Posts Tagged ‘restaurants’

Lindsay_small_2Lindsay Saewitz, NBC Chicago Street Team

Old Towners rejoiced as Old Town Social opened to the public in late August, adding a much-needed casual yet sophisticated spot to Old Town’s roster of pubs, dive bars, and fratty hang-outs. But the locals weren’t the only ones excited…North Siders and Downtowners alike came together to welcome the new bar to the neighborhood.

The first thing you’ll notice when you walk in to Old Town Social is the unique decor, combining turn of the century style with IMG_4298modern day chic. The bar is filled with rich mahogany wooden structures, draping red curtains, bold chandeliers, and even a reading room complete with books and a fireplace. The main bar area lives up to the “Social” part of its name by featuring long, communal tables, but tucked away you’ll find a handful of intimate table-for-twos embedded into the wall. Venture to the back of the bar up a few steps where you’ll find more intimate booths and an additional cocktail area with its own bar. Not only will you get a drink quicker in this spot, but you’ll also be in the perfect position for some people watching.

Old Town Social’s menu is quite impressive, featuring upscale bar food and small plates from a former Blackbird sous chef. You will also not be disappointed with the drink selection, which includes an extensive list of craft beers and seasonal specialty cocktails.

The classiness may start to dwindle as you party into the wee hours and suddenly notice you’re back in an overcrowded bar with 90’s hip hop blaring over the speakers. But fast-forward a few weeks to when the novelty dies down and the bar has solidified its identity, and I think you will find that Old Town Social is just the new thing that Old Town has been waiting for.

IMG_4293Old Town Social
455 W. North Avenue
Chicago, IL 60610

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rebecca_1Rebecca Taras, NBC Chicago Street Team


Life is full of firsts and while your first kiss may not be worth repeating, the first annual Common Threads World Cookout  taking place this Thursday will no doubt keep you coming back for more. Priced at $75 a ticket, the event was designed to be bit more fiscally approachable than the World Festival where tickets ran between $250-$500. Proceeds benefit Common Threads, which seeks to educate children on the importance of nutrition and physical well-being, and to foster an appreciation of cultural diversity through cooking. NBC-Fulton'sCommonThreads

Holding on to the last of the summer temps, the cookout will take place on Fulton’s on the River’s open-air veranda along the Chicago River and within their Riverfront Room. As with any Common Threads event, you can expect Chicago’s best culinary stars to be in attendance ready to feed you. Among those participating include Stephanie Izard, Top Chef Season 4; Paul Virant, Vie; Bill Kim, Urban Belly; Chris Pandel, The Bristol;  Rodelio Abilgot, Sunda; Radhika Desai, Top Chef Season 5; Gale Gand, TRU; James Gottwald, Rockit Bar & Grill; Giuseppe Tentori, Boka; Toni Roberts, C-House; Jonathan Fox, La Madia; Mark Mendez, Carnivale; Dominique Tougne, Bistro 110; Greg Biggers, Fulton’s on the River; Sarah Grueneberg, Cafe Spiaggia; Robert Andrea, Jake Melnick’s; Rick Gresh, David Burke’s Primehouse; and Suzanne Imaz and Martial Noguier, Café de Architectes.

While you can opt for the $75 general admission ticket, there are also a limited number of VIP Package tickets, which include a special VIP reception at 5:30 pm and an after party beginning at 9:30 pm at Jake Melnick’s Corner Tap (ending at Midnight) are also available for $150 per guest. Kicking off at 5:30 pm on Fulton On The River’s riverfront veranda, The Common Threads Associate Board hosts the VIP pre-party guests for an exclusive outdoor tasting (weather permitting) with Cafe Spiaggia Chef di Cucina Sarah Grueneberg. The VIP after-party commences at Jake Melnick’s (41 East Superior ) at 9:30 pm, featuring complimentary Stella Artois and Hoegaarden, as well as choice wines and specialty cocktails and yes, even more food, just in case you didn’t get your fill over at Fulton’s. 

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.commonthreads.org or call/email Jenny Pinto at 312-329-2501 x 207 or Jennifer@commonthreads.org.

