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All posts tagged Chicago

Level Two – Football inspired menu for the 2015 NFL Draft


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…


Perry Clark Home Brings Farm-To-Table to Your Online Shopping Cart

The windy city is a wonderful city for shopping! Chicagoans should be so lucky to have it all at their fingers and now you can too. Chicago-based Perry Clark Home brings their gorgeous home goods right to your door with online shopping. I couldn’t wait to check it out for myself and with a few clicks fabulous home furnishings were just seconds away.

Photo courtesy of Perry Clark Home

Photo courtesy of Perry Clark Home

While browsing the easy-on-the-eyes website, described as an eBoutique for Inspired Living & Giving, I was drawn to the new, spring and summer line named Farm-To-Table. What I liked most about the items offered on Perry Clark was that there is something for everyone in a variety of price ranges. You don’t have to break the bank to have beautifully-crafted home goods.

I referred to the site as easy-on-the-eyes because now through April 10, Jeremiah Brent, interior designer known for his part on “The Rachel Zoe Project,” will serve as the “Master Curator” of the Farm-to-Table collection. Some of Brent’s favorite things include a Bamboo Serving Board ($24), a Farmer’s Market Tote ($64), and a forever piece, the Farmhouse Dining Table ($2,800).

Photo courtesy of Perry Clark Home

Photo courtesy of Perry Clark Home

Photo courtesy of Perry Clark Home

Photo courtesy of Perry Clark Home

The regal Kew Votive Candle, Set ($24), caught my eye and was well within my budget. The beautiful, Tiffany Blue votive candles were embellished with gold trim and eloquent, embossed lions on the front. I was also drawn to them because they can double as mini planters once the candles burn out. Shopping on Perry Clark Home was pleasant, efficient, and enjoyable with free shipping, returns, and gift boxing. My package arrived in a flash and I swooned over the gorgeous packaging – they were wrapped in simply, yet elegant tissue in a high-quality gift box with a gorgeous, gold-toned bow.

Photo courtesy of Perry Clark Home

Photo courtesy of Perry Clark Home

Another fact that lends the Perry Clark home collection its fabulousness is that Sheri Salata, president of the Oprah Winfrey Network, is currently a board member. Not that we needed another validating fact to share with you a few of our “favorite things” here at VODA Magazine. Happy clicking and home collecting!


A Saint Patrick’s Day Tradition in Chicago, The Dyeing of the Chicago River

Credit Choose Chicago_St Patricks Greening River Outside HRD 533

Dyeing of the Chicago River: Photo courtesy of Hyatt Regency Chicago

St. Patrick’s Day is almost upon us and all over the city of Chicago, local Irish-Americans and even”Irish for a Day” party-goers are gearing up for the festivities.

Irish Americans have very deep roots in Chicago.  In the history of our city over a dozen mayors have been of Irish descent.   Our south side major league ball park (Comiskey Park – Home of the Chicago White Sox) was named after its founding owner Charles Comiskey, son of Irish Immigrants. Even the cow, and suspected arsonistwho singlehandedly (single-hoofed?) was responsible for the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 which then ushered in the rebirth of the city into the world-class metropolis it is today was an O’Leary.    Indeed the Irish have played a huge part in shaping the culture of the city, including how we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.

March 14th in addition to the usual suspects: green beer, corned-beef and cabbage,  pints of Guinness and shots of Irish whiskey, we also have the strange custom of Dyeing the Chicago River green.  This started somewhat unintentionally in the early 1960’s when local plumbers used a chemical dye called fluorescein to look for signs of pollution.  The whole thing looked pretty festive and has been a yearly tradition ever since…though the local plumbers union have long since switched to something a little more environmentally friendly.

The View from the Hyatt Regency Chicago.  Photo Courtesy of Hyatt Regency Chicago

The View from the Hyatt Regency Chicago. Photo Courtesy of Hyatt Regency Chicago

Each year thousands will line up along the river the event.  A great vantage point to see the river dyeing is at the  Hyatt Regency Chicago .    This year the Hyatt Regency has The Shannon Rovers Irish Pipe Band’s performing traditional Irish music in the lobby throughout the day to get you into the St. Patrick’s Day spirit.  Of course while you’re there you could go upstairs to BIG Bar and order Corned Beef Flatbread Pizzas along with Irish Mules and Irish Car Bombs; The view from up there is pretty good.  If you want to go traditional, head back downstairs to American Craft Kitchen & Bar and order the Oxtail Soup or Corned Beef and Cabbage; a pint obviously.  You can’t go wrong with way.

Corned Beef and Cabbage at American-Craft Kitchen Bar.  Photo courtesy of Hyatt Regency Chicago

Corned Beef and Cabbage at American-Craft Kitchen Bar. Photo courtesy of Hyatt Regency Chicago






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.



TÊTE Charcuterie – 1114 West Randolph Street



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.



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.




