Archive for April, 2007

Detox For Spring

Amy Tara Koch, NBC5 Street Team (Video)

The sun is finally poking through and, instead of feeling jubiliant I was feeling sluggish, the aftermath of a winter filled with lattes, York Peppermint Patties and many a flute of Veuve Clicquot champagne. Time to purify. Oh, to spend a week fasting and hiking at the celeb detox haven We Care Spa in Palm Desert. But, alas, no time or budget. So, I began investigating my options right here in the Third Coast. I discovered Spa Soak, a chic little day spa in Bucktown known for homeopathic treatments designed to de-stress, detox and harmonize the frazzled mind. I signed on for a saturday afternoon seaweed scrub; a half hour treatment which, through a scrub and body wrap, encourages toxins sweat through the skin. AS she scrubbed, My technician explained how the salt/seaweed combination drains the lymphatic system and increases circulation.While I was wrapped up, she performed a head massage which almost made me forget that I had to head to Whole Foods, Toys R Us and pick up my kids by 3pm. When I stood up, my skin was silky smooth and I felt as if I had slept for thirteen hours. I bounded out of the spa determined to stay on the straight and narrow. After my iced latte.


Want to try a home detox? Mix six drops of peppermint oil in a steaming tub filled with a few lemon slices, orange slices and sliced ginger.

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Sarah Vargo, NBC5 Street Team (Video)

This weekend started off early for me once again! I had several birthday parties all week and decided to enjoy the nice weather. I checked out industry night at Stone Lotus on Tuesday and celebrated my friend Rebecca’s birthday with several French Martinis with Chambord! Nevertheless, I took it easy on Wednesday and decided to venture back out on Thursday night. I went back to Stone Lotus for Funky Couture’s Jeudi Soir and celebrated my good friend Eloise’s birthday. From there we went to Sound Bar, The Underground and RiNo.

On Friday, I went to my usual haunts and ended the weekend on Saturday with an awesome birthday party at The Underground, where my friend James had a table. We danced the night away and even boogied with Stacy Kiebler (Dancing with the Stars and What About Brian). She was extremely nice and posed for a picture with me (left). My roommate Cameron was thrilled about it!

On Sunday, I couldn’t resist the wonderful weather and had to hit Stanley’s with RedEye columnist Liz Crokin for some karaoke, and then we went to Ryan Brooks’ birthday celebration at Krem. The night didn’t end there — we also went to Melvin B’s and Level. Needless to say, I’m exhausted but I‘m getting excited for the Playboy party tomorrow at Reserve. I’ll have plenty to write about in a couple of days!

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Marcus Riley, NBC5 Street Team (video)

When it comes to major news events in this society, every reaction seems to cause an immediate overreaction. Sept. 11? Ridiculous airport rules and some would argue an attack on our civil liberties. Virginia Tech? Rampant evacuations and intense scrutiny of students’ classwork. And finally, it’s possible that the Don Imus situation has left many of us feeling a wee bit sensitive when it comes to issues of race and censorship.

Fast-forward to this past Saturday at the Friends and Family Night at Room 21, Jerry Kleiner’s newest South Loop addition to his fantastic lineup of local eateries. The wine was flowing, laughter was in the air and a good time was being had by all. When the check came, all we had to take care of was the tip. As two of us at the table started pooling our cash, my friend — who happens to be Mexican-American — said she only had plastic and couldn’t contribute.

“No problem,” I said, as it really wasn’t a big deal. But she continued to insist that we meet up in a couple of days so she could give me her $10-$20 share, which I continued to insist really wasn’t necessary. Finally, I said “Why don’t you just hook me up with some tamales sometime?” This is when things quickly went south.

    Her: Just because I’m Mexican, means that I eat tamales? That is so offensive!
    Me: No, but you did say earlier that you like to cook, and there’s nothing better than eating an authentic dish from someone’s culture.
    Her: So if I would have asked you to hook me up with some fried chicken and cornbread you wouldn’t have been offended?
    Me: No, because it wouldn’t have made sense. I’m not black American, I’m Caribbean, but if you would have asked me to hook up some Jerk chicken, I would have said, “Cool!”
    Her: I don’t see why you couldn’t have asked me to make some lasagna or something.
    Me: Because you’re not f—- Italian!

Room 21 offers classic “American” fare in a space that used to be one of Al Capone’s old haunts. Ask nicely, and they might show you the tunnel that the mobsters built to provide a quick escape from the feds. Standouts included the huge NY strip, salmon, creamed corn (really!), the crispy mashed potatoes and the impeccable service. I’ll have to go back and try out the rest of the menu, although next time I’ll watch what I say — and I won’t try to order any tamales.

Room 21
2110 S. Wabash
Chicago, IL 60616

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Blagica Stefanovski, NBC5 Street Team (Video)

My Arabesque CD is blasting thru my iMac, attempting to put me back in the world of the Alhambra Palace. The music is doing the trick of making me want to dance, but my sage walls are far from the vibrant jeweled tones that seemed to creep from every crevice of Alhmabra.

