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All posts in Restaurants

What We’re Crushing on Now – Atlanta Food & Wine Festival May 28-31

Photo courtesy of Atlanta Food & Wine Festival

Photo courtesy of Atlanta Food & Wine Festival

In its 5th year the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival will once again take midtown Atlanta by storm – in a good way – Thursday, May 28 – Sunday, May 31. Elizabeth Feichter and Dominique Love are the dynamic duo responsible for the growing success of this four-day, exquisite and delicious event. Chefs, sommeliers, and those, in the wine and food know, from all over the South will come together to present seminars, Champagne Brunch, exclusive dinners, and a collaborative experience of the Tasting Tent event. Here guests can sample and sip their way through the South while chatting it up with fellow foodies, wine and distillery peeps, and top-tier chefs.

SPIT: Eric Crane of Empire Distributors says he won’t stop till he’s a Master Sommelier POUR, SABER AND SWIRL: (clockwise from left) Five Atlantans dedicate their lives to becoming Master Sommeliers  There are 211 Master Sommeliers in the world. Eric Crane, Matt Bradford, Marie Ballard, Justin Amick, and Joon Lim are vying for spots on that exclusive list.

Eric Crane of Empire Distributors Photo courtesy of Atlanta Food & Wine Festival

VODA Magazine had a chance to catch up with Atlanta local, Eric Crane, advanced sommelier and Director of Training and Business Development for Empire Distributors. Crane will be presenting two seminars within the wine industry. He shares what he’s most excited about, how the festival has grown, and professional tips on how to make the most of your Atlanta Food & Wine Festival experience. Hint it involves always having a “party pal.”

In the Festival’s 5th year Crane enthusiastically says, “They’ve made it this far, there’s more synergy. It puts a nice spotlight on Atlanta and the Festival allows you to eat and drink your way through the South.” Another one of the Festival’s highlights are the Tasting Tents. Crane’s recommendation is the fried chicken section. He says, “There’s nothing better on the planet but that, usually.” He refers to festival Sunday as “Lazy, Southern Sunday.” “By that time everyone’s had too much fun during Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.” There’s a Champagne Brunch on Sunday that I’m personally looking forward to. For me bubbles are always welcomed. To get the most out of your festival experience, Crane advices to stay hydrated and pace yourself. Lastly he adds, “Always have a drinking partner, a party pal. There’s less errors.” Eric will be co-presenting on Friday, May 29 from 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM American Oak in All Its Glory seminar. Then on Saturday, May 30 from 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM is the Acid is Your Friend seminar. For more information and for tickets visit, www.atlfoodandwinefestival.com

 

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Level Two – Football inspired menu for the 2015 NFL Draft

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The NFL Draft begins tomorrow in Chicago.  The last time the city hosted the NFL Draft was way back in 1963.  It’s a huge deal for football fanatics in the Chicagoland area.  The Draft itself will take place at the Auditorium Theater but for the legions of football fans who want to be a part of it, Grant Park is converting to “Draft Town” hosting a series of events starting Today, Wednesday 29th until the conclusion of the draft on May 2nd.

Draft Weekend promises to bring thousands to the city over the next few days and across the city restaurants and hotels are getting into the spirit.

Level Two the restaurant/lounge located on the second floor of the Hyatt Magnificent Mile is rolling out a special menu for the event that centers around beer and game-day snacks with an NFL theme and an gourmet twist. Read more…

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Chicago 2015: The Resolution of Giving

Now that the new year is underway, everyone is looking to get a start on their resolutions.  The gyms across town are packed every night, for now.  Sales of healthy food at the supermarket is going up, for now.  You are probably even getting to work early every day, for now.  (just speculating)

If your resolution is to do some good in the world, the task of truly giving back can seem daunting.  The thing to remember is it is ok to start small, the little things add up.  The other thing to remember is that you don’t have to go it alone.  There following are just a few products/places that will donate proceeds of sales to charitable organizations both in town and across the world.  Who says you can’t enjoy a night out while making the world a better place?

 

Ronald_McDonald_HouseBIG Bar & Brasserie at the Hyatt Regency Chicago, (151 East Upper Wacker Drive) is donating a portion of proceeds from the sale of their “Home Sweet Home” cocktail (Absolut Mango, St. Germain, Mango Puree and sour mix) to the Ronald McDonald House near the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital.   The Ronald McDonald House  provides families a place to stay while their children are getting medical treatment.  You get a delicious cocktail and keep a family together at a time of need.  Cheers to that.

