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NEWS: New Spots to Lunch

New Spots to Lunch

We can never have too many options for new spots to lunch . Thankfully Chicago has a few more new lunch spots now that Bottlefork, Japonais by Morimoto, Links TapRoom, and others are rolling out lunch service and specials.

New Spots to Lunch, Chicago Restaurant

(On its way to your face via Le Pain Quotidien)


Japonais by Morimoto: Now open for lunch, the menu at Japonais by Morimoto is quite massive. Soups (tofu miso, clam miso), salads (sashimi Caesar salad), and sandwiches (pork kakuni buns, J by Morimoto burger, chicken banh mi) are all accounted for, plus maki rolls, bento-style lunch sets, and hot and cold plates. To drink, aside from cocktails and beers, the restaurant offers an array of interesting booze-free libations, which are probably handy for midday drinking so that you don’t…….


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Sweet of the Week: Matcha Cookies at Sumi Robata Bar

Sweet Of The Week:

Chicago is a city with a sweet tooth, packed with unique pastries and desserts in every neighborhood restaurant and bakery for dining and snacking in Chicago. I’m a guy with a sweet tooth, so each week I’ll report on a different dessert you need to try. I mean, I’ll eat more than one dessert of course, but only one standout confection gets a shout out.

Chicago Restaurant Guide (Sumi Robata Bar cookies)

(Sumi Robata Bar cookies)

I love a good cookie. A well-made cookie can be an extraordinary thing capable of reducing me to Cookie Monster-like hysterics. But let’s be honest, not all cookies are out-of-body experiences. I tend to be finicky about ordering cookies from bakeries or restaurants because more often than not they are too crackly, too sweet, too dry, too crumbly, or any combo therein. So when a special cookie comes along, I respect. The matcha sugar cookies at Sumi Robata Bar, served as a saccharine exclamation point at the end of lunch, are special cookies. Not only do they look fun and unique (green!), but they taste incredible, with an incomparable, dreamy texture to match. This is what cookies are all about.


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The team at Ceres’ Table is pleased to announce that this April, the restaurant will open in Chicago’s bustling East Lakeview neighborhood at 3124 N. Broadway Avenue. Chef Giuseppe Scurato, who introduced Ceres’ Table in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood in 2009, has joined forces with All Day Hospitality’s Caryn Struif, a Chicago restaurant veteran, to expand upon the successful concept that was previously named a “Best New Restaurant” in Chicago magazine and earned four consecutive Bib Gourmand awards from the esteemed Michelin Guide.

At the new and larger 100-seat location, Struif, Operating Partner and General Manager, will tap into her vast experience to run front-of-house operations and – in collaboration with Chef Scurato – bring regional, Italian-inspired seasonal plates to the neighborhood at affordable prices.

“Giuseppe and I previously worked together for many years and share the same dedication to the quality of our food and establishing long-lasting relationships with our guests,” explained Struif. “When I came upon this location, I knew his talents would be a perfect match for Lakeview. With the larger space and our newly installed wood-burning oven, both long-time fans and new guests can experience an even wider range his Italian cooking!”

Regional, Italian-Inspired Seasonal Plates in the Heart of Lakeview

Upon opening, the neighborhood restaurant will feature regional, Italian-inspired seasonal plates that pay homage to Chef Scurato’s Sicilian heritage with respect to the technique, process, and history of his native cuisine. A reflection of the Italian lifestyle, Chef Scurato has forged meaningful connections with Midwestern farmers in the spirit of cooking with seasonal, local, and sustainable ingredients.

In the new, larger space, Chef Scurato will expand the menu to feature mostly new offerings, including homemade pizzas cooked to perfection in a newly installed wood-burning oven that sits at the heart of the restaurant. Guests will enjoy a range of pizzas including Funghi with fior di latte, basil, wild mushroom and Sciacciata with cauliflower, saffron, caciocavallo, garlic, anchovies and currants.

