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rebecca_1Rebecca Taras, NBC Chicago Street Team

 

If you’ve always wanted to be a member of the Mile High Club then you’ll have your chance this Thursday – and you won’t even need a partner in crime. Get your mind out of the gutter and head on over to the rooftop lounge at C-View (166 East Superior in the Chicago Affinia Hotel)  for the launch of the SVEDKA Vodka “Mile High” Cocktail Club. Flirty_A_WHT_v4.psd

The party kicks off at 6:00 pm where guests will have the opportunity to sip C-View’s SVEDKA cocktails served by sexy flight attendants, including the Future Ex- SVEDKA Vodka, fresh raspberries and lemons and the Fembot Fatale - a summery libation of SVEDKA Vodka, cranberry juice, fresh strawberries and basil leaves (all $10.) The C-View “cabin crew” will also serve complimentary hors d’oeuvres from C-House, such as mini yellowtail fish tacos and grilled oysters. And because every Mile High experience should be captured, guests can pop into the SVEDKA Vodka photo booth to snap a few memories – PG rated, of course.

The SVEDKA “Mile High” party is open to the public, however RSVPs are recommended by emailing flight attendant Chris at Chris@expagency.com, so patrons will not have to fly “stand-by” as capacity may fill up quickly. The flight lands at 9 pm, so be sure to arrive on time to make the most of your flying experience. All guests must be 21+ with valid  proof of ID to enter.

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The Roof at The Wit Hotel has been dubbed THE bar to see and be seen at before the summer’s up, and judging by the hour-long lines, everyone’s trying to sneak a peak before the cold front rolls in. Spanning the 27th floor of the new hotel, the Roof boasts beautiful views of downtown Chicago, a sophisticated small plates menu, and a sleek, open-air bar space.

Two square bars with fire pits in their centers divide the main outdoor space in half, which is then bordered by white cushy

View at the Roof

View at the Roof

booths and lounges. There’s not much space to stand around the bar and many tables are reserved, so your best bet is to hover around a group who you think might be leaving and pounce when the time is right.

If you plan on heading over for happy hour, don’t be surprised if you find yourself at the end of a line that doesn’t seem to be moving. To keep up with its “rep”, the Roof bouncers made sure a line lingered at all times, and in typical club fashion, let the “special” people in over the general crowd.

Salmon Crudo

Salmon Crudo

Small plates like the Salmon Crudo and Roasted Artichokes made for a light and delicious after-work snack, but don’t plan on getting filled up at the Roof unless you’re planning on dishing out the cash…those small plates add up to one BIG bill. While the wine and beer menu was extensive, the specialty cocktail menu was disappointingly small with only six cocktails to choose from. The highlight was the Blueberry Caipiroska made with Stoli blueberry, fresh lime, blueberries, and sugar.

The Roof is definitely worth checking out, but if you haven’t played hooky yet this summer, try and get there at 3:00 PM when it opens (1pm Friday and the weekends) to avoid the line.

The Roof at The Wit Hotel
201 N. State Street
Chicago, IL 60601
312-239-9501
Website

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D.C. “Fete Select TV” Crenshaw, NBC Chicago Street Team

 Finding the time to play golf is a challenge on many different levels, especially while living in the city.  The first challenge is making the tee time early enough to avoid being on the course the entire day.  Secondly, the location must not be too far from the city and should have easy access away from major traffic.  Thirdly, the golf course itself must be void of a lot of water, trees and brush that will limit the number of balls that I lose.  Lastly, but most importantly is the club house food, which should be good enough to make up for bad shots and a high score.  The Glencoe Golf Club seems to have at least the latter locked down with their newly renovated restaurant Max’s on the Green.

Glencoe Golf Club

Glencoe Golf Club

Larry Estes, President and founder of Catering by Max’s, opened Max’s on the Green with the intentions of making it more than a food venue for golfers.  His hopes are to attract locals to dine at Max’s on the Green throughout the week, regardless of golfing.  The menu consists of breakfast and lunch, but the dinner menu deserves the most attention.  Atypical of most club house options dinner entrees include dishes such as the Salmon Filet, Lobster Ravioli, Pork Chop and Skirt Steak.  The Greg Norman Kobe Burger was delicious and consists of an 8 oz beef burger grilled to your liking and served on a pretzel bun.  Be sure to complement the burger with cheese fries or onion strings.  Although Max’s is known for their Italian Beef the Grilled Chicken sandwich topped with your choice of BBQ sauce or honey mustard is the way to go.   They still have the traditional golf course grub, including sandwiches, salads and wraps and a few dessert menu items.  All meals can be enjoyed inside the restaurant or on the outside deck overlooking the ninth hole.  Max’s transforms into a traditional restaurant setting with waiters and servers only during dinner hours.

The Glencoe Golf Club is located on the North Shore at 621 Westly Rd and is not too far from the city.  The public golf course is gorgeous and scenic.  For more information about Max’s on the Green and the Glencoe Golf Club log onto www.cateringbymaxs.com or www.glencoegolfclub.com.  Check out www.efete.net or Fete Select TV for a review of the newest and best restaurants in Chicago.