 

purple-asparagusDMK Burger Bar with locations downtown and in the suburbs is a mainstay of quality burgers and through their “365 Days of Giving” program, are also known for their big hearts.  Each month the DMK Burger Bar teams up with a different local non-profit organizations every month to help raise funds and awareness. In January they partner with Purple Asparagus,whose mission is to educate Chicago children, families, and communities about eating what is good for the body and the planet by bringing nutritious hands-on adventures to schools, community organizations, and farmers’ markets throughout Chicagoland.

 

lurie-childrens-hospitalLevel Two restaurant & lounge located on the second floor of the Hyatt Chicago Magnificent Mile offers guest a chance to donate to the Lurie Children’s Hospital through their is running Change for Hope campaign.   Nothing complicated about this one, guests are simply encourged to round up the change on their bill at the end of the meal.  All extra “Change for Hope” is collected and donated directly to Lurie Children’s Hospital across the street from the restaurant as a greater Room for Hope hotel-wide campaign to support Lurie patients and their families.

 

World_Wildlife_FundBranded Spirits’ Ice Fox Vodka  profits from the sale go in part to the World Wildlife Fund protecting the shrinking population of Artic Foxes that inspired the product.  Founded in 1961, the WWF is now the largest conservation organizations in the world, working on the restoration and preservation of endangered species and the environment.  The next time you are sitting back and enjoying a glass of this triple distilled premium all-american vodka, know you had a hand in saving a species from extinction. Definitely worth raising a glass to that.

 

 

Coral_Reef_AllianceBranded Spirits’ Motu Rum is donating a portion of profits from its sale  to the Coral Reef Alliance to help preserve the pristine coral reefs of the South Pacific.   The Coral Reef Alliance started in 1994 in Berkeley California to get the diving community involved in coral reef conservation.  Since then it has grown to a  premiere global non-profit conservation organization with initiative in reef communities around the world.  With every purchase of Motu Rum you are helping preserve this delicate ecosystem that urgently needs our help.

These are only some of the ways you can begin 2015 as your year of giving.  Even if it is limited to ordering a cocktail or picking up a bottle at the store, you are making a difference.  You shouldn’t dismiss these as trivial because again, the little things really can add up to something wonderful.  Knowing you had a hand in helping a local family stay close to their loved one at a difficult time, help keep the school kids healthy, or prevented a species in another part of the world from becoming a footnote in history, should warm your heart.  A step no matter how small makes you a part of the solution and a better tomorrow.

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A Chicago Foodie NYE

Chicago NYE 2014

 

New Years Eve in Chicago.  Time to celebrate another year in this great city.  There are the hotel parties and nightclubs which are always fun but may not be for everyone. For the gourmand/foodie in town and looking to do something a little different we have a few suggestions

 American Comfort Fare

DMK Burger Bar – Chicago and Lombard

DMK Burger Bar

DMK Burger Bar

At DMK Burger Bar, guests have a variety of packages to choose from to satisfy a range of party appetites – ranging from the single-admission ticket for draft beers, boozy punch, house cocktails, and passed Sliders (bite sized versions of DMK’s best burgers), Fries, and Shakes all night; to The King’s Table for you and up to 14 guests and including a Double Magnum bottle of Veuve Cliquot as well as two bottles of a liquor of choice and a classic breakfast served at 1 a.m. exclusively for their table.  Packages and pricing vary by location, see DMK NYE for more details.

Howells & Hood – 435 N. Michigan Ave.

Howells & Hood is home to the largest draft beer selection in Chicago.  This year guests will get to enjoy a one-of-a-kind New Year’s Eve celebration, no ticket required. Newly appointed Executive Chef Brett Neubauer presents a four-course, prix-fixe menu for guests to enjoy gourmet twists on American classics and then stay for the celebration with a DJ at 10 p.m. Additionally, a Champagne toast is offered at midnight with complimentary late night snacks for all guests. Some notable menu items and beverage suggestions include: 

  • Australian Truffle & Foie Gras Bites featuring truffle foie gras mousse, port, and espelette pepper paired with Beer – Brasserie St. Feuillien Saison, Wine – Segura Viudas Brut Reserva, or Howells Royale cocktail (Huckleberry Jam, Rosemary Simple, Bubbles).
  • 12-oz Painted Hills 60 Day Dry-Aged Rib-Eye with Australian truffle, buttermilk mashed potatoes, charred rapini, and red wine reduction paired with Beer – Founder’s Dirty Bastard Scotch Ale,  WineMitolo Shiraz Jester, or Hatting in the Hood cocktail (FEW Bourbon, House Brandied Cherries, Carpano Antica, Orange Bitters).
  • Butterscotch Bread Pudding made with Brioche bread, vanilla bean custard, rum raisin ice cream, butterscotch sauce paired with Beer –  Greenbush Distorter Porter,  Wine – Milbrandt Traditions Merlot, or a Butter Beer Cocktail (Root Beer, Butterscotch, Jameson, Horchata, Cinnamon, Egg White, Cherry)

The four-course prix-fixe menu is priced at $75 per person, or $100 with beverage pairing suggestions. Beverages served a la carte, if preferred. For more details see Howell and Hood NYE.  Reservations strongly encouraged, and can be made by calling 312.262.5310 or at www.howellsandhood.com.