His built-for-sharing menu will also feature Salumi (cured and dried meats), Formaggi (cheeses), Crudi (lightly marinated raw seafood and meats), Antipasti (salads and small plates), Paste (hand-made daily), Carni and Pesci (main courses of meat, fish and poultry), and weekly changing sides. The new, full menu includes:


Salute! Vino & Cocktails at Ceres’ Table

The Italian-focused wine list at Ceres’ Table will showcase a sophisticated yet approachable variety, with more than 90 selections available by the bottle and ten by the glass. With a focus on affordability, bottle prices start at $28 and average between $50 to $60 across the regionally comprehensive list, with well-known offerings like Barolo, Barbera d’Alba, Nero d’Avola, and Pinot Grigio. Wine enthusiasts of all levels will also appreciate learning about and tasting lesser-known varietals like Kerner, Frapatto, Grignolino, and Nerello Mascalese.


The craft cocktail program will highlight classics and house specialty cocktails including the Romeo on Broadway (a bracing sipper in the style of a Manhattan made with bonded rye whiskey with Zucca, Luxardo Amaro Abano, Punt e Mes, orange bitters, garnished with a flamed orange peel) and the Ceres Spritzer (a refreshing aperitif made with Cocchi Americano, Cappelletti, Prosecco, garnished with a slice of blood orange). House-made syrups are incorporated in a number of beverage offerings. Ceres’ Table also offers a smart selection of after dinner wines, Amari, and – a signature – house-made Limoncello.


A Look Inside the Lakeview Locale…

Top Chicago architect Jeremiah Johnson from CBD Architects saw a great deal of promise upon seeing the existing space, which allowed his team an opportunity to salvage certain finishes that spoke to the elegant simplicity of Chef Giuseppe’s cooking style. Combining reclaimed wood with cool, earthy stone tiles delivers an authentic, familiar atmosphere to the restaurant, which calls to mind similarities to rustic Italian landscapes. The addition of new bronze light fixtures and gently shimmering wallpapers brightens and polishes the dining room without overwhelming the intimate space. Guests will also be able to gather comfortably in the seats surrounding the newly-installed pizza oven, including the 10-seat Vintner’s Table. Weather permitting, Ceres’ Table’s vibrant 16-seat outdoor patio will offer guests the perfect spot to dine and imbibe al fresco on upon opening.


Brunch Bites: I | O Urban Roofscape and 2 Sparrows

Brunch is a booming business in Chicago, and it can be hard to navigate the ins and outs, especially when so many strollers are blocking the way. Each week we highlight some of the most notable brunch news and dining happenings around town. Here are your latest brunch bites.

In this week’s batch of brunch bites, I | O Urban Roofscape starts Champagne RI|OT brunch and 2 Sparrows punches up their spring beverage menu.


Brunch Bites: Brunch Bites:

(Strawberries in Kentucky at 2 Sparrows)


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Eat on the Cheap With Tax Day Specials

Love it or hate it, Tax Day is here. “Celebrate” by stuffing your face with food and drink specials throughout Chicago.

Tax Day Fiorentino's Cucina Italiana

Fiorentino’s Cucina Italiana

Tax Day is here. That dreaded due date for tax filing means people are either excited for a rebate or depressed about having to pay the government a bunch of money. Either way, we all win when it means restaurants and bars are doling out discounted specials to help ease the burn of tax burden. Here are some specials to keep in mind for Tax Day on April 15.


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The legal definition and the economic definition of taxes differ in that economists do not consider many transfers to governments to be taxes. For example, some transfers to the public sector are comparable to prices. Examples include tuition at public universities and fees for utilities provided by local governments. Governments also obtain resources by creating money (e.g., printing bills and minting coins), through voluntary gifts (e.g., contributions to public universities and museums), by imposing penalties (e.g., traffic fines), by borrowing, and by confiscating wealth. From the view of economists, a tax is a non-penal, yet compulsory transfer of resources from the private to the public sector levied on a basis of predetermined criteria and without reference to specific benefit received.

