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Eight Wild New Foie Gras Creations in Chicago

With its equal-parts proclivity for both savory and sweet applications, foie gras is one of the most versatile ingredients in the kitchen, a sentiment that Chicago chefs and pastry chefs have taken to heart in recent years.

Foie Gras Creations @ Band of Bohemia

Foie Gras Creations @ Band of Bohemia

Band of Bohemia: Affectionately nicknamed the “foie-sicle,” the foie gras fudgesicle at Band of Bohemia may very well be the dessert of the summer. A surefire way to up the ante on this childhood ice cream pastime, the foie creation is the handiwork of ever-inventive pastry chef George Kovach, who dips a chilly blend of foie gras, banana, almond, pink peppercorn and kaffir lime in chocolate. True to form, it’s all served on a stick for optimal licking, with foie gras’ innate creamy richness blending in nicely with the chocolate and banana.

The Purple Pig: One of the most exciting morning developments in recent memory has been the addition of breakfast to The Purple Pig’s portfolio. While fresh pastries, breakfast piadinas and fried smashed potatoes are all exciting in their own rights, the star of the menu is Jimmy Bannos Jr.’s unabashedly decadent breakfast sandwich. The chef layers foie gras on a fluffy house-baked English muffin with truffle sausage, egg and membrillo, a tart quince paste that serves to balance the foie and sausage.

The Duck Inn: One of the most playful (literally) interpretations of foie gras in Chicago can be found at The Duck Inn, where chef Kris Delee is forming foie gras mousse into Lego shapes for a dish inspired by a quintessential afternoon snack. The snack in question is “ants on a log,” the dish consisting of peanut butter smeared on celery and dotted with raisins. In updating the childhood favorite, Delee is naturally giving the dish a look modeled after childhood toys, with foie gras-peanut butter mousse, celery granite, celery-raisin mostarda, crushed peanuts and nasturtium petals. The mousse is molded into Lego log shapes, then frozen to help solidify. Says Delee, “As a kid, those were two of the best things in the world: Legos and celery-covered in peanut butter!”

The Gage: With its tendency towards creamy richness, foie gras is one of those ingredients that easily plays with both savory and sweet. At The Gage, it serves to enhance a classic French dessert, as the St-Germain-poached foie gets layered between flaky puff pastry. Along with fresh farm strawberries and a dusting of matcha green tea, the dessert features a range of crunchy and creamy textures, along with sweet, herbal, buttery flavors.

Topolobampo: Tongue tacos with foie gras pastry cream may very well be the most offbeat interpretation of foie gras ever. It’s all going down at Topolobampo, where chef Zach Steen and line cook Meagan O’Connor double-teamed the idea as a means of enriching and sweetening the meaty dish. “There’s a lot happening on our tongue taco — we have tongue two ways, both seared and cured, a little heat from salsa huevona and some salty acidity from pickled cactus and fried capers,” explains Steen. “But the real crown jewel is the dollop of foie gras pastry cream we add.” The chefs blend orbs of seared foie with caramelized onion and a splash of brandy, then they mix in some heavy cream and put it back on the heat to thicken. “After a few minutes of intense whisking, we’re left with this boozy, rich, luxurious cream to balance out those other flavors,” Steen adds. “It’s sort of an intense process for just a small garnish, but it’s unforgettably awesome.”

Fulton Market Kitchen: Foie gras mind games are always a fun surprise. Such as foie gras mousse that perfectly resembles a Mandarin orange, like that at Fulton Market Kitchen. Taking the notion of foie gras mousse with fruit and toast to the next level, chef Chris Curren molds foie with Mandarin orange jelly into a perfectly rounded, citrus-shape dome. It’s served with toasted sourdough for convenient smearing and snacking.

Dusek’s Board & Beer: Foie gras, truffles and cheese come together for the ultimate bar snack at Dusek’s Board & Beer. The dish is a silky-smooth and impossibly rich fondue made with a mixture of Emmentaler cheese, foie, shaved black truffles and Madeira wine, at once sweet, creamy and funky. It’s all crowned with toasted bread crumbs for a bit of added crunch.

