Category Archives: wine and spirits

5 Chicago restaurants – Super Bowl and Valentine’s 2018 +1 new opening!

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Chicago is a marvelous place to eat out any time, but some places go out of their way to offer specials for specific occasions. Too bad about the Bears, but you can still enjoy Super Bowl goodies in places around Chicago. And of course, it’s not too early to plan your Valentine’s Day – or anti-Valentine’s Day – celebration. And then, imagine this: a very large authentic Italian eatery opening up just down the street from – you guessed it – Eataly!
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 Ella Elli (1349 W. Cornelia Ave) in Lakeview  offers a chic alternative to the Super Bowl. No TVs on Super Bowl Sunday but you can have flights of rosé wines, rosé cocktails and frosé! Regular brunch menu from 10am to 2:30pm and dinner from 4 to 10pm. The “Super Bites” menu includes Shrimp Avocado Salad, pink shrimp with diced avocado, red onion and cilantro in a grapefruit-honey vinaigrette with crispy pita chips ($9); French Onion Dip and Chips, creamy onion dip with crispy pancetta and housemade potato chips ($6); Prosciutto Meatballs, fontina-stuffed beef and prosciutto meatballs simmered in a spicy tomato basil sauce over creamy polenta ($8); Potato Croquettes, three crispy parmesan potatoes with spicy Calabrian-Chile aioli and cilantro ($6); and Nduja-Stuffed Dates, over Gorgonzola fondue and topped with Marcona almonds ($7).
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Smoke Daddy smoked wings

Smoke Daddy (1804 W Division St.) in Wicker Park welcomes Super Bowl fans  for the game from 4 to 9pm for an all-you-can-eat pig roast buffet and build-your-own chili bar – all for $20 per person (plus tax and gratuity)! Price also includes one Lagunitas pint. Reservations are strongly recommended; call 773.772.6656. OR pick your favorites from their popular catering menu for any Super Bowl party. Options include their signature wings ($30 feeds 10, $55 feeds 20), BBQ sliders ($40 feeds 10, $75 feeds 20), mac and cheese ($25 feeds 10, $45 feeds 20) and more. A la carte options include pulled pork ($16 per lb.), St. Louis-style ribs ($20 per lb.) and BBQ beans ($14 per lb.). Orders must be made by January 31 via email (catering@4srg.com) or phone (773.772.6656).

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STK Chicago, 9 W. Kinzie St., revs up the winter with fun specials like Game Day at STK. The Bears may be done, but you can still celebrate Super Bowl on Feb. 4 with $3 beers and $5 bites, plus a special half-time performance. Office Hours – Every Sunday thru Thurs 5 to 7pm, STK Chicago’s own take on happy hour gets you specific menu items like $5 cocktails and $7 small plates like Lil’ BRGs, Tuna Tartare, Crispy Rock Shrimp and more. Then consider Wine Down Wednesdays – half off bottles of wine every Wednesday.
ETA Restaurant avocado toast

ETA Restaurant + Bar, located inside Loews Chicago Hotel at 455 N. Park Dr., has lots of winter fun specials. Snow Days – warm up at ETA every time it snows in Chicago. $1 off Local Stops and Exotic Locations cocktails for every inch of snow predicted in the forecast (maximum 10 inches) that day by www.weather.com for zip code 60611. $10 off your cocktail! Chicago Restaurant Week, ETA Restaurant + Bar will be participating for the first time  this year – special prix-fixe menu for lunch ($22++) or dinner ($33++). Game Day Specials, February 4. Sit down in front of the 7’ by 12’ TV screen in the hotel lobby to enjoy the Big Game, and chow down on menu items like ETA Burger (double patty, gouda, crispy onions, and tomato jam, $17), the Brat in a Blanket (with hot pepper jam, $10), and Chicken Wings (choice of bacon-buffalo sauce or garlic-parmesan sauce, $14), plus snacks and beer specials. Pro- or Anti-Valentine’s Day weekend! February 14-17 – enjoy the 4 Cs of Valentine’s Day (hint: Cupid isn’t one of them!): [fried] Chicken, Champagne, Cake, and Comfort. Whether you’re pro- or anti-Valentine’s Day, you can enjoy 3 days of special deals at ETA. From February 14-17, buckets of Hot Sauce Fried Chicken are only $39 each – a whole bird (8 pieces) served with buttermilk biscuits and house-made jam ($39). Champagne – splits of JP Chenet, Rosé Dry are $15. Chocolate Stout Cake – Nutella ganache, chocolate pretzels, and cherries ($9) makes the perfect dessert to enjoy with friends in the Comfort of ETA’s cozy ambiance.

