Near North Side: January 2009 Archives

Brand-New Avenues

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If you booked a room at the Peninsula Chicago this month with the intention of spending a luxurious evening at its flagship restaurant, Avenues, you were unfortunately met with disappointment (and we feel so bad for you, Mr. or Mrs. Moneybags). Chef Curtis Duffy closed the place for January for some rest and retooling. But come Wednesday, Avenues is back - and according to MenuPages, its "spring" (a little optimistic, no?) menu is full of surprises. We're especially interested in "Consomme of it's Carcass," not least because of the grammatical error.

How much do you tip a chef?

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Remember when Kramer wanted to open a pizza parlor where every customer would be able to make his own pie? Yeah, that was a bad idea. But La Madia's Chef's Table does let you get up close and personal with the pizza-making experience - and you won't have to shove your hands into a ridiculously hot oven.

Chef/owner Jonathan Fox hosts this monthly gathering, at which guests can watch him handcraft his artisan pies and enjoy wine pairings and seasonal menu items along with their slices. The event normally takes place on the first Wednesday of each month, but in February it'll actually be on Tuesday, February 3. Reserve your seat ($35 per person) now, as space is limited.

lamadia_DSCF0342-blog.jpgLeave the pizza-making to professionals like La Madia's Jonathan Fox.

Wine BINge

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Calling all oenophiles: Bin 36 kicks off its monthly wine-tasting series, Wednesday Wine Around, this week from 6-8 p.m.. For $25, you'll get two hours of beverages selected by wine director Brian Duncan, as well as hors d'oeuvres courtesy of executive chef John Caputo.

The opening theme is "The Absolute Hottest Wines Under $20." Hopefully, there will be no "Office"-esque disputes over which wine is hottest. Get tickets on the restaurant's Web site.

Daily Deal$: Thursday

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Every day, we'll be alerting you to five great food and drink deals around town, courtesy of Centerstage Chicago's comprehensive database. In this economy, you need all the help you can get, right?

Paddy Long's, 1028 W. Diversey
$3.50 bottles of Corona or Pacifico, $5 jumbo Smirnoffs, $3 Jager shots

Beachwood Inn, 1415 N. Wood
$2.50 Leinenkugel

WestEnd Bar & Grill
, 1326 W. Madison
$10 pizza with unlimited toppings, $15 buckets of Goose Island

Joe E's Unforgettable Lounge, 4206 W. Irving Park
$3 32-ounce Miller High Life

Nacional 27, 325 W. Huron
$8.95 tacos, tostadas, and quesadillas, $7.95 champagne, cocktails, and wine

You've heard of hair of the dog. Well, SushiSamba Rio's new Sunday brunch deal, beginning this weekend, serves up the whole darn pooch. Before you go crying to PETA, let us clarify - the midday meal includes no family pets on its menu, nor does it have sushi, for that matter. Food-wise, it's not quite that adventurous, though offerings like Asian pear pancakes and Kobe sliders, plus a Brazilian stew made with pork and beef and served with orange slices, sound enticing.

But what we're really excited about are the three complimentary cocktails per person. We're talking mimosas, bloody marys, caipirinhas - or just fresh-squeezed juices, if you really can't handle the hard stuff (or you're underage).

$16 per person ($8 per kid under 12) gets you one entree and the aforementioned drinks. Brunch is served 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Reservations are recommended: (312) 595-2300.

So you've probably heard all about Chicago's Restaurant Week, happening February 20-27. If you haven't, you'd better make your reservations now; Centerstage has a list of the best deals to be had.

But did you know that the 130-restaurant bonanza is actually preceded by a smaller, but no less worthwhile affair? Think of Chicago Originals Restaurant Week as the official event's hip little brother. Like its sibling, the event includes specially priced meals for lunch ($24.09) and dinner ($29.09) at restaurants where most folks could usually afford little more than an app or two. The difference is that all the participating spots are independent, locally-owned eateries (think Cafe Matou, El Nuevo Mexicano and Prosecco). And just to prove that good things can come in small packages, there's an added bonus: you get two weeks of deals, January 25-30 and February 1-5.

Check out the Web site to view a complete list of participating restaurants and menus; not all restaurants offer both lunch and dinner every day, but some will offer you a bottle of wine for an additional $20.09. Their inferiority complex is your gain.

1. January’s “object of the month” is a costume trunk owned by Yiddish theater star Dina Halpern.

Sweet potato latkes in the cafe at the Spertus Museum. (Sun-Times file)

2. The Spertus Cafe by Wolfgang Puck. The only kosher eatery in the downtown area, the cafe overlooks Grant Park and offers cupcakes that are almost too pretty to eat.

3. The new Gray Children’s Center, for children 2-12, combines Jewish storytelling and hands-on exploration.

The Spertus Museum at the Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies, 610 S. Michigan.

What are your three favorite things about the Spertus?

1. Pretending to be annoyed by all the Mag Mile shoppers that get in your way on the sidewalk, when really we're happy they're spending all their money in our city. Just relax with a sense of superiority because we know where we're going.

OK, it's not so bad when the shoppers are Bono and Oprah ... (Sun-Times file)

2. The serenity of Rush and Division during the day, compared with the all-out insanity the area produces once the sun goes down.

3. Watching people at the bar through the Prohibition-era two-way mirror in the bathroom at Streeter's Tavern on Chicago.

What are your favorite three things about the Gold Coast?

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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Near North Side category from January 2009.

Near North Side: February 2009 is the next archive.

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