Trench: At Trench, foie gras plays a role in riffing on PB&J, giving the nostalgic staple a savory update and a gourmet upgrade. For his foie torchon, acclaimed chef Jared Wentworth serves up a savory peanut butter savarin cake, along with a brûlée of fig, cocoa and pickled strawberry.

Weekly Planner: Flight of Sake Air & Water Show

Celebrate accordingly with a flight of sake

A flight of drinks makes perfect sense for the Air & Water Show, taking place the weekend of August 19 and 20. So make your way to Joy District to celebrate accordingly with a flight of sake.

On both days, the River North bar and restaurant is featuring $20 sake flights, consisting of Tyku Silver, Tyku Black and Tyku Coconut. They’re even better when paired with Asian-inspired dishes and snacks by chef Matthew Wilde, like BBQ duck steamed buns, poached shrimp and cucumber salad and sake-poached salmon.

Half-Priced Wine at Acanto’s Weekend Brunch

Half-Priced Wine at Acanto’s Weekend Brunch

One surefire way to make brunch even better? Wine that’s 50% off. So much more fun than coffee! Each weekend for brunch, Acanto is upping the ante on its brunch program with half-priced bottles of wine. Considering Acanto has been named one of the top 100 wine lists in the world by World of Fine Wine, this is quite a big deal. The list, courtesy of sommelier Jon McDaniel, features voer 650 different wines, many of which come from smaller, independent growers. A few that McDaniel recommends for the half price deal include the 2016 Cantina del Taburno Coda di Volpe from Campania for $24 and the 1969 Badia a Coltibuono Chianti Classico from Tuscany for $198. To match, chef Chirs Gawronski features a savorous food menu with the likes of blueberry-ricotta pancakes with Italian cider syrup, spinach frittatas with truffle ricotta, and rigatoni pasta with lamb ragu and Caciocavallo cheese. Brunch is served every Saturday and Sunday from 11:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.

Half Off Hours at Slurping Turtle

In other incredible bargain news, Slurping Turtle is celebrating summer with one of the best dining deals around: through August 30, the River North restaurant is featuring half off everything on the food menu and drink menu during select hours. It’s an apt opportunity to sample Slurping Turtle’s famous ramen dishes, maki and Japanese snacks, plus new dishes like chilled noodles with shredded tomago and seasonal vegetables, seafood shoyu ramen and ahi poke donburi featuring tartare-style ahi tuna marinated in sesame soy sauce.

Air & Water Show Ice Cream Cart at Mon Ami Gabi

One of the best (and coolest, literally) ways to celebrate the Air & Water Show this year is with ice cream at Mon Ami Gabi. On both August 19 and 20, the French restaurant in Lincoln Park, with great views of the aerial show, is setting up a signature ice cream cart at the corner of its patio. Select flavors are available for just $1 per scoop, by the cup or cone. Follow the restaurant on Facebook for more updates on flavors and the ice cream cart. It’ll be in action from 3:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m. both days.

Weekly Planner: Spiaggia Hosts Ferragosto

Spiaggia Hosts Ferragosto

One of the best, most lavish events of the summer is back in action August 15, as Spiaggia hosts its annual Ferragosto affair at Oak Street Beach. Spiaggia Hosts Ferragosto

From 6:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m., Chicago’s venerable Italian mainstay celebrates the timeworn Italian holiday of Ferragosto, the beginning of the summer holiday, marked by a casual beach BBQ on Lake Michigan. The event will include a whole-roasted lamb and vegetables by chef Joe Flamm, plus gelato, rosé, beer, tequila, a DJ and communal picnic tables. Tickets for the event are $75 per person and can be purchased here.

Spiaggia Hosts Ferragosto

Spiaggia Hosts Ferragosto

New weekend hours means new menus and new opportunity to dine at one of Chicago’s most feverishly popular restaurants, as Monteverde rolls out weekend lunch. In addition to popular menu fixtures, the weekend offerings include some brunch-y items like crespelle ricotta with roasted peaches and housemade mixed nut granola; tigelle breakfast sandwiches with fried eggs, broccoli smear, fontina and dried cherry tomato; scrambled egg fonduta with zucchini and tomato bruschetta.

