Archive for November, 2006

Partying @ PLUSH

LeeAnn Trotter, NBC5 Street Team

If you’re looking for a laid back, but bumpin’ place to hang for a couple of drinks, and/or some grub….check out Plush. A bunch of us went there Saturday night to celebrate a friends’ birthday. I had a Peach Tini….it was tasty. Also….I tried the Steak Tacos, which had feta cheese. Very Interesting! And the music was a mix of techno and house….sweet. It’s pretty simple to find and most of the reviews I’ve seen give it a thumbs up. Heve you been there before? What are your thoughts?

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Gioco Is Boffo!

Marcus Riley, NBC5 Street Team

How often do you leave a restaurant and are left with a feeling of “wow.” I’ve been accused of being rather critical or picky in the past, but a recent meal at South Loop Italian restaurant Gioco (1312 S. Wabash), left an amazing impression on me and my dinner date.

The first thing you notice when you step inside is the decor — not surprising for a Jerry Kleiner restaurant, but dazzling nonetheless. The exposed brick walls and sensual mood lighting makes you think you’ve stumbled into an Italian villa.

But the first sign that we were in for something special was the wonderfully nutty flavor of the olive oil that we dipped our perfectly crusty bread into. We chose an exquisite Napa Red Zinfandel from the varied and well-priced wine list. Despite a detailed explanation of the tasting menu from executive chef Fred Ramos, we decided there were too many good items on the regular menu to pass up.

From that point on, we took a casual tour of Tuscan and Umbrian cuisine with the aid of our wonderful waitress Katia, who spoke with a thick Italian accent (nice touch). You know you’re in a good place when you can’t decide what to order, but Gioco makes that easy by allowing you to order half-entrees. It came in handy, because I’m not sure I would have ordered the Red Wine Braised Wild Boar Rigatoni Wide Ribbon Pasta, but it turned out to be the star of the group. Who knew wild boar was so tender and succulent? The Hazelnut-Crusted Grouper with Sarro Mushroom in Spinach Risotto was also a winner, as well as the Veal, Pork & Beef Meatballs served in pomodoro sauce & topped
with fresh mozzarella.

Since that meal, I’ve been raving about Gioco to anyone who will listen, and have been told by those in the know that the Sunday brunch is even better. Salute!

Slideshow: Gioco Restaurant

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DeVaughn Is Divine!!

Amanda Hunt, NBC5 Street Team

Location: Bronzeville, Blu 47
Drink: Courvoisier Strawberry Lemonade
Occasion: Performance by artist Raheem DeVaughn
Synopsis: I am impressed with how cool this guy is….

Google “Raheem DeVaughn” and you’ll find general information about his soulful background and hit single “Guess Who Loves You More,” but after seeing him perform for the second time, watching him sincerely greet his fans, and interviewing his essence — not his persona — I confess that I am impressed with how cool this guy is!

Amanda: Your music exposes a lot that has happened to you in life. That, coupled with your grassroots marketing approach, what pushes you to never quit?

Raheem: “Quitting is not in my nature and I’m happy with what I am doing. I just bought my mom a new house and my music says something.”
Amanda's Raheem DeVaughn Slideshow - Image From Amanda Hunt
Amanda: When, in your mind, did you become an artist?

Raheem: “2000, when I decided to be an entrepreneur and make my talent and gift lucrative, but I’ve got 10 CDs out internationally and have been in the game 15 years.”

Amanda: 15 years?!?! So what’s next for Raheem DeVaughn?

Raheem: “You can expect my Mix Tape (Vol.5) by the end of this week and my next album, “Love Behind The Melody,” soon. Also be sure to hit me at www.myspace.com/devaughnenterprises

In the entertainment business, it is rare to run across genuine people, but Raheem is cut from a different cloth. He is one of the most cool-headed and humble persons I’ve met. Treat yourself this holiday season to Raheem DeVaughn’s “The Love Experience,” in stores now.

Slideshow: Concert Pictures
More Slideshows: Red Star Soul Concert | John Legend | Mary J. Blige

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Mother Of All Thongs

Marcus Riley, NBC5 Street Team

There sure was a lot of stuff going on this past weekend. Thousands hit downtown for the lights show, others, like myself went to the Jay-Z show or any number of concerts around the area. But it was a curious crowd that converged at a North Side location Saturday night.

A Chicago-based lingerie company, Evlove Intimates, has created what they’ve dubbed the World’s
Largest Thong, which they debuted during a custom lingerie show.

Made in Chicago and using enough black lace to cover a third of a football
field, representatives say “The Mother Of All Thongs” is 20-feet long, 17 feet wide and took two seamstresses five days to complete.

“Nothing says custom lingerie like a 20-foot black lace thong. Just think what we can do for a g-string,” Evlove founder and president Jenny Dombroski said.

