day from the regular dinner menu and daily specials. For more information, please click here.

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Adventure to Sardinia this holiday with 6 unique wines

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Sardinia is its own island, technically part of but culturally separate from the rest of Italy and Sicily. One of the most picturesque regions of Italy, the island remains a tantalizing secret for most Americans and so, until lately, have its wines. Giovanni Pinna, chief winemaker at Sella & Mosca, came to Cafe Spiaggia in Chicago recently to showcase some of the winery’s special wines ranging from value to luxury in price.

Sella & Mosca La Cala Vermentino
Sella & Mosca La Cala Vermentino

Sella & Mosca was founded in 1899 by two Piemontese businessmen, Erminio Sella and Edgardo Mosca, revered to this day for their prominent roles in the Risorgimento (Italy’s 19th-century unification movement). It was their love of unexplored terrains that led Sella, an engineer, and Mosca, a lawyer, to venture to Sardinia and start a winery on this idyllic island. European vineyards were just starting to recover from a devastating Phylloxera infestation and Sella &Mosca had an ambitious plan to reclaim the vineyards in the area known as I Piani.

Now, as Sardinia’s foremost wine producer, Sella & Mosca is renowned for premium wines made exclusively from estate-grown grapes. In addition to native varieties Torbato, Vermentino, Carignano and Cannonau, the winery has successfully pioneered the introduction of international grape varieties, notably Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc. And they entrust their precious winemaking process only to top experts.

Sella & Mosca Terre Bianche Torbato
Sella & Mosca Terre Bianche Torbato

Giovanni was born in Sardinia and has devoted his entire career to studying, working and teaching others about the island’s unique viticultural landscape. With a university degree in agrarian science and another in viticulture and oenology, he took it all a step further by learning about innovative new research and cutting-edge technology at the institute for Wine Biotechnology at the University of Stellenbosch.

Not content with all that, he next achieved his master’s degree in oenology and a doctorate in microbic microbiology. Joining Sella & Mosca as oenologist in 2000, he quickly earned chief winemaker status and in this position he focuses on crafting wines of distinctive character with a defined link to terroir while managing an annual production of 7.6 million bottles. He regularly lectures at universities on topics related to oenology and viticulture, and as a researcher, frequently contributes articles to trade journals. Additionally, he has served since 1996 as a member of the Sassari chamber of commerce provincial commission for tastings and evaluation of DOC and DOCG wines.

Sella & Mosca Cannonau di Sardegna
Sella & Mosca Cannonau di Sardegna

These 6 beautiful wines all tasted lovely paired with the delicious menu presented by the culinary team at Cafe Spiaggia, and any of them will give you an excellent introduction to Sella & Mosca:

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3 city & 1 ‘burbs – Spots for live music with good food

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Do you expect exceptional food when you go out for live music? Chicago has a few places that make this a priority. In the city, where you can get there by cab or public transport:

  1. Bandera, 535 N. Michigan. Jazz & blues every night. Cocktails, lunch and dinner in sexy, subtle lighting.
  2. Eddie V’s Prime Seafood and Steak, 521 N. Rush St. Seafood, oysters, crab, sea bass, etc. and prime steaks. Pricey but highly rated.
  3. Buddy Guy’s Legends, 700 S. Wabash. Rockin’ good music and down home Southern-inspired dishes. Word is, Buddy himself sits in sometimes!

And we just heard about one in the ‘burbs that’s making food a priority, too: 210 Restaurant and Live Music Lounge, 210 Green Bay Road, Highwood, IL. Co-owner and Executive Chef Jeff Tomchek Chef Jeff Tomchek KCI_0733lo resbrings 30 years of experience in several countries honing his abilities to turn fresh, high quality, locally sourced produce and ingredients into menu items that span regional and global cuisines as well as barbecue and Southern-style dishes. 

Appetizers include Hawaiian Tuna Poke with toasted Macadamia Nuts ($13 Hawaiian Tuna Poke with Toasted Macadamia Nuts 210 KCI_0537 lo res.jpg); Roast Local Corn Mexican Street Food Style ($5/$8); Korean Chicken Wings ($12); and Tomato Bisque ($5/$8). Salads include Roast Beets with Bean Hummas, Arugula & Pine Nuts ($12); Frillman Farms Heirloom Tomato with Burrata & Basil ($11); and a Crispy Chicken Chopped Salad with Chipotle Ranch ($18).

Main dishes Baby Back Ribs Dry Rub and Pit Smoked 210 a KCI_0626 lo res.jpginclude Baby Back Ribs, Dry Rub & Pit Smoked (taste $8, half $16/full slab $24); Buttermilk Fried Chicken Sandwich with Arugula & Remoulade ($13); Roast Scottish Salmon with corn mashed potatoes and Mexican Truffle Vinaigrette ($24); and Andouille Jambalaya with Louisiana Style BBQ Shrimp ($19).

Roast Cauliflower with Thai Three Flavor Sauce 210 KCI_0718lo resThis place even lets you get your vegetables in with original presentations like Roast Local Eggplant with Moroccan Spices ($9); Miso Glazed Acorn Squash ($8); Roast Cauliflower with Thai three flavor sauce ($8) and Bacon Braised Collard Greens ($8); and Not Yo Mamma’s Mac & Cheese ($8); and Local Bi Color Corn Sautéed with Peppers & Onions ($8). Seasonal offerings and daily specials are listed on the website.

If you live in the city and want to enjoy 210 Restaurant and Live Music Lounge, consider finding a nice hotel in the area so you can stay as long as you like and not have to worry about driving home. If you live nearby, get thee hence and try it soon.

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Fried chicken and bubblies, oh my!

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English: Several pieces of fried chicken.
English: Several pieces of fried chicken. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Next Saturday October 22 from 11:30 am to 3:00 pm, hundreds of Chicagoans will be on hand to enjoy the 2nd annual Fried Chicken & Champagne Fest. Proceeds from the event go towards financial assistance for hospitality and culinary arts students through the Kendall College Trust. A dozen award-winning Chicago chefs fry up their best recipes, and attendees munch those chicken renditions while sipping on a vast array of bubblies have been curated by Master Sommelier Serafin Alverado of headlining sponsor Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits. And let’s just say, with the likes of Chef Lee Wolen from Michelin-starred Boka Restaurant participating, you are bound to exerience way beyond ordinary.

With over 60 different offerings from around the world – including luxury labels like Moet Imperial Rose, Dom Perignon and Palmes D’Or – everyone can find a perfect pairing or two. For a full list of Champagne, click here.  Get more info and tickets here.
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