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Archive for January, 2010

JenChicago, NBC Chicago Street Team
Extra! Extra! Read all about it! Or even better, WATCH all about it! The weekend starts early with a performance and celebration this Thursday at The Joynt. Cellist Ian Maksin will be performing, with special guests, songs from his new CD, Solo Flight. The night is also the launch of the newly released CD, so expect plenty of celebrating to go along with the unique and soulful music of Ian Maskin. No cover. Doors at 8.

Want a little taste? Watch below as I host a “Gimme 5!” interview with “The Cello Man”, himself!

For more info, check out this week’s Time Out Chicago! See ya there!

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

After a disappointing experience at the grand opening of the new restaurant Epic, in the downtown River North area of Chicago, I was a little hesitant to return for dinner.  The event that evening was far too crowded and a little unorganized that left me pondering the concept of the new hot spot.  I didn’t know whether they it was a club or a restaurant, so I decided to go back and check it out, after receiving a sincere message from their Maitre De.

Upon arrival, I again had the same thoughts.  Is this a club or a restaurant? But as soon as we were seated in the main dining area, the concept became very clear.  The downstairs bar area provides more of a lounge atmosphere with hip music, couches and hi top bar seating.   The upstairs space is where the feasting takes place.  The entire place is massive complete with four levels, including a rooftop terrace.  Epic’s design is simple and straightforward.  The architecture has a loft like appearance with elements of exposed brick, steel and concrete.  It didn’t wow me, but it got my attention.

Epic’s dinner menu is filled with beef, chicken, pork and fish entrées.  Seafood items plaster most of the appetizer section and they have a nice selection of salads and side dishes to choose from.  Since I’m a connoisseur of lamb shanks, I opted for the “Spiced Lamb Shank” entrée.   Our waiter assured me that their lamb shank would be right up there with the best that I’ve had.  Well, I wouldn’t necessarily give it those props, but it was definitely tender and succulent.  The combination of spices complemented the shank and the lamb jus was pungently flavorful without sweetness.  My dinner guests enjoyed the “Chilean Sea Bass” and “Salt Crusted Market Fish For Two” entrées.  The presentations for both dishes were done well.  The “Brussels Sprouts” side dish prepared with bacon, honey and chestnuts tempted my taste buds.  The sweet and savory combination helped me forget that I was eating brussels sprouts for a moment, but sprouts are sprouts.

Dinner was capped with dessert.  The “Chocolate” and “Pumpkin & White Chocolate” desserts were sampled.  The former consisted of flourless cake, mousse and hot fudge, and the latter was made with toasted white chocolate cake, roasted pumpkin ice cream and chestnut caramel.  Both desserts were solid, but didn’t have me licking the plate.  The service started off a little slow, but picked up as the dinner progressed.  The atmosphere was festive, which helped the cocktails to flow more readily, although, I wouldn’t recommend Epic for a quiet evening at dinner.  Expect to drop $50 per person on dinner before getting your keys back from the valet and be prepared to hang out for after dinner cocktails in the downstairs bar area.  Overall Epic’s cuisine was solid with a good atmosphere and decent service.  My final “Tru” rating is TTt.

   To view my “Tru” rating system for Epic visit www.efete.net/blog.html.
 

 

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Hungry Z, NBCChicago Street Team

January is “National Soup Month”, a holiday celebrated annually in the United States. Although this is an American holiday; soups from around the world are celebrated. By definition, soup is a liquid food that is made by combining ingredients, such as meat, vegetables or beans in stock or hot water, until the flavor is extracted. Before there was soup, there was broth, which people used to pour over a piece of bread in a bowl. That bread was known as sop, and from sop came the word soup.

Now that we’ve had our history lesson, let’s talk about how you can celebrate here in your own backyard. City dwellers and suburbanites are both in luck! Chances are no matter what neighborhood or suburban city you live in, there’s a restaurant nearby waiting to warm you up. And with our fine Chicago winter being as cold as can be, doesn’t a nice warm bowl of soup sound good right about now?

Bookbinder and clam chowder at Hugo's

I embarked on my own “Soup Day” adventure recently in suburban Naperville. To make me yearn for soup, I decided to forgo the valet and park a couple of blocks from my first stop and walk through the cold. First stop was Hugo’s Frog bar to help warm my bones. Hugo’s is owned by Gibson’s, which means it’s bold, loud, and plenty of fun. First soup offered was the creamy New England clam chowder that boasted a generous helping of tender clams. Soup of the day was the chicken and rice and was very close to what your mother might have made. My favorite though was the Bookbinder soup. A rich and hearty vegetable and seafood soup that had just a little heat added to help warm your mouth and your soul.