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Cupitol Coffee + Eatery, 455 E. Illinois St. (and 812 Grove St. Evanston) will donate all hot and iced latte proceeds to Open Heart Magic, a Chicago-based, non-profit that uses the therapeutic power of magic and laughter to energize seriously ill children. Additionally, they will also offer Chocolate Dipped Strawberries at each location two for $2. Cupitol lattes feature a specialty espresso blend imported exclusively from Europe that’s based on 100% Arabica beans. Lattes include theChai, Mocha, Nutella, Vanilla, Caramel and Hazelnut Latte. Drink ’em regular or dairy-free with coconut or almond milk. But the menu also features full breakfast, lunch and dinner options plus pastries from the in-house bakery. Both  locations open on Valentine’s Day from 7am to 9pm.
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Coming soon! Sapori Antichi Bar Italiano, 22 W. Ohio, opens its authentic Northern Italian full-service restaurant and bar in March 2018. It’s just down the street from Eataly Chicago, in the former Rev Burger space. With 2,300 square feet to accommodate 50-60 guests, the new 100% Italian – from kitchen equipment to tiles – restaurant will offer breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as a full bar, say founders Michael and Mary Meranda. Look for Italian dishes like Tigelle, an Italian small, round, thickish flat bread and Gnocco Fritto, an Italian bread typically sliced into diamond shapes and then fried. Meet friends and relax at the espresso and breakfast bar and the chef’s table where you might even get tastes not yet on the menu. We can always hope that the prices will be a bit less daunting than some of those at Eataly!
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5 cool December-in-Chicago happenings

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We hate to admit it, but for many of us the holidays are an official excuse to overindulge ourselves – in sweets, in over-the-top decor, in food and wine. And why not? That’s why New Year’s comes right after the holidays, right? So we can make resolutions to lose the weight, get back in shape, forego ice cream or booze or whatever our particular downfalls might be.  So here are a few ideas to get you started overindulging – and one for helping save the farmers while you eat healthy.
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  1. Naha quiche

    Cocoa + Co., 1651 N. Wells St., debuts a new savory café menu in partnership with Michelin-starred Naha’s Pastry Chef Craig Harzewski. The Old Town café just started offering a rotating selection of flavors to reflect the season: Empanadas ($5.50) – Duck, squash and cannelloni bean or Ratatouille; Quiche Tart ($5.75) with bacon and chard or without bacon; Gluten Free Baked Oats ($4.50) – apples, raisins and house-made plum preserves. Also, Chef Harzewski will now be crafting Coca + Co.’s signature items like Apricot Oat Cookies, Salted Big Chip Cookies, Inside-Out German Chocolate Cake, Salted Caramel Brownies and more.

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2. Hilton Chicago, 720 S. Michigan, is sporting a giant gingerbread hotel with city skyline, as well as extravagant décor for the holiday. The gingerbread hotel stands over six feet tall and took three pastry chefs more than 270 hours to create using 380 pounds of flour, 280 pounds of powdered sugar. Celebrating the building’s 90th anniversary, Executive Chef Mario Garcia this year added to the Chicago skyline display that includes gingerbread replicas of famous landmarks like the John Hancock, Willis Tower, The Bean and more. Watch a time-lapse video here. And check out the hotel’s iconic decorations – the 24 ft. Christmas tree with thousands of metallic ornaments, 2000 inches of decorated garland, a 30”-diameter Poinsettia kissing ball, and 60-foot wreaths throughout the hotel. 60 FEET!? Wow.

