Archive for the ‘food’ Category

Cara Carriveau, NBC Chicago Street Team

“Pizza’s 4 Patriots” is such a cool concept.  Literally, giving those who serve our country a slice of home.  Go here to find out more about what they do – and go to Durty Nellie’s on October 24th to see a great show while supporting the cause.  Details below:

Pizzas 4 Patriots Celebration Concert at Durty Nellies Oct 24 2009

Here’s a blast-from-the-past interview with Rik Emmett:

Here’s a blast-from-the-past interview with Kevin Chalfant:

Here’s a blast-from-the-past interview with Ronnie Platt:

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

Some business people have the ingredients for success.  They find something that works and try to duplicate it.  Restaurateur Jerry Kleiner is a perfect example of opening several restaurants very similar in style and experiencing a level of success.  His restaurants include Red Light, Carnival, Giocco, Marche and most recently 33 Club.  Those venues are located in the city, but Kleiner has ventured out to Hinsdale to open Il Poggiolo and is making his mark in the burbs.

Salmon Dish

Salmon Dish

Il Poggiolo is located on the site of Hinsdale’s first silent movie theater and means “The Balcony”.    The interior is typcial “Kleineresque”, rich in colors including vibrant red upholstery.  The atmosphere is warm, classy, casual and elegant.  Big picture windows allow for a nice view of the outside.  Like a lot Kleiner restaurants the food is solid.  Nothing will really blow you away here, but dishes are nice, savory, and satisfying.  Favorites to consider are the Arancini (rice balls filled with mushrooms and taleggio) and the Pesce Spada con Caponata (sword fish, vegetables, raisins, pine nuts, capers).  The Lamb Shank special was good, but could have been a little more tender and their Risotto del Giorno with corn, leaks and mushrooms met, but didn’t exceed expectations.  The Pan Roasted Halibut and Pan Roasted Seabass rounded out other solid dishes.  The Fig Tart dessert was something special and comes highly recommended by yours truly.

Il Poggiolois a nice addition to downtown Hinsdale and should continue to provide Kleiner with a string of successful hot spots.  The vibe and location could make it a fan favorite for the locals.  Il Poggiolois located at 8 East First Street in the historic Harold R Zook building.   Log onto www.ilpoggiolohinsdale.com for more information.  Check out www.efete.net for more reviews on the newest and best restaurants in Chicago.

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rebecca_1Rebecca Taras, NBC Chicago Street Team


The origin of the clambake was not  the 1967 Elvis movie bearing the same namesake. In fact, it all started when the resourceful Pilgrims picked up the technique from Native Americans steaming soft-shell crabs on the rocks – kinda like an early day Food Network.

Roll down your pant legs and put away the bucket and shovel. An urban clambake is as close as Fulton’s on the River, no manual labor required. From 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM on Tuesday September 1st,  Fulton’s veranda will be transformed into an authentic clambake atmosphere, complete with an all you can eat clam-bake and two Hoegaarden beers for just 22 bucks. NBC-Fultons

Menu items like Baked Stoneneck Clams with brown butter bread crumbs, roasted garlic, fresh parsley, horseradish hollandaise, Sweet New Queens corn on the cob and Jalapeño-Wisconsin white cheddar corn bread with honey butter will be served on family-style picnic tables where guests can sip and nosh while taking in the Chicago river views.

In addition, Fulton’s will offer tasty drink specials for throughout the night for all you sailors out there.  Look for $4 beers, $6 cocktails and $8 glasses of wine. With lively music, great food and killer views, Fulton’s clambake is the perfect way to wrap up another unforgettable Chicago summer!

Don’t clam up! This is the LAST bake of the summer.

Visit http://www.fultonsontheriver.com for more info.

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Hungry Z, NBC5 Street Team

By definition a “Trattoria” is an informal restaurant or tavern serving simple Italian dishes. “Bella” is the Italian work for beauty, combine the two and you get a lovely Italian restaurant named Trattoria Isabella. Located in the city’s Fulton river district, the restaurant features a gorgeous outdoor patio that includes its own bar.

