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December 2009 Archives

Seems like everyone's doing those end-of-year and end-of-decade lists right about now, and we're nothing if not bandwagon-jumpers. But instead of telling you what we think were the coolest bars, clubs and restaurants of 2009 (or making you cast your vote), we're going to let the numbers do the talking. Before the new decade begins, we'll be giving you the lowdown on what venues Centerstage users viewed the most during the past year, along with our ideas about why each was so popular. Did your favorite make the list?

The final list: Nightclubs. (For this one, we'll let the user reviews speak for themselves. Note that most of these places are 17 or 18-plus.)

1. Nitro Dance Club
"By far the most (dare I say it) crackin lackin dance house ever."

2. Club Volkan
"It's really up to you if you are willing to risk your life for some fun."

3. Mission
"The crowd is not nearly as perverted as at Energy and not as young as Zero."

4. Club Mambo
"For an 18+ club I can honestly say it gets poppin."

5. RadioStar
"Latinas do it better on the dance floor...ME GUSTA CLUB RADIOSTAR!!!!"

6. Energy Thursday Nite Dance Club
"If you love techno or underage white girls, this club might be for you!"

7. Zero Gravity
"If you like to get down and dirty, dancing on people and all that, this is def. the place to go."

8. Rumba
"Fantastic ambience and music. Reminds me of some of our salsa spots back east."

9. Club 720
"The lame techno music is kept at a minimum."

10. Crobar
"Don't count on meeting Luciana Barroso here, it's Chicago, not Miami..."

Seems like everyone's doing those end-of-year and end-of-decade lists right about now, and we're nothing if not bandwagon-jumpers. But instead of telling you what we think were the coolest bars, clubs and restaurants of 2009 (or making you cast your vote), we're going to let the numbers do the talking. Before the new decade begins, we'll be giving you the lowdown on what venues Centerstage users viewed the most during the past year, along with our ideas about why each was so popular. Did your favorite make the list?

Next up: Theaters.

1. Ford Center for the Performing Arts, Oriental Theatre
It ain't hard to be loved when your stage hosts the likes of "Wicked," "Legally Blonde: The Musical" and "The Addams Family."

2. Briar Street Theatre
Three words: Blue. Man. Group.

3. The Improv
It's not easy to thrive as a stand-up comedy club in the improv capital of the world, but this Schaumburg spot gets it done with comics like Gabriel Iglesias and Russell Peters.

4. Chase Auditorium
We know there's a reason this place is popular. Wait, wait, don't tell us...

5. Cadillac Palace Theatre
With a show schedule that runs the gamut from "Mary Poppins" to "In the Heights," this Loop theater is as close to Broadway as you'll get in the city.

6. Second City
Still going strong after 25 years. And most shows cost less than $1800!

7. Mercury Theater
It's not often you find a 300-seat theater and an authentic Irish pub in the same building.

8. Marriott Lincolnshire Theatre
It's a taste of Loop theater without the parking issues.

9. Royal George Theatre Center
Nothing's better than some funny nuns.

10. Comedy Zone Chicago
When out with your 'fun' at Dave & Buster's, this 18-plus comedy club is a no-brainer.

To find more top Chicago theaters, visit centerstagechicago.com/theatre.

Seems like everyone's doing those end-of-year and end-of-decade lists right about now, and we're nothing if not bandwagon-jumpers. But instead of telling you what we think were the coolest bars, clubs and restaurants of 2009 (or making you cast your vote), we're going to let the numbers do the talking. Before the new decade begins, we'll be giving you the lowdown on what venues Centerstage users viewed the most during the past year, along with our ideas about why each was so popular. Did your favorite make the list?

Next up: Music Venues.

1. Aragon Ballroom
Top shows in '09: Thievery Corporation, Morrissey, Death Cab for Cutie, Nine Inch Nails, Bob Dylan, The Pixies

2. Checkerboard Lounge
Not as gritty as its original location, but you can't hold down the blues for long.

3. Green Dolphin Street
The Monday night "Boom Boom Room" industry parties put this one over the top.

4. B.L.U.E.S.
You can't beat the view of Lil' Ed rockin' out on top of the bar.

5. Barn at Arabian Knights Farms
The booking manager at this Willowbrook venue apparently has no limits, as you'll find everything from down-home country (it is a barn, after all) to street-friendly hip-hop.

