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Archive for the ‘getting around’ Category

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

It’s rare to find a restaurant in the burbs that I really like which is not in the city. I found such a gem in the western suburbs a couple of weeks a go. Prasino, the new eco-friendly restaurant in LaGrange, promotes “green” and is doing it very well.

Prasino (means “green” in Greek) is the first eco-friendly restaurant for Chicago’s western suburbs. With an eco-chic design, and family friendly environment, this 200-seat restaurant is committed to promoting organic agriculture and supporting local growers & artisanal food producers whenever possible. General Manager Peggy Maglaris Kopley was inspired to start the concept after her husband was diagnosed with stage four non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2007, that brought the family’s attention back to the importance of “all things fresh.” She soon started buying organic products from the grocery store and attributes her husbands recovery to his organic diet.

Prasino’s menu appears to have similar menu items that you can find at other restaurants, but the key is that they’re organic and healthy. For example, their “Blue Crab Nachos” appetizer are served on baked yukon gold crisp with steamed blue crab, mango salsa, and cilantro bearnaise. The “Grilled Fresh Monterey Calamari” features blistered cherry tomato, braised cannellini beans, baby spinach, sea salt crustini, and a truffle mustard vinaigrette. Prasino has an attractive list of meat and seafood entrees, but I chose to sample the “Miso Chili Glazed Alaskan Black Cod” and the “Sesame Crusted Ahi Tuna”. Both dishes were extremely fresh, delicate and complemented by steamed basmati rice and baby bok choy. The flavors were light but present and the wasbai cream added a pleasant touch to the tuna. Side dishes range from “Grilled Asparagus” to “Roasted Cauliflower Gratin”. I thought the “Asparagus & Corn Risotto” made with truffle oil and lemon butter would be a dream, but it turned out to be a little too salty.

Prasino has a drink menu that works for everyone. Besides the standards of specialty coffees and teas, other organic highlights include fruit and veggie blended juices, sodas, smoothies, bottled beers and ciders, and sparkling wines. They have nice red and white wine selections, but Prasino’s specialty alcoholic cocktails take the blue ribbon. Be sure to order my two favorites, the “La Grange Manhattan” and the “Rose Hipster”. Top off your dinner with the apple waffles or bread pudding, although the latter of the desserts was very average.

Prasino is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and has affordable prices. The atmosphere has a friendly family feel and the service was good. It’s a great place to dine with kids and is located steps from the Metra station in downtown LaGrange enabling easy access from the city and other suburban areas. My wish is for Prasino to bring their concept to the city. Check out Prasino at http://www.eatgreenlivewell.com. Visit www.efete.net/blog.html to view my “Tru” ratings for Prasino.

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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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Glenn Murray, NBC5 Street Team

This Saturday the Legacy Initiative hopes to reverse a trend as it raises awareness of its mission with its first fundraiser this saturday 7PM at the Wine Consortium 110 East 23rd Street.

Our news media is inundated with stories of death and despair. There seems to be a self-inflicted endangerment to the lives of our youth. We are in a time of self-gratification and we have become short sighted in our decision-making.”This core issue led to the creation of the Legacy Initiative.

The mission of the Legacy Initiative is to assist in the establishment of an individual’s personal legacy of success, by making critical thinking their cornerstone. They establish a platform for making our students aware of programs, scholarships and opportunities that may not otherwise have been realized; provide a necessary pipeline of highly qualified candidates for educational, entrepreneurial and employment needs; and thus create a synergy between high school, college and technical schools, and various industries.

The non-profit organization whose solution will change the present self destructive course our underserved youth are travelling and are exposed to. That solution to the issue, is teaching them the habitual behavior of critical thinking.

 The donation to attend the event is $50 where the proceeds will help fund the organization’s ability to teach this essential, life altering behavior. Included in your donation will be a food provided by Lee’s catering. Dessert will be provided by Lizzie’s Confections. A hand-picked selection of fine wines will accompany the meal. A drawing for prizes including a grand prize cruise vacation for two.

Live music from Dudley Owens’ Jazz trio. A Spoken Word performance by Young Flame. Music throughout the night will be provided by the a special guest DJ I.N.C.

