Tag Archives: Chicago restaurants

2 more Chicago restaurants with wondrously-warm-winter news

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As the temperatures continue to be chillingly above normal, we can all feel free to keep exploring our restaurant options, sans hoods, gloves and scarves. Check these announcements out:

Seasides carryoutw fried chicken

Seaside’s opens Monday, March 13 for carryout and delivery from the team behind Oyster Bah in Lincoln Park. The menu focuses on fried chicken, slow-cooked BBQ ribs, fresh Maine lobster, and sides, all fit for sharing. Harking back to childhood memories of the Jersey Shore, Oyster Bah and Shaw’s Crab House Partner, Bill “Seaside” Nevruz, brings family-style simple, delicious fare to take-home .

Seaside’s shares kitchen space at Oyster Bah. Order in person or online for pick up Mondays-Thursdays 5 -10 pm, Fridays and Saturdays 4 – 11pm, and Sundays from 4 – 9pm. Or get delivery through the Door Dash app. Right now, diners who place an order through Door Dash can receive $5 off (with a minimum purchase of $15) by using promo code LETTUCEEATS.
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Ella Elli1349 W. Cornelia Ave., the eleventh concept by 4 Star Restaurant Group (Tuco and Blondie, Crosby’s Kitchen, Remington’s), opened in Lakeview just off Southport Avenue last night, Tuesday, March 6. With culinary operations led by 4 Star Executive Chef Matt Eversman and branding and design development by Chicago-based Grip (Girl & The Goat, GT Fish & Oyster), the 75-seat concept is a warm, intimate lounge space to enjoy cuisine created with global influences, a unique wine list and classic cocktails.
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Guests can enjoy dishes by 4 Star Executive Chef Matt Eversman, alongside Executive Chef Nolan Narut that range from charcuterie and toasts, vegetables and salads to pizzas and pastas, meats, fish, and desserts. Cured Meats and Pickles, Artisanal Cheeses and Steak Tartar, with toast options like the Prosciutto Butter Toast with radish and dill.

Vegetables and salads are stand-outs at Ella Elli. Crispy Grain Salad with goat cheese and shaved vegetables, Roasted Carrots with crème fraiche, harissa and pickled celery. From the wood-burning pizza oven comes Roasted Oyster Mushroom with goat cheese. Pastas include Rigatoni with roasted cauliflower, mint and chilies. Seafoods include Hamachi Crudo with persevered lemon relish and Wood-Oven Octopus with crispy potatoes and salsa verde. Meats: Burger Au Poivre with St. André triple cream and watercress, or Lamb Scottadito with spiced yogurt and harissa. Desserts include Profiteroles with mint gelato and espresso dark chocolate sauce, and Spanish Blue Cheese Beignets with cardamom powedered sugar, fresh lemon and fig-balsamic glaze.
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Free kids’ meals at Oyster Bah happy hour!

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Free meals for kids at Oyster Bah happy hour
Free meals for kids at Oyster Bah happy hour

We know that many of us enjoy pre-meal cocktails with the kids around at home, so why not bring them along to a warm, friendly, not-too-much-like-a-bar restaurant for happy hour? Congrats to Oyster Bah, 1962 N. Halsted, for this cool idea.

They’re debuting their brand new Kids’ Happy Hour this fall. During Oyster Happy Hour each day ($1.50 east and west coast oysters from 3-6 Friday thru Sunday and 5-6 pm MondayThursday), the restaurant will offer children, ages 12 and under, a FREE MEAL!

Choices include all items on the regular kids’ menu (served with fries or steamed broccoli) such as:
  • Chicken Mitten
  • Kids’ Cheeseburger
  • Bowtie Pasta with butter or red sauce
  • Fish & Chips
  • Crispy Shrimp

Oyster Bah, a Lincoln Park oyster bar and East Coast-inspired seafood restaurant, offers a dynamic oyster program, a menu highlighting both classic and unique seafood dishes, and an exciting and progressive list of wines by the bottle and glass. The lower level of the restaurant is Low Tide Lounge, a cozy bar serving food and craft cocktails. For more info, call 773.248.3000 or visit www.oysterbah.com. Be sure to also follow Oyster Bah on Facebook,Twitter, and Instagram.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Open the door to Chicago's rich culinary scene
Open the door to Chicago’s rich culinary scene
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Jeff Mauro gives thumbs up to LeadBelly winner of RedEye Burger Battle 2015

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Food Network star Jeff Mauro (The Kitchen, Star Salvation, Sandwich King) took time out from his crazy-busy schedule recently to host the 3rd annual RedEye Battle of the Burger 2015 presented by Amstel Light. More than 500 guests enjoyed the beautiful summer evening on the patio of the Chicago History Museum where they sampled the between-the-bun, mainly-beef specialty offerings from nearly two dozen of the city’s well-known eateries and cast their votes for Chicago’s best burger. Winning burgers are at the end of this article–and man, they taste good with Amstel Light.