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rebecca_1Rebecca Taras, NBC Chicago Street Team


It’s no secret that Chicago has an amazing restaurant scene full of new and established talent. You could literally pick a new place each week and still not cover everything, let alone come up for air.  While there are some fabulous events in this city dedicated to the art of the eats, the TOQUE Dining Gala: An Evening With Chicago’s Culinary Masters, is at an entirely different level. NBC -logo_toque09_sm

Taking place this Thursday, the event is an amalgamation of food stations and a formal sit-down dinner, all prepared by Chicago’s finest. But it’s not just an excuse to come eat. Philanthropic partygoers will feel good knowing that proceeds from the evening  (tickets and a live auction) will benefit Children’s Oncology Services, Inc. (COSI), which will help send children with cancer to camp with their One Step At A Time programs.

This year’s event is emceed by Bill Kurtis, journalist and founder of Tallgrass Beef Company, along with Michael Kornick of MK Restaurant who is returning as chef coordinator of the event. Along with four fine dining courses (prepared by Art Smith, Michael Kornick, Mindy Segal and others), guests will also enjoy wine pairings and a cocktail hour with chef inspired bites from several other top notch contributors.

Need some advice?  Skip lunch this Thursday.

The event takes place at the Harold Washington Library Winter Garden at 6:00 pm.

Visit www.onestepcamp.org for additional information and to purchase tickets.

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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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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

Hey everyone! I’m SO excited to be part of the NBC Chicago Street Team! I’ll be writing about a few of my favorite things — bars, food, and maybe a snippet of reality TV. Today let’s get started with some food!

Since the 1950s, North Shore high schoolers have flocked to this Evanston hot spot, half for the Lorettas and half for the scene. With this winning combination, it makes perfect sense that the new Sarkis location, named Sarks in the Park, is located in the heart of Lincoln Park at the corner of Clark and Fullerton (in the former Sinbad’s spot).

Owners Josh Alomia and Danny Gallagher open Sarkis in Lincoln Park

Owners Josh Alomia and Danny Gallagher open Sarkis in Lincoln Park

The new Sarks, franchised by GBS and New Trier graduates Danny Gallagher and Josh Alomia, was scheduled to open yesterday but had to push back the opening until Saturday, July 18th. If you were one of the loyal Sarks followers who awaited the opening for weeks, you probably snagged a few free sandwich cards. If you happen to be walking by this week you might snag some as well!

This breakfast-all-day spot is best known for the “Loretta” sandwich, made of grilled french bread, white brick cheese, your choice of bacon, ham, turkey, or the spiced sausage coined the “Disaster”, plus all the fixins- mayo, green pepper, onion, tomato, and maybe some hot sauce if you’re in the mood for something spicy.

If you’re worried about your calorie count, this Sarks location will be offering a lower-fat Loretta made with wheat bread, low-fat cheese, and turkey. Still probably not the healthiest choice, but might save you an extra few minutes of cardio. Sarks also offers more traditional breakfast items like omelets, french toast, and pancakes.

With a hot location, large patio, outdoor speakers bumping, and late night hours (open ’til midnight on the weekends and possibly 4 am in the future), this new addition to the neighborhood is sure to satisfy both your party scene and food cravings. Prepare for a wait, but according to Alomia it will be well worth it after you try the “best breakfast in the world.”

Sarks in the Park
444 W. Fullerton Parkway at Clark Street
Chicago, IL 60614
Opening Satur
day, July 18th

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

Sometimes you just know when you know.  I’m talking about an instance where you experience something and it just feels right.  For example, meeting a spouse or significant other for the first time, selecting a college, interviewing for a job or…umm… tasting a cupcake?  I didn’t know that eating a cupcake could be a life changing experience until recently.  That’s because the newly launched Naperville based Foiled Inc. has the most moist, most fresh and best tasting cupcakes that I’ve tasted.   Hands down!Foiled Cupcakes

 There has been a trend of specialty cupcake shops that have recently opened, but none of them can compare to Foiled Cupcakes.  Owner Mari Luangrath started her company Foiled Inc. to help people enjoy memorable experiences through her cupcakes.   She called a childhood friend that is an Executive  Pastry Chef about her idea and voila they were in business.  Unlike other bakeries, Foiled doesn’t use a storefront, but differentiates itself as being Chicagoland’s first and only exclusive on-line designer cupcake delivery service.  The cupcakes are handmade using only the finest all-natural ingredients, such as traditional foil cupcake wrappers, real butter cream frosting, handmade fillings, and European Garnishes.  They offer twenty standard flavors every day, as well as additional monthly flavor offerings that are available for a limited time.  A few of the unique standard cupcakes offered are:

Ooey Gooey – Chocolate cake, caramel filling, caramel buttercream, ganache topping, and a pinch of sea salt.

Pinkalicious So Delicious – Chocolate cake, raspeberry jam filling, raspberry buttercream, and a dainty raspberry garnish.