 Since simple and straight forward dishes are featured, a great place to start is with the wonderful sausage and peppers. Sweet Roma sausage rests in a pool of lemon and garlic, and then surrounded by a colorful array of sweet peppers. While many salad choices are available, by far the stand out is the Caprese. This traditional Italian salad features thick cut tomatoes, whole leaves of basil, fresh buffalo mozzarella, and is nothing short of delicious!

 IsabellasaladWhen diving into the main course, remember that heavy sauces are not always needed. A lovely such option is the Chicken Vesuvio. Two large breast of chicken swimming in a rosemary and white wine sauce, topped with peas, and surrounded by oven baked Vesuvio potatoes. For those who must have red sauce, the tender veal parmesan is covered in tangy marinara and topped with melted mozzarella.Isabellavesuvio

 Ending a meal without dessert should be, and is a sin. Gelato lovers should definitely choose the creamy and flavorful Pistachio gelato. While the house made tiramisu is bursting with espresso and has a near velvety texture.

 Couples on a date will enjoy the intimate setting, the soft sounds of Sinatra, and well executed dishes. Those couples should also plan some extra time for their meal. The service is quite relaxed and a meal may take more than a couple of hours. Prices are fairly reasonable and dinner for two should run around $80 with wine and tip.

Location: 217 N. Jefferson

Check out all of Hungry Z’s Reviews at www.hungryz.com



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Cara Carriveau, NBC Chicago Street Team

Wow, this is a way cool bang-for-the-buck concert experience. Don’t miss your chance to see The Plain White T’s in a very intimate setting tonite (8/28/09). Only 1500 tickets are being sold for Lake Effect, a charity show they are headlining tonight at The Palmer House.

$75 includes three bands performing (Plain White T’s, Chicago blues artist Melvin TaylorPWTs Dave Tirio, Cara Carriveau and Tom Higgenson plus the Gentlemen Of Leisure Band which happens to be one of President Obama’s favorite Chicago bands)…it also includes an open premium bar, an amazing array of food stations created by the Palmer House’s Executive Chef Stephen Henry and Pastry Chef Fabrice Bouet…and, as an added bonus, a limited number of behind-the-scenes tours of Palmer House will be conducted by docents from the Chicago Architecture Foundation.  Most importantly…100% of the proceeds benefit the Rainbow Hospice and Palliative Care’s Good Mourning Program (providing support for families and children of all ages in overcoming the loss of a loved one).

Don’t pass up this opportunity to help out a wonderful organization while enjoying a phenomenal experience.  Got o www.LakeEffectParty.com or call 847-692-8897 to purchase tickets.

Tom Higgins from The Plain White T’s just spoke to me about this show – listen here:

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The University of Michigan Club of Greater Chicago is kicking off its new Young Alumni group with what you would expect from a young alumni group…a giant party with lots of food and booze! Join the UMCGC tomorrow, Thursday August 27th at LaSalle Power Company, for the Young Alumni Launch Party and celebrate with Michigan’s second largest alumni group in the country.

The party starts at 8:00 PM and will feature a three hour premium open bar, food provided by Lincoln Park’s newest hot spot Sarks in the Park, and prizes from all around Chicago including a reserved table at Duffy’s for football and dinner for two at Rockit (co-owned by Michigan alum Arturo Gomez).

The cost of the event is $40; tickets can be purchased online by clicking here and will also be available at the door.

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

Sooo many restaurants to try and sooo little time to try them.  In-fact, most of us get so caught up going to the same restaurants week after week that we forget about the fine dining options that the city has to offer.  One particular example is Aria, located in the Fairmont Hotel.  The New World Asian restaurant offers a contemporary twist on conventional dining.  Chef de cuisine Ronnie Aleman prepared a meal that was memorable and that deserves to be revisited.

Aria Main Dining Room

Aria Main Dining Room

Aria’s culinary team brings a diverse ethnic influence to the menu.  From the start of their “amuse” to their “dessert flight” the cuisine boasted flavors and spices that prompted an eagerness to take the next bite and to try another course.  The following menu items is a guide to Aria’s New World Asian experience.