Of course it doesn’t end there.  The next day Howells & Hood is hosting a New Year’s Day Hangover Brunch. guests can enjoy the following feel-good dishes:

  • Doritos Chilaquiles with short rib, nacho cheese Doritos, cotija cheese, and salsa roja
  • Doughnut French Toast with banana, caramelized pecans, and bourbon
  • Cheeseburger Strata with brioche, cheddar cheese, onion, and royale
  • Blackstrap Molasses Ham & Cheese Muffin with English muffin, Irish cheddar, and over-easy egg.

Brunch is offered from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Reservations strongly encouraged, and can be made by calling 312.262.5310 or atwww.howellsandhood.com.

Their sister location, the Old Town Pour House – 1419 N. Wells St. is also hosting a New Years Day Brunch; offered at 10:30 a.m., with similar recovery fare and some hair of the dog if so inclined.  For more information, please visit www.oldtownpourhouse.com or call 630.601.1440.

Italian Elegance

Filini Bar & Restaurant – 221 North Columbus Drive

Filini Bar and Restaurant

Filini Bar & Restaurant

Filini Bar & Restaurant you can party like Gatsby at this transformed 1920’s fete with pre-prohibition cocktails, music, and décor. Flappers and Dapper Don’s are encouraged to wear their best golden age attire and enjoy delectable Italian fare and a live DJ performance. Along with hors d’oeuvres from 9-11 p.m., open bar from 9 p.m.-midnight, and complimentary Prosecco, party favors, and dessert bar when the clock strikes midnight.

 

Peruvian Exotic 

Tanta – 118 W. Grand Ave.

Foodies looking to ring in the new year with more exotic fare we have Tanta,  a Chicago standout for Peruvian cuisine.  Chef Jesus Delgado present guests with à la carte menu items showcasing the flavors of the culture including:

Tanta Cebiche ValienteCebiche Valiente – Lobster, rocoto leche de tigre coral, and huacatay;

 

 

 

 

Tanta Scallops and Chupe

Chupe – Grilled jumbo sea scallops with organic quinoa chupe in a aji amarillo-crab broth and roasted sweet peppers, and quail egg;

 

 

 

 

Tanta CorderoEstofado Cordero – Grilled Australian rack of lamb with anticucho sauce, cannellini beans, cilantro, criolla salad, and aji amarillo (ingredients subject to change based upon seasonal availability).

 

 

 

Ring in the New Year with a champagne toast and an unforgettable meal. Reservations are strongly recommended and can be made by calling 312.222.9700 or by visitingOpentable.com. For more information, please visit www.tantachicago.com.

 

Charcuterie

TÊTE Charcuterie – 1114 West Randolph Street

TETE

TETE

This hot west loop Charcuterie on restaurant row is throwing an all-out NYE bash that is much a celebration of the good life inspired by their passion for good food and drink as it is a celebration of a new year with its endless possibilities.  As expected there will be an enormous buffet of appetizers and TÊTE’s out-of-this-world Charcuterie, a DJ and ice shot luge to keep the party going all night, and, at midnight, The Salsa Truck arrives on the scene to hand out tacos (included in the ticket) to satisfy those late night munchies.   For more info go to TETE or go to http://tetenye.bpt.me to get tickets.

 

Mediterranean Sophisticate

Travelle – 330 North Wabash Ave.

Travelle

Travelle

Chef Tim Graham and Pastry Chef Scott Green at Travelle are offering a gourmet New Year’s Eve prix-fixe menu that is an exquisite way to bring 2014 to a close. There is a three-course menu from 5-7:30 p.m. and a five-course menu from 8-10:30 p.m.

The festivities begin with a Champagne cart at your table at the beginning of the meal.  Guest will enjoy live music along with diner.

Some of the featured dishes include:

  • Salad Lyonnaise, truffled frisee, fried egg, and bacon
  • Sunchoke Soup, hazelnut and black truffle
  • Risotto, white truffle and chive
  • Duck, crispy confit leg, truffled-potato rosti, and Cognac gastrique
  • Beef Tenderloin, with brioche, foie gras, and truffled sauce bordelaise
  • An assortment of Mini Desserts.