6. Buddy Guy’s Legends
The rumors of this club's demise were greatly exaggerated...again.

7. Blue Chicago
Speaking of demise...the city will only have one Blue Chicago location in '10.

8. First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre
The home of the traveling festival (Rock the Bells, Warped Tour) had another big summer.

9. House of Blues
You can get away with high ticket and drink prices when you host acts like Kings of Leon, Jay-Z and Etta James in an intimate environment.

10. Green Mill
Trends come and go, but jazz and poetry slams will always be cool.

For more top Chicago music venues, visit centerstagechicago.com/music.

If "Gossip Girl" wasn't THE show of 2009 (we might give that distinction to "Glee"), it was pretty darn close. It might not reach the same heights in 2010, however, in part because no one Chuck Bass has been a little too nice, and because, like any group of successful actors, the individual talents in the show's cast are beginning to become distracted by other projects. Like Leighton Meester (aka Blair Waldorf), who's attempting to turn her notoriety into some pop-chart success. Her debut single, "Somebody to Love" featuring Robin Thicke, will eventually be followed by a full album. To satisfy those fans who just can't wait, Meester will do a special New Year's Day show at Underground (10 p.m.). Can't help yourself? RSVP to VIP@rockitranch.com.

Seems like everyone's doing those end-of-year and end-of-decade lists right about now, and we're nothing if not bandwagon-jumpers. But instead of telling you what we think were the coolest bars, clubs and restaurants of 2009 (or making you cast your vote), we're going to let the numbers do the talking. Before the new decade begins, we'll be giving you the lowdown on what venues Centerstage users viewed the most during the past year, along with our ideas about why each was so popular. Did your favorite make the list?

Now showing: Restaurants.

1. Sweet Mandy B’s
Sometimes, simplicity is best: chocolate and vanilla cupcakes with buttercream frosting make this a must-stop spot.

2. Ed Debevic’s
We don't care why you like this place. Stop bothering us!

3. Bongo Room (South Loop and Wicker Park)
Ok, apparently people really love Oreo pancakes (and condos give people slightly more cravings than hipster-fied lofts).

4. Sushi Para II
It's not too often you hear the words "cheap sushi" and "really good" in the same sentence, but this subterranean restaurant makes it happen.

5. Burt’s Place
Deep-dish pizza doesn't usually need any additional selling points, but Anthony Bourdain will give even the cheesiest place a bump.

6. Silver Palm
Thanks again, Tony -- for introducing the world to the Three Little Piggies Sandwich.

7. Pick Me Up Café
Where else can you go to get a veggie sandwich and a cup of Joe at 2 a.m.?

8. State Restaurant & Café
In a year of downsizing, it's no wonder that people loved this expansive eatery, where everything is extra-large, from the menu to the prizes on trivia night.

9. Grand Lux Café
Hey tourists!

10. Butterfly Sushi Bar & Thai Cuisine
Folks come to see, be seen and eat snails (just us?) at this brightly colored spot -- way better than the other one on Chicago Avenue, apparently.

For more on these top restaurants and other local venues, visit centerstagechicago.com/restaurants.

Seems like everyone's doing those end-of-year and end-of-decade lists right about now, and we're nothing if not bandwagon-jumpers. But instead of telling you what we think were the coolest bars, clubs and restaurants of 2009 (or making you cast your vote), we're going to let the numbers do the talking. Before the new decade begins, we'll be giving you the lowdown on what venues Centerstage users viewed the most during the past year, along with our ideas about why each was so popular. Did your favorite make the list?

First up: Bars.

1. Redmond’s
At first, the interest in this veteran of the Wrigleyville scene seemed like a surprise. Then we realized it: Cubs fans had to do a lot of drinking this year.

2. Blue Frog Bar & Grill
Who doesn't love karaoke? Or the chance to see a drunk Ed Swiderski sing "Big Pimpin'"?

3. Bull & Bear
Three words: Personal beer taps. One more word: Celebrities.

4. Social Twenty-Five
No cover charge to sip on top wines and dance to respected DJs...it's no mystery why this new spot garnered buzz.