For more information on The Legacy Foundation, visit their web site at
www.tlionline.org

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Glenn Murray, NBC5 Street Team

Authenticity Preview Party: 4 Guys, 4 Girls and a Board Game

This Saturday at Dream (1750 North Clark) games will be played, disagreements will be had, the audience will roar and if you’re lucky you might walk away with a cruise vacation. No, Dream is not about to move to a talk show format. The lounge will host a preview party for the growing in popularity relationship board game Authenticity. “We had so much fun we decided to do it again” said game creator Sheila Brown. “But this time we wanted to give the audience an even more realistic look at the board game complete with conversations that follow”.

If you don’t know about the game (www.playauthenticity.com) it’s great for couples, (dating or married) to get to questions that you may not ask in general conversation. The topics range from Sex and Romance, Religion, Family, Finance, Life and Real Life Situations. There are also some fun twists in the game like the “Pick Your Pleasure” Section and every turn around the board requires you to plant a kiss on your partner (helpful if you may not provide the “right” answer for your partner). All in all the game is design to help the relationship win.

The brave souls joining me on the panel answering questions from the game include: Theresa Carter (Street Team and Thelocaltourist.com), Melinda Joseph (Raymi Productions), Derrick Lane (Art After Dark), Luke Jensen (Luke Jensen & Company Management and Consultations), Tish Murray (actress, model), Michael Hahn (beyondthegoodlife.com), Zondra Hughes (author and editor of N’Digo Magapaper). The event is hosted by Sarah Vargo of Maven. Doors open at 7PM with a pre event reception and the game panel begins at 7:30. Attendees who purchase a copy of the game that night are entered into a drawing for a 6 day cruise vacation for two. Admission to the event is free. For more information call 1-866-533-9884 or email info@220communications.com.

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Eric Smith, NBC5Chicago Street Team

On location at TEAMiFIT Lifestyle Center-676 N. LaSalle Street-with Founder, President and Wellness Coach-Amy Leffel.

Speak a little bit about your background-life before TEAMiFIT and how all this happened?

I received my undergraduate degree at Indiana University in Exercise Physiology and Public Health.  I worked as a personal trainer and exercise specialist-teaching fitness classes at gyms across the city.  Then I went back to school to get my masters degree in Education, where I worked with kids from 1st grade all the way up to 8th.  While as a school teacher, I was also teaching fitness classes and working as a personal trainer on the side.  So I have about seven years working in fitness.  This has been my passion, so doing this doesn’t feel like work.

TEAMiFIT at Chicago Soul Music Festival

Amy Got Soul

The initial concept was exercise on location at different outdoor venues across the city.  What gave you the idea to get started that way?

I’ve had this vision a long time.  April through September every year we hold outside classes.  So you’ll have classes happening all around the city…Lincoln Park, West Loop, West Town, River North, Gold Coast, Lake View and South Loop.  We also take these classes to the beach.  And as the weather cools we bring this more of this action to our space here.

So what makes TEAMiFIT different?

TEAMiFIT Lifestyle Center

TurboKick

TEAMiFit is a one-stop shop promoting health and wellness!  You can come here and get fitness classes for adults and kids.  We have Strictly CORE, TurboKick, Zumba, Strength Boxing classes and more…we’ve got all kinds of flava flava-including Power Yoga and Power Pilates.  We’ve got specialized workshops like plyometric training focusing on high-intensity movements for high impact.  We also have small group personal training called ‘Armed and Dangerous’ for only six people, to work with a personal trainer at a discounted price.  And beginning in November we are going to have educational classes ‘Doing Life Together’, where our lifestyle coaches will educate based on personal experience using their expertise to focus on what our members want.  Topics will include like how to eat right when working out, how to balance life, how to spend smart over the holidays, educational self-massage, couples massage, etc.  The lifestyle coaches will be here to educate and build relationships with our clientele.  We’re basically doing life together.

TEAMiFIT

TEAMiFIT

Amy is definitely on the move in Chicago and wants to get your body moving.  For additional information and register for classes visit TEAMiFIT online and Facebook.  To hear the entire interview, download the audio casts below.

Part 1  Interview w/Amy ‘Body’

Part 2 Interview w/Amy ‘What You Waiting For?’

