Are you seriously going to cook for a bunch of slobs who just want to drink your beer and eat your food? Honestly, most guests just care about getting foot access on the ottoman and having unobstructed sightlines to the TV. But if you're planning on outsourcing your party food, allow me to suggest The Simple Gourmet in Evanston, just a few blocks South of the Northwestern campus.
The Deli Case (photo by Steve Dolinsky)
Homade Soups to Go (photo by Steve Dolinsky)
Sandwiches to Go (photo by Steve Dolinsky)
For the past two years, they've been providing a quick alternative to fast food for those of us who really care about what we're putting into our bodies.
Hotel 71 almost never gets name-checked when people discuss the city's better architecture. If it isn't forgotten, it's certainly overlooked.
No reason why it should be, though. Built in 1958 as the Executive House hotel, the 36-story 71 E. Wacker is a slick postwar addition to the mainly early 20th century Wacker Drive streetwall. The original facade was made flush awhile back, removing the original recessed balconies, but the move improved the tower's looks. Designed by under-heralded Chicago modernist Milton Schwartz, the hotel looks fresh enough to have been built yesterday.
Now that North Shore voters have turned down Tuesday's referendum on $174 million in renovations to New Trier Township High School, some people are bound to blame Jay Levine. Ever since WBBM-Channel 2's chief correspondent delivered a controversial report about the issue last week, he's come under fire for his attitude -- if not his facts.
Levine's report was no straightforward news story. In keeping with his latest persona on the CBS-owned station as a cocky advocate for the little guy (a role created and once played to perfection by Walter Jacobson), Levine is being encouraged by his bosses to embellish the facts with his opinion. But unlike Jacobson, whose commentaries were always labeled "Walter's Perspective," Levine's editorializing carries no such disclaimer.
Even before his report on New Trier aired, it was clear the intent was to provoke an emotional reaction. In teasing the piece hours earlier, Levine's producer, Ed Marshall, tweeted: "Top high school in US fears falling behind. New Trier faces backlash for $200M taj mahal plan. Bad timing award? Jay Levine at 10p on cbs2."
If labeling it a "Taj Mahal plan" weren't enough of a signal, Channel 2 abandoned any pretense of objectivity when 10 p.m. news anchor Rob Johnson introduced Levine's piece with these words:
Ed. note: Since Steve Dolinsky is currently in Paris, veteran blogger Andrew Gill attended this event in his place.
Last night I attended Goose Island's launch event for their new beer, Green Line Pale Ale. That name signifies the Chicago-based mega-microbrewery's resolution to be more eco-friendly than it does the CTA line that runs closest to their facilities. For one thing, the event was at Uncommon Ground on Devon- much closer to the red line, but the home of Chicago's only certified organic rooftop garden. It seems the beer will push sustainability in three major ways.
Where have you gone, Don Draper? Apparently the spirit of the two (or in this case, three) martini lunch has come to Division Street.‚ In February, Wicker Park's Fifty/50 is offering a "Three Martini Lunch," a three-course prix-fixe meal for $35 includes three full-size, 10 oz Ketel One Vodka or Tanqueray gin martinis. The Three Martini Lunch menu includes:
BLT Salad - romaine, smoked bacon, egg, blue cheese crumbles and cherry tomatoes
Skirt Steak on Garlic Bread -- orange-honey teriyaki marinated skirt steak with fried onions on garlic bread
Sweet Potato Pecan Pie -- served with bourbon glaze and Tahitian vanilla whipped cream
Hey Don, do you want to go back to the office?
Nah, I think I'll take a nap and then go in to hit on my secretary.
A trusted colleague, serious foodie and seafood industry employee I know is in Paris during this week's Seafood Summit. He and his wife were really looking forward to checking out mega-watt, super Michelin-starred French chef Alain Ducasse's seafood-focussed restaurant, Rech. Within 24 hours of devouring a fruits de mer platter of oysters, mussels, shrimp and clams, his wife was knocked unconscious for 30 minutes, while he couldn't move his fingers - which had curled into a bizarre grip - and both of them were shaking violently. As the hospital told them upon arrival Saturday, a pretty clear case of toxic food poisoning.
Repeated calls to the restaurant and emails have yielded nothing. At this point, he'd just like his 321 € (about $470) refunded.
One of the things that makes Chicago such a wonderful place to eat, is that our chefs now fully immerse themselves in the seasons. We get to eat local strawberries in June, Michigan peaches in August, and this time of year, well, we eat a lot of house-made sausage, chorizo and cured meats. Go see what Bruce Sherman is doing on any given week over at North Pond, and I'll bet you the menu is based on whatever he found at the Green City Market; same goes for Rob Leavitt at Mado, Michael Sheerin at Blackbird and now, John Manion at the newly-revamped Branch 27. As I've written about in this space before, Manion has, as of late, been a chef-for-hire. He's set up the menus at the Old Oak Tap, altered the Milk & Honey Bakery menu into Cippollina, transformed Goose Island Brewery's menu and most recently, completely gutted the something-for-everyone menu at Branch 27, and honed it into a focused document that encourages repeat visits.
While we freeze our collective asses off this month, take some respite in Manion's cassoulet (ca-soo-LAY). This traditional French stew of white beans, sausage, lamb and pork is as comforting on a chilly day as a pair of flannel p.j.s and a down duvet. The cast-iron crock is actually so hearty, you'll need a friend to help you polish it off. Unless, that is, you've been shoveling snow all day. In that case, all bets are off.