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3. Maggiano’s, 516 N. Clark St., is now offering its Holiday Lunch Family Style. Enjoy the riches of Maggiano’s menu while you celebrate the holidays together. Check out their lunch menu – warm and comforting food without the hassles of cooking and serving yourself. Family style lunch only available November 27th to December 29th, Monday-Friday 11am – 3pm. $19.95 per person, $12.95 for kids ages 5-12.

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Peninsula chocolate bar

The Peninsula Chicago and Executive Pastry Chef Dimitri Fayard present ‘Chocolate at The Pen,’ Chicago’s premier chocolate bar in The Lobby at The Peninsula Chicago, accompanied by live jazz music by Stephanie Browning. Friday and Saturday evenings from 7 to 10:30pm. Pick from a selection of one- and two-bite elegant chocolate desserts and petite chocolate delicacies or a hot chocolate station. Call for reservations 312.573.6695 or e-mail diningPCH@peninsula.com.

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5, Imperfect. One in five fruits and vegetables grown in the U.S. don’t meet the strict cosmetic standards of grocery stores, usually causing them to go to waste on the farm. The curvy carrot, the miniature cherry and the oddly-shaped orange are all delicious and nutritious, but are often left to rot in fields or sent to the local landfill.

Why? To eliminate food waste, help farmers benefit from a full harvest and make healthy fruits and vegetables more accessible and affordable. Each customized box is filled with a variety of organic or conventional ugly fruits and vegetables priced at 30 to 50 percent below grocery rates, grown regionally and shipped from Imperfect’s Northlake, IL distribution center. Choose boxes for singles or families, and customize the mix of fruits and veggies in your box each week. Chicago residents can sign up for the new delivery service, that launches Monday, December 4.
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Eat out or take Thanksgiving home from 5 Chicagoland restaurants

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312 Chicago sage butternut squash tortelloni

This year spend less time in the kitchen and more time with your loved ones. Whether you want to eat out or enjoy your meal at home, consider partaking in a fully-cooked Thanksgiving Dinner from one of these fine restaurants in the Chicagoland area.

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EAT OUT
Bistronomic, 840 N. Wabash, has a special three-course, prix fixe menu available on Thanksgiving from 11am to 9pm for $65 per person plus tax and gratuity. First courses: Artisanal Smoked Salmon Salad, Hand Cut Yukon Potato Gnocchi, or Belgium Endive Salad. Second course options: Roasted Farm Turkey Breast and Stuffed Leg, Nichols Farm Pumpkin Ravioli, or Fall Vegetable Medley. Dessert: Lemon Tart or Chocolate Hazelnut Bars with orange supreme and Grand Marnier sauce.
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Several Kimpton Hotel operations are welcoming guests for Thanksgiving. Executive Chef Luca Corazzina of 312 Chicago, 136 N. LaSalle St. (next to Hotel Allegro in the Loop Theater District), offers a 4-course traditional Thanksgiving menu on November 23, 2017 from 5-9PM. $55/person or $25/child 12 and under. Reservations online or call 312-696-2420. Antipasti include either Acorn Squash Soup or Warm Beet Salad. Primi options: Pesto 3-cheese Lasagna or Sage  Parmigiano Butternut Squash Tortelloni. For Secondi choose either Italian Style Roasted Turkey, or Roasted Faroe Island Salmon, Mashed Sweet Potatoes, Braised Brussels Sprouts, Lemon-Butter Sauce. Dessert choices are: Pecan Tart: Bourbon Vanilla Gelato with  Espresso Crème Anglaise or Pumpkin Cheesecake with Chantilly Cream, Caramel Sauce, and Caramelized Pecans. Num!
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The shared plates cocktail bar, Sable Kitchen & Bar, next to Hotel Palomar in River North, will be open on Thanksgiving from 4-11PM, drinks until midnight. Newly appointed Executive Chef Amber Lancaster will serve “Thanksgiving on a Plate” ($35):  Herb Butter Roasted Turkey Breast, Sweet Potato, Crispy Maple Brussel Sprouts, Sweet Sausage & Pecan Stuffing, Apple Cider Gravy. Gluten Free variation available. Make reservations online. Sable will also be serving craft cocktails on Thanksgiving Eve from their new cocktail menu launching later this month.