Another week, another new happy hour. But this one is one of the ritzier options, thanks to new weekday options from Steadfast. The glam restaurant inside the Kimpton Gray Hotel is now serving up happy hour Monday through Friday from 3:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. During this hefty window, snack specials include avocado hummus, cured meat flatbreads, chilled seafood towers, sliders, crab cakes and mini  lobster rolls. To drink, all beer, wine and cocktails are discounted 20%.

Where to Celebrate National Oyster Day 2017

When it comes to beating the summer heat, you could go the usual ice cream route of course. But equally curative for the summer months are slurping down some fresh oysters. We may not border an ocean, but our restaurants are certainly filled with bounteous bivalves. With National Oyster Day coming on August 5, there’s never been a better time to indulge your nautical cravings. Here are some top-notch places to celebrate.

Oyster Day @ Shaw's

Oyster Day @ Shaw’s

Margeaux Brasserie: National Oyster Day is as good an excuse as any to visit brand-new Margeaux Brasserie. This French stunner inside the Waldorf Astoria Chicago is rolling out the red carpet for oyster fanatics on August 5, with $2 wood-fried oysters served with bacon, leek and Pernod creme, available during happy hour from 4:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m.

Oyster Day at GT Fish & Oyster

Oyster Day at GT Fish & Oyster

GT Fish & Oyster: One of the best places to eat oysters in Chicago is certainly one of the best places to celebrate the holiday on August 5, what with GT’s roster of pristine oysters on the half shell and fried oyster po’ boy sliders. Additionally, the restaurant is extending the holiday celebration throughout the month with its “Shuck like a Chef” class. Taking place August 23 at 6:00 p.m., the class is a great way for oyster-lovers to up their shucking game. Tickers are available here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/shuck-like-a-chef-tickets-32627617081

Frontier: In honor of National Oyster Day, Frontier is celebrating all weekend long with festivities August 4-6. On August 4 from 4:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 3:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m., the West Town restaurant will host an oyster and rosé patio soiree, featuring $1 oysters, $2 char-grilled oysters, $12 bacon-wrapped oysters, $5 glasses of rose, $5 glasses of frosé and more.

Cold Storage: Happy hour runs all day long on Oyster Day at Cold Storage, providing ample opportunity to partake in $1 oysters and $3 draft beers. Plus, for every 100th oyster shucked, the “golden oyster” will be served. Like in Willy Wonka with the golden ticket, basically. But for whoever gets the golden oyster, their check will be comped. The restaurant opens early for lunch on August 5, at 11:00 a.m., so you can start partying asap. Additionally, the restaurant will be pouring special Sea Pearl Martinis, an exclusive cocktail inspired by an oyster shooter that’s made with oyster-infused Ketel One, dry vermouth and orange bitters.

Vol. 39: Since oysters and martinis go together like peanut butter and jelly, you can’t do any better on Oyster Day than the impossibly chic Vol. 39 inside the Kimpton Gray Hotel. This throwback-y lounge, reminiscent of a mid-century cocktail haunt, has a special oyster and martini combo for the holiday this year: six oysters paired with a martini for $25.

Shaw’s Crab House: The reigning champ of seafood in Chicago, Shaw’s is an apt place to celebrate any nautical occasion. For Oyster Day, that means the restaurant is doling out half-priced oysters in the Oyster Bar from 11:30 a.m. until 6:00 p.m.

Dusek’s Board & Beer: For those who prefer their oysters with a little heat, Dusek’s Board & Beer is offering a special wood-roasted oyster and beer pairing for Oyster Day. Available both at brunch and dinner, the dish features wood-roasted Katama oysters Rockefeller with coriander persillade, which matches nicely with the adjoining Allagash White wheat beer. The pairing costs $15.

RM Champagne Salon: Last but certainly not least, this chic Parisian parlor is going big for the holiday, serving up a lavish combo of a dozen oysters and a bottle of JCB No. 21 Cremant de Bourgogne for $75.