Alhambra Palace (the real one is in Spain) is the brainchild of Souk’s (Souk is no more) owner, Dr. Naser Rustom, a man whose love for travel, other cultures and music is clearly depicted throughout his new palatial digs. Ok, so what EXACTLY is palatial? It all depends on what you feel like doing tonight. Alhambra offers everything from an intimate, quiet dinner to a hip-thrusting night of belly dancing, complete with live band.

Slideshow: Alhambra Palace Restaurant

Quiet Dinner, Please
No problem, when you walk in to the main entrance, hang a right and you’ll be at the Alhambra Formal Dining room. The walls are hand carved, the furniture imported from Morocco and dining chairs that are so big and cushy, an NBA basketball player would feel right at home. You also have a choice of cuisine, Moroccan or French, from esteemed chef, Eric Aubriot.

A Drink and a Nibble
Got that covered. The bar is right next to the dining area and offers a dark, but colorful setting of ornate décor and Moroccan Meza (aka ‘tapas’…my family calls it ‘meze’).

Dining and Dancing…and People Watching
Proceed through the bar to the monstrous Alhambra Room with Balcony. A jeweled chandelier in the center of the room makes you feel as if you’ve arrived to a royal party. The difference? A warm atmosphere complete with tables (with room to glide between them), walnut tables, a stage, palm tree and some of the most diverse people in Chicago. Order an entrée or two, have some baklava and get ready to shake your hips on that dance floor!

Some Cool Privacy, with a View
All over it. Yes, Alhambra thought of everything. There are ‘skyboxes’ that surround the main room. Six private rooms that seat 15 people each are mini alcoves. Each of these alcoves has a stellar view of the stage and area down below through a balcony. I can imagine having one of my pre-wedding parties here in a heartbeat. There is a fee to rent each skybox (I don’t know what that is).

Family Party
The second floor of Alhambra contains a 6,000 sq. ft. banquet hall that holds 300-400 people. You also have your pick of food up here, French, Moroccan, or continental

Overall, I had a terrific time. Looking at the imported furniture, paintings and mosaics alone kept me occupied. Every single corner of Alhambra has a story, a theme and the use of Dr. Rustom’s careful eye. I heard it took him three years to shape the Palace to his tastes. I do think the outside of Alhambra was a bit cheesy looking, at first, but when I walked in, I understood what he was going for – soup to nuts feeling of being in a true Palace.

The music. Oh, the music. Regardless of your background, I guarantee you’ll want to dance a bit to the sounds of Middle East mixed with French mixed with hip hop, mixed with slow ballads. Dancing not your style? You’ll have plenty to see and eat!

When Michael and I left Alhambra, I needed to take a double take. I spent four hours in another world and had to adjust my mind to thinking, ‘oh, this is the West Loop’. I do love this town, but now and again, it’s nice to ‘escape’.

Alhambra Palace Restaurant
1240 W. Randolph
Web Site

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Tom Kolovos, NBC5 Street Team (Video)

Art Chicago was once the country’s most prestigious
international modern and contemporary art fair. Due to
mismanagement and the resounding success of Art Basel
Miami, Art Chicago became something of a glorified
street fair.

Art Basel Miami is where the major players, both
buyers and dealers, are to be found in the art world
these days. This year the New York Times dubbed the
fair in Miami “a billionaire’s playground” where the
parties and the guest lists were as lavish as the art
on display.

How, then, do you compete with that if you’re Art
Chicago? The answer this year seems to be: reposition
the event as part of “Artropolis,” a citywide
celebration of arts, antiques and culture. The most
influential business, civic and cultural leaders in
Chicago have joined forces to create a “destination
weekend” comprising a wide rage of cultural events,
museum experiences and lively arts performances.

At the Mercahdise Mart you can attend five concurrent
art and antiques fairs: the “renaissance” of Art
Chicago; the Merchansise Mart International Antiques
Fair; The Artist Project, which is an exhibition and
sale of independent artists undiscovered by the
gallery community; the Intuit Show of Folk and
Outsider Art; and the Bridge Art Fair which will focus
on emerging and contemporary work in all media.

Throughout its run April 26th -30th, Artropolis will
also include lectures, guided tours, music, theater
and dance performances, and even a fashion show
presented by Chicago Social Magazine.

Miami it ain’t, but one hopes that combining the
city’s cultural institutions and resources can bring
back some of the glory that was Art Chicago. Go ahead
Chicago, give it a try this weekend!

For tickets, times, venues and additonal information
go to artropolischicago.com

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Irit SilvermanIrit Silverman NBC5 Street Team (Video)

The hottest event this weekend will have a runway show, free drinks, and will be raising money for a great cause.

This Friday night (April 27) catch the Imerman Angels Fashion Show at Crobar (1543 N. Kingsbury St). Imerman Angels is an amazing charity that connects cancer fighters, survivors, and caregivers for one on one support. Featured designers for the show will include TKMen, Anne Fontaine and Sylwia Wilczynska.

Doors open at 8pm and the show starts at 10pm with complimentary vodka and beer served from 8-10:30pm.

For more information on Imerman Angels or Friday’s show, check out the website http://www.imermanangels.org.