5. Market Bar and Restaurant
White Sox GM Kenny Williams is a part owner of this West Loop lounge, which explains the many local sports stars spotted here. Still - a drink called the "Darryl Strawberry" is just asking for trouble.

6. C-View
High-altitude bars were all the rage in '09, and this 29th floor lounge has a cocktail list that befits its high-falutin' location.

7. Manhandler Saloon
It's the friendliest place you'll find to grab a drink - and a new leather-daddy.

8. Tumbao
The rhythm is definitely gonna get you at this diverse Logan Square club/restaurant. Check your stereotypes at the door.

9. Harry Caray's Tavern
The success of this announcer-themed bar in the shadow of Wrigley Field was as foreseeable as Milton Bradley's inevitable flop.

10. Goose Island Brewery
A revamped menu and an always-exciting beer list kept this stalwart afloat despite economic troubles in '09 - here's hoping for another 20 years.


For more on these top bars and other local venues, visit centerstagechicago.com/bars.

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We have to give you credit, CTA. After all the ways you’ve screwed us over in 2009 (full buses passing us by, trains running express when we least expect it, the persistent odor of bodily fluids), you think you can make us forget all of it by offering penny rides on New Year’s Eve. And you know what? It just might work. Because instead of writing up a list of grievances, we’ve been busy brainstorming how to spend those cents between 8 p.m. Thursday and 6 a.m. Friday. Here’s what we’ve come up with (not including all the New Year’s Eve events on the slate):

  • Hop on the Red Line and spend some time at the Jackson stop, where you’ll surely find a music performance in progress, whether it’s classical violin or jazz on electric guitar. Increase your enjoyment by stopping by Ceres Café for a drink with the traders first.
  • Take a ride over to the Chicago Blue Line stop to view the new installation from local artist Peter N. Gray. While you’re there, head above ground for a cocktail at the Matchbox and maybe a heart attack (the Three Little Piggies Sandwich) at the nearby Silver Palm.
  • Plan a Pink Line journey to 18th St, where the decorated station will have you in awe. Not only that, but perennial favorite Nuevo Leon is just a short walk away (and if you’re taking a ride on the tail end of the deal, Panaderia Nuevo Leon opens at 5:30 a.m.)
  • Pre-party with the Wildcat faithful at Tommy Nevin’s Pub in Evanston, off the Purple Line’s Dempster stop – the diehards have plenty to prepare for, as Northwestern plays its biggest football game in several years on New Year’s Day, against Auburn in the Outback Bowl at 11 a.m. (if you can’t bear to leave the city, try Lion Head Pub – by the Fullerton stop – or the brand-new Purple Haze, steps away from Belmont).
  • Ride the Brown Line out to Francisco, just so you can confirm it exists (seriously, it’s gotta be the least referenced stop on the North Side). The welcoming Montrose Saloon is a short jaunt south.
  • Go for a late, late dinner (or an early breakfast) at the 24-hour Huck Finn Donuts near the Pulaski stop on the Orange Line. We recommend the Donut Delight (topped with whipped cream and ice cream).
  • Brave the cold and take a walk to Promontory Point, near the Garfield Green Line stop in Hyde Park. It’s the perfect place to toast to 2010 (with non-alcoholic beverages, of course).


Got better ideas for how to take advantage of cheap public transit on New Year’s Eve? Let everyone know in the comments. And remember to check out Centerstage’s Virtual L to find the best spots near train stops year-round.

Free coffee at 7-Eleven

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Face it, folks. Unless you work in retail, it's probably going to be a slow work week. If you need a pick-me-up to get you through the cubicle cleaning, stop by any area 7-Eleven. According to Free Chicago, the convenience-store chain is offering complimentary coffee, cappuccino, hot chocolate or tea to all who present this coupon through Thursday.