“aria spiced” grilled shrimp, sweet summer watermelon, cilantro basil cucumber broth

Appetizer Flight: 

Hot and sour baked rock shrimp, sweet and sour chili glaze

Spicy citrus calamari, lime zest, scallion

Shrimp and pork potstickers, ponzu

Aria “sushi poppers” (created by Ronnie Aleman)


Organic Heirloom Tomatoes, sherry marinated shallots, English cucumbers, brioche croutons, extra virgin olive oil, organic green and opal basil, sea salt, freshly ground black pepper 


Soy and mirin glazed Black Cod, organic pea puree, sugar snap peas, hon shemedji mushrooms, organic pea tendrils


 Wagyu strip steak, butter glazed organic carrots, summer baby squash, wild mushroom demi glace

 Dessert Flight: 

“Banana Split” sorbet: banana, strawberry, chocolate, pineapple sorbets

Take Five:chocolate cheesecake, savory pretzel crust, peanut butter ganache, caramel sauce

Banana Bread Flan:  spicy oaxacan sorbet, candied walnuts, banana bread tuille

Aria Dessert

Aria Dessert

Ambiance and service at Aria is what to be expected from a fine dining environment.  The service is attentive, detailed and knowledgeable.  The rich colors of the restaurant makes it a comfortable and warm place to dine with friends or a significant other.  The Aria Bar is an upbeat diversion from the main dining area and is highlighted by an illuminated sushi bar.  Communal style tables make it easy to share dishes or meet new friends.  It’s a perfect place to meet for sake or a glass of wine from their extensive wine list.  In 2008 Aria’s Bar received an award for “Chicago’s Best Date Spot”.

Aria is on the ground level of the Fairmont Hotel, 200 N. Columbus Dr.  For more information visit www.ariachicago.com.  To get an inside look and a review of the newest and best restaurants in Chicago check out Fete Select TV on www.efete.net.

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adrienenAdrienne Irmer, NBC Chicago Street Team

Actually, my birthday was last weekend, August 15th, but I was waiting on some pictures from the event photographer to include. As you can well tell, it was quite an affair, but believe me the planning involved would not have been so easy if it weren’t for the venue’s staff and event promoters that evening. If you have ever tried to plan a birthday, bachelorette or new promotion party at a night club, it’s not as easy as one thinks. The considerations that come into play are numerous, and the pricing, well, in a recession, is quite important.

After scouring the South Loop for a pre-existing, club-like party with moderately priced bottles of my favorite (Ketel One) and seating befitting a princess, I found Exposure, jointly known as Utopia, located at 1315 S. Wabash Avenue. On further investigation of the menu and venue, I was certainly drawn to the mood lighting, plush seating in my would-be [VIP] party area and the newly refurbished menu with Island cuisine—formerly this was a tapas restaurant. And whilst I am a huge fan of Ketel One-induced karaoke, I could not muster the courage to celebrate, that ambitiously, on a Wednesday evening… I just couldn’t, BUT on Saturdays they rotate (and boast) DJs such as Vince Adams, Malik Shabazz, Mustafah Rocks and Jay Illa, just to name a few. So with the sound, ambiance and accommodations in order, it was time to get down to business—cost. Bottles of Ketel One ran $200 and Absolut ran $175, pricey, but not exorbitant. Other venues I perused were asking closer to $300 (and up) for Ketel One. The plus side, too, is that, like CostCo, ordering in bulk pays off.

Lastly, without friendly service and helpful promoters, your night could be a big ole mess with laps to and from the door querying list issues, untimely replenishing of the Ketel One and, worst of all, a disappointed birthday girl with the ability to produce a rancorous blog… luckily I am not the vengeful type (or wasn’t made to go there *wink*) and had a great time—witness accounts the next day and photo documentation are the proof in the pudding, folks. On working with the Black Alumni Network, Urban Upscale, InterTwine Chicago in conjunction with BYP Chicago and A-Squared Marketing, I must say that my first experience with planning an elaborate celebration was enjoyable and I highly recommend them, or using a promotions company of your choosing to help with the process, because counting RSVPs by yourself is not was I was looking forward to. For more information on Exposure/Utopia call (312)662-1082 as the site is under new construction or for FREE entry before 11:30pm on Saturdays visit: http://ourkindofpeople.rsvphub.com. Cheers!