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Tony Lossano & Amy Zanglin, NBC5 Street Team (Video)

Amy from NUDE HIPPO here! Hey Chicago – This weekend is one of my favorite weekends in Chicago; it’s the 2007 Chicago Improv Festival!! This entire week there has been shows every night all over the city with guest appearances from Chicago alumni who are now on shows like Saturday Night Live and MADtv…for Friday night, out of all the shows, my personal pick is to go check out the midnight “Late Night” show at the Annoyance Theatre with Chicago’s own comic genius Susan Messing and MADtv’s Ike Barinholtz. It’s amazing to see what scenes unfold when these two improvisers get together and play. The Annoyance Theatre is located at 4840 N. Broadway, tickets are only $10!!

On Saturday my pick of the night is the two main attractions for the Improv Festival that is at Park West at 322 W. Armitage. First up is the 8pm show MADtv Writers on Hiatus. Every year for the past five years, MADtv’s writers store up their favorite censored and rejected scenes from that season and put together a one-time performance of these scenes at CIF. Since their first performance at CIF, MADtv’s producers have watched to see how these censored and rejected scenes play to live audiences. If you’re a fan of the show, you definitely don’t want to miss this. Tickets for that show are $37.50

The 10:30 show at Park West features The Upright Citiziens Brigade. This will be the first time in 6 years that all four team-mates of UCB, Matt Besser, Amy Poehler, Ian Roberts and Matt Walsh will be performing together at the festival. Why stay home on Saturday night at 10:30, watching SNL, when you can catch Amy Poehler LIVE right here in Chicago for $25?! That’s practically the price of going to the movies these days…

The beauty of this festival and of improv in general is that everything is a one time performance; if it’s the funniest thing you’ve ever seen, live in the moment and enjoy it, because you’ll never see it again…

Now there’s obviously other events going on in the city this weekend as well.

If your stomach is cramping up from laughing you’ll be doing Friday night at the festival, you can partake in a free Yoga class on Saturday April 28th at the Alternative Health Group located at 1834 W. North Ave, they’re offering classes at 2pm and 4pm and that is in honor of Irritable Bowel Syndrome Awareness Month. (That one’s for you Damaris…hang in there girl!!)

And on Sunday the fun doesn’t have to stop; my pick for your Sunday activity is to go check out the Girlie-Q Variety Hour at HotHouse, 31 E. Balbo Dr. Local artists perform lesbian-themed striptease, dance, comedy, drag, vaudeville, magic and more in a ’60s and ’70s tribute. This monthly event is a complete *blast*!! I went last month and the entire show is just done in such a spirit of fun and silliness, it is seriously contagious and tickets are only $10. It is live theatre done in the spirit of vaudeville comedy and is a great way to end the weekend on a high note!!

Got some suggestions for next weekend!?! Send them to nudehippo@nbc5.com

Be sure to check out Our Street Team Blog!

For videos and tons of other fun things from the show, go to www.nudehippo.com.


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Irit SilvermanIrit Silverman NBC5 Street Team (Video)

Chicago based film critic Roger Ebert was in his (and my) hometown of Champaign-Urbana today for his annual Film Festival aptly named Ebertfest. Movie buffs, filmmakers, and a few celebs packed into Champaign’s historical Virginia Theatre for the opening movie “Gattaca.” One of the most heart warming stories of this year’s festival can be found off-screen with the founder himself. Roger Ebert has been battling cancer since 2002 and is currently recovering from related surgery. Despite early rumors that the festival would be cancelled, and later rumors that Ebert would not be well enough to attend, the Pulitzer Prize winner was present- and with a twist. He watched the movie from a La-Z-Boy installed specifically for him.

Ebert wrote on his website “This year I won’t be speaking, however, as I await another surgery. I have received a lot of advice that I should not attend the Festival. I’m told that paparazzi will take unflattering pictures, people will be unkind, etc. Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn. As a journalist I can take it as well as dish it out.” Well Mr. Ebert, this journalist only has compliments on your bravery and best wishes for a speedy recovery.

Ebertfest continues tomorrow morning with “The Weather Man,” a Nicolas Cage movie shot here in Chicago. There are 13 movies and 3 live musical performances this year; if you want to take a drive to check it out, the film festival runs until Sunday, April 29th.

For more information on Ebertfest, go to:

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Erik SorensenErik Sorensen (Video)

Boy meets girl. Girl and boy fall in love. Boy and girl live happily ever after, right? Not quite. Or at least not in Michael Brownlee’s play The Past’s Present, anyway.

Produced by the Speaking Ring Theatre Company and Directed by Mercedes Rohlfs, The Past’s Present delivers an intoxicating rollercoaster ride chalked full of melancholy, blissful thinking and hopeless Romanticism (or lack thereof). Just as intimate as the production’s characters is the theatre itself. Once a “speakeasy” during alcohol prohibition, the venue provides a rich history of its own and provides a unique theatrical setting with its beautiful architecture.