3 Things We Love About ... Saturday

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1. Going around the world in 80 minutes (more of less):
The Museum of Science and Industry (5700 S. Lake Shore) hosts its annual presentation of Christmas Around the World, a collection of more than 50 trees decorated by various Chicago ethnic communities. 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Admission: $9-$13; discount for Chicago residents. Information: (773) 684-1414 or online: www.msichicago.org

2. Making figure eights
The Millennium Park ice skating rink (Michigan Avenue between Washington and Madison) is open 10 a.m.-10 p.m. today. Free for those with their own skates, $10 to rent ‘em. Call: (312) 742-1168 or www.millenniumpark.org.

3. Attending a swap shop of sorts:
Faith and Whiskey (1365 W. Fullerton) is hosting a Crappy Christmas Gift Exchange party tonight from 9 p.m.-1 a.m. $5 Irish car bombs to sip on while you mutter collectively what the heck gift-givers were thinking. Call: (773) 248-9119

HEY! YOU GOT THREE BETTER ONES?
Tell us your three favorite things about Saturday!

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Highlights from Centerstage Chicago's latest Crumb newsletter:

Just Opened: Bakin’ & Eggs
Get your breakfast with a twist (bacon flights!) at this upscale-ish Lakeview cafe.

Off the Beaten Path: Hana Restaurant
Casual Japanese cuisine in Rogers Park.

Weekly Treat: Shaken, not pricy at Scot’s
Get two bucks off your favorite martini on Tuesday nights.

Man We're Crazy About: Fame da Lupo
Pizza and pasta in an Uptown BYOB.

For more about what's going on this week, sign up for the Crumb newsletter.

Taking the Blue Line this weekend? Make some time to check out the lobby at the Chicago station, which now boasts the work of local artist Peter N. Gray on its walls. Gray was selected by Chicago Dramatists, the adjacent theater that adopted the stop through the CTA’s Adopt-A-Station program, to create work that would pay homage to the surrounding area’s eclectic mix of ethnicities (Polish, Danish, Central American) and businesses (see many of them here). We dare say he's succeeded.

If you can't make it out that way (we do recommend Teatro Luna's "Lunatic(a)s") you can view photos of the artwork on Chicago Dramatists' Blue Line project site.

The Mayor's Office of Special Events just published its schedule for 2010, and there were a few surprises. We're not talking about the fact that Venetian Night and the Chicago Outdoor Film Festival are gone, or that Jazz Fest has been slimmed down to two days -- that's old news.

But here's something we didn't know about: Celtic Fest is moving from the fall to the spring (May 8-9, 2010), and also to Millennium Park from Grant Park. The Millennium Park schedule's getting a lot more crowded, actually, as two other fests are making a similar move: Viva! Chicago Latin Music Festival and Chicago Country Music Festival (dates TBD on both). Check out the full calendar here and keep an eye on Centerstage's Festivals channel for more updates.

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Bargain Bernie is one of many characters you'll see at the Found Footage Fest.

Found Footage Festival
7:30 and 10:30 p.m. Friday at Lakeshore Theater; $12
This one-night-only show is part of a touring showcase of hilarious found video footage curated by Joe Pickett (The Onion) and Nick Prueher ("The Colbert Report"), whom we interviewed last week. Expect everything from a Milton Berle exercise tape to a 1987 video-dating reel submitted by David Cross.

It's a great weekend for music at Double Door in Wicker Park, and Centerstage wants you to be a part of it. Check out two ticket giveaways going on right now:

  • Friday: Tortured Soul
    It'll take a lot for a band to convince Chicagoans that it's "the future of house music" (as BBC Radio1's Gilles Peterson called Tortured Soul), but this is one group that just might be able to do it. The Brooklyn act uses live instrumentation to create a funky blend of R&B, soul and house that's been lighting up dance floors of late.
  • Saturday: Bloodshot Records 15th Anniversary Holiday Merriment and Benefit
    The local "insurgent country" (and a lot more) label continues its celebration of 15 wonderful years with a show that includes The Detroit Cobras, The Dexter Romweber Duo, The Blacks and the Lawrence Peters Outfit. Not only will you get some great, eclectic music (and, in the case of The Blacks, a rare live appearance), but the event benefits the Scotland Yard Gospel Choir, who were in a major van accident earlier this year, and Lawrence Peters, who is struggling with medical bills.