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


Palm Wraps

The song “When You Wish Upon A Star” was made famous in the Walt Disney movie Pinocchio and includes the lyrics “Anything that your heart desires will come to you”.  The song has some other inspirational lyrics such as, “If your heart is in your dreams, no request is too extreme.  When you wish upon a star as dreamers do”.  Well the folks at Nozumi Japanese Cuisine must have sang that song a few times, because their “wish” has come true.  Nozumi is the newest Japanese restaurant to open in the North Western suburbs, but the 45 minute drive out to South Barrington is well worth the trip.

The literal translation of Nozumi is “wish”.  Their wish is to take you on a journey of the five senses while exploring their Japanese cuisine.  Nozumi’s culinary team consists of world travelers that give their own interpretation of the menu items, therefore they soar above the traditional approach to sushi.  Nozumi is all about sharing and Executive Chef Andy Park created the menu with that in mind.  Even the Nozumi Menu Box – a collection of five books, or menus, are meant to be shared.  This new approach is distinctly separated into a beverage menu, plates menu, sushi menu, sweets and treats menu, and a chefs daily special menu.  I had numerous favorites out the fourteen dishes that were shared, but the following were at the top of the list.

Scallop Ebisu – seared scallops, saffron cream couscous, asparagus, tomato confit, soy balsamic reduction.

Shinju Crab Cake – Shiso remoulade, scallop puree, sawgani, haricort vert, shitake vinaigrette.

Chef’s Special Signature Roll – Roasted pepper seasoned spicy tuna, cucumber wrapped in nori topped with Japanese sea bream in ponzu sauce.


Togarashi Maguro Penne Pasta

Nozumi doesn’t only serve sushi, but meat and pasta dishes.  Don’t leave the table without trying their tender Taiyou Short Ribs.  The Kobe Steak melts in your mouth and the Togarashi Mauro Penne Pasta has a sun-dried tomato cream sauce and big eye tuna combination that will have you biting your fork.  Dessert is a must with the Shokura Dream chocolate layered cake and the Natsuki Apple Brulee

Nozumi is simple yet stylish.  The sushi bar area is upbeat and vibrant, but a separate dining area appears to be more relaxed and chilled.  The bar area is roomy enough to enjoy a cocktail and an entree without being too crowded.  Owner Fred Hong was certain to hire a staff that was knowledgeable about their cuisine and serious about their service. 

Yes, Nozumi appears to have had their wish fulfilled, but the true test will come from the wish of their customers.  Nozumi is located at 100 W. Higgins Road in South Barrington.  For more information log onto www.nozumirestaurant.com.  Also check out www.efete.net and Fete Select TV  for an inside look at the newest and hottest restaurants in Chicago.

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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

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Desiree, NBC Chicago Street Team
“Hi, I’m Desiree, Gal about the Globe,” I excitedly shouted, as I was introduced to Andrew Zimmern, host of Travel Channel’s Bizzare Foods. Andrew, standing proudly in front of his “Strange Foods” table, smiled back, shook my hand and took my business card as I proceeded to flatter him, recounting why I love what he does and love to do it too. Well, the travel part that is; not really so much as eating chocolate covered grasshoppers, scorpions, caterpillars, or a stingray’s heart for breakfast.DSC00365

Andrew, one of the “special guests” of last night’s Dos Equis Most Interesting Academy at the Museum of Science and Industry, was a sweetheart. His brown eyes were a bit glazed over from tirelessly greeting guests and plugging the goey-duck clams considered a delicacy in China (that’s pronounced gooey—duck), but he took a moment to ask how I got started in this “biz,” referring to the travel industry and working as a tour operator. “Well…” I realized that my story began when I up and moved to Rome to study in college, which followed up with me moving to London, Chicago, and the rest is history. He laughed with that coy, famous smile and told me something very valuable about myself. While he’s met a few other tour operators traveling the globe, their stories are the same, “they all got hooked while studying in college.”

