Friday Foodie Forecast: Ready, set, go Restaurant Week!

February 19, 2010

The 3rd Annual "Restaurant Week" kicks off today, featuring some of Chicago's best dining establishments. Technically, it's a little more than week; in truth, it's a 10-day marathon of discount dining. More than 160 restaurants are offering three-course lunches for $22 and three-course dinners for $32.

While you may have to reach deep into your pocket to afford eating out every day of the week, some of the restaurants on the list are well worth it - the prix-fixe menu offered during Restaurant Week often costs less than an entrée at participating restaurants such as NoMI and Naha.

Here are a few of the‚ high-profile restaurants participating:

  • The Drawing Room
  • Blackbird
  • Naha
  • Frontera Grill & Topolobampo
  • The Lobby Restaurant
  • NoMI
  • Café Spiaggia

You can find the entire list of restaurants and their menus at ChooseChicago.com. In addition to the high-end cuisine, there are 22 steakhouses on the list, including two Brazilian steakhouses. Last year, more than 225,000 customers were served during the promotion, and many restaurants tend to sell out, so reservations are highly recommended and can be made on OpenTable or by calling the restaurant individually.

If you've ever wanted to become a wine connoisseur and impress your friends at your next dinner party, you may be interested in Chicago Wine School's 5-week courses which start on March 8.

Classes are taught by Patrick Fegan, the director of Chicago Wine School. Patrick has taught wine appreciation classes since 1975 and writes the regular wine column for the Chicago Tribune. He is also the only Chicagoan to pass the world's most rigorous wine-tasting exam which is administered by the Institute of Masters of Wine.

This spring, Chicago Wine School will have the following courses:

The Basics- A & The Basics- B

Aimed at those of yor who are just developing an interest in wine or need a good review lesson. Class topics include: grape growing and winemaking, major red, white and rose wines, ports & sherries and champagne and sparkling wines.

$180 per person.

The Wines of Italy

This intermediate level class is for those who want an in-depth study of wine from Italy (a different country is offered each semester). Class topics include: Italy's wine background and history, "varietal" wines, sparkling and table wines, "Super Tuscans" from Toscana and Umbria and Piemonte wines.

$260 per person.

You can enroll in any of these classes online, by cash or check. You must be at least 21 years-old to attend and course fees cover winte tastings, handouts and the use of proper glassware.

Reservations are required and can be made by calling 312-595-0800.

And if you still haven't had enough of a sugar rush from Valentine's Day chocolate and candy, you may be interested in attending "The Bittersweet History of Chocolate in France" presented by Mark Seaman on Saturday Feb. 20.

Seaman will speak to the Culinary Historians of Chicago on the evolution of chocolate in France as well as how chocolate goes from bean to bar. He will also explain the differences between a Hershey Bar and a piece of gourmet Chocolate from Meilleur Ouvrier de France.

The event will be hosted at Lexington College (310 S. Peoria St.) at 10 a.m. and is free for Lexington faculty and students, CHC members, $3 for students, $5 for non members.

Reserve your spot by calling Barbara Olson at 708 -- 788 -- 0388 or e-mailing your reservation.