If you missed out on tix to see Girl Talk at Congress Theater on New Year's Eve, you're not alone. And while the show is sold out, the Reader reports that the Empty Bottle (which is producing the show) is offering a few lucky fans the chance to buy tickets. Email rsvp@emptybottle.com with "Girl Talk" in the subject line and you might get your chance.

Shut out again? Check out Centerstage's other top picks for New Year's Eve concerts.

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Highlights from Centerstage Chicago's latest Crumb newsletter:

Just Opened: Nella Pizzeria Napoletana
Sporty-chic Lincoln Park pizzeria with a sweet side.

Off the Beaten Path: Peking Mandarin
Chinese-Korean combo restaurant in Albany Park.

Weekly Treat: $1.50 domestic pints tonight at McKellin’s
Rogers Park bar also offers $2 mixed drinks on Tuesdays.

Man We're Crazy About: Conoce Mi Panama
Get to know Panamanian cuisine at this Logan Square spot.

For more about what's going on this week, sign up for the Crumb newsletter.

The theme for this month's installment in the Museum of Contemporary Art's Cabinet of Curiosities variety-show series is "Dystopias vs. Enchanted Forests." The free event, taking place Tuesday at 6 p.m. in Puck's Cafe, will be curated and emceed by Quimby's, the Wicker Park bookstore. Expect at least a reference to McSweeney's and "Butt" magazine.

Note that the MCA is also free all day, 'til 8 p.m.

A few months back, we told you about the first installment of Music is the Weapon, a party benefiting local non-profit organizations at Between Boutique Cafe & Lounge. Well, DJ Limbs (aka Victor Carreon) is back for round two, which goes down Saturday from 9:30 p.m.-2:30 a.m. This month's non-profits are the Chicago Independent Radio Project (CHIRP), a media advocacy group, and Rumble Arts, a Humboldt Park community arts center. Each organization will get its own booth, a bottle of champagne and a chance to speak on the mic about its cause. At the end of the night, 15 percent of the bar's gross (plus any donations) will be split by the two groups.

Why should you go? In addition to helping out local organizations, you'll be entertained by DJ Limbs, DJ Dishwasha and DJ Aroc, who will spin hip-hop, dubstep, jungle and more.

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Dr. Dog closes out a long day of tunes at Congress Theater on Saturday.

Chicago Bluegrass & Blues Festival
All day Saturday at the Congress Theater; $35 (kids 12 and under free)
You couldn't cram more music into one day if you tried. Starting at 11 a.m., 25 bands will play three different stages in a bluegrass smorgasbord. Acts you shouldn't miss: The Giving Tree Band (3 p.m.), Eddie "Chief" Clearwater (4:30 p.m.) and the legendary Bela Fleck (8 p.m.). Check out Dr. Dog (10:30 p.m.) to put a rockin' end to an amazing day of live music. And bring your own instrument if you want to join in the all-day jam session.

Local-art lovers, it's time to step up.

Around the Coyote, a standout in the Chicago art scene for the past couple decades, needs your financial assistance, as a recent email (and subsequent Time Out mini-interview) spells out.

Due to a number of issues both recession-related and not, ATC finds itself in significant debt. It hopes to remedy the problem with its Winter Fundraiser, taking place Saturday, December 19 from 6 p.m.-midnight in Wicker Park. The $30 event will feature "Two Can Play at That Game: A Festival of Duos, " a dance, music and video performance showcase at the Outdoor Gallery (1817 W. Division) and LiveBox Labs, site-specific installations in the Splat Flats (1815-25 W. Division), as well as a potluck dinner with free booze and desserts from Dairy Queen/Orange Julius. Find all the information here.

This nasty weather is perfect for soup...but don't expect to get it at tonight's Soup and Bread party at the Hideout. Strange as it sounds, the event, celebrating the release of the Soup and Bread cookbook (featuring recipes from the weekly eat 'n' greet), will have crockpots full of hot spiked cider instead of soup. Hey, guess you'll find comfort either way.

The party (5-8 p.m.) is free, and copies of the book cost $20 (for a taste of the recipes, check out Centerstage's recap of a past installment). For more stimulation, stick around for the weekly Immediate Sound Series at 9:30, which features a night of first-time duos. Trust us, experimental jazz always sounds better with a glass or two of spiked cider under your belt.