For reservations, please visit TravelleChicago.com or call 312.923.7705. Like Travelle on Facebook or follow them on Twitter.

New Years day Travelle will be open providing hangover relief through their travel inspired eggs Benedicts menu. Guests can select any one of the Benedictine Traveler’s line-up of six selections including:

  • English Benedict with rasher of ham and hollandaise
  • Moroccan Benedict with Merguez sausage, mint, and piquillo sauce
  • Norwegian Benedict with smoked salmon, fennel, and sauce choron
  • Florentine Benedict with spinach, artichoke, and sauce béarnaise
  • Travelle Benedict with lobster, spinach and truffled hollandaise
  • Burgundian Benedict with red wine braised short rib, crispy shallot, and sauce Dijon.

Diners can pair their favorite benedict choice with a mimosa or Bloody Mary for $29/person from 11am-3pm. For reservations, please visit TravelleChicago.com or call 312.923.7705. Like Travelle on Facebook or follow them on Twitter.

 

 

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Christmas Dinner at Travelle

Travelle

Travelle

The holidays are about family, friends, good will, and great food. That usually involves putting in some serious time in the kitchen.  Traditionalists however should not be quick to dismiss the idea of going out for Christmas dinner. The most compelling reason, for me at least, is simply not having spend the day cooking or the evening doing the dishes. The holiday should be about spending time with family and not stressing over dinner. Thanksgiving is somewhat obligatory, but for Christmas we have options. Travelle, located on the second floor of the Langham Hotel in Chicago, is offering a family-style dinner this Christmas Day.

Depending on how you’re feeling you could order from their “Naughty” menu, primarily rustic cuisine that focuses on (rich and substantial) meat dishes.  Notable dishes include the following:

  • Porky Bonbon with lime
  • Duck Leg Confit (duck slow cooked in its own fat) served with roasted apples and a Madeira glaze
  • Trio of Pate: Country Pate, Oxtail and Squab Terrine with foie torchon
  • Suckling Pig served with morcilla blood sausage, sweet Potato, and mustard
  • Dry Rubbed Beef Tenderloin with seared foie gras, roasted mushrooms, and kale

There is also a “Nice” menu for those getting a head start on their New Years resolutions. This menu is a lighter, healthier fare the centers around vegetable and seafood options. A few standouts in this menu are:

  • Crudité (raw veggies) with lemon aioli;
  • Lobster Bisque 
  • Grand Seafood Collection: Lobster, King Crab, Snow Crab, and Langoustine.
  • Bay Steamed Salmon with Brussels sprouts, and a cinnamon vinaigrette.

For those of us who are a little of both (and really who isn’t ?), items can be ordered from both menus.

For dessert, guests may choose from a Buche De Noel (Yule Log) selection.

Another dessert option guests can enjoy is down the hall at the Parlour at the Pavilion.  Here you can indulge in a-limited-time-only North Pole Sundae.  The great thing about the sundaes at the Parlour at the Pavilion is just about everything from the ice cream to the garnishes are made in house.

North Pole Sundae:

  • House-made Egg nog ice cream
  • House-made mint chocolate chip ice cream
  • Garnished with red and green sprinkles, candy cane, and a house-made gingerbread man

In case you’re too full from dinner you could always come back for dessert. Don’t take too long; The North Pole Sundae is only available from December 21st to January 3rd.

 

For Reservations or more information please go to TravelleChicago.com or call 312.923.7705

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Travelle & The Radler: Swine & Wine Dinner, 12/11

swine_wine

 

What is more glorious than the swine.  In the hands of Executive Chef Tim Graham of  Travelle and Chef Nathan Sears of The Radler, the simple pig is risen to a level of gastronomic masterpiece.

For ONE NIGHT ONLY two great Chicago chefs will be teaming up to put together a 5-course pork based menu that will bring a grown man to tears.  Each course will highlight a cut of the beloved beast, showcasing the Chefs individual cooking style. Read more…

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Chicago, This weekend let’s talk Turkey

By now the post-thanksgiving tryptophan induced coma has worn off …hopefully.  Before we close the chapter on turkey there are a couple places worth checking out this weekend which take our holiday bird to a whole new level.