The Cinnful Apple – Vanilla cake, baked apple filling, cinnamon buttercream, and sweet cinnamon sugar sprinkles.

Foiled also sets themselves apart from the competition by adding a little humor with each cupcake.  Their signature “Quippies” are little tag lines of humor inserted into the cupcakes themselves for an extra special surprise..  They also offer customized “Quippies” for special occasions.  Cupcakes retail for $38 per dozen and delivery is included.  They can whip up designer cupcakes by the dozen with as little as 12 hours notice.  Foiled delivers in Chicago and the West Suburbs and pride themselves on customer service.  Orders can be made on-line, by phone or fax.  For more information log onto www.foiledcupcakes.com.

Check out www.eFete.net and watch Fete Select TV  for an inside look into the newest and hottest restaurants in Chicago.

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rebecca_1Rebecca Taras, NBC Chicago Street Team


You may have kicked off summer with Memorial Day weekend, but something about slipping into the month of June seems a bit more official. The term “endless summer” is far from the truth, so start the season off on the right by taking advantage of some of these offerings that are as time sensitive as the fabulous weather.

Face Offnbc-SpaParties

It’s tempting to lay in the sun like a baked potato, but your skin is susceptible to some serious damage that is bound to stick with you for many summers to come. Mitchell Dental Spa (Water Tower Place, 9th floor) would like to help you do something positive for your face, as well as your wallet. For the entire month of June, you can receive a 50% discount on their Cucumber Oxygen Skin Brightening Facial. Especially designed for sun damaged or uneven-toned complexions ( thanks to your  baby oil days), this oxygen infused treatment incorporates light microdermabrasion and a high dose of Vitamin C to ensure a brighter complexion after just one treatment. To schedule your appointment call 312.642.1014. www.MitchellDentalSpa.com.

Summer School

Erase the bad memories of summer calculus classes and replace them with a class at Chens (3506 N. Clark Street). Why settle sipping cocktails all summer when you can be the master mixologist? On June 10th, learn how to make some of Chen’s signature martinis for only $10 – practically the cost of a martini these days! Even better, the class includes samples of the cocktails, small bites and a $20 gift certificate good for your next visit. Why not consider Chens as an alternative nosh spot in Wrigleyville? They may serve up Asian fare in lieu of hot dogs, but you’ll find plasmas for your viewing pleasure and even beer if you so desire. www.chenschicago.com

Double Your Pleasure

NBC-Cosmo%20Crush[1]A three-tiered cone of your favorite flavor of ice cream on a hot day may take you back to your childhood days of summer, while kicking back with a cool cocktail is an adulthood guilty pleasure. Mix the best of both and take a spin by the Seasons Bar and Lounge (120 E. Delaware Place) and add a scoop of nostalgia to your favorite adult bevs. Choose from one of six frosty concoctions, each priced at $14. It’s doubtful that you”ll find  Strawberries ‘n’ Cream (made with strawberry ice cream, strawberry vodka, Chamboard, lemonade and 7-up) at your local ice cream shop. http://www.fourseasons.com

The Party Continues

In honor of their 10 year anniversary, BIN 36 (339 N. Dearborn Street)  has been counting down the remainder of 2009 by offering up some fab monthly specials.  Save yourself the trouble of firing up the grill, as the June special  is $7 burgers all day long. Stay tuned for July when a new deal will be announced for even less coin -$6. http://www.bin36.com

Password to Pamper

Psssst! Some secrets are too good to keep. Call or walk your stealth self over to Exhale Spa (945 N. State Street) and mention code inside5609 when booking a Magic, Power, or Lift facial and receive 25% off through the end of June. Visit website for all rules and regs and to print the “insider” certificate. www.exhalespa.com

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Rewind the clock to 1920s Chicago when consumption of alcohol was prohibited by law. Thirsty Prohibition-era patrons found solace in a little place along the Fox River.

Back in 1927, Gladys Reitmayer and her husband owned Al Capone’s Hideaway. They made beer in a hidden cellar behind the chicken coop, and pumped it to patrons through a copper tubing system that remains underground to this day.

Thankfully, the folks at Al Capone’s Hideaway & Steakhouse (35W337 Riverside Dr.) in St. Charles no longer depend on copper tubing and gangsters to serve patrons their suds, although it truly is a hideaway. In fact, finding this place is half the fun! Poorly-lit streets, hills, and a forest are all things you have to encounter to reach this unique restaurant.