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D.C. “Fete Select TV” Crenshaw, NBC Chhicago Street Team

Most great ideas are inspired by personal experiences or passions.  In the restaurant/food  industry,  many concepts emerge from the love of a particular ethnic food, a visit to another part of the world,  or a need that has yet to be addressed.  Bottom line is that we create based on our own motivations, successes or challenges.  Being known as the “fat kid” growing up was challenge for Matt Matros, but helped to motivate him to shed 60 pounds eight years ago.  His vision after dropping the poundage was to help people everywhere live the healthy lifestyle that they want to live.  His brainchild?  “Protein Bar”, a new food venue downtown Chicago where folks can quickly get a meal with essential proteins needed to live a healthy active lifestyle.

Protein Bar provides quick and healthy items high in protein and fiber, but low in sugar.

Protein Bar provides quick and healthy items high in protein and fiber, but low in sugar.

“Protein Bar” has signature protein drinks, signature whole grain bowls and a plethora of boosts too choose from along with fresh made wraps, soups and salads.  There is also an option to build your own drink or bowl if you’re not feeling any of the signature options, but a must try signature protein drink is the “Wrigley Peeled”, consisting of chocolate protein, a choice of milk, all natural peanut butter and banana.  “Protein Bar” uses either whey, soy, or egg as a protein and has four different types of milk.  Some of their boosts include an “Anti-Oxidant Blend”, “Fat Burner Blend”, “Hangover Blend”, and “Libido Blend”.  Gotta try the “Libido Blend”!  Their whole grain bowl options are steel-cut oatmeal, quinoa, power granola, or Kashi Go-Lean Crunch.  Try the “Crackberry” bowl if you like Acai berries mixed with vanilla protein, yogurt, power granola and a fresh banana.  All items are high in protein and fiber and low in sugar.  The “Chipotle Roast Beef with Guacamole” highlights their wrap selections.

“Protein Bar” provides nutritional facts about all of their menu items, which is very helpful for the health conscious individual.  The menu explains the differences between proteins and compares the nutritional differences between their signature items and similar selections found at Jamba Juice, Starbucks, Duncan Donuts and Chipotle.  Overall, “Protein Bar” is a new favorite of yours truly, another former “fat kid”, and will be a frequent stop on my protein tour.

“Protein Bar” is located at 235 South Franklin Street.  For more information log onto www.proteinbarchicago.com.  Check out www.efete.net for more restaurant reviews and an inside look at Chicago’s newest restaurants via Fete Select TV.

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Hungry Z, NBCChicago Street Team

In 1885 at the Buffalo Fair in Hamburg, New York, brothers Frank and Charles Menches ran out of sausage for their regular sandwich. When a local butcher couldn’t serve up replacement sausage, the brothers instead accepted ground beef and thus the hamburger was born. Today the hamburger is the most popular sandwich in America.

Led by executive chef Sean O’Brien, the folks at Timothy O’Tooles have come up with seven specialty burgers for their upcoming Burger Fest. While most folks will sample one at a time, teenagers and those who still have teenage appetites can attempt to try them all! From traditional to slightly exotic, there is a burger for everyone at Burger Fest.

Photo by Nicole V.

Photo by Nicole V.

So let’s break down each one of these ½ lb beauties and their unique characteristics. Leading off is the Buffalo Burger, topped with traditional mild buffalo sauce and creamy melted bleu cheese. Chef O’Brien is from Kansas City, so it’s only fitting that he created the Kansas City BBQ Burger. Similar to pulled pork, this burger is topped with sweet barbeque sauce, sweet coleslaw, and some cheddar cheese for good measure. Mouth watering yet?

Feeling a little fancy? The Bistro Burger features sweet caramelized onions, creamy brie cheese, and smoky bacon. Surfer dude’s will enjoy the Big Kahuna Burgers slice of pineapple and sweet teriyaki glaze, it’s like a splash of sunshine in you mouth. Traditionalists will find comfort in the All American Burger, with American cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, and special sauce (sound familiar?).

Photo by Nicole V.

Photo by Nicole V.

Better loosen your belt because there’s more! The Gourmet Burger is the perfect burger for those wanting to end a bad date early. Creamy Boursin cheese, roasted red peppers, Dijon aioli, and enough roasted garlic to send your date packing! How about something a bit exotic? The Bahn-Mi Burger is topped with a Korean/Vietnamese slaw that includes cucumbers and red onions and then topped with wasabi aioli for a little kick!

Photo by Nicole V.

Photo by Nicole V.

Burger Fest is running from August 1st – 8th, and is available at the Gurnee location only. Burgers run about $9-10 for each of these special editions. So grab your loose sweat pants, your old teenage appetite, and check out Burger Fest fore some truly memorable burgers. Fore more info check out www.timothyotooles.com.

* Wanna see more burger pics? Check out http://www.hungryz.com/timothyotooles.html

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Lindsay_small_2Lindsay Saewitz, NBC Chicago Street Team

Five Guys at Clark and Fullerton opened to the public this past Monday, July 27th and it wasn’t long before the crowds were wrapped around stacks of peanut bags waiting to get their first taste of this East Coast classic.

Don't be fooled by two patties - this is just The Hamburger

Don't be fooled by two patties - this is just The Hamburger

The first thing that Five Guys newcomers should know is that the “Hamburger” is actually a double burger and the “Little Hamburger” is actually a regular-sized hamburger, not a slider. Also, you can add toppings at no additional cost, so you might as well go all out! The order process is a little frantic so it’s best to know what you want before you get up to the cash register.

