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News for Restaurants in Chicago
October 2009 Archive

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Read about the openings, closings, chef shuffle, and special events in Chicago here. Gayot's Restaurant News has the information you want on the local restaurants in Chicago.  



Information about the new casual venture from Donnie Madia, Terry Alexander, Peter Garfield, Paul Kahan and Edward Seitan has begun to trickle in. Located in the old Pontiac Café space, it'll be called Big Star, feature a Kahan-crafted taco and Mexican street fare-type menu and have a honky-tonk vibe. Avec's Justin Large will be in the kitchen. Big Star, 1531 N. Damen Ave., Chicago, IL 60622, No phone yet.
Italian and French fare are under one roof at quietly romantic La Méditerranée. Located along Restaurant Row, it serves classics like penne arrabiata alongside steak with Cabernet reduction. La Méditerranée, 941 W. Randolph St., Chicago, IL 60607, 312-243-1818.
There's a lot of buzz about Ch'ava Café, a seasonal sandwich spot from Richard Park and Eddie Hwang (NoMI). All of the meats are roasted in-house, there's a nice selection of tea and bread and pastries come from local purveyors. Slow-cooked lamb with minty chimichurri? We're all-but-sold. Ch’ava Café, 4656 N. Clark St., Chicago, IL 60640, 773-942-6763.
There's a new showy place to imbibe after work: Bar Novo. Located in the Renaissance Chicago Hotel, it's swanky and small plates-oriented. Both food and desserts are made for sharing, and they get prepped from a visible chef's station in the middle of the long, narrow space. Bar Novo, 1 W. Wacker Dr., Chicago, IL 60601, 312-372-7200.
Asian and Latin flavors will unite at Bill Kim's follow up to Urbanbelly, Belly Shack. It, too, will be casual and BYOB. However, here you can procure restorative, Asian-tinged tortilla soup and soft-serve ice cream topped with the likes of heirloom apples. Some sweets---including chocolate chip-bacon cookies---will come from HotChocolate's Mindy Segal. Belly Shack, 1912 N. Western Ave., Chicago, IL 60647, No phone yet.
Granted, they're not the first to do it. But, nonetheless, everyone is excited about the opening of DMK Burger Bar. Why? It's from two guys with cred: David Morton (Morton's The Steakhouse) and Michael Kornick (mk). The burgers will come from grass-fed beef and lamb and naturally raised turkey. We're anticipating the 7, a beefy number with fried green tomato, olive tapenade, lemony red onions and piquillo peppers. DMK Burger Bar, 2954 N. Sheffield Ave., Chicago, IL 60657, 773-360-8686.
Jimmy Bannos (Heaven on Seven) and his son (who shares the same name) have paired with Mia Francesca's Scott Harris to open Purple Pig in November. Pork-favoring Mediterranean fare will be the focus; other allure comes from house-cured meat, artisanal cheeses and a large, cost-conscious wine list. Purple Pig, 500 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611, No phone yet.
Some like it hot, and they'll find their match at newcomer Oba Contemporary Japanese, a north suburban sushi bar that skews toward creative, fiery rolls. One to try is the Pink Cadillac with shrimp tempura, avocado and spicy mayo, topped with seared salmon and saké-marinated seasonal fruit (it's drizzled with unagi and chili sauces). Oba Contemporary Japanese, 1285 Elmhurst Rd., Des Plaines, IL 60018, 847-228-8810.
Keep an eye out for Epic, a soon-to-open American eatery in River North from Stephen Wambach (Laurent Tourondel's BLT Restaurant Group). Sugar's Christine McCabe will handle the sweets, and broiled steak will be on the menu. Oh, and fried wild boar ravioli, too. Epic, 112 W. Hubbard St., Chicago, IL 60654, 312-222-4940.
The Grocery Bistro's owner, Marcel Somfelean, is about to open Pasha Spanish Cuisine. Daniel Marquis (ex-Bin 36) will be in the kitchen cooking up not only classics like paella, but also Jewish favorites. Pasha Spanish Cuisine, 802 W. Randolph St., Chicago, IL 60607, No phone yet.
Looking for a break from the norm in the Loop? Now there's BenjYehuda, a place to score self-proclaimed "urban street food." That translates into a futuristic looking space and menu that includes Mid-East hits as well as Merkts-topped fries. BenjYehuda, 212 W. Van Buren St., Chicago, IL 60607, 312-408-2365.