In modern taxation systems, taxes are levied in money; but, in-kind and corvée taxation are characteristic of traditional or pre-capitalist states and their functional equivalents. The method of taxation and the government expenditure of taxes raised is often highly debated in politics and economics. Tax collection is performed by a government agency such as the Canada Revenue Agency, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in the United States, or Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) in the United Kingdom. When taxes are not fully paid, civil penalties (such as fines or forfeiture) or criminal penalties (such as incarceration)[1] may be imposed on the non-paying entity or individual.




Weekend Planner: Pastoral Artisan Producer Festival, Grilled Cheese Day Decadence, and Cocktail Carts at Travelle

Weekend Planner: Pastoral Artisan Producer Festival

Pastoral‘s fourth annual Artisan Producer Festival is this Saturday, April 12, at the Chicago French Market. The free-to-attend festival brings together upwards of 100 food artisans from across the world, gathered en masse in the West Loop to showcase their wholesome wares. It’s the Epcot of worldly artisanal foods. The event takes place from 11:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m., affording attendees ample opportunity to peruse, sample, taste, chat up producers, and sip wine, beer, and spirits. Expect stellar cheeses from the likes of Hidden Springs Creamery in Wisconsin, Rogue Creamery in Oregon, and Dutch Girl Creamery in Nebraska; salumi from Portland’s Olympic Provisions and charcuterie from Smoking Goose Meatery in Indianapolis; small-batch wines from Napa Valley’s Forlorn Hope Winery and Ohio’s Firelands Winery; spirits from nearby CH Distillery; beer from Half Acre; goat’s milk caramels from Big Picture Farms in Vermont; and lots more. Additionally, many Chicago French Market vendors will also participate in the fest, featuring special tastings from the likes of Little Goat BreadLillie’s Q, and Beavers Coffee + Donuts.

Weekend Planner: Grilled Cheese Flight for Grilled Cheese Day

Grilled Cheese Flight for Grilled Cheese Day

Deca Grilled Cheese Flight for Grilled Cheese Day

In other Pastoral news, Bar Pastoral is celebrating Grilled Cheese Month with a grilled cheese flight, which is especially apropos this weekend for Grilled Cheese Day on April 12. Available all month long, the cheese tasting includes a traditional grilled cheese with Widmer’s one-year cheddar and a side of tomato tapenade; a Castelinhos grilled cheese adjoined by charred scallion pepper jelly; and a Maxx Extra grilled cheese with some chocolate ganache on the side. All sandwiches are made on sourdough bread and the flight soars for $12.


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Bub City’s Windy City Smokeout will return to Chicago July 11-13, 2014. The second annual summer festival will bring together the best of live country music, beer and BBQ at a yet-to-be announced location.

Bub City’s Windy City Smokeout

Bub City’s Windy City Smokeout

“We’re excited to bring the second annual Windy City Smokeout back to Chicago. Last year was a great party,” said Doug Psaltis, Bub City Chef Partner. “It’s a pretty unique thing we’re doing–bringing together the best barbeque from around the country and the biggest names in country music–and we hope to provide guests with another great weekend.”


Windy City Smokeout brings an impressive lineup of musical talent catering to bonafide fans of country music and concert goers alike. Festival headliners are: ACM Awards New Artist of the Year nominee Brett Eldredge on Friday, July 11, ACM Awards Top Vocal Group of the Year nominee Randy Rogers Band on Saturday, July 12 and Grammy-nominated Eli Young Band on Sunday, July 13. Additional performances include Josh Abbott Band and Chase Rice, as well as emerging country talent who will take the stage throughout the day.


“We have an incredible music lineup in store this year,” said Ed Warm, owner of Joe’s Bar. “Chicagoans can look forward to not only some of their favorite country acts, but also the best of the best in up and coming talent.”


Throughout the weekend, guests can enjoy southern-inspired fare from a host of distinguished BBQ restaurants located in Chicago and beyond, to be announced in the coming weeks.