Weekly Planner: Travelle’s Chef Collab

Travelle’s Chef Collab With Bouefhaus

Travelle's Chef Collab

Travelle’s Chef Collab

Some of Chicago’s most talented chefs come together for a collaboration dinner on July 27, as Ricardo Jarquin of Travelle Kitchen + Bar welcomes Boeufhaus’ Brian Ahern and Jamie Finnegan for the next round of the restaurant’s “Chef Collab” dinner series. Altogether, the chefs are joining forces for a family-style dinner that begins at 6:00 p.m. with a cocktail reception and meet-and-greet, where attendees get to mingle with the chefs. This will be followed by a five-course shareable dinner at communal tables in Travell’s wine cellar. Borrowing inspiration from both France and Germany, the menu features two dishes from each chef, finished with dessert by Travelle’s pastry chef Scott Green. The cost for the meal is $65 per person. Space is  limited, and reservations can be made by calling Travelle or visiting the restaurant’s website.  Travelle’s Chef Collab

South American Wine Tasting at III Forks Prime Steakhouse

Next up in the ongoing themed wine tasting sessions at III Forks Prime Steakhouse, the restaurant transports guests to South America for the evening on August 2. From 5:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m., attendees get to participate in the steakhouse’s “Sommelier for a Day” event, wherein sommelier Anton Licko will guide patrons through a sampling of six South American wines, paired with hors d’oeuvres. Guests can vote on their favorite wine, to be featured for the rest of the month at III Forks. The cost to attend is $20 per person and reservations can be made by calling III Forks.

Travelle’s Chef Collab

 

Brunch at Ronero

In other weekend dining news, Ronero became the latest restaurant to start brunch service. Now available on Saturdays and Sundays, brunch here is far from typical, designed to conjure images and vibes of a Latin American party. They do so by filling the restaurant with three different brunch buffet stations, live music and entertainment. Between the three stations, which focus on breakfast items, crepes and waffles, and ceviches and tiraditos, guests can expect items like egg custard tarts, queso fresco biscuits with chorizo gravy and smashed purple potatoes with cumin and oregano. Made-to-order crepes and waffles are also available, with optional toppings like dulce de leche, sweet plantains and salsa criolla, while the ceviche station contains various rotating citrus-marinated fish and seafood, such as shrimp and coconut ceviche or tuna tiradito with aji amarillo pineapple jus. To drink, there’s a bar cart brimming with mimosa and Bloody Mary fixings, along with Rum Spritzers. The live music comes courtesy of Johnny Martinez, a local Latin American guitarist. Ronero is now open for brunch every Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m., and the cost is $35 per person, plus beverages.

6 Reasons Why Sepia Is One of Chicago’s Most Important Restaurants

Sepia has entered a rare restaurant club in Chicago

In its 10th year in business, Sepia has entered a rare restaurant club in Chicago, among the uppermost echelons of destinations that are an indelible part of the city’s dining DNA. In line with other game-changers and industry-shapers like BlackbirdBOKANAHA and Topolobampo, Sepia is a timeless gem that somehow only gets better with age, much like the bottles outfitting its award-winning wine list. As the restaurant celebrates this important anniversary, and the owners spawn their highly anticipated Proxi next door, now is as good a time as any to examine the most meaningful aspects of Sepia and what makes it such a pivotal restaurant in Chicago.

Sepia Is One of Chicago's Most Important Restaurants

Sepia Is One of Chicago’s Most Important Restaurants

1. Creativity is the core of the kitchen. Sure, culinary creativity and ingenuity is all well and good, but at Sepia that innate originality extends much deeper. This is thanks to chef Andrew Zimmerman’s upbringing, which saw him initially following his childhood dream of pursuing a career as a musician in his 20’s. As is frequently the case for many naturally creative souls, Zimmerman clocked time in restaurants in New York City as a means of making money to support himself. A newfound love for cooking quickly re-inspired his career aspirations, leading him to attend the French Culinary Institute—and graduate at the top of his class. He moved to Chicago in 2003 to cook at the Park Hyatt, eventually working in acclaimed restaurants like MOD and del Tori before stepping in as chef at Sepia. That insatiable creativity has always served Zimmerman well, resulting in one of the most dynamic seasonal menus in the city, coupled with a flair for artistic plating and presentation.

2. Sepia felt like a classic from day one. Largely due to the restaurant’s location in a former print shop built in 1890, the vintage Art Nouveau space felt seasoned and special since its inception. Harkening to that bygone era, design elements in the restaurant are timeless and elegant, outfitted with historic Chicago memorabilia. Vintage stemware, meticulous millwork and custom floor tiling exhibit a razor-sharp attention to detail that lays the foundation for a memorable meal.