Log on to nbcchicago.com to read the rest of this post.

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

If you’re looking for something different to do this holiday season and want a break from Chicago’s hustle and bustle, then you might want to travel to Northwest Indiana.  I recently visited Horseshoe Casino, in Hammond Indiana, and was pleasantly surprised to see a first class venue.  I dined at their steak and seafood restaurant, Jack Binions, which offers select cuts of prime rib, steaks, veal and seafood.  My Kobe beef steak was tantalizing along with a few appetizers and a couple of desserts.  The restaurant overlooks Lake Michigan and attracts a lot of casino goers from Indiana and Chicago.  The casino also has a few other dining options, including the Village Square Buffet, housing Italian, Mexican, American, Asian and Seafood cuisine.uha_steak_house_2_300x22511

Horseshoe Casino has 350,000 square-feet of gaming space and 97 tables with games such as Black Jack, Poker, Craps, Roulette, Mini-Baccarat and many more.  The casino features approximately 3200 slot machines including the High-Limit Slot Room.  There are a few exclusive private lounges for special guests and high rollers.  The Horseshoe’s gaming room rivals any casino on the Las Vegas strip.

The Venue, the casino’s 90,000 square foot entertainment facility, hosts events and concerts.  Famous musicians and comedians are showcased weekly.  Past performers have included Seal, Liza Minelli, and Bette Midler.   Upcoming events will feature Gladys Knight, Jeff Foxworthy and Cedric the Entertainer.  The Venue also hosted the World Series of Poker this past October.

The Hammond Horseshoe Casino is about 30-minutes from downtown Chicago via I-90/94 and the Chicago Skyway.  For more information log onto www.hammondhorseshoe.com or call 866-711-SHOE (7463).

To check out the newest and hottest restaurants in Chicago watch Fete Select TV on www.efete.net.

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Jim Grillo, NBC5 Street Team




I stopped by the Chicago Hospitality Group event at N9NE/Ghostbar recently and spoke with Julie Zerega of N9NE & Ghostbar, Becky Mormann of Cubby Bear Wrigleyville and Gina Cresap of ZED 451.

In the video you will hear about what they can offer for holiday parties for your next group or company party. They all still have availability for holiday parties as well as some deals if you book a party soon. For a complete list of holiday party places for your next event, visit Hereschicago.com’s holiday party restaurants and venues guide.

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

Chicago has some great neighborhoods with excellent restaurants.  The major “hoods” that I frequent are Bucktown, Wicker Park, Gold Coast, River West, River North and the South Loop.  My neighborhood in Lakeview has some pretty darn good restaurants as well.  Recently I had the pleasure of dining at another Lakeview standout on North Broadway, Angelina Ristorante.

Read the rest of this article on nbcchicago.com.

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

Most folks in the know in Chicago can attest that there’s a ton of events, fundraisers and parties that you can attend on a weekly basis. There’s not nearly enough time to hit them all, so you have to be selective in the events you choose.

You might want to add “Hip Sip” at the W Hotel City Center to your calendar of must-visit events. It’s a themed cocktail party that is quite different from your average soiree.

Click here to view the rest of this story on nbcchicago.com.

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

The anticipation was high, as I was eager to attend the Meals On Wheels 20th Celebrity Chef Ball this past Friday.  This was a foodie’s dream event – to indulge in cuisine prepared by chefs from Chicago and around the country.  The premium ticket included a four-course seated dinner served by celebrity chefs.  The Indulgence Ball featured food samplings and chef stations from various Chicago restaurants.

The scene was elegant and stylish and was hosted on the 7th floor by Macy’s on State St.  Chefs from notable restaurants such as Perennial, Drawing Room, WAVE, C-House and Aigre Doux prepared and served signature dishes as well as desserts.  Foodie favorites were the Fish Taco by C-House and Duck Croquettes delivered by Perennial.  Cupcakes by Chaos Theory Cakes also got a lot of attention.  Premium cocktails, casino games, raffles and a silent auction made the evening especially fun.  A few local celebrities and a lot of Chicago socialites dressed for success to celebrate the grand occasion.

Meals on Wheels is a non-profit organization that provides funding to programs that support home bound senior citizens and peole with disabilities.  It truly is a great cause and an excellent way to give back to those that have probably helped us at one point or another during our lives.  The Celebrity Chef Ball was a big hit and one of the best charitable events in Chicago.  For more information about Meals on Wheels Chicago visit www.mealsonwheelschicago.org.