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As we told you last week, Centerstage is throwing an "Ugly Christmas Sweater" party tomorrow night to celebrate the holidays and raise money for the Greater Chicago Food Depository, teaming up with several other great local sites to pull it off.

Because we know there's a lot going on during the holiday season (and because we wanted to show you the great new promo photo courtesy of Vavoom Pinups, profiled in the Sun-Times last weekend), here are the details one more time.

The party is being held at Black Rock Bar tomorrow, Thursday, December 10, starting at 7 p.m.. The party’s free. The drinks are not, though there will be specials. Bring yourself, your friends, and the ugliest Christmas sweater you can find. Come meet other Centerstage readers as well as dozens of other interesting Chicagoans from across the city.

Help Feed the Hungry: We will be collecting donations (checks STRONGLY preferred) for the Greater Chicago Food Depository at the door. Suggested donation: $15.

Learn more, RSVP to come, and find out how to spread the word by visiting the official page here. Find us on Facebook over here.

Are you on Twitter? Follow the conversation about tomorrow's party on Twitter at #chisweaterbash

As we mentioned, Centerstage isn't doing this alone. Check out all the Chicago media co-sponsors:

Windy Citizen - http://windycitizen.com
Centerstage Chicago - http://centerstagechicago.com/
Outside the Loop Radio - http://outsidetheloopradio.com
Chicago Carless - http://www.ChicagoCarless.com
Lake Effect News - http://lakeeffectnews.com
Vavoom Pinups - http://www.vavoompinups.com
Chicago Foodies - http://www.Chicagofoodies.com
The Urbanophile - http://theurbanophile.com
Backgarage - http://www.backgarage.com
Driftglass - http://driftglass.blogspot.com
Pumping Station One - http://pumpingstationone.org
District 299 - http://www.chicagonow.com/blogs/district-299
What's a Boy to Do - http://www.chicagonow.com/blogs/whats-a-boy-to-do
Windy City Wine Guy - http://windycitywineguy.com/
Fun Sherpa - http://blog.funsherpa.com
Chicago Bar Project - http://chibarproject.com
Making Chicago Home - http://makingchicagohome.com
Sound Citizen - http://www.soundcitizen.com
Loud Loop Press - http://loudlooppress.com
Chicago Tumbls Too - http://windycity.tumblr.com/
Chicago Dining Examiner - http://www.examiner.com/x-396-Chicago-Dining-Examiner
Chicago Culture and Events Examiner - http://www.examiner.com/x-20561-Chicago-Culture--Events-Examiner
Exploring Chicago Examiner - http://www.examiner.com/x-19075-Exploring-Chicago-Examiner
Chicago Cubs Examiner - http://www.examiner.com/x-1553-Chicago-Cubs-Examiner
Gals Guide - http://galsguide.com/chicago
Buzzflash.com - http://www.Buzzflash.com
Windy City Watch - http://windycitywatch.com
ChiTown Tattler - http://www.chitowntattler.com/?page_id=6

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Highlights from Centerstage Chicago's latest Crumb newsletter:

Just Opened: Katakana and Koko Sushi Bar
Go big at this upscale Logan Square sushi spot.

Off the Beaten Path: Tu Casa
Feel right at home in this Rogers Park taqueria.

Weekly Treat: Two-dollar night at Brisku’s Bistro
The Northwest Side bar offers beers and mixed drinks for just two bucks.

Man We're Crazy About: 6 Corner Sports Bar
Get your sports fix in the heart of Wicker Park.

For more about what's going on this week, sign up for the Crumb newsletter.

Who's going to win tomorrow's "Top Chef" finale? It's a close race, but we're betting former winner Stephanie Izard will have some great insight. You can get it from her - as well as finale guest judge Bill Terlato of Terlato Wines International - live as the two standouts will appear at a viewing party from 7-10 p.m. at SCREEN, theWit Hotel's luxury multimedia theatre.