3. The owner is a consummate hospitality vet. When Emmenual Nony moved to Chicago in 2000, he already had one of the most impressive resumes under his belt of anyone in the hospitality business. Working with Hyatt International, his career saw the French native criss-cross Asia working at hotels and restaurants in Hong Kong, Seoul, Fukuoka and Tokyo before heading to Chicago to open the Park Hyatt and NoMI. After falling in love with Chicago, he knew he wanted to take his career to the next level by venturing on his own and becoming apart of the city’s ever-expanding food scene. In a way, Sepia marked the culmination of a colorful, impressive career for someone with an inborn knack for hospitality and service.

Sepia

Sepia

4. Arthur Hon curates one of Chicago’s finest wine lists. Routinely ranked among the best sommeliers not only in Chicago, but the country at large (just check out what Food & Wine had to say recently), Hon has set a new bar for wine service. He’s been with Sepia since opening, bringing his insatiable fascination with wine into the spotlight. A deep-rooted curiosity and eagerness to learn helped Hon honed his skills and refine his personal wine education. It’s something that piloted his burgeoning career, seeing him stat as server and wine captain at Sepia before graduating to beverage director. His encyclopedic knowledge of wine lends itself well to the restaurant’s 700-bottle list, leading the restaurant to rack up the accolades for its wine list over the years. All the while, Hon’s personable, friendly and engaging approach to customer service helps break down any intimidation and make wine as dynamic and fun as any other facet of the restaurant industry.

5. The restaurant has a natural penchant for evolution. The most recent example of this is the hiring of pastry chef Sarah Mispagel, a nice new addition to a storied restaurant. With local stints at esteemed spots like Nightwood and Giant, Mispagel brings a keen eye to the table for seasonality and vibrancy in terms of both presentation and flavor; something that fits in seamlessly with the savory menu. Her latest crop of confections includes a lustrous and light pavlova served with vanilla meringue, poppy seed cake, blood orange curd and grapefruit sorbet. Her black walnut cake with carrot cake ice cream and rum-soaked golden raisins shows that she’s also got a creative streak when it comes to reinventing classic desserts, in this case turning carrot cake utterly on its head.

6. The team took its time in expansion. Unlike some mile-a-minute restaurant groups that have raced their ways to empire statuses (not that there’s anything wrong with that), the Sepia crew took its time in carefully strategizing for its follow-up project next door. Although totally different in terms of cuisine and atmosphere, the underlying ethos of seasonality and gracious hospitality weaves a common thread that’s distinctly Sepia. And it’s a sentiment that will go down in Chicago restaurant history.

Best Bars for a Summer Night Cap in Chicago

Polish off a night on the town with a Summer Night Cap

Annex Bar for a Summer Night Cap

Annex Bar for a Summer Night Cap

One of the quintessential parts of summer in Chicago involves lingering for hours on end on patios at restaurants and bars, pretty much until city noise ordinances require closing outdoor spaces at 11 PM or 12 AM. But that doesn’t mean the night’s over; rather, plenty of snazzy indoor bars afford nice, unique settings in which to wind down properly (or keep the party going) with a night cap. Herewith, your handy guide to late-night drinking in Chicago, from upbeat and musical to luxurious cocktail dens.

For a Summer Night Cap Annex at GreenRiver: When it comes to proper night caps, cocktails at Annex at GreenRiver are like the grand finale at the end of a drawn-out fireworks show. With some of the craftiest and most elegant cocktails in the city, the cozy 18th-floor hideaway is a surefire way to end your night with a bang, especially since they’re open until 1 AM Thursday-Saturday. With unexpected cocktail ingredients like galangal, jasmine and carrots, there’s plenty to pour over here. Try the fragrant Disc Jockey (pictured), a complex creation blending floral, tropical and spicy flavors together with London Dry gin, sherry, curaçao, coconut, lemon, galangal and curry leaf.

Enolo Wine Café: Not only does this comfy wine bar have a belated happy hour that runs from 9-10 PM, but it’s generally a great place to wind down with a glass or two of rosé, that essential summer elixir. It’s open until midnight Thursday-Saturday, and considering its River North location, utterly surrounded by patios and rooftops, it’s conveniently located for night capping needs.