Christmas Dinner at 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


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



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…


Any Given Sundae


By now you probably have heard of the $1000 Victoria Ice Cream Sundae at Chicago’s Langham Hotel, but did you know that the Victoria is only one of many ice cream creations on the menu?  All of them just as amazing but do not require deep pockets to enjoy. Read more…


The Aviary Chicago – Designer Drinks Not for the Birds

Photo Credit: Christian Seel

Photo Credit: Christian Seel

If you’re looking for birds, you might want to redirect your evening plans to Lincoln Park Zoo unless your version of bird watching is designer drinks. The Aviary—located on West Fulton Market near Randolph Street’s restaurant row—is a bar that prides itself on highbrow drinks, attention to detail, and presentation. According to The Aviary’s website, bartenders are trained as chefs by famed owners Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas, the focus of each drink is on the flavor of the spirit and not the name or branding.

“Leave your preconceived favorite drinks or disliked spirits that you drank too much of in college at home,” Chef Micah Melton says. “Trust us, the tequila drink won’t make you feel the same way the shots of Jose Cuervo did in college. The Aviary doesn’t have a rum and coke or vodka soda on our menu, so trust us and select a drink based on flavors that you like.”

Photo Credit: Christian Seel

Photo Credit: Christian Seel

Owner of an America’s Top 50 Restaurant Alinea and restaurant to The Aviary and speakeasy bar The Office, Next, Achatz holds the credentials to back his restaurant’s reputation. Open only Wednesday through Sunday beginning at 6 p.m. reserve the single chef’s table located in the kitchen of The Aviary or select a table in the main dining area, which provides a lounge atmosphere with low booth seating and small tables just big enough for the selection of drinks you’re about to order. Walk-ins are also welcome.

The menu provides an array of drinks available for order or you may reserve a ticket for their “prix fixe” menu, which can include 5-10 drinks that will not disappoint in taste or awe factor.

Photo Credit: Christian Seel

Photo Credit: Christian Seel

Zombie Panda

Served as a refreshing starter, the Zombie Panda features a blend of lemon, raspberry liquor, lychee, and pisco. Brought to your table in a small rounded 1.5 oz glass, the Zombie Panda is a watermelon color with the texture of a blended watermelon. It’s a perfect introduction to richer flavors to come throughout your menu of drinks during your stay.

Barber’s Brunch

Whether or not you love to brunch with bottomless mimosas, The Aviary’s take on the classic champagne and orange juice beverage is sure to stun. Paired with a seasoned fried pork rind, the mix of Seville orange, royal combier, and topped off with a dusting of paprika, served in a champagne flute, makes Barber’s Brunch a VODA favorite.

Infernal Imagery

A treasure chest full of treasure is nice, but at The Aviary a treasure chest full of alcohol is better. Delivered to your table in a small chest made of smoky cherry wood, your waiter will open the top to a fog of deep aromas and drinks mixed with baralo, maurin quina, and rhum.

VODA Tip: As the drinks flow throughout your night, make sure to ask for glasses of water as well as The Aviary’s egg drop soup—a traditional hangover preventative featuring egg, greens and a delicious buttery ginger broth.

The Porthole

Trust us, this drink is so much better than being stuck on a cramped cruise. Served in a porthole infuser, teas, citrus and spirits collide for a drink that continues to change flavor throughout your dining experience. Available in various combinations of herbs, fruits and spirits, whichever porthole you order make sure to try this beverage at the beginning, middle and end of your stay. Your taste buds will be glad you did.

Tea In Trinidad

Looking less like a tea and more like the beginnings of a high school chemistry project, this drink is served in a cylindrical beaker complete with a stand and straw. Let the smoky start of this warm drink settle before enjoying a sweet taste of rum, rooibos, verjus, and benedictine like never before.

Photo Credit: Christian Seel

Photo Credit: Christian Seel

In The Rocks

Old fashions are your parent’s drink, an In The Rocks is yours. The Aviary’s most popular beverage served completely enclosed in a ball of ice, the In The Rocks requires a little bit of work before enjoying your drink. Served with a slingshot, your server will instruct you to place the slingshot on the glass, pull the apparatus back and let it strike the ice open to reveal your drink. A VODA favorite for innovation.

If you’re feeling a little hungry post cocktails, the restaurants on Randolph Street are a short walk away or The Aviary will call you a cab if you are wanting a lift.

The Aviary is located at 955 West Fulton Market, Chicago, IL.

VODA In the Know:

  • The Aviary has a classic cocktail-style speakeasy in the basement called “The Office.” If there’s a cocktail that is your go-to that they don’t have upstairs, ask to have it downstairs! They also have an “insane spirit” list and 14+ collaboration beers that are only available at the Aviary.
  • Achatz—owner of one of American’s Top 50 Restaurants Alinea located in Lincoln Park—and Kokonas were asked by a hotel group to open a branch of Alinea in hotel locations. Chef Micah Melton says Achatz and Kokonas proposed a bar instead, but the hotel group passed. Following the rejection came The Aviary.



Luxury Hotel JW Marriott Celebrates 4 years in Chicago with a Flash Sale


Grand Opening of the JW Marriott Chicago

On November 10, 2010, the JW Marriott came to Chicago opening in an historic landmark building in The Loop.  Four years later they feel like celebrating.  On their four year anniversary the JW Marriott Chicago will be offering an exclusive sale for the from midnight Sunday to midnight Monday.  Normally we’d just report on the hotel but this sale is really huge and really short. If you want a really great deal, please read on.

Read more…


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





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.