WBEZ | Chicago Restaurant Week http://www.wbez.org/tags/chicago-restaurant-week Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Eat this, drink that: Ramova Room, food stories, and more http://www.wbez.org/blogs/louisa-chu/2013-01/eat-drink-ramova-room-food-stories-and-more-105002 <p><p style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/louisachu/7296468408/"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/ramovachilibreakfast.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="Chili on eggs, hash brown potatoes, double toast, and fresh-squeezed orange juice at Ramova Grill, 1929-2012 (WBEZ/Louisa Chu)" /></a></p><p><strong>Saturday, January 19</strong></p><p><a href="http://culinaryhistorians.org/">Chicago Foodways Roundtable</a> presents&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/cinnamon-saffron-demystifying-indian-cooking-western-world-104710">From Cinnamon To Saffron: Demystifying Indian Cooking in the Western World</a> at <a href="http://www.kendall.edu/">Kendall College</a>. <a href="http://tadkapasta.wordpress.com/">Local blogger</a> Ranjini Rao, author of <a href="http://tadkapasta.wordpress.com/2012/12/12/our-ebook-mango-masala-60-indian-recipes-from-your-local-supermarket/"><em>Mango Masala: 60 Indian Recipes From Your Local Supermarket</em></a>, talks and will also serve samples from her book. This event will be recorded for <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified">WBEZ&rsquo;s <em>Chicago Amplified</em></a>. Admission $3, FREE for Kendall students and faculty with ID.</p><p><strong>Wednesday, January 23</strong></p><p><a href="http://soupandbread.net/">Soup &amp; Bread</a> presents this week&#39;s theme, <a href="https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0ApPhpdY9KXzPdDRfMUk3WFFoZlRNd2VvR0RJcjdJS1E#gid=0">The Ocean (&quot;Seafoods and sea greens. And deep, dark mystery.&quot;)</a> at the Hideout, benefitting the <a href="http://www.heartlandalliance.org/kovler/">Marjorie Kovler Center</a>, with bread from <a href="http://publicanqualitymeats.com/">Publican Quality Meats</a> and <a href="http://www.yelp.com/biz/la-farine-bakery-chicago">La Farine Bakery</a>. If it&#39;s unclear, this is one of my favorite food and drink events, and venues, anywhere in the world. Here&#39;s S &amp; B founder Martha Bayne&#39;s recent post about this season&#39;s first theme week, <a href="http://soupandbread.net/2013/01/12/soup-bread-1213-green/">Green, with yours truly</a> &mdash; during which we quaffed <a href="http://www.3floyds.com/">Three Floyds</a> and&nbsp;<a href="http://www.trumer-international.com/">Trumer Pils</a>, served on draft.&nbsp;Admission FREE soup and bread, donate what you can, beer additional, and remember: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/louisachu/7071326897/">Everyone LOVES the Generous!</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-05-20/weekly-guide-monte-lamonte-plans-his-final-meal-86815">Monte</a><a href="http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-05-20/weekly-guide-monte-lamonte-plans-his-final-meal-86815">&nbsp;LaMonte</a>&nbsp;presents <a href="http://montelovesfood.tumblr.com/">Eat This! Stories for the Love of Food</a> at <a href="http://thelincolnlodge.com/">The Lincoln Lodge</a>. The intriguing storytellers include Pleasant House Bakery chef/owner Art Jackson, urban forager Dave Odd, <em>Chicago&rsquo;s Best</em> host Ted Brunson, Lula Cafe chef Michael Simmons, The Brown Sack chefs/owners Malaika Marion and Adam Lebin, Jake&#39;s Pizza chef/owner John Berger, and Taqueria El Asadero cashier/server Viviana A. Flores. Snacks from the storytelling chefs will be served. Admission $10.</p><p><strong>Thursday, January 24</strong></p><div><a href="http://www.choosechicago.com/things-to-do/dining/chicago-restaurant-week/">Chicago Restaurant Week</a> kicks off with the <a href="http://firstbitesbash2013.eventbrite.com/">First Bites Bash</a> in the <a href="http://www.chicagounionstation.com/event_info.html">Great Hall at Union Station</a>, benefitting <a href="http://www.bearnecessities.org/HomePage.aspx">Bear Necessities Pediatric Cancer Foundation</a>. Over 50 of our most celebrated chefs and restaurants &mdash; including Carriage House, Nellcôte, and The Bedford &mdash; will serve savory and sweet tastings. Admission $95.