This is funny to me, as I didn’t originally mean to keep traveling. I just didn’t want to go home. I wanted to stay in Rome. But, for the last few years at least, perhaps traveling has proven to be about the journey and not quite the destination as my trips have been whirlwinds. I conceded, asking where he’s actually from, and of course he responded, “New York City.” Although Andrew is from the center of the universe, I didn’t hold it against him, since, given his occupation, he’s probably the only New Yorker that makes it out of Manhattan. Likewise, he loved that I’m from Texas and recounted a show of his in the Austin Hill Country last year, just before we took a couple photos.DSC00363

Andrew returned to his “Strange Foods” table, pampering the large, phallus-shaped clams and enthusiastically posed for more photos. But, it was not our last encounter. Throughout the evening, I was dragged over for more pictures with various groups of friends, forgetting that, hmmm…perhaps Andrew would rather us just try the clams instead, and get on with it. Most guests stuck with blood sausage, another favorite of his, and watered it down with some food located at a table nearby that should’ve been referred to as the “Safe Foods” table, as it included chips and salsa as well as buffalo wings.

Footnotes: Thanks to Reggie Brown, fellow NBC Chicago Street Team member (and famous Barack Obama impersonator) for originally introducing me to Andrew Zimmern and taking some photos.

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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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My Cup of Tea

Lindsay_small_2Lindsay Saewitz, NBC Chicago Street Team

It’s tea time in Chicago as bars all over the city are embracing the newest trend in cocktails: tea-flavored vodka. Jeremiah Weed brought tea back to our taste buds when he launched Jeremiah Weed Southern Style Sweet Tea Vodka earlier this year. The vodka, inspired by Weed’s grandmother, is 70 proof sweet tea flavored vodka that mixes and tastes perfectly in either iced tea or lemonade. Firefly produced the world’s first sweet tea vodka, and now hand-crafts a slew of sweet tea vodka flavors like peach and raspberry.

So join the tea party with these drinks around the city:

River North hot spot Hub51 (51 W. Hubbard) added the Hub Tea to its summer cocktail list, mixing Jeremiah Weed Sweet Tea vodka, St. Germain Liqueur (a French liqueur made from elderflowers), ginger-flavored liqueur Canton, and a splash of fresh brewed iced tea.

Not far down the road, LaSalle Power Company (500 N. LaSalle) brewed up their own version with the LPC tea, keeping things simple with lemonade and Sweet Tea vodka.

Looking for a sweet deal? Try Fizz (3220 N. Lincoln) for $4 Jeremiah Weed Sweet Tea vodka lemonades on Sundays, or try the Other Side (2436 N. Clark) for $4 Sweet Tea Vodka lemonades all summer long!

Summer’s almost over (ugh) so get your tea on today!

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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.


Crowd at Five Guys

Five Guys
2368 N. Clark Street
Chicago, IL 60614


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Theresa Carter, The Local Tourist, NBC Chicago Street Team

You can probably tell by my picture that I enjoy a martini or two. Tonight, and every Monday night, Tizi Melloul offers a great selection of martinis for only three dollars. You can’t even buy a jar of olives for three dollars. Because cocktails that cheap are a sure recipe for disaster without food, they also offer tapas for three to five dollars. I think I’ve found a new Monday night spot.

Here’s what you can get:


  • Moroccan Martini: rum, creme de cassis, pineapple juice
  • Melon Martini: melon liqueur, vodka, pineapple juice
  • Peach Fez: vodka, peach schnapps, orange juice, cranberry juice
  • Mint Ice Cream: kahlua, irish cream liqueur, creme de menthe
  • Classic: vodka, olive juice, dry vermouth


  • black pepper mac & cheese, $4
  • kefta meatballs, yogurt sauce, $4
  • bacon wrapped dates, lavender-honey sauce, $5
  • goat cheese stuffed peppers, herb cracker bread, $5
  • pommes frittes, roasted garlic and shallot aioli, harissa ketchup, $3

Tizi Melloul, 531 N Wells St

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Chasity Chaos, NBC Chicago Street Team

Since this weekend is destined to be blissfully chaotic, I thought I drop you a line to let you know what’s on my agenda for the next 72 hours…

Khari B., the Discopoet, is holding a CD release party for his long awaited sophomore album, I’MMA BAD MUTHA: The Rockstar Poetry Project, 7 p.m. today at the Dusable Museum of African American History, located at 740 East 56th Place.

