Tag Archives: restaurant

Time Out Chicago’s 2012 Eat Out Awards Winners

18 Apr

Congrats to all the deserving chefs, partners, patrons and supporters of the Time Out Chicago’s 2012 Eat Out Awards. And the winners are…

 2012 Eat Out Award Winners

  • Best new bar: The Aviary
  • Best new restaurant: Next
  • Breakout chef of the year: Dave Beran
  • Best new burger joint: Butcher & the Burger
  • Best new sweet shop: Doughnut Vault
  • Best new breakfast: Waffles
  • Best local chain: Epic Burger
  • Best new restaurant cocktails: Perennial Virant
  • Best fro-yo chain: Forever Yogurt
  • Best new BYOB: Goosefoot
  • Best new food truck: The Southern Mac and Cheese
  • Cheap eatery of the year: Pleasant House Bakery
  • Best new pizzeria: Roots Handmade Pizza
  • Best comeback: The Pump Room
  • Best new sports bar: Public House


  • The fresh air award for restaurant design: Yusho
  • Most legitimately farm-to-table restaurant: Pleasant House Bakery
  • Best one-man show: Bill Talbott at EL Ideas
  • Strongest dessert program: Spiked milkshakes at 25 Degrees
  • Coziest place to hibernate: Miko’s Flipside Café
  • Best old-country buffet: Julbord at Tre Kronor
  • Best use of egg yolks: Egg-yolk buns at Cai
  • Best route to the suburbs: Wisma
  • Boys to men award for grown-up drinking: Elixir
  • Best firestarter: Tozi Korean BBQ
  • Best creative loafing: Publican Quality Meats
  • Best new biker bar: Heritage Bicycles General Store
  • Most palatable evangelism: Martha Bayne
  • Easiest history lesson: Big Jones
  • Lifetime achievement award: Tony Hu
  • Inspired performance award presented by Infiniti: Jeremy Quinn at Telegraph

Vote For Your Favorite Chicago Neighborhood Restaurants

18 Apr

Before there was Yelp, before MenuPages, before Twitter, there was Zagat as the trusted foodie resource when deciding where to eat. I still love my hard copy Zagat guides and collect them on the bookshelf.

Now you can be part of the ranking system for Zagat by voting on and reviewing your favorite neighborhood food spots. I had fun voting and filling out the reviews, secretly hoping one of my quips will be included in their final restaurant write-up. We shall see!

Today is the last day to vote, so get cracking!

Due Lire Serves up a Delicious Wine Dinner

1 Oct
Massimo Di Vuolo behind the bar at Due Lire

Massimo Di Vuolo behind the bar at Due Lire

Since I had my son, getting out to restaurants has become harder and harder. Don’t get me wrong, my husband and I still make a great effort to eat out three or four times a month, but when we do go out to a restaurant, we’ve started staying closer to the neighborhood. One of our absolute favorite staples is Due Lire. The genius behind owner, Massimo Di Vuolo and chef, Kevin Abshire, is one of those rare dynamics that is few and far between. Massimo brings forth his hospitality experience and expertise and Chef Kevin has developed a reintroduction to fine Italian dining. My husband and I may have become creatures of habit, but dear lord do Massimo and Chef Kevin make it easy to come to Due Lire time and time again.

This past Thursday, Due Lire hosted their first (of many, rumor has it!) wine dinners. I will save the suspense. It was amazing. Each course was thoughtfully created and expertly executed and the wine pairings were perfection. Oh, and it was only $65 a person, including tax and gratuity. It was also one of those great neighborhood experiences where people shared tables and got to mix and mingle with each other.

The menu started out with the antipasto, of fresh figs, citrus whipped mascarpone, honeycomb and brioche toast. This was all paired with a cataratto bianco blend from Tasca D’Almerita Leone Igt, 2009. The unoaked and vibrant flavors picked up on the citrus in the mascarpone. A sweep and delightfully light first course.

The primo course was straccetti al ragu’ di faraona, which was homemade rag-shaped pasta, guinea hen ragu’, porcini and fresh pomegranate. This was paired with Tenuta di Fessina Erse Etna Rossa, a level red that picked up the rich guinea hen and porcini. The homemade pasta was divine and held court among the other savory flavors.

Next up was tonno alla scapece, seared ahi tuna loin, scapece style zucchini, and a petite fennel salad. This was paired with a crisp Tasca d’Almerita le Rose di Regaleali. The crisp rose paired with the superbly prepared tuna was an amazing combination. The only thing that didn’t coordinate with this course was the crisp fall weather, but when planning for an event in September, you never know what it’ll be like outside!

The dessert course was poached pear, fried dunbarton blue pastry cream with a pistachio brittle. This was accompanied with a glass of Tasca d’Almerita Lamuri Nero d’Avola, a robust and juicy Italian red. The blue cheese pastry with the pears (poached in simple syrup) was perfect. I love sweet and savory together and the blue pastry was a well matched blend of those flavors.

Congratulations to the entire team at Due Lire (Massimo, Kevin, Kelly, Cyndi, and everyone else)- I know that it was a lot of work to put this first event together, but they really nailed it and everyone (literately, EVERYONE) was buzzing about when the next dinner would be. Whenever it is, I’ll be there. But I’m pretty sure I’ll be there in a week or two regardless. And so should you.



Big Star Food Truck on the Loose

28 Sep
Chef Paul Kahan

Chef Paul Kahan (photo courtesy of Blackbird, by Michael Stryder)

Last night, at a Foodie Feed-Up sponsored by NesCafe’s Dolce Gusto, Chef Paul Kahan spoke to the attendees and shared plans for the Big Star food truck to go rogue.