Arbella: For something a little more upbeat, Arbella combines quality, inventive cocktails with dance party vibes. Open until 2 AM on Thursday and Friday and until 3 AM on Saturday, there’s plenty of time to take advantage of its expansive drink list of 30 cocktails, while grooving to different weekend DJ sets. One fun option is the Chicago Fire Extinguisher (pictured), a pungent, robust tipple made with Scotch, Luxardo Abano amaro and smoked angostura bitters. If you’re really feeling saucy, check out the “Not F*ckin’ Around” menu, which features adventurous and lavish drinks like the Third Cousin, with barrel-aged Cognac, coffee liqueur, amaro and bitters.

Eight Bar: If you’re weekending right, you’ll be liquored up by midnight, which means the interactive and playful cocktails at Eight Bar will make for an extra fun finale. With drinks inspired by and named for Magic 8 Ball responses, it’s a real crowd-pleaser for the late-night set. Options include the Signs Point to Yes (pictured), a tart and refreshing combo of Absolut Elyx vodka, lime, ginger beer, housemade Fernet and mint. If you’re feeling indecisive, though, the bar is happy to provide an actual Magic 8 Ball to decide for you. Eight Bar is open until 2 AM nightly.

Lone Wolf: Considering the sheer amount of restaurants in the neighborhood, the West Loop is an area that necessitates a good nightcap. And when it comes time for such things, Lone Wolf is the saving grace. The dark, cavernous tavern features an array of hearty digestif-type cocktails, wine and beer, all perfect for washing down dinner and winding down for the evening. For summer, try the Frozen Zamboni, a chilly blend of vodka, Campari and lemon, or the tropical Phosphorescent Dream, featuring pisco, passion fruit and lime. The Lone Wolf Single-barrel Old Fashioned is another good, bracing option, made with house-selected Four Roses single-barrel bourbon, Demerara sugar and bitters.

Weekly Planner: Limoncello Class, Lobster Fest

Lobster Fest at Shaw’s Crab House

You still have a few days left to participate in Lobster Fest at Shaw’s Crab House, the month-long shellfish shindig featuring a lineup of summery menu specials. These include highlights like lobster maki, lobster tacos, lobster rolls, lobster fettuccine and a 1.5-lb. lobster boil with potatoes, corn and sausage.

Lobster Fest at Shaw’s Crab House

Lobster Fest at Shaw’s Crab House

Sunday City Market

At the height of summer, local farms are lush with produce and markets are popping up all over Chicago to celebrate their wares. The latest example is Sunday City Market, now running every Sunday at Antique Taco Bridgeport. In partnership with the City of Chicago and South Loop Chamber of Commerce, the weekly green market takes place in the restaurant’s parking lot from 8:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m., with chef demos, live music, breakfast tacos and vendors like Avium Flowers, Bike a Bee and Front Room Donuts. The chef demo for July 23 is Shin Thompson of Furious Spoon.

Limoncello Class at Osteria Via Stato

Limoncello Class at Osteria Via Stato

Limoncello Class at Osteria Via Stato

Speaking of demos, there’s a boozy kind taking place at Osteria Via Stato this week, as wine and beverage manager Matt Dolin shows guests how to make limoncello on July 22. Taking place at 3:00 p.m., the leisurely Saturday affair will guide attendees through the process of making limoncello at home utilizing fresh, seasonal fruit infusions. Along the way, you’ll sample other varieties like grapefruitcello and even a chocolacello. The cost is $20 per person, which includes a sample to take home. Reservations can be made here: https://nightout.com/events/limoncello-class/tickets?a=allison-gallese

Colombian Cooking Class at Latinicity

This is quite a big week for demos and classes, because there’s another unique event taking place at Latinicity on July 22. This one is focused on Colombian food and cooking, wherein attendees get to prepare and taste cocktails and dishes like plantain fritters, corn and cheese arepas, ajiaco soup with chicken, corn and cilantro and fried mojarra with coconut rice and plantains. The class is $35 per person and tickets and info can be accessed here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/columbian-cooking-class-tickets-35934946392?aff=erelexpmlt. I’ve attached an event flyer for your reference!