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 jeff mauro leadbellycorporation, 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

  1. Leadbelly (Portage Park and Gladstone Park): Old Time Religion Burger – Roasted tomato, goat cheese, arugula and truffle aioli (and I might add, try their fabulous housemade butter cookies).
  2. Beef & Barley, 3001 N. Ashland: The “Smang It” Burger – Chipotle mayo, Spanish chorizo, avocado, jalapeno, lettuce, tomato and pickle.
  3. Whisk, 2018 W. Chicago: House Burger – Chihuahua cheese, chipotle mayo, guacamole and tortilla strips.

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Trattoria 10 hosts Sardinian wine dinner

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Trattoria 10 sets an elegant table
Trattoria 10 sets an elegant table

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.

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12 places to tend your New Year’s Day 2014 needs

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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.).
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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.
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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:

  • The Eggsplosion Burger
    Prime ground beef with an egg cooked in the middle, pan-fried on an iron skillet, topped with American cheese, applewood bacon, grilled onions and jalapeno mayo on a toasted potato bun
  • Three Chili Pepper Burger
    Charred red fresno peppers, shipkas peppers & poblano peppers, topped with Chicago Cut’s famous guacamole and served on a Kings Hawaiian Bun smeared with Chipotle Mayo.
  • Tapenade Stuffed Burger
    Black and green olive tapenade stuffed in prime beef, layered with thinly sliced red onion, thinly sliced sweet gherkin pickles, baby romaine hearts, coarse grained mustard and mayo on a toasted Kaiser bun

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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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:

  • The Eggsplosion Burger
    Prime ground beef with an egg cooked in the middle, pan-fried on an iron skillet, topped with American cheese, applewood bacon, grilled onions and jalapeno mayo on a toasted potato bun
  • Three Chili Pepper Burger
    Charred red fresno peppers, shipkas peppers & poblano peppers, topped with Chicago Cut’s famous guacamole and served on a Kings Hawaiian Bun smeared with Chipotle Mayo.
  • Tapenade Stuffed Burger
    Black and green olive tapenade stuffed in prime beef, layered with thinly sliced red onion, thinly sliced sweet gherkin pickles, baby romaine hearts, coarse grained mustard and mayo on a toasted Kaiser bun

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.
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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.
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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.
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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).
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How to tell a good mussel from a bad one

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Is there a way to tell a good mussel from a bad one without tasting it? I haven’t found a reliable one yet – except the sense of smell.

Mussels at Trouville fish market
Mussels at Trouville fish market (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I once decided to try a restaurant in the just-getting-trendy neighborhood known as Tremont in Cleveland, where I owned a rental property at the time and dreamed I might one day retire. The community charmed me because it was the only place in Cleveland–my home for 33 years – that reminded me of Chicago. A bar or restaurant or pizza/takeout place on virtually every corner of its delightfully walkable streets. I didn’t imagine at the time that I would joyfully end up back in my beloved home town.

Anyway, there was a restaurant a block down from my property that I’d heard good things about. So I went in one night and was thrilled to see they had mussels on the menu. Now I like mine in a simple wine broth with garlic and lots of butter and good bread. I was hungry, so I was eager for them to arrive. When they finally did, an overwhelming smell greeted me before the plate even hit the table – it was awful.

I pointed this out to the waitress and she actually tried to tell me I was mistaken. That’s how mussels are supposed to smell, she insisted. Hey, have you ever smelled a bad mussel? There’s a rotten odor about them. Sometimes the smell isn’t immediately noticeable and if you bite into one like that, you’ll immediately spit it out. It’s unmistakeably not something you want to eat. And they don’t have to look bad at all to have this smell.

If the first time I’d ever eaten mussels they tasted like that, I’d never have ordered them again, no matter how much people assured me. The waitress finally agreed haughtily to take them back. After that appalling customer service, I was seriously disinclined to take her up on her reluctant offer to substitute another dish.

So it’s time for mussels to be in season. And some Chicago restaurants are making special deals on these tasty little seafood treats served in their black shiny shells. Go out and enjoy yourself at one of these – and don’t take any guff if you get a bad one.

And I’d love to hear if you run into one that meets their marketing claim to include “the best mussel dishes in town.”

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