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

A month before my second wedding anniversary I was trying to decide what I would do for my wife.  Of course our first year anniversary was special, but my goal was to make our second year just as memorable.  My new Facebook friend, Pam Spritz, is a sassy, cute, and energetic mother and grandmother.  Our connection came through the birth of my son Tru on August 5th and her granddaughter Sunney Lou on August 6th.  Pam also has a son, Jordan, the founder and Executive Chef of Jordan’s Food of Distinction (JFOD).  He asked to cook for my wife and I on our anniversary and what followed was the best dining experience ever!

JFOD is in an unassuming location on Thomas St. near Ashland and W. Division St.  The dining room and kitchen are open and connected.  The room is intimate, homey, quaint and exudes food.  I never imagined upon my arrival that such a modest spot would leave us with an incredible experience.   We were their special guests for the evening.  A table set for two complete with candles and a flower arrangement created by Pam that reflected my wife’s wedding bouquet.  Cocktails, wine, and champagne flowed steadily.  A dining scene that heightened all of our senses.  The eight courses prepared for us were stunning and included “Marinated Hawaiian Black Fin Tuna and Japanese Day Boat Hamachi”, “Pan Roasted Diver Caught Scallops with Slow Poached Fresh Water Baby Rock Shrimp”, “Crispy Soft Shell East Coast Whole Crab” and “Extra Virgin Oil Poached Artic Salmon”.  The dessert, “Candied Fresh Ginger and Warm Brazilian Mango”, was ridiculously good.

Jordan customizes his cuisine to individuals.  He actually interrogates his clients about their likes, dislikes, lifestyle etc.  He wanted to know who we were, which allowed him to create and produce a menu that evening that hit home and provided a unique dining experience.   His inspiration came from two famous Chefs, Charlie Trotter and Rocco Dispirito.  Trotter taught him quality vs. quickness and Dispirito helped him to respect ingredients that come from farms.

JFOD is non traditional in their approach to dining.  Although we had many courses, they don’t matter here.  It all depends on what the customer wants and likes.   The more pickier the customer and the more challenging the task, the more excited Jordan becomes.  For example, he once prepared a meal for a Japanese company that wanted 15 different dishes that represented the flavors of 15 different countries where they were located.  The client has been a repeat customer ever since.

JFOD, on any given week, has artistic chefs from top Chicago restaurants such as Alinea, Trotter’s, Moto, and NoMi that help out in the kitchen .  Jordan wants his clients to feel that they had the perfect meal, at the perfect time, in the perfect place, during the perfect season.  He wants his cuisine to reflect everything about life and the bubble that surrounds them at that moment.  Everything that represents that meal.

JFOD can host up to 75 people for a cocktail party and 2 – 40 people for a sit down dinner.  If you want a dining experience customized to your palate, then JFOD is a must try.

Jordan’s Food of Distinction, 1551 Thomas Street, Chicago, IL. www.jfod.com (773) 278-8111

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

I always get asked about my favorite restaurant in the city.  My answer?  I don’t have a favorite restaurant, but I do have favorite dishes at certain places.  For example, my favorite BYOB sushi restaurant is Wakamono in Lakeview.  My favorite Sunday brunch spot is consistently the Bongo Room, and my new favorite doughnuts are served at the Powerhouse Restaurant.  Recently I think that I may have found my new favorite garlic bread dished out at Ristorante WE located in the W Hotel – City Center. 

I always make it a point to try the signature dish on the menu, just to see if it is something special.  The menu at Ristorante WE boldly lists as an appetizer item “Our Famous Garlic Bread”, therefore I had to try it.   The bread was nicely done with gorgonzola fonduta.  Fortunately it lived up to it’s billing, because the appetizers set the tone for the rest of the meal.  Other tasty menu items were their “Tuscan Spice Rubbed Tuna” and the “Warm Apple Crostata”, with caramel sauce and vanilla gelato.  Also check out their nice wine selection that we enjoyed by the glass.

Ristorante WE is open for breakfast, lunch, brunch and dinner.  It’s a great place for pre-theater dining and business dining.  They’re closed on Sunday for dinner, but you gotta try the garlic bread!

Ristorante WE, 172 W. Adams, Chicago, IL (312) 917-5608


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

The first time that I had tea was at the Ritz Carlton here in Chicago.  My wife treated me on my birthday afternoon to little sandwiches, cookies, tarts, champagne and of course tea.  It was a really nice and we both enjoyed ourselves, but I probably wouldn’t go back unless it is with her.  The idea of “tea”, especially among guys, is perceived as girly, quite stuffy and pretentious, and for the most part it is.  However, WAVE Restaurant in the W Lakeshore Hotel, is attempting to change that perception and make “tea” time sexy and unisex.