As we all know, food trucks in Chicago aren’t allowed to actually prepare food on the truck, but Kahan and his team of foodie bandits and working to change that.

“We’ll probably have to pay some fines and get some tickets, but we’re going rogue,” said Kahan.

I, for one, couldn’t be happier. I think Kahan is the man to help push change through the legislation and erase this ridiculous rule.

So we shall see how it goes, but go it will. Damn the man.


Bad Apple is no Kuma’s Corner

18 Sep

Photo from The Bad Apple

I had high hopes for Bad Apple. Despite their terrible logo (what can I say? I’m married to a former designer, I take these things into account), a co-worker told me about their Wednesday Kobe burgers and said their other burgers were on par with Kuma’s Corner. In my recent dining experience it was all fine, but it was no Kuma’s Corner.

I went with some girl friends for one of those semi-spontaneous week-night gatherings and this was a good spot in the middle for everyone.

I was coming from a stressful day at work, so I immediately reached for the drink and beer list, and I was impressed. They have a lot, like a lot, of beers on draft, bottles, etc… I got an Alagash White on draft. It was delicious.

As a table, we ordered the goat cheese fondue to share. It was…fine. Not bad, I mean, with goat cheese it’s hard to royally screw it up, but it wasn’t memorable.

For my entrée, I got the veggie burger served as their El Dorado (chili cumin burger, spicy corn & black bean salsa, avocado, shredded lettuce). It came with fries which I upgraded to Truffle status.

The burger was made in-house and it was good. Sometimes when restaurants venture to make their own veggie burgers it can go very wrong. That wasn’t the case here. It was filling, robust and had good flavor, if a bit messy. The fries were good, but that’s because they had truffle oil on top. My friends’ got plain fries and there weren’t great. Also, I’m pretty sure they make their own ketchup, which kudos for trying, but it was gritty, acidic and not good.

All in all, this wasn’t a bad meal, after all I was with wonderful company, but I wasn’t going to write home about it.  I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it: Chicago’s Lincoln Square and North Center are over saturated with gastro-bars and too often they all fall short. If someone opens up another cookie-cutter bar joint, let’s try to make it spectacular.

The Bad Apple

The Bad Apple

Gourmet lunch in the Loop? Pastoral it is

11 Sep

Photo credit: In Good Taste Blog

I work downtown and while in theory there are a lot of lunch places to grab a good bite, in actuality, it’s mostly made up of Au Bon Pains, Jimmy Johns, Panda Expresses and the likes. Which is good for me because it encourages me to bring lunch to work (my insanely busy days and constant lunches at my desk also help with this!). However, once in a while I’m reminded that among the soup-in-a-bread-bowl chains, Chicago has delicious gems sprinkled throughout the mundane Loop.

Yesterday my friend Carrie Becker and I decided to grab a quick bit. Carrie works for another company in my same building and it’s always fun catching up with her over lunch. She suggested we go to Pastoral Artisan Cheese, Bread and Wine after my initial recommendation fell flat (they didn’t serve sandwiches, oops). I had never been to Pastoral despite hearing about it forever, so I was game. I also didn’t realize just *how* close it is to my office. This could get dangerous.

When we arrived, the line was decent but not outrageous. We each took a look at the menu and shortly thereafter someone came to us in line to take down our order. Right off the bat I was impressed with how friendly everyone was especially considering at most high-brow wine and cheese shops, they usually aren’t. I also appreciated the fact that the guy taking our order had a Vermont hat. What can I say, I married good stock.

I ordered the Sinfully Healthy (roasted turkey on cracked wheat spread with tangy mango chutney, dijon mustard, field greens and fromage d’affinois) and a side order of the fromager’s salad (field greens, tomatoes, goat cheese, spiced almonds and balsamic vinaigrette). It was also very reasonable; only $11 even for both.

The sandwich was amazing. The mustard with the mango chutney paired amazingly with the fromage d’affinois (heaven) and the turkey was well flavored and light. The salad was a little over-done with the goat’s cheese, but better more than too little. I did have to restrain myself from browsing the cheese selection, though I will be back (soon!) and will give it a whirl then.

It’s exciting to find a really good spot that I can go to now when I want to take a little walk and break from the office. For the same price I’d spend on some mediocre sub and chips, I can get a delicious artisan sandwich and pairing.

Thanks, Carrie, for this great suggestion. What about lunch on Monday?

Review: Chelsea Grill in Lincoln Square

29 Jun

I know I’ve said that Lincoln Square needs another pub-grub restaurant like I need a hole in the head, but I think Chelsea Grill has finally figured out how to make it work. The former Erba (which I confess I never ate at) recently re-configured to a lower price p8546_lincolnsquare_print_1oint with basic comfort food offerings and they’re doing it right. And here’s where I think they’ve managed to succeed- they ambiance is great- not too dark lighting (like the Grafton), no bad 90’s pop music playing (like the Daily), no bombardment of flat screen TVs (like the Bad Dog Tavern) and comfortable seating (unlike Latitude). The food was good- I had a grilled chicken sandwich and it was like $8! For all four of us, with appetizers, salads, entrees, a bottle of wine and a shared dessert, it was a few dollars over $100. Not bad! And the service was very friendly and not trying to rush us out.

4520 N Lincoln Ave
Chicago, IL 60625
(773) 989-4200