I realize not everyone wants to go all-in and cook like a maniac on Thanksgiving, and fortunately, a lot of restaurants feel your pain (actually, their employees feel the brunt of it, since they’re the ones working all day long). It does seem like every year a few more restaurants figure people are throwing in the towel, and thus, send out press releases announcing that they’re more than open for business on November 27. So if you’re inclined to watch some football then go out to dinner (or even pick up some food before the games start so you can reheat at home), here are some places in Chicago prepared to reduce your stress levels. Read More
It’s no coincidence we’re seeing a lot more coverage of gluten free recipes, while more and more restaurants offer special dishes appealing to celiacs. For the 5th year in a row, Wildfire is running a special “Gluten Free Week,” benefiting The University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center, which means for the rest of this week, every Illinois Wildfire location will be hosting a five-course Gluten Free Dinner with optional cider and wine pairings.
The menu includes mini crab cakes, bacon-wrapped horseradish crusted filet mignon served with truffle macaroni & cheese and Door County cherry hand pies with vanilla ice cream. The dinner is priced at $60 per person without pairings and $80 per person with pairings, plus tax (gratuity not included). Each reservation will include a donation to the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center, although representatives haven’t said how much.
Chicago’s Begyle Brewing company has been doing things a little bit differently ever since they opened, and this week’s pick is certainly part of that approach. The company is a CSB – Community Supported Brewery – much like the CSAs you find from local farms during the summer. You get a new beer every month (there are 6 month or 12 month subscriptions, but they’re currently on a waiting list) and this week’s pick features their Midwestern Pale Ale, which goes by the name Euchred. Even if you can’t get a subscription, it shouldn’t be too hard to find them around Chicago; they’re on about two dozen taps. Cheers.
Some of the state’s top smokers are joining forces for a great cause. The newly-formed Illinois BBQ Alliance (which has 14 restaurants and counting) is presenting the first-ever “Autumn Smoke” on Sunday, November 2nd, from 2 – 6 p.m. at Joe’s Bar (940 Weed St.), which will benefit Stand Up For Kids, a national non-profit that gets homeless kids off of the streets. In addition to a regional BBQ dinner from some of the top Pitmasters in our region, there will be a panel discussion as well as a plenty of delicious, slow-smoked beef and pork. Tickets are just $35 ($25 if you’re a member of the IBBQA). Get all of the info here.
It’s last call for the world’s best bartender. After nearly three years serving as the Beverage Director at The Aviary – Chicago’s cutting-edge bar – and garnering every conceivable award in his industry, Charles Joly is leaving the West Loop bar at the end of the month to seek out the opportunities now presenting themselves. When Partners Nick Kokonas and Grant Achatz hired the classically-trained bartender away from The Drawing Room, handing him the keys to their experimental, no-rules lab on West Fulton, it might have been considered risky. But the overwhelming amount of good press and industry accolades – coupled with Joly’s rising star – only intensified the spotlight. Read More
You have to hand it to the Illinois Restaurant Association. Not only do they take constructive criticism, they act upon it. A few years ago, I was fairly critical of Chicago Gourmet, after a weekend spent waiting in lines longer than an NFL rap sheet due in part, no doubt, to a Groupon that flooded the event with discount price party crashers. Add to that the lopsided number of liquor and wine tents vs. actual food vendors, and you had half the crowd smashed by 2 p.m. The secondary tent just west of Millennium Park wasn’t much better, at least in terms of hearing the cooking demos, as the sound ricocheted everywhere, making it impossible to hear the folks up on stage. My how times have changed.
This past weekend’s event – under some of the warmest, most pleasant late September weather I can ever recall – was improved by at least 1000%. Let’s start with the food. Yes, there were still lines, but guests had so many more choices this year: new BBQ pavilions featuring three restaurants at a time, in long blocks, switching out every few hours. You could line up and get brisket from Bub City or a “BBQ Sundae” from Chicago q but still have plenty of time to walk over to another pavilion where another trio of restaurants where serving up something sweet (dessert pavilion) or savory. Read More