Summer Donuts at Glazed & Infused

If you’ve got a sweet tooth, Glazed & Infused recently rolled out a new batch of summer donuts at all of its locations, and they’re some of the most unique and inspired flavors to date. The Strawberry Kiwi Old Fashioned is a spice cake donut glazed with strawberry jam and a kiwi drizzle, while the Blackberry Cheesecake Bismarck is a donut stuffed with vanilla cheesecake and frosted with a housemade blackberry jam glaze. Then there’s the Pilsen, a donut inspired by the near southwest side neighborhood, made with a mango and pineapple glaze and a dusting of spicy tajin and lime.

Pilsen donut at Glazed & Infused

Pilsen donut at Glazed & Infused

Top French Restaurants In Chicago

French Restaurants Get Props For Style and Sustenance

One of the steak entrees at Margeaux Brasserie

One of the steak entrees at Margeaux Brasserie

We have so many reasons to admire the French. They’ve got a lock on fashion, food and wine, plus we cannot get enough of those exotic accents. And lucky for Chicago, we don’t have to travel far to experience authenticity from our sister city.

For your eating and drinking pleasure, we’ve gathered some of the city’s most revered French establishments, from a modernized bistro by an award-winning Parisian chef to a hot new brasserie boasting a roving champagne cart and much more.

Bistronomic

Bistronomic

Bistronomic

Why It’s a Hit: Paris-born chef Martial Noguier is behind this award-winning restaurant showcasing the best from his homeland. There are a lot of great deals on Bistronomic’s menu, so diners may sample many dishes. Guests are first encouraged to sample from Bistronomic’s selection of artisanal cheeses. It’s $25 for all five or $5 for one. The house-made charcuterie selections are similar, in which diners may choose three for $13.50 or five for $24 with selections like prosciutto, dry-cured saucisson sec and house-made country pate. Then there’s the prix-fixe menu in which diners may select from two courses for $32 or three for $39. Best deals include hand-made Yukon Gold gnocchi, PEI black mussels and organic Amish chicken. Steak lovers should appreciate the beef selection at Bistronomic, which is all from the Midwest. Choose from filet mignon au poivre, New York strip or beef bourguignon-style short ribs.

The Blanchard

The Blanchard

Why It’s a Hit: In an area dominated by sports bars and pizza joints, this beautifully designed eatery is a breath of fresh air. Located in Lincoln Park, The Blanchard is classic and modern simultaneously, with a minimalist approach to design and an adjacent drinkery that’s perfect for meeting up for craft cocktails. Pull up seats to the bar and order one of four foie gras presentations (Our favorite comes with a delicate serving of roasted banana, black walnut powder, tropical fruit condiment and olive oil jam) paired with one of the house cocktails. Choose from The Blanchard’s signature Old Fashioned, which transforms the classic concoction into an experience with Cognac finished in Tennessee whiskey barrels and fresh lavender.

Brindille

Brindille

 

Brindille

Why It’s a Hit: It’s hard not to get star struck when discussing Carrie Nahabedian, but when an award-winning chef of this caliber teaches cooking classes like it’s no big deal, one must take advantage. The classically French trained culinary legend—whose accolades include Michelin stars and James Beard awards for her Naha restaurant—hosts a luncheon series with a cooking instruction component on select Saturdays. Participants learn about a different French region each time, and they may pair each of the five courses with wine. It’s $125 per person, or $180 when paired with wine.

Margeaux Brasserie

Margeaux Brasserie

Why It’s a Hit: There’s finally an exciting new restaurant at the Waldorf Astoria, and it happens to be French focused. The creation of James Beard winner Michael Mina, who boasts highly lauded restaurants throughout the country, Margeaux Brasserie is on the third floor of the luxury hotel property. It boasts all sorts of cool stuff you’d expect (classic French dishes such as roast Dover sole and steak frites with a choice of ribeye, New York strip or bavette) and not expect like a roving champagne cart serving bubbly by the glass (Keep those coming!). Try keeping this pro tip under wraps: There’s a daily happy hour from 4 to 6pm with offerings like wood-fired oysters, duck wings and $7 Hemingway daiquiris. And those coming in during brunch should consider ordering the bottomless glass of rosé for $30. Petit Margeaux, a classic French patisserie on the hotel’s lobby level, is also owned by Mina.