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BRING IT HOME
Pierrot Gourmet, 108 E. Superior, known for its gorgeous pastries, is offering group and individual dinners that feature Amish-raised turkey or pork loin along with chef-inspired seasonal sides. Pre-order by Friday, November 17th by phone (312) 573 6749 or online.
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Whole Turkey Dinner $385 (16-18 lbs. serves 8-10 guests) or Whole Pork Loin, $385 (serves 8-10 guests) or Personal Turkey Dinner $37. All dinners include sides of gravy, country mashed potatoes, stuffing, agave glazed acorn squash with spiced pepitas, braised collard greens, organic green side salad with balsamic dressing, cranberry sauce. And don’t forget dessert! Choose pumpkin, apple crumble or pecan pie: Whole Pie (serves 8-10 guests) $28 or Individual Tarts $7.
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Prairie Grass Cafe, 601 Skokie Blvd., Northbrook, IL, is offering North Shore residents no-cook Thanksgiving-To-Go for home. The complete ala carte feast includes all the dishes served on the restaurant’s Thanksgiving menu plus other mouthwatering options like Apple Sage Stuffing, Homemade Sausage and Giblet Stuffing and Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Chestnuts. Order by phone no later than Thursday November 16. Pick up your dinner on Thursday November 23 from noon to 2 p.m. View the full order form here. For more information, call Prairie Grass Cafe at (847) 205-4433.
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Celebrate The Sandwich – pick from these 14 Chicago restaurants

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August is National Sandwich Month. And who among us doesn’t love the glorious carb-loaded deliciousness of a serious sandwich? Good time to indulge your bread-and-filling  sensors in some new and unique ways at the following new and tried-and-true Chicago restaurants:
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Big Jones5347 N. Clark St. An Andersonville destination, Big Jones’ historically-inspired sandwiches are as delicious as they sound. The Carolina Shrimp Burger features Key West pink shrimp ground and seasoned high, topped with cayenne mayonnaise, chow-chow, butter lettuce and a side of creamy grits. The famous Fat Jones Burger brings together Slagel Farm beef griddled with onions and served on a soft egg bun with oyster remoulade, crisp bacon, lettuce and tomato, with a side of ham fat fries. This southern comfort spot is not to be missed for celebrating sandwiches.
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Bonci applies its pizza expertise to sandwiches

Bonci Pizza161 N. Sangamon St. Beginning mid-August, esteemed Rome-based Chef Gabriele Bonci brings Chicagoans his very first American location of Bonci Pizzeria in the West Loop, offering artisanal, seasonally-inspired pizzas, salads and of course – sandwiches! Guests find mouthwatering selections crafted with house made bread for National Sandwich Month including: Meatball with Mozzarella Cheese, Ricotta and Mortadella, Eggplant or Spinach, Sheep Cheese and Spicy Salami.

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Café Robey2018 W. North Ave. Situated at the high traffic intersection of Milwaukee, North, and Damen in the trendy Wicker Park neighborhood, Café Robey promises one of the most mouthwatering fried chicken sandwiches in the city. Featuring an oh-so-juicy chicken thigh breaded and fried, house made tangy pickles, mayo, and Tabasco, it’s no wonder this sandwich has been Instagrammed regularly since the restaurant opened in December.
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Cupital makes fab subs

Cupitol455 E. Illinois St. Chicago  or 812 Grove St. Evanston. Cupitol has the sandwich game covered. The all-day eatery offers a variety of mouthwatering handhelds on house-made bread at both locations. Try the Roast Beef sandwich, with spiced horseradish and au jus on a French baguette, the Falafel Burger with paprika yogurt and cabbage relish on a sesame brioche bun, or the Shroomed Patty Melt with prime beef, wild mushrooms, Wisconsin sharp cheddar and onion compote on rye.

