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David Lissner
for restaurants

Chicago’s shrimpy history, continued

While we’re indulging in Chicago seafood history this week, let’s talk about Chicago fried shrimp. Shacks serving breaded and fried shellfish have been a Chicago fixture since at least 1935, when Troha’s, a West Side beer and chili joint, added shrimp to the menu. Despite the introduction of shrimp DeJonghe at the turn of the […]

When did you last DeJonghe?

When was the last time you ate shrimp DeJonghe? Among the dishes invented in Chicago, shrimp DeJonghe gets perhaps the least attention, yet this scrumptious dish has the oldest pedigree of any of Chicago’s special recipes. Brothers Pierre, Henri and Charles DeJonghe came to Chicago from Belgium in 1891 and opened a restaurant at the […]

Chicago put the pop in pop

Most people have heard that Coca-Cola was invented by pharmacist John Pemberton in Georgia in 1886, but Chicago’s very important connection to Coke is more obscure. If it weren’t for a Chicago invention, Coke might never have achieved its phenomenal success. Until 1933, if you ordered a Coke at a soda fountain, your server pumped […]

75 years of prime rib at Lawry’s

It’s been 75 years since Lawry’s The Prime Rib opened its first location in Beverly Hills, Calif. The Chicago branch in Streeterville, the second location, didn’t open till 1974, but they are also celebrating throughout June with a special $75 dinner for two. Each meal features an 8-ounce cut of prime rib, the original spinning […]

Ambria fans: your fave is back — for one night only

Six years ago, fans were surprised and disappointed when Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises shut down its Lincoln Park fine-dining restaurant Ambria after 27 years. During Ambria’s tenure, its chef, Gabino Sotelino won the James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef of the Midwest award in 1997, and his native Spain awarded him its Medalla al Merito Nacional, […]

Friday food porn: Red, red rhurbarb

Pastry Chef Sarah Jordan’s fresh-as-spring take on pavlova with rhubarb, elderflower yogurt, St. Germain liqueur and rhubarb consomme, $12 at Boka in Lincoln Park. Pavlova, by the way, is an Antipodean meringue dessert named for the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova, who performed in Australia and New Zealand during the 1920s. Both countries claim invention of […]

Early cookbooks started women toward power

The beginnings of the women’s movement were stirred up in the pages of cookbooks. Charity cookbooks, starting at the time of the Civil War, brought women together to champion causes such as suffrage, education, temperance, equal rights, working conditions, welfare, immigration and legal rights, as well as benefiting churches, schools, sororities, the homeless and others […]

Lincolnwood’s Purple Hotel to get a revival

Lincolnwood’s iconic Purple Hotel will get a new lease on life, the Chicago Sun-Times’ David Roeder reports today. The hotel, once the bar mitzvah mecca of the north suburbs and home to the swanky T.J.’s restaurant, has been closed and under threat of demolition since 2007, after a long slide downhill from its 1960s opening […]

Eat this! Curry, a saucy blend of flavors

What it is: Although to most Americans, “curry” implies a dish made with a yellow-hued spice blend, in India, it means “gravy,” and applies to a wide range of saucy, typically highly seasoned recipes. Where it comes from: Curries originated in South Asia. “Curry powder,” a blend of seasonings that get their yellow color from […]

Drink this! Sweet, hot and rummy

What it is: The chilly December weather calls for a warming drink: Hot buttered rum starts with a spiced, buttery “batter” blended with rum and hot water. Where it comes from: Hot buttered rum and similar rum toddies were created in Colonial America, and was a favorite tipple of 18th-century politicians, who reportedly plied prospective […]