If you want to keep it traditional-ish we highly recommend

DMK Burger Bar

DMK Burger Bar opened in 2009 and since then has garnered praise and accolades from both local and national media outlets for their food.  DMK goes beyond just using 100% grass-fed beef, they also have Bison, Lamb, and Veggie (if that’s your thing)  Since we’re talking about turkey, the guys as DMK have you covered with The Gobbler Burger … this is not your traditional leftover turkey sandwich.

It starts with a turkey patty topped with gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, topped with celery and cranberry relish.  A Thanksgiving feast on their fresh baked artisan buns.

 

DMK Gobbler Burger

DMK Gobbler Burger

The Gobbler Burger is only available until the end of the month.  With locations at Lakeview, Lomard, and Soldiers Field, chances are you don’t have to go too far to find one.  For more information go to DMK Burger Bar

If you want take a more global approach you should definitely try…

Tanta – Cocina Peruana

This restaurant on 118 W. Grand Avenue is all about sharing the culture and traditions of Peru through thoughtfully prepared dishes.  The key here is diversity … The flavors of Peru are influenced both by its geography (Peru having the Andes Mountains, Amazon Rainforest, and Pacific Ocean),and its people.  Over the last several centuries Peru has been inhabited by immigrants from England, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, China, and African nations.  These people along with the indigenous population helped shape the culture and cuisine of Peru.

In that spirit of diversity, Chef Jesus delights us with a Peruvian interpretation on the American tradition of Thanksgiving.  Tanta’s Turkey Breast is stuffed with mushrooms, bacon and prunes, glazed cranberry aji panca sauce, and grilled seasonal vegetables.

Turkey Breast with a Peruvian twist

Turkey Breast with a Peruvian twist

This special is only offered through the weekend so if you’re in the area and want to expand your horizons, it is really worth checking out. For more information check out Tanta Chicago

 

 

 

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Elle Comes In From The Cold

Baby it’s cold outside. The days are shorter, the winds off the lake are brisk and chilly. Winter is nipping on our heals. Summer is but a fond memory. One of the joys of living in Chicago is dining al fresco during the summer in one of the many restaurants across the city. One standout this summer was Elle on the River. Mediterranean-inspired tacos served on the patio of The Langham Hotel along the north shore of the Chicago River.

Mediterranean Tacos

 

Starting Sunday, in celebration of Daylight Savings Time and the longer nights to follow, Travelle Lounge  on the second floor of the Langham Hotel, will be adding some of the best of Elle on the River to their menu.

Chef Tim Graham

Chef Tim Graham

 

FOR A LIMITED TIME, every Monday through Wednesday at sundown diners at Travelle get to experience Chef Tim Graham’s “After Dark” menu featuring a rotating selection of $3 tacos from Elle on the River.

  • Piri Piri Chicken with pepper aioli, mahon cheese, pickles
  • Calabrian Mahi Mahi with lemon cream, quinoa slaw, avocado
  • Crispy Chickpeaswith hummus, herb tabouli, red cabbage
  • Chermoula Braised Pork Shoulder with radish and tzatziki

 

 

TravHiRes_MG_9861

 

Some of my favorite memories this past summer have been at Elle on the River, meeting up with friends after work, eating the Chicken and Pork Tacos, sipping on watermelon soda and arguing over whether the Chermoula Braised Pork Shoulder had a hint of cinnamon (totally does) and who ordered the best dessert (strawberry shortcake FTW).  Summer’s gone, but the flavors remain… if only for a little while longer.  The “After Dark” menu is available for a limited time only.  Second chances are so few and far between so if you missed out this summer now is your chance to give them a try.

 

For reservations or more information, please visit www.travellechicago.com or call 312-923-9988.

 

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An evening at FIG & OLIVE

FIG & OLIVE

FIG & OLIVE has a special evening planned on Monday, October 20th.  Its founder Laurent Halasz along with Xandra Falcó of Marqués De Griñón Estates will be hosting and exclusive tasting and dinner. Read more…

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Bishop Arts District and Deep Ellum: The Dallas You Wouldn’t Expect

Bishop Arts District logo

Cowboys, horses and big hair might be some of the first images to come to mind when visualizing Dallas. It is in the heart of the Lone Star State, but make no mistake—Dallas is quickly becoming one of the most exciting and diverse places in the country to enjoy award-winning dining, inventive drinks and sensational nightlife.

Bishop Arts District and Deep Ellum are two historic neighborhoods that are breathing new life and culture into Dallas. Chefs, restaurateurs and cocktail enthusiasts are flocking to the two recently revamped historic neighborhoods, and Dallasites are following.

Forget the Dallas you remember from television shows and Western movies. Instead, explore these two neighborhoods and enjoy a day of pleasant strolling, decadent dining and scrumptious libations. Read more…

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