The play centers around its main character, Nathan, a young playwright struggling to find happiness in his current relationship while escaping to imaginary “what if” scenarios involving an almost-lover from his past. Burdened by the guilt of past relationships (represented by a chorus of bitter ex-girlfriends) The Past’s Present bounces from act to act between the harsh reality of Nathan’s current state, the missed opportunities of his past and his increasingly ominous future. The production takes a unique approach to the timeless frustration of relationships and interweaves a multitude of characters in a way that keeps you thinking and just might hit closer to home than you would expect.

The Cast:
Joseph Adamczak, Emily Korff, Sean Leonard, Alicia Sherman, Hattie Davis, Liz Hoffman, Dehlia Miller, Rebecca Miller, Erin Elizabeth Orr, Jamie Orr, Erin Rooney, Sarafina Vecchio and Jehan Whitaker.

The Past’s Present
@ National Pastime Theatre
4139 N. Broadway
Chicago, IL

April 19thMay 12th
Thursday through Sunday
$18 General Admission
$12 for students/seniors (with ID)
Group Discounts Available for
groups of ten or more
Show starts at 8pm
Tickets available by calling
312.458.9374 & leaving a message
or emailing http://www.speakingringtheatre.org


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Shlomi Rabi, NBC5 Street Team

The gods have a funny of way of keeping us humble. We can’t get too cocky, or presumptuous, or arrogant. So they keep us in check by, oh I don’t know, giving us a sibling who is clearly better looking, or worse- having an ex marry someone who is much better looking than us. Thankfully, I never have to worry about either, which is why I have been walking all around town with an ego big enough to be mistaken for implants. But alas, my complacency came to a cruel and abrupt end last week when I chipped my tooth, and instantly looked homeless. Yep, that bad. No smiling for me, let alone karaoke.

Which is fine, because a great space where keeping my mouth shut and my newfound snaggle tooth from showing is the Museum of Contemporary Arts latest show- Exposed. The show–which I have already visited twice and will probably continue to stalk until I have memorized the size of each one (love is love) showcases the best that the famed Chicago institution has to offer. Highlights include works by Lorna Simpson, Rineke Dijkstra, David Robbins, Gillian Wearing, Jeff Wall, Sam Taylor-Wood, Cindy Sherman, Rashid Johnson and Andres Serrano. Curatorially, the show makes as much sense as wearing banana leaves to the opera, but the collection is so impressive that you almost don’t notice. Keep in mind that Tuesdays are free and the museum is also open until eight. So forget your hotter younger sibling, your current-reality-star ex, and your deformed canines, and allow yourself to draw inspiration–and humility–from a truly beautiful place.

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Blagica Stefanovski, NBC5 Street Team (Video)
If you were in town last weekend, I’m sure you caught the warm Sunday breeze that swept the city. Sunday was also the day I took my 150 CC 2-stroke Stella scooter out for a spin. It was also a day to live a little like a European in the heart of Chicago, scooter and cafe au lait and all.

I started the morning with the tarp unveiling of my bike. That poor thing was dirty from last season’s weather, but she started up with a swift kick of the pedal. I placed an old towel on the dusty seat, let the roar of the engine fill my building’s garage and went down its two inclines to 11th Street. My condo’s garage has some interesting hills and for a rider, it can be a mix of thrill plus fright, if not done the right way.

I visited the team at State Street Car Wash (1701 S. State St, across from the police station) and had them power spray my Stella back to its crimson, cherry apple red self. Needless to say, I was stoked. After the cleaning, I hopped back on my scooter and did some loopty loops around the Loop when it happened – BEEEEEEEP. My bike’s horn beeped for a few blocks at a time. I realized some wires must be loose in the steering column and after causing a stir on Michigan Avenue, I decided to zip back home to inspect the horn.

Though my inaugural annual ride was brief, the feeling of freedom zipping down Michigan Avenue (with a helmet, always) and having the ability to get around town without the use of the car put me in such a good mood, I needed to enjoy the rest of my day in our high 70s weather. Off to Bucktown I went…

Michael and I did the usual stroll down Damen’s boutiques, peeked in Olivia’s Market and almost bought a stellar vino at The Goddess and the Grocer. Michael’s never been to Sweet Thang and I was itching for a some fresh pastries and a cafe au lait. Walk south on Damen, head east on North Avenue and on the south side of the street, you’ll find Sweet Thang. The owner’s an established pastry chef, lived in France for some time and wanted to shed some ooh-la-la to Bucktown. The cafe is very much like those I visited in France, complete with a French speaking staff. I loved it. Sweet Thang was a great walking break and let me practice some Francaise at the same time,which by the way, needs work. Sigh…

My Sunday ended with a visit to Dominick’s for some Manchego cheese, a baguette and sparkling wine (this is what we lived on during our two-week Italian trip last May). Michael and I sat on the balcony, flipped thru magazines and watched Chicago relax into the twilight. It’s those simpler moments that remind me how terrific life is in our possible Olympic city.

Before making dinner, we picked up dessert in the South Loop’s new dessert cafe, Carolina Caramel. Rashid’s a nice guy and I hope his business does well – the caramel cake did well for our tummies! $5.25 per slice…the massive cupcakes are about $3.50 each.
Can you say cardio time?