The CD has been described as a live instrument experiment and studio album that brings together a ferocious 12-piece Funk/Rock ensemble of some of Chicago’s undisputed music champions.

Tickets for the event are $25 and include a CD. For more info, visit http://discopoetry-rss.eventbrite.com/.

I’m not sure if you’ve noticed or not, but I’m back in Chicago! I wouldn’t be Chaos if I snuck back into the city all quiet and low-key like… So I, in conjunction with BlackWater Marketing Group, am organizing a massive event called The Flavor Mosaic to celebrate my arrival back to Chicago and my birthday.

The event begins at 3 p.m. on Saturday and will end at 3 a.m. on Sunday. It will be held at Galleria Unico located at 44 E Superior. Come indulge in zesty beats from over 10 deejays, an open bar filled with exotic drinks, ethnic delights and grilled goodies, and enjoy tarot card readings, massages, trunk shows, live musical performances and art shows… But most importantly, come kick it with me! I’ve missed you Chi-Town!

Entry for my shindig is $35 for women and $45 for men. The entry fee includes access to all of the events for the evening and access to the open bar and food. For more info visit http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/event.php?eid=121844361512&ref=ts. To RSVP email BlackWaterMarketing@gmail.com.

To wrap up my weekend, I will be spending Sunday night at Bytch Fest 2009. Bytch Fest is a feminist punk event that’s goal is to create an environment where women can freely express themselves without the judgment of a critical society which seeks to wipe out creativity. The event will be held 9 p.m. Saturday at Fizz, 3220 N Lincoln Ave. The affair will include burlesque performances, performances by feminist bands and more.

Entry for this event is $20. For more info visit http://www.myspace.com/bytchfest2009

As you can see this is going to be a busy, but a kick ass weekend! I hope to see you guys out!

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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

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

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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.


8 East First Street

Hinsdale IL 60521


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rebecca_1Rebecca Taras, NBC Chicago Street Team

I’m not here to provide a history lesson, but I have to address the fact that today is Bastille Day. While you may see it as an excuse to dine at a resto in town that’s offering a special menu, the day actually commemorates the storming of the Bastille (a prison),

Monet - Bastille Day

Monet - Bastille Day

which took place on July 14, 1789 (the theory behind those crazy priced menus you might see this week.) While it sounds like a horrible reason to celebrate, the act actually symbolized the fall of the king’s power.

While my favorite Bastille Day memory was sitting with my mom on our hotel balcony (in our pajamas, I might add) watching the French soldiers march off to the annual parade on the Champs, I managed to make my way to the kitchen this morning to make up a batch of crepes for old time-sake. The truth of the matter is, I own Charles Aznavour CD”s and most would consider my apartment a mini Parisian flat in the heart of Chicago. While I try to get away for a short visit once a year, I fill the time in-between with events and experiences to hold me over until the next visit. Whether you love France or just good wine, Bistro 110 has a Tour de France Wine Tasting Series that will be venturing into the Loire Valley on Thursday, July 23 from 6-8 p.m.

Chateau de Chaumont - Loire Valley

Chateau de Chaumont - Loire Valley

Summer is a time to be casual and mingle, so the event will take place on Bistro 110′s newly opened “terrasse,” the outdoor patio where guests can sip  and nosh at their leisure. Along with the French staples of bread and cheese, Executive Chef Dominique Tougne will provide a selection of bites ranging from Valencay-Style Chicken with Grapes and Muscadet Wine Sauce, to a Whole Poached Salmon “Bellevue” with Tarragon Mayonnaise.

Reservations are available, but not required. Attendance is $25 per person, including tax and gratuity (a bargain in any language.) Bistro 110 is located at 11o East Pearson. 312.266.3110.

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