WAVE Executive Chef Kristine Subido created the uni-tea experience.  No white gloves or a full room of ladies here, but feminini-tea and masculini-tea are encouraged.  Along with a selection of loose leaf teas you’ll find tea-infused vodka elixirs (mar-tea-nis), bubbly and a selection of hand-crafted beers.  The menu prepared by Chef Kristine appeals to both men and women.

Mar-tea-ni selections include Raspberry Nectar and White Ginger Pear.  The Masculini-tea (beer choices) includes Goose Island, Pere Jacques and Chimay, Red.  The Tea-ni-bites are tailored to Guys and Gals selections.  The Guys menu include grilled beef tenderloin, beef tartare and mini Angus beef sliders.  The Gals savory treats consists of chilled shrimp and cucumber salad, smoked salmon cannolli, and curried deviled eggs.  Their Sweet Bites are scones, tarts, tea cakes, and macaroons.  The cuisine, cocktails and vibe at unitea is a place where friends can go hang out on a fall afternoon.  In-fact, unitea is a place where the fellas can go hang without having the “girly” stigma that surrounds tea time.  Unitea is available at WAVE Restaurant in the W Lakeshore Hotel Wednesday – Sunday from 2:30 pm – 6:30 pm.  For more information log onto www.waverestaurant.com.

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

The political scene has been at the forefront for Chicagoans the past 18 months.  My personal friend and Illinois Senator Barack Obama has taken the world by storm with his charisma and inspiring speeches that have won over hundreds of millions of people.  John McCain is experienced, but is trying to change his perception of being old and out of touch with typical Americans.  With the help of the media, You Tube and cyberspace nothing has been off limits when comparing and contrasting the Presidential candidates on policy, style, age, family, wealth, and now…um…sushi?

Yes folks, it’s true.  Now Obama and McCain will go “maki-to-maki” in a taste test at RA Sushi for the best maki roll.  You will have a chance to vote for either the Obama roll or the McCain roll as the best political roll conceived by the RA Sushi chef.

The “Blue” Barack Attack Roll is layered with smoked salmon, cream cheese, cucumber and artichoke rolled in rice and seaweed and topped with crunchy blue tempura bits, finished with a sweet eel sauce and wasabi mayo.

The “Red” McCain Terrain Roll consists of spicy tuna, crab mix and cucumber rolled in rice and seaweed and topped with crunchy red tempura bits, finished with a sweet eel sauce and spicy mayo.

In a non-biased taste test, I personally liked the McCain roll better, although I think that they could have come up with something better for Barack who represents more flavor than the roll that represents him.  Nonetheless it was an interesting and enjoyable taste test.

During both the Democratic and Republican National Conventions starting today thru Sept 5th, you can taste and vote for your favorite Presidential roll on the Campaign Platter at RA Sushi for $10.  A portion of the proceeds, $3 from every sale of the Campaign Platter, will benefit Rock The Vote.  The winning candidates roll will be inaugurated onto the menu at all three Illinois RA Sushi restaurants starting on Friday, September 12 through Friday, Oct 3.  Also diners will be able to register to vote at RA Sushi Chicago on Monday, Oct 6, as part of a Rock The Vote event that will be held there.

Check out RA Sushi at www.RAsushi.com for more information.

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


Celebrity chef, author and Food Network star Dave Lieberman has partnered with W Hotels to create exclusive dishes for both IN ROOM DINING and their newly designed LIVING ROOM lounge menus. “Cravings by Dave Lieberman” features globally-inspired foods with a twist. Each Chicago hotel will choose four dishes created by Dave to feature through April 09.  Each new menu item takes inspiration from one of the W’s upcoming global destinations; from Atlanta to Austin, Milan to Marrakech, Santiago to Spain and everywhere in between. Menu’s will change seasonally.

I had the pleasure of tasting four of the menu items at the W City Center last week and they were pretty darn tasty. The “Truffled Taleggio Grilled Cheese” was different from any grilled cheese that I’ve ever had, but not to be outdone was the “Meatball Hoagie” with red paper tomato sauce and provolone. The “Chicken Kebabs” on the menu were inspired by the upcoming W Marrakech. All of the menu items feature foods with unexpected flavors and ingredients that add a personal twist. Also be sure to order their specialty cocktails in the LIVING ROOM or WHISKEY BLUE. The best of the cocktails are the “Strawberry Basil Lemonade” and the “Forbidden Fruit Punch” (made for two).

