SCOTTSDALE, AZ – St. Charles, IL might as well be the boonies when it comes to culinary innovation. A few years ago, Pete Balodimas and his family tried to change all that with Fahrenheit, a cutting edge restaurant some 40 miles from downtown Chicago. But the restaurant didn’t last, and Balodimas soon moved up and over to Evanston, where he was the chef at Quince. Then he just disappeared. But oddly enough, I ran into him two weeks ago in Scottsdale, Arizona, of all places, working for the Jose Garces Restaurant Group. Read More
By Gulnaz Saiyed
Some of my earliest memories are of shopping trips to Devon Avenue. We would travel across town and then across states to get holiday clothes (even my wedding dress last year!), boxes of sweets and most importantly, stock up on ingredients for my mom’s kitchen. We would, of course, stop to eat on these trips, but given that my mother is the best cook on the planet, the restaurants never quite compared. Read More
Here we go again. In what must surely be the result of another series of sleepless nights for chefs Dave Beran, Grant Achatz and the entire team at Next, the fourth iteration of that always-evolving restaurant begins this week, with a tribute to el Bulli.
The ground-breaking, world-class restaurant in Roses, Spain (hence, the hanging roses in the video?) is no longer open, but memories of some of the dishes are certainly set in stone among those who’ve dined there; Beran and his team will be spending the next three months recreating and refining some of those highlights from the past few years.
The preview video is once again sumptuous, with an appropriately dramatic soundtrack. Best of luck to all in getting in…
At the risk of sounding like an old(er) man, I’m offering up a few recommendations this week that are helpful to both the 20-something clientele, as well as the over-40 group. How is this list helpful to diners who wear stilletos to dinner? Well, for one thing, any restaurant that has a thumping soundtrack and a constant din of activity usually has a great bar scene, or at the very least, a long bar where you can lineup and wait 10 minutes before you can flag down a harried bartender to make you a $12 cocktail (or, in the case of Tavernita, have them just pull that cocktail tap). But on the flipside, how would knowledge of these bustling, cacophonous spaces help the over-40 crowd? Simple. If you plan to dine there *on a Friday or Saturday night after 7 p.m., be prepared to shout at your tablemates, because comfortable, relaxed conversation is not in the cards. Best to visit mid-week. Read More
I was expecting Day 1 (Monday) at Publican Quality Meats to be busy, but not THIS busy. By 1 p.m., there were already people lining up to buy grass-fed beef from Wisconsin and homemade boudin blanc. An assortment of salumis at one case had a few guys taking rapturous nibbles from the free samples placed on top of the coolers. I had just come to check things out, and to see what Paul Kahan and his team were doing across the street from their other temple of pork, The Publican. Read More
This week, we’re off to Bridgeport, just south of downtown Chicago, home to countless mayors and one of the city’s legendary bakeries. At the Bridgeport Bakery (no website, how quaint), they’re gearing up for Paczki Day right about now, but one thing you can always count on are the doughnuts. Both yeast and cake versions exist side-by-side here, and after one bite, you’ll see why this tiny bakery engenders such loyalty among the locals.