Want a scooter? Visit the team at Scooterworks. Vroooom!

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Tom Kolovos, NBC5 Street Team (Video)

This past year we have seen major changes in the retail
landscape of the city. Macy’s ended the reign of Marshall Field’s,
Lord and Taylor closed at Water Tower and Carson’s closed on State Street.

With skyrocketing rents, too much interchangeable
merchandise and erratic customer service, the one
stop shopping department store as we knew it may be an
endangered species.

But just as some mid-market and upscale department
stores face hard times, specialty boutiques that
focus on a younger, savier, more affluent customers have
prospered. Intermix, which opened Wednesday at 40 E.Delaware,
and Scoop NYC, which opened a few months back
in Bucktown, are two examples of a new retail model
which provides eclectic merchandise alongide
established designers, hip knowlegeable staff and
personalized customer service verging on styling.

At Intermix, which unlike Scoop NYC features only
women’s clothing and accesories, they really do
intermix: the designers, the prices, the formal and
the casual. Instead of displaying merchandise in
clusters by designer, they display the merchandise by
“lifestyle,” essentially dividing the 4000 square
foot store into a dressier, event/nite on the town
section and a section for “everyday” clothing.

But there are no hard and fast rules here so you may
easily find the “must have” Lacey Parker black lace
mini dress for $258 on the more casual side
perfectly appropriate for a more formal event, just as you
might find the same designer’s white chiffon tunic with
metalic polka dots($248) on the dressier side will
look great with a pair of the ubiquitous skinny
jeans. The Mathew Williamson floral chiffon dress for $1,895 is
both a must have for late nights and an indicator of the upper
range of the price mix here.

Labels like Valentino, Missoni, Chloe and Stella McCartney are
displayed alongside secondary lines from those same designers
along with a bevy of younger, less recognizeable designers (Lacey Parker,
Thread Social are standouts).

The look here is very much about layering — invariably something
white — with vintage inspired jackets over colorful tunics and
tunic style dresses over leggings or skinny jeans.( Instead of a sea of
black, the basic color of the season in the store is, refreshingly, white.)

Think of the 2007 version of “Sex and the City” and you’ve got
the idea.

A second location is slated to open by late May on Armitage.

Happy shopping!


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Delicious Monkey Dish

Janelle Rominski, NBC5 Street Team (Video)

A hip, new, urban-style restaurant opened in the northern suburb of Gurnee, Illinois this week. The Monkey Dish Bar & Grill, owned by Phil Marienthal and Dave Potesta opened on Tuesday, April 17th. Located on the northeast corner of Grand Avenue and Dilleys Road – Monkey Dish brings a new vibe to this suburb otherwise full of chain restaurants.

The name Monkey Dish stands for the restaurant term for a small bowl; however, there is nothing small about this place. When you walk in the door, you will see a huge non-smoking dining room to your right and a large bar/dining room – smoking section to your left. The dining room has exposed ceilings and gorgeous, colorful lighting fixtures, as well as an enormous artistic mural. The bar also has a mural stretching the entire length of the room, flat screen televisions, and a grill in the front of the bar where the appetizers are made.

Every table gets an unlimited amount of the restaurant’s signature cheesy monkey bread with an herbed garlic dipping sauce that is actually served in a monkey dish. For an appetizer – I chose the warm artichoke cheese dip which was amazing and full of flavor. It was served with pita chips so you could dig in to the dip without the chip breaking apart.

Slideshow: Monkey Dish Bar & Grill

My main course was the Penne Alla Roma which consisted of penne pasta tossed with garlic, olive oil, fire-roasted eggplant, pine nuts, golden raisins, Kalamata olives, zucchini, hot peppers and parmesan cheese – definitely a great array of flavors. My dessert choice was the double chocolate tower which stood at least six inches tall on the plate and was accompanied by caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream.

The bar serves their own signature cocktails and martinis such as The Funky Monkey (Rum and Citrus), Mojito Frescos and my favorite, the Scarlet O’Hara martini that contained Skyy Berry Vodka, Chambord Liqueur, pomegranate juice, fresh citrus squeeze and champagne float. The bar also serves traditional domestic beers and malt beverages.

Monkey Dish Bar & Grill Information
Address: 5572 Grand Avenue, Gurnee, IL 60031
Phone: 847-599-8888
Hours: Monday-Thursday : 11 a.m. – 12 a.m.
Friday-Saturday : 11 a.m. -1 a.m.
Sunday : 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Website: http://www.monkeydishgrill.com

Special thanks to Denise O’Handley (Monkey Dish Public Relations), Owners Phil Marienthal & Dave Potesta and my friend Tina who came to Monkey Dish with me for dinner.

To view all Monkey Dish photos visit my online photo album:

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by janellepics

Janelle’s Previous Blogs:

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Blagica Stefanovski, NBC5 Street Team (Video)

The election run-off activities, coupled with me prepping the launch of CondoPerks.com had me in blogging withdrawal. needless to say, my keyboard fingers are ready to work.