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The Fifty/502047 W. Division St. The Fifty/50’s all-star sandwich, The Four Courser, piles on slow-smoked, hand-pulled pork shoulder tossed in Gouda Béchamel, fried jalapeños, sweet potato chips, a mac ’n’ cheese waffle and smokey BBQ sauce on a pretzel bun. This sandwich masterpiece can be paired with the diner’s choice of waffle, sweet potato or French fries – the perfect complement sure to satisfy every sandwich quest.
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Filini Bar and Restaurant221 N. Columbus Dr. The Double Griddle Burger is everything you’ll want in a hamburger from the moment you take your first bite. With two smashed beef patties, house made bread and butter pickles, a brioche bun and a secret fancy sauce, Filini’s burger is what summer hamburger dreams are made of. Adding to the summer fun is Filini’s dog-friendly patio for pups wanting some sandwich action too.  There’s a Canine Cuisine menu to investigate as well!
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The Florentine151 W. Adams St. For an Italian twist on National Sandwich Month, guests can head over to The Florentine in The Loop to enjoy a variety of delicious, seasonal sandwiches perfect for lunchtime, whether shopping downtown, sightseeing around the city or grabbing a quick bite with colleagues during the week. Crafted by Executive Chef Zach Walrath, sandwich highlights from the menu include:
  • Soft-shell Crab: fried soft-shell, summer slaw, heirloom tomato, lemon aioli, ciabatta
  • Chicken Panini: smoked mozzarella, peperonata, basil, sourdough
  • Veggie Burger: garbanzo beans, quinoa, kale, avocado, peperonata aioli, whole wheat bun
  • Americano Burger: charred onion, house fry sauce, pickles, American cheese, sesame seed bun
  • BLT Burger: smoked bacon, bibb lettuce, tomato, onion, calabrian chili, havarti cheese, brioche
  • Tomato Brisket: tomato braised beef, red onion, provolone, horseradish, rye
Hewn features serious bread in its sandwiches

Hewn810 Dempster St. Hewn serves up the best thing since sliced bread! Evanston’s premier bakery for fresh, heritage grain bread, offers house-made, grilled to order sandwiches. Using entirely local ingredients, made-daily bread, and seasonal produce, these sandwiches showcase an array of flavors in every bite. Each sandwich is grab-and-go, and can be warmed up by the Hewn bakers for instant enjoyment, or tucked away for a tasty meal later in the day. Menu standouts include Turkey on Country with pickled red onions and turkey from local Amish farmers sandwiched between naturally fermented sourdough bread using all-organic wheat, Reuben with Butcher and Larder’s corned beef with Swiss cheese, house made sauerkraut, and house made thousand island dressing served on whole wheat or caramelized onion bread, and Elementary Grilled Cheesefeaturing white sharp cheddar, Parmigiano Reggiano, pesto, sun-dried tomatoes, and pickled onions served on rotating breads.

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Michael Jordan’s Steak House505 N. Michigan Ave. Steakhouse lunching done right. Michael Jordan’s Steak House features a variety of hefty sandwiches to satiate the hungriest of appetites. Try the classic Italian Beef with hot giardiniera and provolone, or the Chicken Sandwich on flatbread, with cilantro and harissa yogurt. Need steak for every meal? Dive into the Steak Sandwich with provolone, pickled onion and giardiniera aioli atop a pretzel bun. Add hand-cut, beef-fat fries and lunch is complete.
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Pork and Mindy’s stacked