To get that need for soup again, a one mile walk to Meson Sabika was in order. Unlike Hugo’s, the quiet dining room feels like your in someone’s home. In a way you are since this restaurant was converted from a residence to a restaurant some time ago. Three unique soups were available and a sample of them all was in order. The first was the “Sop de Alubias Negras”, a black been soup with chorizo that had a nice smoky flavor. My personal favorite was the “Caldo Gallego”, a hearty white bean soup that had pieces of bacon and Serrano ham throughout. The soup of the day was a cream of mussel soup that was blended velvety smooth and had the flavor of the mussels right on the forefront.

Caldo Gallego at Meson Sabika

Whether your craving cream of chicken or cream of mussels, January is definitely the time to exercise your love for soups. And if you don’t listen to me, listen to your mother, because she’s probably told you eat more soup since you can remember. Below is a list of participating restaurants.

33 CLUB 

1419 N. Wells  St. | Chicago, IL 60610 | 312.664.1419 | www.33clubchicago.com

CARNIVALE

702 W Fulton St | Chicago, IL 60661| 312.850.5005 | www.carnivalechicago.com

 CHENS CHINESE AND SUSHI

3506 N. Clark St. | Chicago, IL 60657 | 773.549.9100 | www.chenschicago.com

KOI 624 Davis Street | Evanston, IL 60201 | 847.866.6969 | www.koievanston.com

 DAWALI MEDITERRANEAN KITCHEN

4911 N. Kedzie Avenue | Chicago, IL 60625 | 777.267.4200

 GIBSONS BAR & STEAKHOUSE

1029 North Rush St. | Chicago, IL 60611| 312.266.8999 | www.gibsonssteakhouse.com 

5464 North River Rd. | Rosemont, IL 60018 | 847.928.9900 | www.gibsonssteakhouse.com

 HUGO’S FROG BAR & FISH HOUSE

1024 North Rush St. | Chicago, IL 60611| 312.640.0999 | www.hugosfrogbar.com 

 ITALIASIA

Holiday Inn Mart Plaza | 15th Floor | 350 W. Mart Center Drive | Chicago, IL 60654 | 312.529.1157 | www.martplaza.com

 KDK RESTAURANTS: GIOCO, MARCHÉ, OPERA, RED LIGHT

GIOCO | 1312 S Wabash Ave | Chicago, IL 60605 | 312.939.3870  | www.gioco-chicago.com

MARCHÉ | 833 West Randolph Street | Chicago, IL 60607 | 312.226.8399  | www.marche-chicago.com

OPERA | 1301 S Wabash Avenue | Chicago, IL 60605 | 312.461.0161 | www.opera-chicago.com

RED LIGHT | 820 W. Randolph | Chicago, IL 60607 | 312.733.8880 | www.redlight-chicago.com

 LA MADIA

59 W Grand Ave | Chicago, IL 60654 | 312.329.0400 | www.dinelamadia.com

 LUXBAR

18 E. Bellevue Place | Chicago, IL 60611| 312.642.3400 | www.luxbar.com 

 MESON SABIKA
1025 Aurora Avenue | Naperville, IL 60540 | 630.983.3000 |www.mesonsabika.com

STRETCH RUN SPORTING CLUB & GRILLE

544 N LaSalle | Chicago, IL 60610 | 312.644.4477 | www.stretchrunchicago.com

 SUSHI TAIYO

58 E Ontario St | Chicago, IL 60611 | 312.440.1717 | www.taiyochicago.com

 TAPAS VALENCIA

1530 South State Street | Chicago, IL 60605 | 312.842.4444 | www.tapasvalencia.com

TRADER VIC’S

1030 N. State St. | Chicago, IL 60610 | 312.642.6500 | www.tradervicschicago.com

 SUBURBAN EVENTS

 CARLUCCI  RESTAURANT

1801 Butterfield Road | Downer’s Grove, IL 60515 | 630.512.0990 | www.carluccirestaurant.com

 DUKE’S ALEHOUSE AND KITCHEN

110 N Main Street | Crystal Lake, IL 60014 | 815.356.9980 | www.thedukeabides.com

 DURTY NELLIE’S

180 N. Smith Street | Palatine, IL | 847.358-9150 | www.durtynellies.com

 HUGO’S FROG BAR & FISH HOUSE – NAPERVILLE

55 S. Main St. | Naperville, IL 60540 | 630.548.3764 | www.hugosfrogbar.com 

 PINSTRIPES
1150 Willow Rd | Northbrook, IL 60062 | 847.480.2323 | www.pinstripes.com
100 West Higgins Rd | South Barrington, IL 60010 | 847.844.9300 | www.pinstripes.com

 THE LUCKY MONK

105 Hollywood Blvd | South Barrington, IL 60610| 847. 898.0500| www.theluckymonk.com

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Erik Sorensen, NBC5 Street Team

Those looking to satisfy their hard rock cravings will have an opportunity to do just that when the Riviera Theatre welcomes home two of Chicago’s hard-hitting acts: Chevelle (Epic Records) and Janus (REALID Records.) The bands join Australia natives, Sick Puppies, for what promises to be one ear-crushing event you won’t want to miss.