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[Glenn Murray, NBC5 Street Team

On a recent visit to the House of Blues Foundation Room, I was overwhelmed by the atmosphere the venue has created for its guests and members. The private area incorporates an eclectic, multicultural vibe and offers a series of intimate rooms outfitted with inviting sofas and 300-year old antiquities which include a hand carved Rosewood bar from the Raj’s palace in India.

Members can enjoy a secluded space with intimate enclaves in the Divinity, Buddha and Ganesh rooms. The ceiling of the Ganesh room is comprised of the actual door leading to the Raj’s private prayer room while hand-carved, 18th century wall coverings adorn the interior.

the Foundation Dining Room is decorated in 19th century French carved mahogany, Oriental carpets and treasures from the Anheuser-Busch mansion. A contemporary American menu encompasses influences from the American south and Pacific Rim.

The ten-person private table sits in a luxurious dining room embellished with mahogany walls, velvet curtains and intricate artwork.

The foundation room members get access to special events like the upcoming Taste of Tuscany where members enjoy wine, olives, bread, cheese and antipasto. We will also also be highlighting liqueurs from Silvio Meletti. Events like this are frequently provided to its members.

For more infromation about the House Of Blues Foundation Room
Phone :312-923–7050
concierge.foundationroom.chicago@hob.com

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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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stephanie_small1Stephanie S. Green, NBC Chicago Street Team

 

 

 

It was only because of the invitation from my best friend who was visiting from out-of-town that I went to Road to Freedom: Photographs of the Civil Rights Movement 1956-1968 at the Field Museum.  It just kinda seemed old hat – I’ve studied civil rights and didn’t think I had anything to gain from the exhibit, so it wasn’t really on my radar.  But, as I viewed the exhibit and rounded the corner from the first wall, I found myself frozen in place and time, and in tears.

The Road to Freedom is the largest exhibit of civil rights photos and memorabilia that has been assembled in twenty years.  As soon as I entered the space, I was struck by the solemn and reverent air, an ambiance created by low lights, deep blue paint, the continual looping narrative of a video tape about the civil rights area and, of course, the photographs. The solemnity was so profound that people spoke in hushed tones and there was the occasional “shhhhhhhhh” directed toward children.

Alone . . .

Alone . . .

While the civil rights era is not a new subject for me,  nor for most of us, the images were compelling.  I was struck by the youth of the people photographed, unknowns as well as Jesse Jackson, Julian Bond, John Lewis and, of course, Dr. King.  But, my breakdown occurred when I reached the photos of the desegregation of Little Rock Central High. Young Elizabeth Eckford did not get the message that the date for the African American students to start school had been pushed back by one day. So, this fifteen-year-old girl arrived alone and was the target of unimaginable venom. Even as I look at the picture today, I get chills as I think of the strength it must have taken for her to keep moving.

The exhibit gave a clear sense of the commitment people had to this movement that lasted not days, weeks or months, but years. Years to attain basic civil rights. Years.  Commitment.  Personal danger.

As I moved further through the exhibit, I was captivated by photos of people on the sidelines. African-Americans cheering on the protesters – both Black and White.  Whites glaring as protesters passed in front of their homes.

I remember after Roots aired, a popular Black male comedian joked with great braggadocio about what he would have done to massa if he were Kunta Kinte.  The Road to Freedom made me wonder: what would I have done if I were alive then? Would I have been on the front line or would I have been on the sidelines cheering the protestors on or would I have been too scared to participate in any way whatsoever.  I then asked myself – is what I’m doing now reflective of what I would have done then? What about you? Are you a participant or a spectator? Are you committed to a cause? Passionate about it?

I urge you to visit the Road to Freedom: Photographs of the Civil Rights Movement 1956-1968, and take your children or a child in your life and ponder these questions.  It is a powerful reminder of changes that can be made with sacrifice and commitment.  The exhibit ends on September 7th.

Stephanie!
Looking for more To-Do?  Visit www.so-LAZE.com!

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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.