While you wait for your food, you can sit back and relax with a basket of free peanuts and watch the cooks grilling your food fresh or the Lincoln Park Scene- your choice. The burgers come wrapped in foil and the fresh-cut fries- choose regular or Cajun- come stuffed in a Styrofoam cup overflowing into a paper bag. It’s glorious. The fries were pretty great

Fresh-cut Fries

Fresh-cut Fries

although some thought they were way too salty. The burgers were greasy and delicious, as expected.

The best part about Five Guys is that it’s open ’til 2am on the weekends, and it’s one large space ready and waiting for a party. No other late night restaurant comes to mind where you can get a giant burger and are free to frolic instead of being confined to a particular table or stuffed into a closet-sized space. Five Guys just might be the after-party that Lincoln Park’s been waiting for.

Still hungry after 2? Cross the street to Sarks and get your Loretta nightcap.

IMG_0083

Crowd at Five Guys

Five Guys
2368 N. Clark Street
Chicago, IL 60614
773-883-8930

http://www.fiveguys.com/home.aspx

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Lindsay_small_2Lindsay Saewitz, NBC Chicago Street Team

The long-awaited opening of Sarks in the Park finally came this past Friday, but the late night hours came sooner than expected. Sarks, now open ’til 3am on Friday and 4am on Saturday, was the destination of choice for nostalgic North Shorers and excited Lincoln Parkers all weekend long.

Sarks is famous for the Loretta, a sandwich consisting of grilled French bread, white brick cheese, diced

Disaster Before & After

Disaster Before & After

tomatos, onions, and green peppers, and your choice of bacon, ham, or homeade spicy sausage called “The Disaster”. If you’re extra-hungry,  try “The Animal” (or as a waiter referred to it, Pig on a Bun) which combines all three meats together. Although the Loretta didn’t sound particularly appetizing at first, the sandwich proved to be a deliciously satisfying late night snack (two nights in a row, actually….. ). Try your Loretta with a side of cheesy hash browns, but if you like your spuds well done make sure you specify extra-crispy, otherwise they may be a little under cooked for you.

As many didn’t know about the new late night hours, Sarks was slightly desolate at midnight, but when the sun came up the 40-seat patio at Sarks was hopping. Sarks controls the entire patio with exception of one table left for House of Hunan and is the perfect spot for catching some rays and people watching (warning: you may run into your highschool classmates).

The servers and staff at Sarks were friendly and laid-back, and the owners are truly passionate about making sure this Evanston-favorite succeeds in Lincoln Park. Although Sarks lacks some restaurant essentials that you may expect from a restaurant in Lincoln Park (like lemons for water and straws), it makes up for it with character, scene, and a sandwich you’ll be daydreaming about for weeks.

Patio at Sarks in the Park

Patio at Sarks in the Park

Sarks in the Park
444 W. Fullerton Pkwy
Chicago, IL 60614
(773) 404-9000
httl://www.sarksinthepark.com
info@sarksinthepark.com

Mon-Thu. 6:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Fri. 6:00 a.m. – 3:00 a.m.
Sat. 6:00 a.m. – 4:00 a.m.
Sun. 6:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

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Lindsay_small_2Lindsay Saewitz, NBC Chicago Street Team

There’s a food revival on Clark and Fullerton, and next to the scene is burger joint Five Guys, which has moved in to the former Ritz Camera spot. What started as a family owned restaurant in Arlington, VA is now a cult-followed national chain with over 300 locations in 25 states. Currently there are four Five Guys locations in Illinois with locations also opening soon in Orland Park and Bloomingdale.

Five Guys is known for its fresh, made-to-order burgers, unlimited toppings such as grilled mushrooms and jalapeno peppers, and overflowing bags of fresh-cut french fries. As if that wasn’t enough, you can also snack on peanuts while you wait for your burger which is being made right in front of you.

Fun Facts about Five Guys:

  • There are no freezers in Five Guys restaurants – they only use fresh beef!

    Five Guys Clark and Fullerton

    Five Guys Clark and Fullerton

  • They only use peanut oil
  • According to a recent Wall Street Journal report, President Obama enjoys his Five Guys cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato, jalapeno peppers and mustard

Five Guys in Lincoln Park is scheduled to open on Monday, July 27th.

Five Guys
2368 N. Clark Street
Chicago, IL 60614
773-883-8930
http://www.fiveguys.com

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Hungry Z, NBCChicago Street Team

The Italian language, it’s beautiful, sexy, some even call it the language of love. Even the simplest word or phrase sounds better in Italian. Translate “The Balcony” to “Il Poggiolo” and you have instant allure. Located in a former silent movie theater, the interior is the work of Chicago restaurant veteran Jerry Kleiner. Similar to the beauty of Opera and Marche, the bold décor features an overhanging balcony, rich woods, amber hued resins, oversized chandeliers, and vibrant red upholstery.IMG_2173

We all know not to judge a book by it’s cover, and Il Poggiolo proves to be more than just a pretty face. The restaurant showcases Italian fare by Executive Chef Jim Kilberg, and the focus here is simple and fresh. In fact most dishes feature only a handful of ingredients.

Two wonderful examples of this simple freshness are the Tagliata con Funghi Misti e Spinaci (wood fired New York strip with mushrooms and spinach), and the Branzino con rapini (pan roasted sea bass with rapini and anchovy sauce). Sliced on the bias and resting on top of a heavenly mushroom sauce, the steak satisfies even the most carnivorous among us. Roasted “skin on”, the sea bass’s crisp outside and flaky inside is sure to please those looking for more surf than turf.IMG_2181

Yes, everything sounds better in Italian. But when you add some substance to those words is when you find something truly special. Classy, stylish, and comfortable looks combined with fresh and distinct flavors equal a memorable dining experience. While “Il Poggiolo” is located in Hinsdale, one bite will make you feel as if you’re standing on a balcony in Florence.