Yesterday marks an historic day in Chicago politics. Two long-time aldermen lost their seat to two new vibrant thinkers, Pat Dowell and Bob Fioretti. I was a poll watcher for the Fioretti camp and I gotta tell ya, the Board of Elections needs to take a hard look at how they are training their election workers. This is by no means, a reflection on the candidates, however, if I was running for office and I had a poll judge asleep on site, I’d be a little miffed. That’s right, sleeping.

Each ward has various precincts and within those precincts, there are polling places. Each polling place has judges (hired and trained by the Board of Elections) and poll watchers (a few from each candidate’s camp). From 530 am – 7 pm, judges and watchers sit side by side to ensure everything goes smoothly. Poll watchers are there to make sure things are done on the up and up (i.e. Jane Doe no longer lives in the ward and shouldn’t vote). I happened to be in a precinct where a poll judge fell asleep, in addition to making interesting comments to me and my fellow poll watcher. I’ve worked with this same person during the primaries and was surprised to see him back. I did some digging and learned that the city actually hires and trains these folks to be judges. Is the city mentioning that professionalism and respect to others around you is also a key component to the Poll Judge gig? Ahem.

On a lighter note, the polls closed at 7 pm and we were looking forward to seeing the final results. The Bob Fioretti get together was at Buddy Guy’s Legends. I headed home to freshen up, check email and get excited about the potential of a victory. I walked the short two blocks from my place to Buddy Guy’s and finally started to relax. I was in the home of Chicago’s own, Buddy Guy. I had my camera with me, but learned Buddy was on tour in Europe. I was bummed to hear he wouldn’t be in the club, but at the same time, was excited for him. Buddy continues to tour, has steam and dazzle crowds around the world. Rock on!

One of the primary reasons I love volunteering is the people I meet. Through the 2nd Ward elections, I’ve met the most amazing folks that live in my neighborhood and are part of organizations like the Greater South Loop Association, The Prairie District Neighborhood Alliance, Printer’s Row Presidents and South Loop Neighbors. I also met some of the nicest people from surrounding Chicago suburbs. The amazing team at Fioretti Headquarters brought us all together for a common interest and I am grateful for their efforts.

The night ended with endless camera flashbulbs, local news trucks, high fives and a beaming new 2nd ward alderman. If you saw a curly-haired gal leaving Buddy Guy’s around 10:30 last night, beaming from ear to ear, skipping slightly down Wabash, that was me, shadow dancing with Mike Royko. I’m still working on my Cha-Cha.

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Amanda Hunt, NBC5 Street Team (Video)

Last Thursday, the National Urban League visited Chicago during their six-month promotional campaign for Urban Influence Magazine, the organization’s official publication hitting national newsstand distribution in May 2007.

With heavyweights such as Morgan Freeman, Queen Latifah, Tavis Smiley and Jesse Jackson Jr. gracing the covers, this magazine has been growing in influence since its launch date in July 2004.

The celebration, held at Macy’s on State Street, included guests such as the president of the Chicago Urban League, Cheryl Jackson,– and Kwame Jackson — chairman of Legacy Holdings LLC/Kwame Inc. and former finalist on “The Apprentice”.

Additionally, several hundred came to show their support and appreciation. The room was full of laughter, crème brulee and the steamy sounds of Terisa Grifin, making the evening both warm and memorable. For further details visit www.urbaninfluencemagazine.com .

Slideshow: Magazine Launch Event

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Izzy, NBC5 Street Team (Images)

As you might imagine, I’ve never had a problem trolling for babes, but finding a perfect match isn’t easy for everyone. The club and bar scene can get kind of old, and Internet dating is good for quantity, but the quality can be somewhat lacking — so I’m told.

Another option when looking for love is to join a singles social group. A few weeks ago I attended an event held by The Social Network at the James Hotel. The Social Network bills itself as an “exclusive club dedicated to giving single professionals a unique, comfortable environment in which to meet other like-minded people.”

Most of the group’s events are strictly for members, but this one was open to the public, and doubled as a recruiting drive for the organization. The first thing I noticed was the age range of the people at the event — literally, people from their 20s to possibly in their 60s, mingling together and partaking in the free booze and food.

The second (and most important) thing — for me anyway — was the female to male ratio. Fellas, I swear it was 4:1 in there. I couldn’t go to the bathroom without being inundated with “hellos” and “how ya doin’s.”

Slideshow: Social Networking At The James Hotel

The question is, are you willing to pay the price? Joining The Social Network costs about $1,300 a year, with additional dues throughout the year. One of the members told me that the additional dues are waived if you arrange a group activity, like a sports league. For some reason my Massage Night idea was received skeptically by the females I suggested it to.

Sadly, I didn’t find love that night at the James Hotel, but I did make some great professional contacts. Mixing business with pleasure never felt so good.

The Social Network
Chicago Office – (312) 944-9898
Oakbrook Office – (630) 954-2977

Previous Izzy Adventures:
The Underground
Oscar Night

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Sarah Vargo, NBC5 Street Team (Video)

I’m excited to join the NBC 5 Street Team and contribute my first blog. It was an exciting week to say the least. I am a publicist and party promoter so I am always out and about on the town!