Amuse:

“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)

 Salad: 

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 

Fish:

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

 Meat:

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

palmwrap[1]

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[1]

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

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

Glen Prairie Interior

Glen Prairie Interior

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

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

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

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

Eivissa Cocktails

Eivissa Cocktails

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

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

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Laura Lodewyck, NBC Chicago Street Team

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Perennial Chicago

Perennial Chicago

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

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

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

Coffee and Baileys Dessert

Coffee and Baileys Dessert

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

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

Head to any neighborhood in Chicagoland and you’re bound to run into at least one or two sushi spots.  Eating sushi has become as common as grabbing a turkey burger or cobb salad.  It’s tasty, healthy and in most cases affordable.  However, not all sushi is made the same.  In-fact, Sushi Mon’s “pressed sushi” is the only sushi of its kind in Chicago.  Created by Bat, a certified sushi wizard, Sushi Mon has become a popular new hot spot known for great sushi, crazy combinations and an intimate atmosphere.pressed_sushi_banner[1]

Bat honed his sushi skills in LA and brought his creativity to Chicago three years ago.  His pressed sushi consists of compressed rice and ingredients topped off with avocado, slices of succulent fish and tasty sauces.  To experience the true flavors of the pressed sushi, Bat suggests that you try his creations without soy sauce.  Pressed sushi favorites include “Salmon Bliss” made with salmon, seaweed, masago, avocado, and sesame seeds, the “Chicago” consisting of crab, unagi, avocado, masago and spicy mayo, and the “Crazy” created with salmon, tuna, ebi, wasabi mayo, wasabi tobiko, avocado and seaweed.  The menu also allows sushi lovers to create their own pressed sushi.  Sushi Mon still has the usual Sushi Nigiri and Sashimi selections along with a number of appetizers and salads.  Expect to discover fresh sushi at an affordable price.  Average cost for pressed sushi rolls are $12, but other rolls range between $3.50 – $6.95 per roll.  If you’re in the mood for cocktails, be sure to bring your favorite bottle of sake or wine, because Sushi Mon is BYOB.

Sushi Mon is located near Lincoln Park at 2441 N. Clark Street.  Guests can dine-in, carry-out or have their favorite sushi delivered.  For more information log onto www.sushimonchicago.com.  Check out Fete Select TV on www.efete.net for an inside look into the newest and best Chicago restaurants.

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

Three weeks a go the buzz was humming about Market, the new West Loop sports bar that was opening on Randolph Street.  Chicago White Sox GM Kenny Williams is supposedly part owner of the new venue along with two other Chicago restaurateurs.  Unfortunately, on opening night the restaurant was serving food, but not beer, wine or cocktails, due to the lack of a liquor license.   However, last week Market received the green light from the city and is making up for time lost by serving great cocktails to complement their terrific food.

Market is a multi-faceted restaurant and sports bar that offers guests traditional American classics with an aesthetic flair by Chef Joe Rosetti.  The menu boasts a variety of appetizers, salads, specialty sandwiches, pizza, burgers and main dishes.  Chef Rosetti’s cuisine is definitely above average  compared to other recently opened luxury sports bar in the city.  The “Mac and Cheese Muffins” and “Popcorn Shrimp” are must have starters.  Their braised beef and BBQ pulled pork “Sliders” are not only very tasty, but plentiful.  Sanwedges to try are “The Body Builder”, piled high with oven roasted turkey  and “The Strip Club”, consisting of Chile rubbed chicken and peppered bacon.  If you like turkey burgers, then try “The Herky”, served with avocado and thick cut turkey bacon and truffled fries.  Folks are raving about the “Mustard and Maple Glazed Salmon” main dish and the giant chocolate chip dessert served warm a la mode style.  There really isn’t a dish that is not worth trying at Market and you will forget that it’s supposed to be bar food.

Market’s main dining room is sports bar chic and has a casual vibe.  The first floor features 20 42′ inch flat screen televisions and one 92′ inch projection screen.  They have three outdoor places to eat and drink, including the Beer Garden, Rooftop Lounge and Sidewalk Cafe.  The summer months should make this a great place to hang and enjoy great weather and food.

Market is located at 1113 W. Randolph in the West Loop.  The restaurant opens for lunch at 11 am.  Log onto www.marketbarchicago.com for more information.  Watch Fete Select TV on www.efete.net for an inside look into the newest and hottest restaurants in Chicago.