Tickets to the event are $30 and include a selection of Terlato wines, Top Chef food pairings and prize giveaways. Jessica Zweig of CheekyChicago.com will emcee. Get tickets here.

Last month, chef Marcus Samuelsson got a major honor when he was chosen to create and serve the meal for President Obama's first State Dinner on November 24. But he didn't do it alone; in addition to working with a team of White House chefs, Samuelsson brought along a couple of people from his Chicago restaurant, C-House: executive chef Nicole Pederson and pastry chef Toni Roberts.

While it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, it doesn't mean the meal can't happen twice. Pederson and Roberts will recreate the special four-course menu on Wednesday, December 9 for $54 per person (add on wine pairings for $20 more). Take a look at the menu below, then reserve a spot by calling (312) 523-0923.


1st Course

Potato and eggplant salad with arugula, onion seed vinaigrette

2nd Course
Red lentil soup with apples, fresh cheese

Entrée
Green curry prawns with caramelized salsify, smoked collard greens and coconut aged basmati

Dessert
Pumpkin pie tart & pear tarte tatin


.

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If all the ridiculous jingles you heard in between segments of "30 Rock" didn't tip you off, it's Christmas time! (You should really ask for TiVo.) While for many, the holiday conjures up visions of tree-trimming, gift-giving and awkward family photos, we think of one thing: parties!

Which is why we're happy to pass along the news that Centerstage Chicago is helping to throw a big Christmas bash next week, and you're invited!

It all goes down at Black Rock on Thursday, December 10 starting at 7 p.m. The party’s free. The drinks are not, though there will be specials. Bring yourself, your friends, and the ugliest Christmas sweater you can find. You'll be able to meet other Centerstage readers as well as dozens of other interesting Chicagoans from across the city.

Learn more, RSVP to come, and find out how to spread the word by visiting the official page here.

Of course, Centerstage couldn't do this alone. Several other great local sites have teamed up to make the night one to remember. Here they are. Check them out this weekend to learn a whole lot more about what’s happening in Chicago.

Event Co-Sponsors:

Windy Citizen - http://windycitizen.com
Centerstage Chicago - http://centerstagechicago.com/
Outside the Loop Radio - http://outsidetheloopradio.com
Chicago Carless - http://www.ChicagoCarless.com
Lake Effect News - http://lakeeffectnews.com
Chicago Foodies - http://www.Chicagofoodies.com
The Urbanophile - http://theurbanophile.com
Backgarage - http://www.backgarage.com
Driftglass - http://driftglass.blogspot.com
Windy City Wine Guy - http://windycitywineguy.com/
Fun Sherpa - http://blog.funsherpa.com
Chicago Bar Project - http://chibarproject.com
Making Chicago Home - http://makingchicagohome.com
Sound Citizen - http://www.soundcitizen.com
Loud Loop Press - http://loudlooppress.com
Chicago Tumbls Too - http://windycity.tumblr.com/
Chicago Dining Examiner - http://www.examiner.com/x-396-Chicago-Dining-Examiner
Chicago Culture and Events Examiner - http://www.examiner.com/x-20561-Chicago-Culture--Events-Examiner
Exploring Chicago Examiner - http://www.examiner.com/x-19075-Exploring-Chicago-Examiner
Chicago Cubs Examiner - http://www.examiner.com/x-1553-Chicago-Cubs-Examiner
Gals Guide - http://galsguide.com/chicago
Buzzflash.com - http://www.Buzzflash.com
Windy City Watch - http://windycitywatch.com
ChiTown Tattler - http://www.chitowntattler.com/?page_id=6

Happy Birthday to Merkle's

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We’re impressed when any Wrigleyville bar lasts a year. So it’s even more impressive to see Merkle‘s Bar and Grill is celebrating its five-year anniversary this month. Celebrate with them during a special customer appreciation night on Wednesday, featuring free drinks and hors d’oeuvres from 7-9 p.m., while live music plays all night.

Might as well enjoy it while you can in the ‘hood. We’re less than four months away from Cubs season (read: Enter Wrigleyville at your own risk!)