Here are some of the highlights:

I started off the weekend early…ok…it was actually Tuesday night. I went to The Whiskey on Rush and enjoyed my favorite drink with Chambord…a French Martini! After that my friend Lauren and I hit Stone Lotus for their happening industry night. I got a delicious drink from Z (Startender) and kept the party going when I headed to Martini Ranch! If you have been to Martini Ranch, you know you should go to the very back and find Scotty who runs his own lemonade stand. Don’t ask….just go and see for yourself!

Thursday night I started off at Plan B in Bucktown….love that place! Once again I was with my partner-in-crime Lauren. I think she may be trouble. Or maybe it’s me? I headed to RiNo and guess who was there? Michael Jordan!

Friday night was an unofficial GIRLS NIGHT OUT! I headed to Pop’s for Champagne with Courtney, Brea and Amber. It was a great way to start the night and I highly recommend it. After that we created a dance party music video at Reserve (well, at least we acted like it), and once again, capped the night off at RiNo. But MJ was not there! Saturday night was a lot of fun too. It became another GIRLS NIGHT OUT…this time there were ten of us. We hit Y Bar — fun, but way too crowded. We breezed through the line at Underground and claimed our dance place by the bar.

I can’t wait for some summer cocktails and fun parties! Tune in next time…there will be much more!

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Maureen Vana, NBC5 Street Team

Sunday night at the Congress Theatre was an evening of anything goes. Iggy Pop and The Stooges played to a sold out audience that had eagerly awaited their arrival. Fans that managed to snag a ticket for the event were in for a treat because the night was all about them.

Local favorites Shellac opened up with an intense 45 minute set that made the late start worth the wait. Those familiar with the band revealed in the music as Steve Albini pounded out song after song barely stopping to catch a breath. Shellac ended the performance with all members participating in a cymbal jam session that sent up roars of approval from the crowd.

To the fans delight Iggy Pop spent more of the set in the pit then behind the barricades several feet beyond reach. Stage diving left, right, and center Iggy surfed and sang with the crowd giving things a small club feel. The chaotic momentum continued as halfway through the set fans stormed the stage to get up close and personal with The Stooges. Planned or spontaneous it was fun. Everyone, including The Stooges, fed off the energy allowing the night to finish with as much enthusiasum as it began.

Check Out Photos From The Show

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Justin Chen, NBC5 Street Team (video)

Freedom reigned in Wrigleyville as TechCocktail overtook the top floor of John Barleycorn on Thursday April 12th. It all started with the the free tickets to TechCocktail that are so hot that they “sold out” of the 500 spots within 24 hours of being announced. The night really got going once the free booze started flowing in glowing neon cups and the people started playing Wii baseball for 10 free Cubs tickets (thanks to sponsor SingleHop).

Instead of stumbling around drinking beer this time, I had the opportunity to demo Menuism with John along with the other startups ParkWhiz, Interactive Mediums, timeXchange, text2store, and Zaplee. Our efforts paid off as Menuism came away with the “fan favorite” vote for the night, which was run by Interactive Mediums.

Many attendees didn’t just go home with a good buzz – there were freebies galore.

  • Transwestern gave out an Apple iTV.
  • Digital Bootcamp gave out an iPod Nano (which John from Menuism won)
  • Menuism gave out a $50 restaurant gift certificate
  • HTD Law flew someone out to Las Vegas and gave out a Wii

If you’re in tech, you need to go to the next TechCocktail in July or head to the one in DC – it’s always a good time and a great place to meet people.

For more coverage:

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JenJen Boyles, NBC5 Street Team (Video)

Southern hip-hop mogul David Banner was recently in Chicago to promote a new Web site that allows producers to team up, share beats, and possibly win some green.

Over a delicious steak dinner, Banner and Loud/Street Records Corporation label CEO Steve Rifkind (credited for coming up with the general idea of a ‘street team’, birthing WuTang, Three6Mafia, et al.) talked confidently to an intimate audience of local radio DJs and promoters about www.loud.com. Check it out — it’s like MySpace just for beat lovers — and the best part is, Rifkind is offering a $100,000 AND a record deal to the producer/rapper combo with the best sound.

As an aside, before attending the dinner, I knew very little about Banner, other than the fact that he is a crunk/rap producer from the South. After nosing around a bit, I heard from a friend he is the “nicest guy in rap.” And the friend was right. He’s also intensely political, urging me to think of one famous person in Hollywood that is truly doing anything revolutionary. We both couldn’t come up with anything. He also bitingly called George Bush the “biggest gangster there is.”


Banner also told me his album sales are highest in Chicago, so he’s “got a lotta love” for its music fans.


*picture by PictureThis4Photos.com *

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Marcus Riley, NBC5 Street Team (video)

I remember when Sex In The City launched the Cosmopolitan craze. I remember when Snoop sang Gin and Juice and it seemed to be everyone’s drink of choice. I even drank my fair share of 40s in college. But for the life of me, I can’t remember what precipitated the Mojito craze, but there I was a few summers ago buying Dominican rum and muddling limes and fresh mint in a glass (and breaking quite a few glasses as well!)