Check out “Cravings” at the W City Center or the W Lakeshore. Also check out Fete Select TV to get a firsthand look at Chicago’s newest and hottest restaurants.

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

I’m a huge fan of BYOB’s in the city, and Chicago has a lot of them that I’ve discovered over the past few years.  They usually have great food, a nice atmosphere and the price is definitely right.  But recently I discovered a place that is BYOF (Bring Your Own Food), which I thought was a creative idea in allowing me to still enjoy a unique and intimate evening out without breaking the bank.

Trayce D opened a WineStyles franchise in the South Loop recently and hasn’t looked back.  Located at 1240 S. Michigan Ave, her goal for WineStyles is to be the neighborhood wine boutique store that carries exceptional wines from all over the world. Wine Styles wines are for drinking, not worshipping and are priced at $25 and under. They take the guesswork out of buying wine by categorizing wines by taste styles rather than grape or varietals. They make learning about wine easy and enjoyable. And, they have an excellent selection of gift items including gift baskets and wine accessories. 

The South Loop WineStyles offers the following:

* Wine Club Membership
* Complimentary tastings on Thursdays, 6-8pm
* Online shopping option
* Fine Cigars
* Private parties and events
* Live music on select nights
* B.Y.O.F (Bring Your Own Food) as they serve wine by the glass, or you can open a bottle.
* Wine classes and special order most wines by the bottle or case within 24 hours

Besides being a neighborhood boutique wine store, WineStyles provides a comfort and cozy setting for friends to meet up and partake in libations together.  Sara Kay, their on staff Sommelier, can help you select a nice bottle of wine for your special occasion.  I particularly like the fact that I can bring my own food, buy a great bottle of wine and still have a few dollars left over for dessert!

Check out Trayce D and her South Loop Wine Styles location  at 1240 S. Michigan Ave or log onto www.winestyles.net.

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

Marc Brooks should know a little bit about Hyde Park, seeing as he grew up there.  He also knows a little about restaurants, because he and restaurateur Jerry Kleiner collaborated on a hot concept in the South Loop last year and opened Room 21. 

This time around, Marc wanted to bring a concept back to the neighborhood where he grew up and currently resides, so he and Kleiner once again collaborated and opened Park 52.  Located in the heart of Harper Ct., Park 52 is described as an upscale American bistro.  The menu boasts a nice selection of salads, fish, pasta, and meat dishes. The clientele represents the diversity of Hyde Park, and the vibe is a chilled laid back atmosphere. 

The specialty cocktails are unique and prepared by their mixologists, but you must try the Parakeet by Mariah Naella.  Get an inside look at Park 52 on Fete Select TV below.  See other restaurant reviews at http://www.efete.net/select.html

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The Local Tourist, NBC5 Street Team

epic: (ep-ic, adj.)
1. Surpassing the usual or ordinary, particularly in scope or size; 2. Heroic and impressive in quality.

Epic Burger, a new joint in the north part of the South Loop or in the south part of the Loop, is aptly named. The burgers are of grand size; with its free range and antibiotic free beef and chicken, locally baked buns, fresh-cut fries, and real fruit smoothies the quality surpasses the usual sandwich and fry fare; and founder David Friedman’s plans to expand not just nationally but internationally are definitely impressive.

Susan Carter of Marriott ExecuStay (no relation, but we think we have many people convinced we’re sisters) and I shared an Epic burger and a turkey burger, both with Wisconsin Horseradish Havarti. We also ordered fries and a Lemon Squeeze smoothie.

We had no plans to finish the burgers because their size was daunting, but before I could stop I practically licked the Epic sauce off my fingers. If David hadn’t sat down to talk with us I probably would have! (I asked him what was in the Epic sauce and he just smiled and admonished me that I knew he couldn’t tell me. I had to try.) The sandwiches were messy, but it had nothing to do with grease. With onions and crisp pickles and actual green lettuce – not iceberg – and tomato we had to eat over the table to keep from dripping. As we dug into the fries I told Susan they reminded me of In-N-Out’s, the burger chain in California. After we’d finished eating David told us that chain was one of his inspirations. They have a limited menu, everything’s made to order, and a loyal fan base that will wait in line for the fresh-cut fries.

The smoothie consisted of fresh strawberries, fresh-squeezed lemonade, and fat free vanilla yogurt. Delicious. We also tried the South Beach, and you can’t go wrong with strawberry, orange juice (fresh, of course), and banana.