Location

8 East First Street

Hinsdale IL 60521

630.734.9400

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Lindsay_small_2Lindsay Saewitz, NBC Chicago Street Team

Hey everyone! I’m SO excited to be part of the NBC Chicago Street Team! I’ll be writing about a few of my favorite things — bars, food, and maybe a snippet of reality TV. Today let’s get started with some food!

Since the 1950s, North Shore high schoolers have flocked to this Evanston hot spot, half for the Lorettas and half for the scene. With this winning combination, it makes perfect sense that the new Sarkis location, named Sarks in the Park, is located in the heart of Lincoln Park at the corner of Clark and Fullerton (in the former Sinbad’s spot).

Owners Josh Alomia and Danny Gallagher open Sarkis in Lincoln Park

Owners Josh Alomia and Danny Gallagher open Sarkis in Lincoln Park

The new Sarks, franchised by GBS and New Trier graduates Danny Gallagher and Josh Alomia, was scheduled to open yesterday but had to push back the opening until Saturday, July 18th. If you were one of the loyal Sarks followers who awaited the opening for weeks, you probably snagged a few free sandwich cards. If you happen to be walking by this week you might snag some as well!

This breakfast-all-day spot is best known for the “Loretta” sandwich, made of grilled french bread, white brick cheese, your choice of bacon, ham, turkey, or the spiced sausage coined the “Disaster”, plus all the fixins- mayo, green pepper, onion, tomato, and maybe some hot sauce if you’re in the mood for something spicy.

If you’re worried about your calorie count, this Sarks location will be offering a lower-fat Loretta made with wheat bread, low-fat cheese, and turkey. Still probably not the healthiest choice, but might save you an extra few minutes of cardio. Sarks also offers more traditional breakfast items like omelets, french toast, and pancakes.

With a hot location, large patio, outdoor speakers bumping, and late night hours (open ’til midnight on the weekends and possibly 4 am in the future), this new addition to the neighborhood is sure to satisfy both your party scene and food cravings. Prepare for a wait, but according to Alomia it will be well worth it after you try the “best breakfast in the world.”

Sarks in the Park
444 W. Fullerton Parkway at Clark Street
Chicago, IL 60614
Opening Satur
day, July 18th

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D.C. “Fete Select TV” Crenshaw, NBC5 Street Team

Many city dwellers perceive Chicago’s suburbs as being foreign, out of touch and not very cosmopolitan. The thought of driving 20 to 30 minutes to enjoy an evening out with friends or just a fabulous dinner is not the norm, since the city has so much of that kind of stuff to offer. Of course suburbanites beg the differ and their dining options continue to increase to include fabulous local restaurants with big city appeal. Glen Ellyn’s Glen Prairie restaurant is one of those new upscale places that has both city folks and suburbanites raving.

Glen Prairie Interior

Glen Prairie Interior

Glen Prairie offers casual sophistication in a warm and comfortable atmosphere. The menu is contemporary American cuisine and their ingredients come from local contemporary American farmers. Starter dishes like “Grilled Sweet Corn and Tomato Bruschetta” and “Buttermilk Fried, Herb Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms” are straightforward and very tasty. The “Wisconsin Pike” and “Bison Ribeye” are entrees that were well prepared and very memorable. Other signature must haves are the “Miller Farms Seared Chicken” and the “Parpadelle Carbonara” served with “Caw Caw Creek proscuitto, slow roasted tomatoes and fresh herbs. Their side dishes are the perfect complement to any meal, but the “Mac N Local Farmed Cheese” is what foodies dream about. A variety of desserts plaster the menu, but their “mini” order option satisfies the sweet tooth with smaller tastings of at least six of their offerings, including the “Bing Cherry, Brioche Bread Pudding”, “Strawberry, Peaches & Cream Trifle”, and “Heavenly Brownie Sundae”. The cocktail menu boasts a plethora of signature martinis and their wine list is solid and affordable. In-fact, expect to enjoy a very pleasant dinner in an upscale environment without breaking the bank.

Glen Prairie is connected to the Crowne Plaza Hotel at 1250 Roosevelt Rd, but this restaurant could just as well be connected to a Four Seasons. The service was great and the surroundings were elegant. It’s about a 30-40 minute drive from the city, but the trip was well worth the trip. Glen Prairie serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and offers a gluten free menu. Click here for more information www.cpglenellyn.com  Also check out www.efete.net and Fete Select TV to get an inside look at the newest and best restaurants in Chicago.

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rebecca_1Rebecca Taras, NBC Chicago Street Team

 

According to the American Greeting Card Association, June is the most popular month to get married. Even though it has passed and the fourth of July is a sign that summer is about half over, it is still hard not to pass a church without a wedding party spilling out of it. It’s the height of vacation season, yet the bean at Millennium Park isn’t just a hot spot for tourists to snap a cheeky pic or two. Author Leah Ingrim of Plan Your Wedding…..In No Time, says a bride spends an average of 250 hours planning her big day – practically a second job! While you’re on your own for finding the perfect cake topper and Vera Wang imposter gown, The James Hotel provides the bride with stress free solutions to help you look and feel your best. And just in case you want to put a little birdie on the shoulder of the person responsible for planning your shower, David Burke’s Primehouse has a fun option that is sure to beat a rousing game of pin the veil on the bride at the suburban banquet hall.

