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Hog Wild

Hog Wild
I went to the preview party for Hogs & Honeys (1555 N. Sheffield Ave.) hosted by Chicago-Scene.com, the Web site for party-hearty voyeurs. Modeled on the New York City biker bar featured in the movie Coyote Ugly, this Weed Street District outpost is the creation of Marc Bortz, mastermind behind Circus, Dragon Room, and Biology Bar.

Just as in the movie, female bartenders here bark drink orders and bust risqué dance moves atop the bar. Unlike the movie, they don’t look like Tyra Banks or move like Piper Perabo. Instead, a mechanical bull takes the spotlight inside a “corral,” where aspiring cowpokes can flap and flail-after practically signing their lives away on a waiver. The space, part of North Beach, is littered with bric-a-brac (which, we’re told, was gathered by the folks who served as set designers for the movie): old Schlitz signs, dented beer cans, racy posters, strategically placed bras and panties-you know the scene. Think Tequila Roadhouse, but even more contrived. Despite the poorly choreographed dance routines to Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar on Me,” I admit I had a good time-although I didn’t appreciate getting sprayed with water every 20 minutes by rowdy bartenders wielding drink dispensers. Leave your Dior bag and white Seven jeans at home. Wish I had.

Scene Setting
A recent Wednesday night led me to BUtterfield 8 (713 N. Wells St.), and guess who I saw? Rod Stewart! Oops, no, that must have been Demetri Alexander, the wild-haired owner and restaurateur who’s back with his newest club-restaurant catering to those too old to be club kids but too young to go home at ten o’clock. I scouted the scene with my mom and aunt-not my usual nightlife companions-and what we found was a Shabby Chic–meets–Saturday Night Fever hot spot with so much eye candy our heads were spinning. Tall blond beauty with her Burberry skirt up to there, former Bears MVP player Richard Dent solo on his cell phone, nightlife promoter B. J. Murray planning his next big gig, Barry and Beverly of Crown fortune schmoozing with Alexander . . . who wasn’t there?

BUtterfield 8 presents itself as a nightclub-restaurant crossover (the menu is heavy on steak and seafood), but if you’re just looking for a drink and a strut down the luminous Plexiglas floor, or a sexy seat in an upstairs red velvet booth, this is definitely your dig. A rainbow variety of martinis wowed us: I tried the house Bellini Tini-fruity and delicious, yes, but I’d go back for the Bardello, made with Grand Marnier, Finlandia lime vodka, and fresh lemonade. Alexander’s defunct ventures include Lola’s Club Roulette on this very spot, and the State Room. We’re glad you’re back, Demetri. Rod Stewart hair and all.

Into the Groove
I’ve had a change of heart over Division Street watering holes. Funk Groove Bar (5 W. Division), the new subterranean dance club/lounge beneath Leg Room, proves there is reason to travel to tourist hell. When my friends and I walked in, we were escorted to our own table-I don’t remember the last time I got such VIP treatment. We then proceeded to shake our groove things to Eminem, Nelly, and more mainstream Top 40 stuff. Drinks came well endowed (almost too well), as did the waitress my friend Mike kept making eyes at. Only problem is that the $10 cover is too steep for Division Street. Drop your bucks-and pretensions-at the door.

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