Tickets can be purchased at, beginning at 10 a.m. on Friday, April 18, and are priced as follows:


Friday, July 11:       $25

Saturday, July 12: $30

Sunday, July 13:    $30

Three Day Pass:    $75

*Tickets do not include food or beverage


New this year, is a VIP experience, limited to just 100 ticketholders per each day of the festival. The $100 VIP ticket includes access to an elevated location next to the performance stage, access to private restrooms, a private cash bar and BBQ sampling throughout the day.


The hours for Windy City Smokeout are: 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday, July 11, noon to 10 p.m. on Saturday, July 12 and noon to 9 p.m. on Sunday, July 13.

NEWS: First Taste, Plein Air Cafe & Eatery

Plein Air Cafe & Eatery:

The latest dining destination to open in Hyde Park, and thanks in part to Pleasant House Bakery, it’s rocking on all cylinders. Plein Air Cafe & Eatery

Plein Air Cafe & Eatery

Plein Air Cafe & Eatery

 Plein Air Cafe & Eatery

As Hyde Park continues to draw in chefs and their new concepts, my fascination with the south side ‘hood is reaching a fever pitch. First there was Matthias Merges, then there was news of The Promontory (still eagerly waiting on that one), and then there was Kevin Heisner, probably the most interesting bar-focused restaurateur in Chicago right now. The rampant businessman continues to open killer new spots all over the city, but what his new Hyde Park spot, Plein Air Cafe & Eatery, offers is something different entirely. Not only is this a departure from his usual Heisler Hospitality organizations, wherein he and his business partner Matt Eisler mastermind some of the city’s quintessential bars, but it’s a daytime cafe that basically veers in the opposite direction from the usual boozy concepts. It’s also a partnership with artistically minded Soo Choi, whose resume includes the South Loop’s esteemed Little Branch Cafe. Together, they tag-team something truly special in Hyde Park, bolstering the neighborhood’s credibility as a dining destination.


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Culinary Collaborations Beget Special Pizza

Revolution Brewery and Dimo’s Pizza team up for a very special, very offbeat Special Pizza.

Dimo's Pizza at a special pizza and beer

(Dimo’s Pizza at a special beer and pizza launch party this week)

First there was gelato doughnut sandwiches from Glazed & Infused and Black Dog Gelato. Next came fried chicken pizza from Honey Butter Fried Chicken and Piece. Now it’s time for another zany collaboration, a special type of pizza-beer pairing conspired by Revolution Brewery and Dimo’s Pizza. Created for Chicago’s Comic Con, the beer and pizza duo make for a one-two punch of offbeat sensations, which is pretty much exactly what you’d expect from a Comic Con-inspired meal.

It all starts with Revolution’s Galaxy Hero, an aptly named, comic-friendly beer described as “an IPA that shoots a raygun blast of Galaxy and Zythos hops into your mouth and leaves a crisp, dry finish.” OK! So basically if you’ve ever wanted to drink a beer that made you feel like you were hurling through outer space, evading intergalactic battle and getting shot in the mouth, this is the beer for you. It’s a tall order to contrive a dish to pair with such a mighty brew, but Dimo’s was up to the task…………..


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Cochon 555 Returns to Chicago

Cochon 555

Cochon 555 Returns to Chicago

Cochon 555 Returns to Chicago

Between Baconfest and Cochon 555, April is certainly the month to pig out. First up is Cochon 555, the roving pork-fest that makes its Chicago return this weekend. Created in 2009 by Brady Lowe as a means to educate diners about heritage breeds of hogs, Cochon 555 has ballooned to become the country’s preeminent porcine extravaganza, bouncing around to 17 different major markets each winter and spring, supporting local family farms across the U.S. With each stopover, the event hosts several chefs from each city, tasked with working with a particular heritage breed and cooking up unique and extraordinary dishes. The winner from each leg goes on to vie in Grand Cochon at the series’ culmination, with the U.S. winner earning the designation of “King or Queen of Porc.”