Chevelle

WHERE ·Riviera Theatre
WHEN ·Saturday, February 20 @ 7:30 PM
AGE ·All Ages
PRICE ·$25.00

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stephanie_small1Stephanie S. Green, NBC Chicago Street Team

 

Yesterday, Tomorrow was Today . . .

Every year we make resolutions that we can’t or don’t keep.  We set ourselves up for failure by setting unrealistic goals or by not establishing a plan of action to reach those goals.  When we fall off the wagon we say – I’ll start again on Monday or on the first or, the infamous, “tomorrow.”  Well, keep in mind that the “tomorrow” that we talked about yesterday is now TODAY – so let’s get 2010 off to a good start with a few tips for maintaining your resolutions and solutions for common resolutions!

  • Put your resolutions in writing.  Nothing beats the accountability you’ll feel when you re-read the promises you’ve made to yourself.  Post them on your computer as a screen saver or on sticky notes on your computer, desk phone, bulletin board, dashboard or all of the above!  Let them serve as ever-present reminders of your goals.
  • Develop an action plan.  What are the steps to reach your goals?  Plot those steps on your calendar, setting reminders and breaking your resolution into manageable chunks so that you don’t feel overwhelmed by your ultimate objective.
  • Chart your progress.  For those long term goals, be sure to monitor your progress.  Give yourself a pat on the back (or massage, purse, Wii game or a lite beer!) for those first five pounds, five new customers or five stacks of unopened bills that you’ve finally gone through!
  • Be realistic.  Be sure that your goals are set high enough that you really have something strive for, but not so high that they are unattainable.  Stretch yourself – your mind, body and spirit!
  • Yesterday, Tomorrow was Today!  If you fall off the wagon or get a little off your path, “now” is always a good time to self-correct!  You don’t have to wait until tomorrow, or think Monday morning is a magical start date.  Acknowledge the slip, determine the reason (if you can), adjust your game plan (if necessary), dust yourself off, forgive yourself and make it happen, baby!

Now that we’ve got a game plan in order, here are a few common resolutions and some things To-Do in connection with them!

  • Get Physically Active!  Getting fit isn’t just about going to the health club.  Here are some other ways that you can meet your fitness goals.
    • The Mature H.O.T. Women’s Program liberates the spirit of the dancer to reign free in every cosmopolitan woman. This workshop is designed to strengthen the body, challenge the mind and nurture the soul through the synergy of modern, ballet and jazz techniques.  Classes begin on January 18th and are offered on Monday evenings in the Loop and Wednesday evenings at the South Shore Cultural Center.  Check out photos from the first workshop series!
    • Sno Gophers – While skiing may not be practical for an everyday fitness routine, it is great exercise!  Sno Gophers is an African-American ski club and each year it plans a number of regional and national ski trips.  The regional trips include day trips and overnight trips and each trip includes generous amounts of camaraderie amongst ski enthusiasts and rookies!  You don’t have to break a leg or go for broke to take part in this exhilarating winter sport!
    • The Chicago Park District is offering you an opportunity to “Break a Sweat, Not the Bank!”  Continuing through Sunday, January 10, 2010, work out for free at all Chicago Park District Fitness Centers.  Even after the 10th, you’ll find that the CPD has ϋber reasonable rates and there’s probably a fitness center really close to where you live and/or work!
  • Start My Own Business!  Whether there’s an idea that you’ve dreamed of pursuing for years, or you’ve dabbled at something without giving it your full commitment, there are low cost options available to assist you in making your dream a reality!
    • The Chicago Urban League offers a Business Boot Camp that will guide you through a number of critical areas, including writing your business plan, financing your business, marketing and much more.  The 16-week series begins on January 12th and you can either register for the entire series for $200 or drop-in on the classes that interest you for $20-25.
    • Since 1986, the Women’s Business and Development Center has helped prospective and established women business owners achieve economic independence through entrepreneurship. From workshops and seminars to business coaching and financial assistance, they will help guide you to business and economic success.  Here, too, you will find reasonable prices and programming that addresses some specific issues faced by female entrepreneurs.
    • SCORE Chicago is another excellent resource for new businesses.  SCORE Chicago provides free business counseling, management consulting, and low cost workshops.  They advise on how to get a business loan and offer other resources like templates for a business plan.  SCORE counselors can help the entrepreneur start a business or a small business owner grow and prosper.  The organization has more than 25 locations in the Chicago area.
  • Travel!  If the travel bug’s gotcha, there are some real cool opportunities to take part in a variety of travel adventures!
    • The University of Chicago’s Graham School of General Studies offers, among other fantastic opportunities, a variety of “travel study” programs.  Through the Graham School, you can visit any number of exotic locations in small groups designed to ensure that you get the most out of the experience.  Lectures, discussions and exploration will provide you with a thoroughly enriching cultural experience!
    • Black Girl Travel creates extraordinary travel opportunities for extraordinary women!  The tours are designed from scratch by Black Women for Black Women.  Coming up in 2010:  Italy, the French Riviera, Spain, Egypt and more!
    • Sankofa Odyssey is another cool way to make your way around the world – by sea!  Their trips include travel from luxurious yachts to “bareboat chartering” (where everyone participates in sailing, cooking, cleaning and partying!).  In July, Sankofa journeys to St. Martin, St. Barts, Anguilla and the Leeward Islands!
  • Find Love!  If the club, bar and party scene didn’t do it for ya in 2009, try something new in 2010!  Explore some of Chicago’s art exhibit openings this year or attend art lectures.  If music is your thing, take advantage of some of the world music series or the lunchbreaks at the Chicago Cultural Center.  Winter is a great time to take in some Chicago theater!  Plan your attendance around opening night or on nights with a post-performance discussion or reception.  The point is that by regularly participating in specific cultural events that interest you, you are bound to start regularly coming across people with similar interests.  Soleil’s To-Dos can help, because we have the most comprehensive listing of culturally diverse Chicago events!  Take advantage of our search options by viewing only those categories of events that interest you.
     