But some things are best left to the professionals, and it doesn’t get much better than the concoctions that
puts together. Don’t believe me? Well, check it out for yourself, because the Latin-themed restaurant is set to begin a three-day celebration marking the sale of their 100,000th Mojito served since opening in September of 2005.

Each night, Tuesday through Thursday this week, guests will be celebrating the Mojito alongside costumed staff, Flamenco and Tango dancers, live bands, DJs and Fire Eaters. Sounds hot!

Sometime during those three nights, the 100,000th mojito will be sold, with the winner snagging a trip for two to Miami South Beach and a Mojito-making Basket. There’s also a mojito recipe contest.

On Wednesday, I will help judge a Mojito-making contest along with fellow NBC5’er LeeAnn Trotter and other local media folks. I’ll easy to spot (the one with the bloodshot eyes!)

Click here
for more information on this week’s events, and if you can’t make it, at least you have an official excuse this week to raise a glass to the mighty Mojito!

702 West Fulton Market

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Micaeh Johnson, NBC5 Street Team (Video)

So what is a God fearing, non-Church going girl to do on a day that is reserved for rest? I put myself to the test on a quest to find out where I could sing my praises non-traditionally.

Stop one: The word according to Corosh’s Brunch. Corosh is an Italian eatery gold mine mixed with Mediterranean flavors located on the southeast entrance of Wicker Park. Upon entering the slightly larger than quaint restaurant, the art lover and architecture appreciator will take notice of the pieces on the wall and lofty details the owners preserved. Journey to the back to the enjoy the buffet style served brunch serving pasta mixed with a variety of meats, veggies, cheeses, topped with capers or olives placed next to sweets of your choice and a healthy choice of fruits and cuisine and ethnic salads. On the way back to your table be sure to yell to your waiter for that Mimosa you are dying for to accompany your waffle and pancake request. All for the low low price of 12 bucks every Sunday. The best thing is that the joint is still a secret, so walkins are not out of the question.

Stop Two on my day of rest: The Victory Gardens Theater to see “Blues for an Alabama Sky.” At curtain call, the play appears to be another great tribute to the Harlem Renaissance but after 10 minutes, characters and friends, Guy, Delia, Leland and Angel, a gay man, women’s and family planning activist, black doctor and singer give you a deep eye view of the non-romantic lifestyle of the Harlem Renaissance and Great Depression. Living through what we may see as modern day hoop dreams, the audience cries and laughs through the characters struggles and witnesses what dreams come to fruition and which fantasies are crushed by audience applause time.

Slideshow: View Pictures From Play

“Blues for an Alabama Sky” and the entire Pearl Cleage season is being presented and produced by Eclipse Theatre Company. The insightful and alternative look at the Harlem Renaissance was matched with an intimate theater that was able to give life and a voice to a forgotten and overlooked demographic with the same grandiose production of its counterparts. Who should attend? The struggling actor, actress and designer. The mother and daughter, father and son. The sexually-frustrated and scared. The insecure and confident. The curious and ignorant. Everyone.

Final stop on my day of singing the praises of Chicago culture: McCormick and Schmick’s for an after-theater concoction. Having visited their Chestnut Street location just weeks earlier for an introduction to their new cocktail menu, I was delighted to enjoy the same cocktails and bartender. The Pisco Sour – a martini served with lemon juice, simple syrup, pasteurized egg whites and Pisco Brandy, was a pleasant and exact replica of what I enjoyed weeks ago. So great food, theater and cocktails completed my day of worship. Hallelujah! Now a girl can really get her beauty rest on the 7th Day.

1072 N Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60622
(773) 235-0600

Victory Gardens Theatre
2257 N Lincoln Ave
Chicago, IL 60614
(773) 871-3000

McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood Restaurant
41 E Chestnut St, Chicago, 60611
(312) 397-9500

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Katrell Mendenhall, NBC5 Street Team

We are so fortunate to live in such a great city as Chicago, especially when it comes to experiencing a fabulous night of food and entertainment. I had a double dose, all in one name…

I kicked off Friday at the Kevin Restaurant on 9 West Hubbard, where the food was out of this world. But the entertainment was, hands down, the icing on the cake. A new gospel recording artist held his album release party, and yours truly was invited.

Kevin L., (the stepson of Ray Charles), was the man of the night. His album, “Souled Out,” is a collaboration of contemporary gospel music that speaks about his love for God.

On the outside, Kevin looks like a young urban hip-hop artist.

“I have no problem with people making that assumption because I’m trying to reach the youth,” he told me.

Kevin is a strong man of God that has a testimony he’s anxious to share through his first album. This album was a family affair as he partners with his sister, Sheila Ray Charles, (Ray Charles’ daughter) on a couple of singles.

Slideshow: Kevin L. Listening Party

Although his passion is music, he also has a love for children and clothes. Kevin established a non-profit organization, “H13,” dedicated to the youth to promote peace and unity. Beyond the music and children, he has his own clothing line called “Stranger Gear.” Coming from a long line of musicians, this young man is bound and “Souled Out” for success. The album hits stores soon, but until then log on to www.souledoutcd.com and listen!

Until next time, be blessed.

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