Buffed, Brushed and Beautiful

There are still a lot of people that don’t know The James has a spa by Asha…why is this? After all, its cozy, friendly and the services offered rival any high-end hotel, sans the occasional exclusivity that keeps a local from enjoying their own city.  Of course, the convenience of having  J-bar and David Burke’s Primehouse downstairs provides an opportunity to extend that day with the girls. 

But if you’ve got family coming into town for the big day or need a place to call base-camp, The James Spa by Asha can help de-stress any pre-wedding jitters with a soothing massage, erase the signs of sleep deprivation with a Tourmalinene Charged Radiance Facial, or get that body ready for the honeymoon with the Asha Body Scrub (you know you’re thinking about that bikini.) The Spa can also take care of hair and makeup for the bride and her bridal party, which takes place within a guest room for lighting purposes. The entire list of services is available here: http://jameshotels.com/downloads/gym-spa/thejames-thespa-menu.pdf , so the bride can begin to customize her own experience.

Gather the Troops

Similar to the phrase “if mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy,” a body bashing bride is liable to bring down the rest of the group. The James offers a Bridal Bootcamp which is specifically designed to target all those spots that the bride would think of when floating down the aisle at the ceremony, or the beach on her honeymoon.  Enter Jim Karas Personal Training to the rescue. Here’s the skinny: NBC-bridal bootcamp

Bridal Package 1: Includes 1 consultation and 24 personal training sessions with a Jim Karas Fitness Professional. On this program, you will train 3 times a week for 8 weeks. This package is $1,999 when training at their Lincoln Park Studio, $2,239 when training in-home, and $2,239 when training at The James.

Bridal Package 2: Includes 1 consultation and 16 personal training sessions with a Jim Karas Fitness Professional. On this program, you will train 2 times a week for 8 weeks. This package is $1,499 when training at our Lincoln Park Studio, $1,659 when training in-home, and $1,659 when training at The James.

And because safety comes in numbers, the bride can also book individual sessions for $90 plus $30 for each additional person, so start rounding up mama and the rest of the girls. Brides that are having their wedding at The James receive the Bridal Boot Camp session half off the weekend of their wedding!

The Urban Shower

If you can’t stomach the thought of  balloons, Jordan almond party favors and twenty sets of eyes staring at you in silence while you open your gifts, then this one is for you. Having  David Burke’s American Dim Sum Brunch for your bridal shower promises that there will be something for everyone (even your picky friend from Cali), not to mention entertainment as the carts roll by serving up dishes that provide whimsy in presentation and wicked delight as far as taste is concerned. Copious small bites will come your way (think baby pancakes with citrus butter and mini Prime burgers) and what group of women wouldn’t appreciate a sundae/dessert cart?  Of course,  the opportunity to inject mini “fortune” donuts with gooey caramel sauce provides far more entertainment than any shower game every could. NBC-James-DessertCart[1]

While the shower can take place in David Burke’s Prime House, The James Club or the library/den (two smaller event spaces) offer more privacy.  The entire list of private event spaces can be viewed here: http://www.jameshotels.com/Chicago-Hotel.aspx?name=The-James-Chicago&page=Modern-Event-Space. Director of Special Events extraordinaire, Sinisa Srdic, can help to customize and coordinate all party needs. Pricing structure ranges, but is approximately $44 per person. While almost everyone loves a bottomless Bloody Mary, Mimosa, or just plain ol’ bubbly,  the sommelier can prepare wine tastings as opposed to traditional beverage service.

While flipping through piles of bridal magazines may seem fun at first, consider The James a place where you can mark off multiple items on your to-do list simultaneously – and without compromising quality and experience. If anything, your wedding (and all the events leading up to it) may be the one they’ll be talking about for years to come.

For more information, visit http://www.jameshotels.com

 

 

 

 

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Hungry Z, NBC Chicago Street Team

Ask any chef and they’ll tell you, fresher is better. The simplest dish can be transformed into a taste extravaganza if the right ingredients are used. The closer an ingredient is grown/harvested, the fresher the flavor. Glen Ellyn’s Glen Prairie (1250 Roosevelt Road) is taking this concept and running with it. In fact every dish is served up with ingredients from Midwest farms.

With such a focus on local ingredients, a must-try is the cheese board. Served with crostini and cranberry relish, this daily selection awakens your senses. The true standout though is the buttermilk fried, herb cheese stuffed mushrooms. Topped with bacon and chili sauce, these morsels sit on a pool of horseradish and simply burst in your mouth with flavor.

Click here to read the rest of this post on NBCChicago.com.

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D.C. “Fete Select TV” Crenshaw, NBC5 Street Team

Wouldn’t it be nice if everyday was Friday?  Well supposedly the tropical island of Eivissa evokes the type of energy where every night out seems like a Friday night celebration.  Eivissa, the Catalan name for Ibiza, is known for its summer club parties that attract a ton of tourists and a lot of publicity.  It’s no wonder why the owners of the new tapas restaurant Eivissa are attempting to bring that same type of energy to Old Town.  The concept sounds cool, but can the new kid on the block pull it off?  Maybe for partying, but not so much for the cuisine.