So, you probably didn't get tickets to the Second City's 50th Anniversary extravaganza (and if you did, we hope your first-born forgives you). But that doesn't mean you have to go without star-studded comedy events this December. On Tuesday, December 15, after next weekend's celebration wraps up, the 8th annual "The Second City That Never Sleeps: Letters to Santa" event begins.

For 24 consecutive hours (6 p.m. Tuesday-6 p.m. Wednesday), Second City performers and alumni will participate in improvisational games, scenes, songs, monologues and more, all inspired by sleep deprivation, at the Second City e.t.c. stage at Piper's Alley. While we're sure the day and night will be full of laughs, it's not the comedy that's got us excited. Throughout the event, various musical artists will take the stage to entertain the crowd, and the lineup is nothing short of awesome, with appearances from Jeff Tweedy, Bonnie Prince Billy and The Mountain Goats, among others.

The best part: tickets (available at the door only) are just $15, giving you access to a full day of comedy, music and charity (the event helps raise money for Letters to Santa). Booze will also be available to those over 21 -- it's an all-ages event -- between 6 p.m. and 2 a.m. Tuesday and noon and 6 p.m. Wednesday. Seriously, who needs Colbert and Carell?

The confirmed performance schedule so far:
Tuesday, 7 p.m.: Jeff Tweedy
Tuesday, 10 p.m.: Robbie Fulks
Wednesday, midnight: UCB's Asssscat w/ Matt Walsh, Horatio Sanz and Chicago friends
Wednesday, 3 a.m.: Flash-mob Marching Band
Wednesday, 6 a.m.: Bonnie 'Prince' Billy
Wednesday, 7:30 a.m.: BabyCo
Wednesday, noon: Nina Nastasia
Wednesday, 2 p.m.: The Mountain Goats
Wednesday, 4:30 p.m.: The Blisters

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Don't be alarmed if you see something like this on Michigan Avenue on Friday.
(via jimmykuehnle.com)

Jimmy Kuehnle's Inflatable Suit Tour
Noon Friday at Grant Park; free
Looking to add a little weird to your weekend? Check out this Michigan-based "performance artist" known for wearable inflatable suits during his public shows. will make performance treks through the city. We're not sure how else to describe the show, other than a guy in a big inflatable suit walking down the street and talking to people. Yeah, you probably have to see this one to believe it.

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How long does it take you to grow a mustache?

If it's longer than two weeks, you'd better stop shaving now. The fifth annual Merry Mustachmas party hits Schoolyard Tavern on December 18 and 19. It's pretty simple: either grow a mustache (girls, you can wear a fake one) and head to the bar on Friday or Saturday night. Drinks are just $1 each for all hirsute participants. Just remember to shave that thing off before heading home for the holidays, or Mom will have some questions.

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Highlights from Centerstage Chicago's latest Crumb newsletter:

Just Opened: DMK Burger Bar
Take your burger to another level in Lakeview.

Off the Beaten Path: Phil’s Pizza D’Oro
Satisfy your pizza cravings on the Northwest Side.

Weekly Treat: Keep it Cheap (and simple) at Twisted Spoke
Everybody’s favorite biker bar offers all beers for $2.50 tonight.

Man We're Crazy About: George Boys Grill
Get it fast and fried in West Town.

For more about what's going on this week, sign up for the Crumb newsletter.

tbox2008.jpgThis is as tame as it gets at TBOX. via TBOX Flickr Pool

Better rest up now -- the 14th annual Twelve Bars of Xmas (aka TBOX) is just 11 days away. For those of you who are unfamiliar, the event is an all-day bar crawl (beginning at 8:30 a.m. at the Cubby Bear) that features revelers in all manner of crazy costumes traipsing around Wrigleville 'til closing time. Thirty-six bars participate (they're split into four routes), and participants must take a 'cereal shot' at each bar in addition to enjoying $2.50 Miller Lite and $4 Sailor Jerry rum and Stoli drinks.

Last year, more than 6,700 people partied. This year, you can join them for just $30, which includes your crawl pass, a t-shirt, gym bag, coupons, gift certificates and more. Sign up here and then get to work on your costume. (The competition is fierce!)

Are you a TBOX vet? Submit your photos from past events to our Flickr pool, and you could see your mug on our site.

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This page is an archive of entries from December 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

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