Pork & Mindy’s1623 N. Milwaukee Ave. Pork & Mindy’s is celebrating National Sandwich Month with the launch of new ’sangwiches’, developed by Food Network Star and Executive Chef, Jeff Mauro. Working with the Sandwich King himself, Pork & Mindy’s is redefining the local BBQ scene incorporating exciting tastes into new world-class creations at the flagship Wicker Park eatery. With handcrafted new menu items for carnivores and vegetarians, there is a ‘sangwich’ for everyone at the creative BBQ destination. Menu highlights include:

  • Pastramindy Reuben: This griddled take on a Rueben combines Pork & Mindy’s house-cured, smoked, and hand-cut pastrami with P&M Mustard sauce and spicy pickles on a marble rye roll, hitting all the important points for a crunchy, gooey, smoky and cheesy sandwich.
  • Crunchy Pork ‘Sangwich’: This ‘sangwich’ features brined, all-natural pork lion, lightly pounded and hand breaded with a craggily, crispy crust. When that crispy hot pork hits the fresh lettuce and spicy apricot habanero mayo, magic happens.
  • Buffalo Cauli: A vegetarian’s dream come true, this ‘sangwich’ is filled with crispy smoked cauliflower steak, tossed in house-made buffalo sauce to bring the heat. It’s then topped with Gorgonzola and creamy buttermilk dill ranch. This revolutionary ingredient combo will make carnivores forget they ever liked meat!
Roots does it all

Roots Handmade Pizza1924 W. Chicago Ave. and 200 W. Lawerence Ave. The mouthwatering textures of pizza meet the culinary magic of sandwiches for a delicious combination with the Foldovers at Roots Handmade Pizza. Foldovers feature the restaurant’s signature malt crust pizza dough stuffed with high quality ingredients, baked for a melty and tasty one-of-a-kind sandwich. Folderovers you can’t miss include:

  • The Fat Eddie: salami, Canadian bacon, Quad Cities mozzarella, shaved parmesan cheese, marinara sauce, French dressing, diced red onions and chopped romaine
  • The Rock Island Arsenal: specially-seasoned Italian sausage patty, two award-winning and scratch-made mozzarella sticks and marinara sauce
  • Chicken Caesar: marinated, grilled and sliced chicken breast, Quad Cities mozzarella cheese blend, shaved parmesan cheese, Caesar dressing and chopped romaine
 Seven Lions, 130 S. Michigan Ave. A sandwich that appeals to visitors and locals alike, the Michigan Avenue staple is offering a Crispy Chicken Sandwich to satisfy the highest of cravings! With the option of enjoying the sandwich slathered in spicy buffalo sauce, the crispy chicken is topped with buttermilk dressed greens and sweet pickles before being smashed between a delicious bun. Not as hungry? Share the Crispy Chicken Sliders with other sandwich lovers, available during Happy Hour.
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Steadfast120 W. Monroe St. The culinary art of sandwiches goes elegant at the chic downtown escape, Steadfast. Decadent sandwiches available on its lunch menu include the Lobster Roll with east coast lobster tail, Old Bay aioli and trout roe, the Portobello Panini with tomato preserves, buffalo mozzarella, basil pistou and roasted portobello mushroom and the Grilled Chicken Torta with brined and smoked chicken breast, cranberry goat cheese, frisee and crispy shallots.
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The Terrace401 N. Wabash Ave. Indulge in pure decadence with The Benjamin Burger, a Wagyu beef burger stuffed with foie gras served with tomato compote, onion jam, truffle aioli, frisee, 10-year aged cheddar, on a gold bun with fries. Guests can enjoy the complimentary accompanying Fat Elvis Milkshake to finish-swirled peanut butter and smoked vanilla milk shake, roasted banana compote, gilded peanuts, and candied bacon. For $100, it’s the perfect date-night sandwich coupled with the stunning views of the city, Lake Michigan and Chicago River. Enjoy on a Wednesday or Saturday for a truly perfect evening with the best view in town of the Navy Pier Fireworks.
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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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