I wasn’t able to hit the event myself, but I’m told a good time was had by all. And even better? We have plenty of gratuitous pictures from the lingerie fashion show!

Slideshow: Lingerie Fashion Show

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Heidi Barker, NBC5 Street Team (Video)

So, here’s what’s going to happen:

The media hype will scare you into arriving for your Thanksgiving flight 2 hours (or more) ahead of time. You will subsequently get through security and then seemingly have nothing to do for an hour til your flight boards. But, as a frequent flyer, I can tell you there are fun ways to kill some time at the airport. I am only mentioning my fave things to do in O’Hare’s Terminal 3 (American) as I tend to fly that airline most often.

First stop: The Back Rub Hub. This is a chair massage therapy center where you can get a tune-up on your neck and shoulders by licensed therapists. Whether you just have time for a 10-minute rub or can get a longer 30-minute session, this therapeutic “timeout” will relax and rejuvenate you before your flight. Of course, your muscles will tighten up again once you’re in that tiny airplane seat, but a little massage is better than none at all!

Second stop: Mrs. Field’s Cookies. As a certified chocoholic, I think it should be illegal to pass by a Mrs. Field’s without buying a cookie. My favorite: Milk Chocolate without Nuts. Have a long flight? Buy a variety of “nibblers” to munch on while you’re in the air. Share with your plane seatmates and you’ll have friends for life. (Hint: in addition to the cookies you see, there may be others that are fresh out of the oven! Just ask, “Hey do you happen to have anything warm right now?” and you may luck out.)

Third stop: Hudson’s Book Corner. Browse, or buy a magazine or a bestseller to read on your flight.

Fourth stop: Brookstone. So many gadgets, so little time! You’ll have fun exploring this store!

Final stop: Food Court. Note: Mrs. Field’s Cookies is near the front of the terminal, so you had to get dessert first. But in the food court, you’ll find your main grub, from Chinese to Pizza to Mexican to McDonald’s (btw, Mickie D’s new warm chocolate chip cookies rival that of Mrs. Field’s and are much cheaper!) Want to support Chi-town? Reggio’s Pizza is locally owned and operated. Take your food on the plane, because unless you’re in first class, they’re giving you jack to eat in coach.

Those are my favorite stops. What are your regular spots at O’Hare or Midway? Any helpful hints for your fellow travelers?

Happy Thanksgiving to All!

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Dive Bar Redux

Liz Grossman, NBC5 Street Team

Despite the blustery weather and the fact that I am over smokey bars, I had friends in town this weekend and simply had show them a few of my favorite, blast-from-the-past, hidden-gem taverns around East Village and Ukrainian Village. Needless to say, the trip down watering hole lane was a hangover-inducing blast, and it made me proud to live in the ‘hood. We didn’t cover every bar, but after filling up on tasty tapas and sangria at Cafe Iberico (how about that flashy new dance club entrance?) we headed West to Five Star. OK, so this place is still new, but it was a good place to begin before heading to the Innertown Pub on Winchester and Thomas. Smokey, packed and loud as ever, it was as fun as I remember. From there, we hit up the Chip Inn, a random little pub where the lights are bright but the beer is cheap. To make our night complete we made a quick stop at Underdogg, and were then off to Estelle’s for more late-night imbibing. While I will always have a place in my heart for 1056 and Lava Lounge, I’m happy to see that some oldie but goodies are still packing them ’em until the wee hours..now it’s just time to do something about the smoke!

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Marcus Riley, NBC5 Street Team

Chicago is a great entertainment city because there’s so much stuff going on. The problem is, you have to be pretty well-connected in order to experience a lot of it. That was the case with Jay-Z’s “secret” appearance at Uptown’s Riviera Theater on Saturday. Even with my usually-solid media connections, I wasn’t able to work my way in until the last minute, and certainly wasn’t allowed to bring in any equipment. But apparently, there’s hundreds of people who are connected, and the theater was packed.

Chicago was the fifth stop on Jay Z’s seven cities in 17 hours tour. He had also hit Atlanta, D.C., Philly and New York before hitting Chi-Town, and was scheduled to visit Vegas and L.A. afterward. The tour is in advance of Tuesday’s release of the supposed-retired Def Jam CEO’s latest CD, Kingdom Come, and was hosted by Cingular, who is aggresively making a play in the music world to promote their new phones that also handle music.
Musicpix.net Slideshow #3 - Image From Lyle A. Waisman
Jigga was only on stage for about 30 minutes, but take it from me — it was hot! He did a couple of tracks from the new CD, but also delved into some classic songs. At times they just turned off the music and let the crowd finish the song.

As I mentioned, you weren’t allowed to take any cameras into the venue — but curiously, there were plenty of flash bulbs popping during the performance — one from a camera I “possibly” snuck in.

If you were there and snapped some pics, follow the links to upload your own, and add to our collection.

Pictures: Jay-Z Performance

Video: Concert

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