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><a href="http://chicagoist.com/2013/01/08/things_are_shaping_up_for_chicagois.php"><em>Chicagoist</em> presents the Ramova Room Soup Kitchen</a> at <a href="http://bentonhouse.org/">Benton House</a>, benefitting <a href="http://bentonhouse.org/archives/36">their Food Pantry</a>. The all-star, Bridgeport-connected soup chefs include Vera&#39;s Mark Mendez, who may make a Ramova tribute chili;&nbsp;busy Pleasant House Bakery chef/owner Art Jackson with&nbsp;vegetarian Moroccan tagine winter squash&nbsp;soup; Nightwood chef Jason Vincent with a bean and belly soup;&nbsp;Bridgeport Pasty chef/owners Carrie Clark and Jay Sebastian with Tuscan bean soup;&nbsp;Zaytune Mediterranean Grill chef/owner Daniel Sarkiss with lamb yogurt soup;&nbsp;Allium chef Kevin Hickey (who actually attended pre-school at Benton House) with Brussels kraut soup with potatoes, kielbasa, and rye croutons &mdash; veg version too &mdash; and more. Plus bread from&nbsp;<a href="http://www.lthforum.com/bb/viewtopic.php?t=2907">heavenly Bridgeport Bakery</a>, start-up&nbsp;Peerless Bread &amp; Jam, and Bruno&#39;s &quot;Famous Sour Rye&quot;&nbsp;Bakery. Admission $10 suggested donation.</div></p> Fri, 18 Jan 2013 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/louisa-chu/2013-01/eat-drink-ramova-room-food-stories-and-more-105002 Restaurant Week wars http://www.wbez.org/blog/louisa-chu/2012-02-17/restaurant-week-wars-96496 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//blog/photo/2012-February/2012-02-17/nightwoodjasonlittle.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-February/2012-02-17/chicagorestaurantweek.jpg" style="width: 500px; height: 292px;" title=""></p><p>The fifth annual <a href="http://www.choosechicago.com/things-to-do/dining/chicago-restaurant-week/">Chicago Restaurant Week</a> kicks off at lunch today, but it's not actually a week; it's 10 days, and officially ends next Sunday, February 26 at dinner. Some restaurants extend until the end of the month, this leap year, the 29th.</p><p>But it can be a love/hate relationship, with both diners and restaurants, and sometimes a battle for reservations—and in some cases, no reservations at all.</p><p>Here's the deal: restaurants offer special $22 lunch menus and/or $33 or $44 dinner menus. But it's wise to confirm if the Restaurant Week menu is being offered during your desired dining time. The special menus may not be available on certain days or certain meal times—like Sunday brunch for example.</p><p>Any restaurant in the greater Chicagoland area could participate, and this year more than 262 restaurants are in (despite what the official list looks like it says; Café 28 is listed twice). Chicago, Evanston, Northbrook, Rosemont, Schaumburg, Glenview, Lincolnshire, South Barrington, Oak Brook, Naperville, Elk Grove Village, Lombard, Itasca, and even Geneva are all represented.</p><div class="inset"><div class="insetContent"><p><span style="font-size: 10px;">Listen to Louisa Chu and Claire Zulkey on&nbsp;<em>Eight Forty-Eight</em></span></p><p><audio class="mejs mediaelement-formatter-identified-1332736248-1" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/sites/default/files/120217 Chicago Restaurant Week.mp3">&nbsp;</audio></p></div></div><p>It's hard to believe "Chicago" Restaurant Week started with only 35 restaurants just five years ago. Restaurant weeks across the country and around the world started as a way to boost business after the slow season between New Year's Eve and Valentine's Day.</p><p>Slow for some, not all.&nbsp;Both of Rick Bayless' restaurants, <a href="http://www.rickbayless.com/restaurants/grill.html">Frontera Grill</a> and <a href="http://www.rickbayless.com/restaurants/topolobampo.html">Topolobampo</a>, are in, though the former has long wait times and the latter, tough reservations.</p><p>Not all restaurants participate of course. <a href="http://www.girlandthegoat.com/">Girl &amp; the Goat</a>—whose Exec Chef Stephanie Izard hosted the kick-off event, <a href="http://firstbitesbash2012.eventbrite.com/">First Bites Bash</a>, benefitting the <a href="http://www.chicagosfoodbank.org/site/PageServer">Greater Chicago Food Depository</a>—is not doing Restaurant Week itself. Fifty restaurants partcipated in the charitable event, but you won't find all on the RW list.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-February/2012-02-17/eljordanlill.jpg" style="width: 500px; height: 333px;" title="EL Ideas (photo by Jordan Lill)"></p><p>Two of the city's most creative chefs are collaborating on what they've dubbed, somewhat tongue in cheek, an Anti-Restaurant Week Dinner. Phillip Foss, chef/owner of <a href="http://elideas.com/">EL Ideas</a>, and Shin Thompson, chef/owner of the Michelin one-star <a href="http://bonsoireechicago.com/">Bonsoirée</a>, will create a $150 15-course tasting menu—including a motoyaki scallop and lobster dish, a Japanese mayo-baked prep. The dinner, February 21 at Bonsoirée,&nbsp;is sold out with a wait list of 50.&nbsp;</p><p>Foss told me that because of the demand he and Thompson will do a second dinner at EL the following week.</p><p>How did this come about?