Eivissa Cocktails

Eivissa Cocktails

The best thing about Eivissa are their “Islas Baleares” cocktails and “Chupitos” (infused shots).  Their standard red sangria is infused with vanilla beans and Ceylon cinnamon for a warm, spicy taste.   But after the alcoholic beverages nothing else is memorable, except for their Pinxtos, a unique mixture of morsels on toasted bread.  The “Salpicon Aioli”, consisting of different seafood was the winner in this category.  Their classical tapas are just average and be sure to order more cocktails to help wash down the  dry “Croquetas De Jamon”.  The “Carnes-Meats” section featured a duck and asparagus dish.  My advice is to take the asparagus and leave the duck.  The dessert menu featured a tart, rice pudding, and a chocolate churro, but I was too disappointed with the service to move on to the next  course.  Oh, did I mention service?  Two words sum up the service.  Not good.  The communication or lack there of with the server was frustrating.  There was no explanation of the menu and dishes were slower than normal to arrive at the table, despite a sparse lunch crowd.  The restaurant is nicely designed, but a return visit is necessary to determine the vibe.  Eivissa is not a first choice for tapas, but their fabulous drinks may have the Old Town folks sipping libations on their patio throughout the summer.

Eivissa is located at 1531 N. Wells St.  Log onto www.eivissachicago.com for more information.  Check out www.efete.net for more restaurant reviews and an inside look into Chicago’s newest and hottest restaurants.

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Hungry Z, NBC Chicago Street Team

The Taste of Chicago was born July 4th in 1980, and is now the second largest tourist attraction in Illinois. For 10 days, this free admission festival is the place to be, injecting the city with a spirit of hunger and attracting a few news stories along the way. To add some spectacle to all the gluttony, there will be live performances by Ne-Yo, Counting Crows, Wallflowers, Barenaked Ladies and more.

In the midst of these hard economic times, Taste will offer a better value than ever this year. Each restaurant will offer a choice of two Taste portions instead of one. The taste portions are smaller and cheaper sample versions of the regular-sized portions.

Fifty different vendors will be vying for a spot in your belly, but not all of them deserve it. Must-try items include B.J’s Mustard fried catfish, O’Brien’s Celtic corn, Original Rainbow cones, and Garrett’s caramel and cheese popcorn.

Visit NBCChicago.com for a full list of Hungry Z’s Taste hits and misses.

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Laura Lodewyck, NBC Chicago Street Team

Inspired by their love affair with their two favorite things–food and biking–Chicagoans Dimitra Tasiouras and Sharon Bautista founded Fork and the Road bike tours. Now they hope to pass on this perfect combination to you through this summer’s tours: Asian, Latin American, International BBQ, Vegetarian and “Unsung Chicago Classics” (teaser: Mexican street treats to “heroic sandwiches” to Greektown…hm). Hailed as an “eating adventure”, the tours are aimed at trying new foods in undiscovered places, while navigating the city powered by your own wheels (or rented, whatever). The total tour ranges from about 14-22 miles, reportedly at a fairly “leisurely” pace — which sounds like a good thing, given all the food that will be in your belly. From artisan cheeses and sustainable markets to Little Vietnam and”secret” Thailand cuisine, this is no typical Chicago deep-dish tour. Check them out at http://www.forkandtheroad.com.

NudeHippoNBC5Email me at llodewyck@nudehippo.com to report your favorite under-discovered Chicago events and check out my past blogs and entertainment reports with Nude Hippo at Nudehippo.tv and NBCchicago.com.


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Hungry Z, NBC Chicago Street Team
The word Bice may conjure up memories of a long haired “American Idol”, singing about “The Real Thing”. While you probably won’t find any long haired rockers here, you might find a tasty meal. Will it be the real thing, or just a reasonable facsimile?bicecrab

Unassuming from outside, Bice welcomes you with a relaxed two level dining area. Customary bread baskets are given to each table with butter provided, and olive oil available upon request. Although after tasting their bitter olive oil, you may wish you stuck with the butter.

To help forget about the olive oil, crab cakes were in order. Four well sized cakes were fork tender and very enjoyable. Folks should treat the accompanying salad as garnish and not suffer through its blandness. A much more enjoyable salad choice would be the tomato and fresh mozzarella salad. Simple and delicious.

While there are many types of pasta to choose from, a steak can be a nice departure. A wonderfully tender filet is topped with a creamy green peppercorn sauce. While not a “steakhouse”, the filet was prepared perfectly medium, and the green peppercorns livened up a normally mellow cut of meat.

Go back to tradition and enjoy the lovely tiramisu. Ladyfingers drenched in espresso, layered with mascbicetiramisuarpone, and dusted with cocoa give your taste buds a lovely kiss goodnight. Flaky apple strudel was another fine choice and even brought back memories of childhood.

Dinner for two with drinks and tip runs about $125-150. So was it the “Real Thing”. Similar to that long haired idol, Bice sings a catchy tune, but doesn’t rock as hard as it could.

