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Archive for the ‘lunch’ 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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Hungry Z, NBCChicago Street Team

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

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

Bookbinder and clam chowder at Hugo's

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

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

Caldo Gallego at Meson Sabika

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

33 CLUB 

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

CARNIVALE

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

 CHENS CHINESE AND SUSHI

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

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

 DAWALI MEDITERRANEAN KITCHEN

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

 GIBSONS BAR & STEAKHOUSE

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

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

 HUGO’S FROG BAR & FISH HOUSE

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

 ITALIASIA

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

 KDK RESTAURANTS: GIOCO, MARCHÉ, OPERA, RED LIGHT

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

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

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

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

 LA MADIA

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

 LUXBAR

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

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

STRETCH RUN SPORTING CLUB & GRILLE

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

 SUSHI TAIYO

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

 TAPAS VALENCIA

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

TRADER VIC’S

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

 SUBURBAN EVENTS

 CARLUCCI  RESTAURANT

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

 DUKE’S ALEHOUSE AND KITCHEN

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

 DURTY NELLIE’S

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

 HUGO’S FROG BAR & FISH HOUSE – NAPERVILLE

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

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

 THE LUCKY MONK

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

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rebecca_1Rebecca Taras, NBC Chicago Street Team

 

The crisp fall air isn’t the only aroma your nose may pick up this week – especially in the Loop. If you happen to catch a whiff of beer, brats and kraut, follow the trail to the historic Berghoff  (17 W. Adams) Wednesday through Friday for their annual Oktober Fest. It’s hard to believe that this is the Berghoff’s 24th sausage and suds celebration  held on the Federal Plaza at Adams and Dearborn Streets. Considering the Berghoff has been serving up classic German food and their own private-label suds for generations, you know the food and drink won’t disappoint. NBC-Oktoberfest 2008 016

Admission to the Berghoff Oktoberfest is complimentary and includes musical entertainment to suit all tastes. Work off that brat by doing the “Hoky Poky” with Bavarian polka performances by the Johnny Wagner Band, or enjoy local favorites Maggie Speaks, Sixteen Candles and the Modern Day Romeos over the course of the three days. Always wanted to cook your own schnitzle? This year’s fest also marks the launch of The Berghoff Café Cookbook: Berghoff Family Recipes for Simple, Satisfying Food (Andrews McMeel Publishing, $24.99, September 2009) by Carlyn Berghoff, fourth generation restaurateur and Berghoff Catering & Restaurant Group CEO, who will be signing copies during the fest. You’ll also have a chance to enter two raffles benefitting the Mercy Home For Boys and Girls. While a case of beer would make sense, how about the opportunity to win a 2010 Jaguar XF or a luxe trip to the Ritz in Cali?

For more information on the Berghoff Oktober Fest, including hours and entertainment schedule, click here. Post!

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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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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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