</p><p>"Shin and I just wanted to cook together," said Foss. "It was his idea to do the Anti-Restaurant Week concept. We've had mixed emotions since we announced it."</p><p>"We understand that a lot of people don't have a lot of disposable income. We're definitely sensitive to that. And most restaurants are struggling during the winter doldrums."</p><p>"From my time at <a href="http://www.lockwoodrestaurant.com/">Lockwood</a>, Restaurant Week was not really indicative of who we were. We had to put out items that were cost effective. Yes, we were much busier, but we were not necessarily the restaurant you were going to experience later."</p><p>"We're not looking to piss people off. We're just looking to have a good time. And we're trying to create momentum for us."</p><p>I asked Foss if, in his experience with Restaurant Week, given the relatively low price points, if he was ever allowed to not meet margins, and just eat the cost, and count it as a marketing cost.</p><p>He laughed out loud.</p><p>"You can quote that laugh," he said.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-February/2012-02-17/nightwoodjasonlittle.jpg" style="width: 500px; height: 450px;" title="Nightwood (photo by Jason Little Photography)"></p><p>Phil Vettel, the Tribune's Food Critic, listed <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/features/food/ct-dining-0216-restaurant-week-20120216,0,3200928.column">his picks for Restaurant Week</a>. The <a href="http://nightwoodrestaurant.com/about.html">Nightwood</a> $44 four-course dinner menu had him "puzzled and intrigued" and me too. Vettel wondered, "What, for instance, is one to make of 'foie gras agnolotti, big Italian red made little,' or 'family meal chicken thigh, napkins'?" I didn't know either so I asked Exec Chef Jason Vincent.</p><p>"We make a foie gras custard and fill agnolotti, these tiny little pastas," said Vincent.</p><p>Sure, but what about the rest?</p><p>"We take Super-Tuscans wines and reduce them down into a syrup," he said, "We were just being goofy smart-asses."</p><p>And the chicken thigh?</p><p>"We've got a guy here named Nate who works for us during the wintertime. He's an employee of <a href="http://www.resourcecenterchicago.org/70thfarm.html">City Farm</a> over on Division. He supplies us with all our vegetables in the summertime. He came up with this recipe for family meal, where he spit roasts chicken and then drops it into the deep fryer, getting the skin really crispy. Then he tosses it in a homemade Sriracha with lots of vinegar, garlic, and chiles. It's notoriously messy, so we use a lot of napkins. Sometimes we have to change aprons and shirts."</p><p>This is the first year Nightwood, a Michelin Bib Gourmand located in Pilsen, is doing Restaurant Week. How does Vincent feel about it?</p><p>"It's always great to have new people coming through the door and into the neighborhood," he said, "it helps people realize we're not on the other side of the planet."</p><p>"I guess at this point I have idiot's reserve. We're working hard to get everything ready and we know the food's going to be good."</p><p>"The toughest part is making sure that we have all the farmers lined up. I've been wheeling and dealing with all of our farmers in Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan. I'm just hoping people will understand that if we get a frost, we might not get spinach in one day."</p><p>"Our Restaurant Week menu might just be like our regular menu and change on the weather's whim."</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/blog/insert-image/2012-February/2012-02-17/manny%27s.jpg" style="width: 500px; height: 333px;" title="Manny's Coffeeshop and Deli"></p><p>Another restaurant that caught my eye was <a href="http://www.mannysdeli.com/">Manny's</a>, because, as a cafeteria-style deli, their prices are already relatively really low. Turns out they're doing lunch and dinner for <em>two</em> at $22 and $33 respectively. Lunch includes two half sandwiches, two soups, and two potato pancakes. Dinner: two whole sandwiches, two soups, two potato pancakes, plus two desserts. But will their hearty servings stay the same?</p><p>"Yes, absolutely. We would never change the portion size," said Matt Raskin, fourth generation owner/manager, "We always want to make sure our customer gets the full experience."</p><p>Manny's does also offer a discount to <a href="http://www.membercard.com/wbez/benefits_search.cfm?benefit_type=R">WBEZ MemberCard</a> holders too, but you can't use it with the Restaurant Week menu. Another caveat: you can't combine discounts at any participating restaurants.</p><p>"You can use it next time," said Raskin, "We're MemberCard #473."</p></p> Fri, 17 Feb 2012 13:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/louisa-chu/2012-02-17/restaurant-week-wars-96496