Location: 158 E. Ontario

Phone:312-664-1474

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D.C. “Fete Select TV” Crenshaw, NBC5 Street Team

  Everyone has a Mama, but not everyone has a “Mama” like Fernando’s Tequila Bar and Restaurant.  That’s because Executive Chef Carmen Gonzalez is the matriarch of the twenty-five year old Mexican joint and has been in the industry for forty-five years.  Carmen, affectionately known as “Mama” by the regulars and her kitchen staff, is married to husband Fernando and together have made their restaurant a mainstay for authentic Mexican regional cuisine.Fernandos

Like most Mexican restaurants, Fernando’s menu consists of traditional items such as burritos, tacos, quesadillas, enchiladas and fajitas.  Two dishes that are special to Fernando’s are the Chicken Oaxaca (a boneless chicken breast cooked in a paper bag) and Grilled Rainbow Trout (topped with garlic and cucumber).  The ceviche ixtapa appetizer stood out, but the queso fundido needs some work.  What really makes Fernando’s hop are their signature hand-blended margaritas specially prepared by Fernando himself.  Fresh fruits and their secret family recipe may have contributed to Fernando’s selling more than 3,400,000 margaritas over the past twenty-five years.  The atmosphere definitely feels like a friendly neighborhood spot and is great for families.

Fernando’s, located at 3450 N. Lincoln Ave in the Lakeview area, will celebrate 25 years on July 22nd.  Food samplings, a mariachi band, and tequlia samplings will highlight some of the festivities.  For more information call (773) 477-6930.  Also check out www.efete.net for more dining options and watch Fete Select TV to get an inside look at the newest and hottes restaurants in Chicago.

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rebecca_1Rebecca Taras, NBC Chicago Street Team

 

Yesterday was Father’s Day, so chances are you spent some time with good ol’ dad feasting on brunch, or firing up the grill. You may not have realized that yesterday also marked the Summer Solstice, a celestial event that prompts longer, light-filled days. NBC-panepatio

Pane Caldo is celebrating this astronomical occurrence with a special “White Nights”  lunch and dinner experience, available through June 27. Executive chef Maurice Bonhomme got creative in the kitchen and came up with special dishes featuring light and white-colored foods, such as steamed white asparagus with morel mushrooms and truffle dressing, and grilled halibut fillet with with golden beets and a grain mustard sauce. Pastry chef David Same’ didn’t forget about your sweet tooth, so save room for the ice cream bar of white chocolate, muscatel and white cherries.  Wash it all down with (what else) a crisp white wine.

If you’ve never been to Pane Caldo (or need to revisit how fabulous it is), Bonhomme only uses the freshest ingredients, seasonal herbs, organic meats and wild seafood in his preparations. Of course, as the restaurant name suggests, fresh-baked bread is an accompaniment to every table. Another way you can celebrate the warm temps is by dining alfresco on Pane Caldo’s newly expanded outdoor seating area, which has doubled in size this season. If you’re watching you wallet but still want to experience a little of  “la dolce vita,” then dine early from 5 p.m.-6:30 p.m. and take advantage of the 3 course prix fixe dinner menu for only $34. It’s cheaper than a trip to Italy, but tastes just as good.

For more information and reservations, diners can visit www.pane-caldo.com or call 312.649.0055.

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stephanie_small1Stephanie S. Green, NBC Chicago Street Team

Father’s Day is right around the corner and this year, try something different with the father figure in your life.  How about getting him to try something old, something new, something borrowed or something blue?
 
Something Old:   Real Men Cook” is a time-honored Chicago Father’s Day tradition, and this year, it’s more impressive than ever!  On Sunday, June 21, Real Men Cook moves to an expansive (and technologically and architecturally impressive) venue – Kennedy King College.  The Washburne Culinary Institute provides fantastic cooking facilities and there are ample grounds to allow fathers, foodies and more to spread out at this indoor/outdoor To-Do.  You’ll be amazed by the wonderful variety of food, prepared with love, that you’ll be able to savor!
 
Health and Wellness is an important component at Real Men Cook and at events leading up to the main event.  On Saturday, you can join Real Men Cook’s Father’s Day Wellness Weekend Walk & Health Experience and start your morning off right at the beautiful 63rd Street Beach!
 
Just the Two of Us - Al Hawkins

Just the Two of Us - Al Hawkins

Something New:   How about an new exhibit at one of many art galleries on the South Side?  Yes – many!  On Thursday, June 18, check out eta’s opening reception for “Through My Eyes,” an art exhibition by Al Hawkins, before taking in the play Pill Hill, opening this week at eta.  Or, at Gallery Guichard, both the novice and experienced collector would enjoy the Collector’s Champagne Preview.   On Friday, June 19, the Bronzeville Art District Third Friday Trolley Tour resumes just in time for this Father Day weekend.  Hop on board and enjoy the ride as you meander through opening receptions at FaiE African Art, Gallery Guichard and South Side Community Art Center. 

Something Borrowed:  Pappa’s gonna be livin’ on borrowed time if he doesn’t take care of himself!  So, on Saturday, June 20, get him (or yourself!) on over to the the Thapelo Institute’s Health & Fitness Experience for African and African American Men.  With a variety of programs offered during a seven hour period – learning opportunities are abundant!  The Thapelo Institute is a taking a holistic approach to dealing with the health issues of African and African-American men.  Free testing for a variety of common issues will be available, and you’ll also find workshops that address body, mind and spirit.  And – it’s Free!
 
Something Blu(e):  So, its Thursday evening, you’ve spent a couple of hours at the Collector’s Champagne Preview, you’ve enjoyed some wine and hors d’ouevres and now you want a little more.  Well, plan ahead and make reservations for dinner at Blu 47 and enjoy a one-set performance by Yaw at Illuminata – A Father’s Day Celebration. If you’ve been to the Events by Eve Summer Breeze Jazz Concert Series, you know that you can expect a mature set of predominately African-Americans, who dress appropriately without being told!  Come in your favorite jeans or come in some sparkles and feel completely comfortable either way!  If that’s not enough blue for you, douse yourself in cool, blue vibe and and energetic sounds at the Close Up 2 Indoor Smooth Jazz Festival.  From Thursday, June 18 through Saturday, June 20, enjoy live entertainment by Detour JazFunk, Corey Wilkes, Marqueal Jordan Project – and more.