Maude’s Liquor Bar

Maude’s Liquor Bar

Margeaux Brasserie

Why It’s a Hit: There’s finally an exciting new restaurant at the Waldorf Astoria, and it happens to be French focused. The creation of James Beard winner Michael Mina, who boasts highly lauded restaurants throughout the country, Margeaux Brasserie is on the third floor of the luxury hotel property. It boasts all sorts of cool stuff you’d expect (classic French dishes such as roast Dover sole and steak frites with a choice of ribeye, New York strip or bavette) and not expect like a roving champagne cart serving bubbly by the glass (Keep those coming!). Try keeping this pro tip under wraps: There’s a daily happy hour from 4 to 6pm with offerings like wood-fired oysters, duck wings and $7 Hemingway daiquiris. And those coming in during brunch should consider ordering the bottomless glass of rosé for $30. Petit Margeaux, a classic French patisserie on the hotel’s lobby level, is also owned by Mina.

Le Bouchon

Le Bouchon

Why It’s a Hit: A Bucktown staple since 1993, Le Bouchon is that cool, neighborhood restaurant every neighborhood wishes it had. It’s small and intimate, but most important, it is consistent. Those wonderful smoked salmon rillettes you scarfed down two months ago when you visited should taste exactly the same as you remember. And service is always pleasant. On date night, couples can share a whole-roasted Peking duck. It’s best to plan that outing on Mondays when it’s half-price wines by the bottle night.

Weekly Planner: Bastille Day Edition

Bastille Day at Chez Moi

Bastille Day at Chez Moi

Bastille Day at Chez Moi

If a prix fixe menu is more your style, head to Chez Moi in Lincoln Park on July 14. The classic French bistro is going all out for the occasion with a three-course prix fixe dinner menu adjoined by classic Pastis Champagne cocktails. There will also be a la carte specials and Veuve Clicquot will be in attendance, hosting raffles throughout the day for gift bags and magnum-sized bottles of Champagne. The prix fixe starts with appetizer options like gazpacho, salmon tartare and asparagus salad, followed by entrees like coq au vin, bouillabaisse and grilled rib-eye with bearnaise and fries. For dessert, choose between a mille-feuille with raspberries or a parfait. The cost for the tasting is $39 per person, with a $5 up charge for the rib-eye. Veuve will be on hand, available at $20 per glass or $100 per bottle

Roots Handmade Pizza Rolls Out Happy Hour

Comfort food is the bill of fare at Roots Handmade Pizza’s new happy hour, available at both its West Town and Lincoln Square locations. Because the only way pizza can get any more delicious is if it’s bargain pizza. Great for after-work snacking and drinking, or leisurely neighborhood noshing, happy hour now runs Monday through Friday from 3:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. While many happy hours focus on drinks, Roots keeps food in the spotlight with half-pried appetizers like mozzarella sticks, fried ravioli and loaded hummus. Of course, there’s also half-priced specialty pizzas as well. To drink, there’s half-priced Ketel One drinks in West Town or Svedka drinks in Lincoln Square, while both outposts have $5 Greenbush drafts.

Cochon Volant

Cochon Volant

Cochon Rosé Patio Pig Roast at Mon Ami Gabi

In other French news, Lincoln Park’s venerable Mon Ami Gabi is hosting a special summer shindig of its own on Saturday, July 15, with rosé and roast pig in tow. Taking place from 1:00 p.m. until 4:00 p.m., the special Bastille Day-inspired festivity marks the restaurant’s first annual “Cochon Rosé,” wherein Mon Ami Gabi partners with Moet Hennessy for an afternoon of French BBQ, pink bubbly and more. The pig roast will take place on the restaurant’s patio, accompanied by sides and summer drinks. All-inclusive tickets for the party are $68, and they can be purchased by calling the restaurant.

Wine Dinner at RPM Italian

It may not be French (or Bastille Day), but there’s still plenty of reason to be excited for RPM Italian’s next wine dinner, set for Tuesday, July 18. For the event the restaurant has partnered with old and vinegar producer San Giacomo for a five-course spree of wine-paired dishes. Drawing inspiration from the seasons, dishes to be served include a porcini and bresaola salad with heirloom spinach, porchetta with fresh corn polenta and more. The menu costs $85 per person, and dinner takes place at 7:00 p.m. For more information or to make a reservation, visit RPM Italian’s website.