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

Springtime weather has gotten Chicagoans all in a tizzy.  Hibernation season is over, which is evident by the outside tables being set up at restaurants all over the city.  Sure the seventy degree weather is what’s popular these days, but the talk of the town has been Chicago’s hottest new restaurant, Sunda New Asian.  Brought to you by Billy Dec and Rockit Ranch productions, this hip and modern designed restaurant has been the place to be since its grand opening.  Check out Fete Select TV, as Bill Dec gives me an inside look at the cuisine, cocktails and vibe of Sunda.

 

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LaShonda Matlock, NBC Chicago Street Team

Always on the go? Or maybe you just hate those extended stays hotels.

Well here’s a chic and cost effective alternative, rent a corporate apartment!

When your job takes you everywhere and home is where your suitcasebed is, you DO have a choice.

Corporate apartments offer most of the same amenities at those luxury hotels but sometimes at a fraction of the cost plus with additional space.

Now, this isn’t for everyone especially if you love to pick out place-mats. But if you’re a busy traveling professional, need a home styled vacation rental or a one-stop shop short/long-term lease this may be a great idea!

Personally, I don’t have time to worry about the small stuff and with my career taking me from city to city every few years this is the perfect solution.

Why spend time towel shopping, buying dishes or moving bulky furniture up and down endless flights of stairs when it could all be there waiting for you with maid service?!

Chicago has several  very reputable corporate housing companies that offer a wide range of prices and accommodations to suite almost anyone’s needs. From modest studios to luxury 4 bedrooms town homes they have it all! Listed below are my personal favorites. And as they say home is where the suitcase is!

CHECK IT OUT!

http://www.spsuites.com/
http://stanproperties.com/
http://www.thewaltonresidence.com
www.athomeinnchicago.com

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Free Water Taxi

Theresa Carter, The Local Tourist, NBC Chicago Street Team

For once, getting around downtown Chicago is cheap. From May 1 through May 15 Shoreline is offering free trips on their commuter service between Michigan Avenue and Union Station. On weekdays from 7 to 9:30am, and again from 4 to 6:30pm, you can avoid stoplights, honking horns, weaving cabs, and rubber-necked pedestrians and instead travel in the relative serenity of a water taxi for free. Even when the price goes back to normal, at $2 one way or $3 round-trip, this is still a very affordable way to go for commuters. They also offer service to Navy Pier and the Museum Campus daily and rates vary depending on how far you want to go.

Wendella is the other water taxi service. They’ll take you down to Chinatown for a mere $4, and they have an all-day pass for $6.

Click here to see a map of where the Water Taxis stop.

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

There are three things that can make a restaurant shine.  Great food, excellent service and a good vibe.  Although many restaurants may have those characteristics, there are very few that truly exhibit an instant homey feel.  The neighborhood spot Rosal’s is all about food and family.  Walking into this family-owned restaurant instantly makes customers want to stay for a while.little20oscar-after1

Rosal’s, located in Chicago’s “Little Italy” neighborhood is named after the dream of  Roseanne and Salvatore Perry, hence Rosal’s.  The 19 year old Italian restaurant is about wonderful Sicilian food served in abundant portions.  The menu is extensive and is sectioned by Antipasti, Pasta & House Favorites, Vitello, Pesce, Pollo, and Carne dishes.  All of the dishes that came out of the kitchen looked absolutely scrumptious, but there are few favorites that may help to narrow the selection process.  The “Grilled Calamari” is a must start with dish.  The “Eggplant Parmigiano” and “Shrimp Alla Anival” are pasta entrees that are very popular among regulars.  Meat dishes such as the “Veal Steppanjohnno”,  “Chicken Scallopini with Prosciutto” and “Grilled Pork Chops” will satisfy any hearty appetite.    The bread on the table is warm when you sit down and the olive oil sprinkled with parmesan dipping sauce is perfecto!  The waitstaff will encourage substituting sauces or adding meatballs that will help make the perfect meal.  Don’t expect a prententious environment, but an intimate, cozy and family atmosphere that saw many tables chatting with one another.

The desserts are tradtional with “Tiramasu” and “Cannoli” on the menu, but the “Peanut Butter Pie” could do the trick as well.  The prices are very reasonable and bottles of wine are very affordable.  Rosal’s is located at 1154 W. Taylor Street.  For more information log onto www.rosals.com.  For more dining options and an inside look into Chicago’s newest and hottest restaurants log onto www.efete.net and watch Fete Select TV.

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