Still want a little more To-Do?  Visit www.so-LAZE.com for tons of options!

 
Happy Father’s Day!
Stephanie!

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D.C. “Fete Select TV” Crenshaw, NBC Chicago Street Team

Sometimes you just know when you know.  I’m talking about an instance where you experience something and it just feels right.  For example, meeting a spouse or significant other for the first time, selecting a college, interviewing for a job or…umm… tasting a cupcake?  I didn’t know that eating a cupcake could be a life changing experience until recently.  That’s because the newly launched Naperville based Foiled Inc. has the most moist, most fresh and best tasting cupcakes that I’ve tasted.   Hands down!Foiled Cupcakes

 There has been a trend of specialty cupcake shops that have recently opened, but none of them can compare to Foiled Cupcakes.  Owner Mari Luangrath started her company Foiled Inc. to help people enjoy memorable experiences through her cupcakes.   She called a childhood friend that is an Executive  Pastry Chef about her idea and voila they were in business.  Unlike other bakeries, Foiled doesn’t use a storefront, but differentiates itself as being Chicagoland’s first and only exclusive on-line designer cupcake delivery service.  The cupcakes are handmade using only the finest all-natural ingredients, such as traditional foil cupcake wrappers, real butter cream frosting, handmade fillings, and European Garnishes.  They offer twenty standard flavors every day, as well as additional monthly flavor offerings that are available for a limited time.  A few of the unique standard cupcakes offered are:

Ooey Gooey – Chocolate cake, caramel filling, caramel buttercream, ganache topping, and a pinch of sea salt.

Pinkalicious So Delicious – Chocolate cake, raspeberry jam filling, raspberry buttercream, and a dainty raspberry garnish.

The Cinnful Apple – Vanilla cake, baked apple filling, cinnamon buttercream, and sweet cinnamon sugar sprinkles.

Foiled also sets themselves apart from the competition by adding a little humor with each cupcake.  Their signature “Quippies” are little tag lines of humor inserted into the cupcakes themselves for an extra special surprise..  They also offer customized “Quippies” for special occasions.  Cupcakes retail for $38 per dozen and delivery is included.  They can whip up designer cupcakes by the dozen with as little as 12 hours notice.  Foiled delivers in Chicago and the West Suburbs and pride themselves on customer service.  Orders can be made on-line, by phone or fax.  For more information log onto www.foiledcupcakes.com.

Check out www.eFete.net and watch Fete Select TV  for an inside look into the newest and hottest restaurants in Chicago.

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D.C. “Fete Select TV” Crenshaw, NBC Chicago Street Team

Perennial Chicago

Perennial Chicago

They say that three is a charm, but that’s not necessarily true for Chicago restaurateurs Rob Katz and Kevin Boehm.  That’s because the dynamic duo have already been successful opening two of the best and hottest restaurants in Lincoln Park, BOKA and Landmark Bar & Grill.  Both restaurants have received critical acclaim from local and national publications and continue to be considered two of the more popular spots for great cuisine, cocktails and atmosphere.  However, Katz and Boehm just weren’t satisfied with their two gems and decided to open a third restaurant about a year ago.  Perennial, has lived up to its name and Executive Chef Ryan Poli was added to bring a new casual dining experience to Chicago. 

Perennial’s menu boasts a plethora of approachable dishes such as the Soft Shell Crab” and the “Brown Butter Gnocchi” appetizers.  Both starters are prepared with flavors that are succulent and a presentation that differs from similar type dishes.   The entrees are a perfect mix of seafood, meat and pasta selections, which makes it a difficult task to choose.  However the “Grilled Salmon”, “Alaskan Halibut”, “Compart Duroc Porkbelly” and “Sea Scallops” are all popular dishes that won’t disappoint.  The “Perennial Mac and Cheese” side dish holds it own when compared to other mac and cheese dishes in the city.  An attractive array of desserts and cheeses complements the menu, but the standout is the warm chocolate brownie served with coffee ice cream.

Their specialty cocktail menu is also seasonal and the wine list is manageable.  The service was attentive, but not overbearing and the waiter was knowledgeable about the cuisine, cocktails and wine.  The vibe and crowd is casual elegance and atmosphere is loud enough to enjoy a dinner conversation.  As the summer weather heats up Chicago expect Perennial to be even hotter during the months to come. 

Coffee and Baileys Dessert

Coffee and Baileys Dessert

Perennial is located at 1800 N. Lincoln Ave in the Lincoln Park neighborhood.  For more information log onto www.perennialchicago.com.  Visit www.efete.net to check out more reviews and to get an inside look at the newest hottest restaurants on Fete Select TV.

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Theresa Carter, The Local Tourist, NBC Chicago Street Team

There are few restaurants that have opened to such general acclaim as has Sunda. With all of that buzz, getting in has been a little difficult. Fortunately they’ve just opened for lunch. Prices range from $7 – $14 for salads and from $7 – $15 for noodle & rice dishes. They also offer special combinations for $18 that include an entree, miso soup or salad, and three pieces of spicy tuna or Cali rolls.

Sunda, 110 W Illinois St, 312.644.0500, make a reservation

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