News Bytes
A Case for Cheese
Bin 36 has re-launched its cheese program with a roster of all-American purveyors from 20 states. Whimsical goat, sheep and cow milk varieties are offered, from Barely Buzzed Cheddar, a semi-soft cheddar made from cow's milk coated with ground coffee and lavender by Beehive Cheese Co. in Uintah, Utah, to Roxanne, a creamy sheep's milk delight made by Prairie Fruits Farm in Champaign, Ill. Bin 36, Marina City, 339 N. Dearborn St., Chicago, IL 60611, 312-755-9463.
Steak for Sushi
Depending on how you look at it, ajasteak either made a bold or smart move. It morphed into aja, an Asian restaurant that's more affordable and with dishes that are meant for sharing. Joshua Linton will remain in the kitchen, preparing sustainable sushi and dishes like smoked, braised Compart Family Farm Duroc pork shoulder with ginger and garlic-accented five-spice sauce. aja, Dana Hotel & Spa, 660 N. State St., Chicago, IL 60654, 312-202-6050.
Club Lago Reopens
Loyal diners are sighing in relief: Club Lago, which was shuttered on account of a fire, has reopened. Club Lago, 331 W. Superior St., Chicago, IL 60654, 312-337-9444.
Hell-oween Burger Jake Melnick's Burger of the Month
Throughout the month of October, Jake Melnick's Corner Tap is offering the "Hell-oween Burger." This 9 oz. Cajun-spiced blackened burger is topped with roasted poblano chiles, pepperjack cheese, guacamole, crispy onions and chipotle mayonnaise and served on a toasted jalapeno cheddar ciabatta bun. Diners can order this Hell-oween Burger, Jake's hand cut fries and a beer for $9.95. Jake Melnick's Corner Tap, 41 E. Superior St., Chicago, IL 60611, 312-266-0400.
One Sixtyblue's New Wednesday Night Special
Chef Michael McDonald has announced a new Wednesday night special at One sixtyblue: Fried Chicken & Champagne. Two pieces of Amish-raised chicken are served with hand-sliced potato wedges, Asian pear coleslaw and buttermilk drop biscuits with homemade honey butter for $8. To wash it down, One sixtyblue offers a choice of Dom Pérignon for $25 per glass, Moet & Chandon Brut Imperial for $8 per glass or a craft beer for $4. One sixtyblue, 160 N. Loomis St., Chicago, IL 60607, 312-850-0303.
Autumn at Coco Pazzo
Coco Pazzo's new fall menu has made its debut. Chef Chris Macchia's dishes include tortelloni or mezzelune pasta made with slow-roasted heirloom pumpkin, and a thin crust pizza with wild mushrooms, butternut squash and Gorgonzola DOP. Coco Pazzo, 300 W. Hubbard St., Chicago, IL 60610, 312-836-0900.

Chef Shuffle

Giuseppe Scurato (Topaz Café and, previously, Boka and Landmark Bar & Grill) is going off to open Ceres' Table in Uptown. Stepping into his shoes at Topaz is sous chef Ryan Wombacher. Ceres' Table, 4882 N. Clark St., Chicago, IL 60640, No phone yet.
Uh-oh. Shawn McClain is ending his partnership at Custom House and will focus his efforts on Green Zebra and Spring. Custom House will trudge on, though, with Sue and Peter Drohomyrecky still at the helm and Aaron Deal (ex-Gramercy Tavern) in the kitchen. Expect the new menu to read modern-tavern. Custom House, 500 S. Dearborn St., Chicago, IL 60605, 312-523-0200.
Erik Williams (formerly of Bin 36 and Volo) is heading the kitchen at just-opened Morgan Harbor Grill, a pareve (meat- and dairy-free) kosher restaurant adjacent to Good Morgan Kosher Fish. Look for dishes like barramundi served with a house-made matzoh ball. Morgan Harbor Grill, 2948 W. Devon Ave., Chicago, IL 60659, 773-764-8115.


Take your taste buds on a walk down memory lane! Check out our exclusive closed restaurant database for Chicago to virtually visit your favorite dining spots from yesteryear. The Dining Room, R.I.P.

Kaze is closed for now but is expected to reopen in late October. Kaze, 2032 W. Roscoe St., Chicago, IL 60618, 773-327-4860.

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