The Publican is nominated for Outstanding Restaurant Graphics (photo by Sifu Renka)
The 2011 James Beard Foundation Award Finalists were announced via Twitter today.
Takashi Restaurant is raising money for the victims of the Japan earthquake. Beginning this weekend, customers can choose to donate $5 after they dine. 91% of donations will go directly to the victims. You can also simply visit the American Red Cross website to donate what you wish.
Chef Takashi Yagihashi has family and friends living in and around Mito, Japan, not far from Miyagi. Yagihashi has heard from his immediate family, all of whom are doing o.k., but he is still waiting to hear from some friends and relatives.
He says any donation, no matter how small, will make a big difference to those suffering in Japan.
I realize today is St. Patrick's Day, but did you also realize that Saturday is St. Joseph's? This Italian day of feasting occurs during Lent and features several seafood courses, if not an entire spread (don't forget the zeppole!) I figured now was as good a time as any to reveal what I believe to be are the Italian joints that get more praise than they deserve. (My Top 5 favorite Italian will appear in this space next Thursday).
Enough already. Just because your uncle Vito went here during trade shows and your cousin Angie ate here during prom doesn't make it authentic. Let me ask you this: when was the last time you saw tomato cream vodka sauce in Italy? 1500 W. Taylor St. (among others), 312-942-1117.
Went here last week after hearing loads of praise for this charming cafe-within-a-corner-grocery store. Had the homemade 8-finger cavatappi, which tasted like undercooked, water-soaked cardboard; the meatball sandwich was similarly lacking in flavor. Didn't see any Italians in the kitchen. 2724 S. Lowe Ave., 312-225-6368.
Pork, eggs, cheese and bread. These seemingly humble ingredients have become the Four Horsemen of nearly every breakfast nook in Chicago. Naturally, the pork isn't simply bacon, it's shoulder that's been brined and/or smoked, sometimes braised in its own juices; the eggs should be organic, and if not, then at the very least, free-range and all-natural; the cheese has to be artisanal, preferably from a farm nearby and by a producer whose name graces the menu; finally, the bread: produced that morning by either Labriola, Red Hen or Pamela Fitzpatrick (Fox & Obel).
Since it opened in Ukrainian Village, Jam has been a gem of a breakfast and lunch option in the neighborhood, and they're planning a second location in Logan Square in a few months. Their egg sandwich contains all of the above, and may sound simple on the surface, but when you see how it's constructed, you'll gain a fuller appreciation. Good luck trying to finish one by yourself.
I'm turning over this space today - as I do on occasion - to one of my interns. Kristen Kuchar is a student at Columbia College, and like all students, she's always looking for a bargain. Our criteria for the "Young & Hungry" series is that entrees must hover around $10. This week, she heads to the Southwest 'burbs for a real taste of Southern home cooking at Chuck's.
When I'm looking for a unique culinary experience that's affordable, I turn to Chuck's Southern Comforts Cafe. Chuck's does double duty because not only do they serve amazing food (in huge portions), but while I'm there, I feel like I'm on vacation. The invigorating smells of the slow-cooked meats, the friendly staff and the warm, festive decor all immediately transport me beyond the city.
What makes Chuck's cuisine even more interesting is that it isn't just Southern fare. It's a blend of Cajun, Creole, Mexican and Tex-Mex as well.