    Whatever you decide To-Do, make it a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!

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Hungry Z, NBCChicago Street Team

A monk is a man that’s part of a brotherhood, living in a monastery, and devoted to a discipline prescribed by his order. What most people don’t realize is that Trappist monks are accomplished brew masters. So while most of us thought monks chanted all day, the folks at The Lucky Monk drew inspiration from these age old brew masters to craft their own line of specialty beers. Since man cannot live on beer alone (some of you have tried), a full menu is available to help lead you to a path of enlightenment.

 Glance over the drink menu and you’ll notice that a whopping thirty five beers are available and seven are brewed in house. Two standouts are the “Cardinal Sin”, a Czech-style pilsner and the “Pale Belgian”. In order to drink more beer you need to eat. I’m sure you’ve learned your lesson about drinking on an empty stomach!

 For those feeling a little Mediterranean, a creamy serving of hummus is available. While I do prefer warm/soft pita bread, the toasted pita will appeal to the potato chip fan. A true delight was the warm pretzel trio. Three warm pretzels served with honey mustard butter, tomato parmesan sauce, and the oh so heavenly Wisconsin cheddar beer fondue. The fondue is so good, you could serve it on a shoe and it would be delicious! How about some fries? How about some white truffle-parmesan fries? For a $1.50 more, you get fries drizzled in white truffle oil, sprinkled with sea salt, and topped with shaved parmesan cheese, YUM!

 You don’t need to be on the path to enlightenment to know that most guys eat pizza and burgers with their beer. Seven prime beef burgers are available here, with both a 6oz and a manly 9oz size available. Tonight’s choice was the 9oz smothered burger. Cooked nicely to medium, this juicy burger is toped with sweet caramelized onions, creamy Gruyere, lettuce, tomato, and sits on a sturdy sesame seed bun. While I am admittedly a deep dish fan, I do on occasion enjoy some thin crust pizza as well. New York style thin crust is featured here and it works on most levels. The crust is crisp and chewy, the cheese is flavorful and stretchable, the sausage is meaty and plentiful, but the sauce is ordinary and forgettable. The pizza is still a good choice, just not the standout that the burger was.

 Dessert should never be skipped! If you’re already eating burgers and drinking beer, your thoughts about your diet should be thrown out the window. Think back to your childhood in the boys/girls scouts and dig into the hot skillet s’mores. Warm melted chocolate and toasted mini marshmallows make this a rich and decadent dessert. The star dessert is the house made apple strudel. Thin sliced apples kissed with cinnamon and wrapped in filo dough make this a dessert good enough to kiss the chef over!

 Dinner for two should be about $40 since most items are $10 or less and nothing even at $20. Overall The Lucky Monk offers hand crafted beers and impressive food for a pretty reasonable price. Check out more reviews at HungryZ.com

Location

105 Hollywood Blvd

South Barrington, IL 60610

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