Despite the appropriateness of its current name it wasn’t the original choice. In it’s first incarnation David proposed Gigantic Organic, which would be a completely green concept. He quickly realized that wouldn’t work for two reasons. The name itself didn’t give off the proper connotation, and being entirely green would more likely put him in the red. The next option was Righteous Burger, a catchier and more appropriate name, which would be all-natural but not touted as entirely green. Unfortunately, after completely developing the branding, he found out that name was unavailable. He and his team poured over name after name and finally chose Epic because that’s what the sides at Righteous Burger would be called.

While not technically green, he does what he can to have a reduced environmental impact. The cups are made from compost and are recycled after you’re done with them. The napkins and forks and knives are all recycled and recyclable, and he uses low-wattage bulbs.

After David’s stint consulting to commercial food companies and seeing the conditions in the commercial meat industry he knew his restaurant would only use all-natural and drug free meat. I don’t know if it’s psychosomatic, but Susan and I agreed that even though we stuffed ourselves to the gills we didn’t have that sluggish, post big-lunch comatose I can’t even think about moving feeling.

It’s a good thing Epic will be expanding. Because of the lack of preservatives and the fresh ingredients, the food doesn’t travel well so there’s no delivery. He’s considering it in the future but only in about a four-block radius. You’ll recognize it when you see it: Epic will be delivered by a fast food superhero wearing a cape, mask and goggles weaving through the Loop on a Segway.

Now that’s Epic.

Epic Burger, 517 S State St, (312)913-1373

(On a side note, David started the Elbo Room up in Lakeview. He sold it years ago, but that’s one of my happy places so he’s instantly on my good side.)

Type The Local Tourist into the Search bar in the upper right hand corner of the page to see my reviews, bands of the week, trivia questions, upcoming events, and more or just click here. You can also follow me on Twitter.

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The Local Tourist, NBC5 Street Team
Summer’s right around the corner. I know, I know, we just managed to thaw out, but the lakefront path bathrooms are open, the cops are on bicycles and horses, and Chicagoans are actually smiling at each other, so that means our fun season has officially begun.

As a Midwestern gal, fun and food are intertwined, and summer means barbecue, so when I was invited to visit The Smoke Daddy I donned my elastic-waist pants and headed with a friend to “pig” out. Alan Ortiz and I arrived on time for our reservation, but since they were running a little behind we grabbed 2 stools at the tiny bar. Don’t ask me how we lucked out with those because the place is a veritable madhouse.

We weren’t waiting more than a few minutes before they seated us in the back by the kitchen and the bathrooms. Sounds bad, doesn’t it? Except The Smoke Daddy is small and so busy that almost anywhere you’re seated it’s going to be loud and there’s a likelihood you’ll get jostled a bit by other patrons or by the staff racing through. It was actually entertaining, with my view of the servers running a steady stream of food to the tables, the bar back carrying rack after rack of glasses back and forth to the kitchen, and the now three-deep bar full of good humored patiently waiting customers.

Julia greeted us quickly, efficiently took our order, and served it within five minutes. I’m not kidding – five minutes. In front of us we had ribs, pulled chicken and pork on white bread, sweet potato fries, macaroni and cheese, corn bread, and smoked pit beans. Oh yeah. They were all good and I’d order them all again. Then we shared iron skillet cookie topped with ice cream and I was afraid that Charlie was going to roll me out of his chocolate factory for being too greedy.

I’m not sure I can go into much more detail about the food. I know the meat’s smoked in house and they make their own sauce and I liked it, a lot. But other than that I’m just not that picky about my barbecue. What’s important is that I can’t wait to go back, and in a city of a gazillion restaurants that’s a statement.

The Smoke Daddy is not for everyone. It’s loud and crowded and my mother would hate it. But sit me outside when they’ve got some live music going on and I’m drinking a beer while my fingers are covered in sauce and I get bumped by the bar back wearing a shirt that says “Nice rack” and you’ll see one happy woman.

The Smoke Daddy, 1804 W Division, (773)772-MOJO
Live music nightly
Hours: Sun – Wed 11:30am to 11pm, Thurs – Sat 11:30am to 1am

The Smoke Daddy barbecue sauce is available at boutique grocery and specialty stores like Treasure Island.

Type The Local Tourist into the Search bar in the upper right hand corner of the page to see my reviews, bands of the week, trivia questions, upcoming events, and more.

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