Mastro’s Gives Penny the Razzle Dazzle
Pollack Extols Mastro’s in 170 Words
Mastro’s Steakhouse (520 N. Dearborn St.; 312-521-5100) is a glamour puss—all sparkle and glitz (thank goodness I wore black, although I was sans any bangles or beads). The piano bar feels like a Cole Porter party, with those who couldn’t get near the ivories sitting or flitting around the room. Mr. Dining and I scored a couple of barstools and got in the swing with a creamy Key lime martini (très cher at $18) and a Cosmo. Our rez was honored at nine on the dot, and so out of the wingding and into a chic and silvery dining room where the menu was everything a steak-house menu should be (steaks, chops, shellfish towers). The bone-in rib eye, Kansas City strip, and rack of lamb were everything wet-aged USDA prime meats should be—mineral-tart, tender, and juicy. And when I say service went above and beyond, I mean it. When’s the last time you got a phone call the next day to find out if you were satisfied with your dinner?
Meat and Greet
Farm-to-table fans, relax. Rob and Allie Levitt may have served their final meal at Mado (1647 N. Milwaukee Ave.; 773-342-2340) last weekend, but they’ll be back. As reported in Time Out Chicago, the husband-and-wife team has followed its heart—or love of butchering, at least—to a new meat-based BYO joint in Noble Square, The Butcher & Larder (no address or phone yet). Rob will do all of the butchering in-house, stock a range of pâtés and cured meats, and serve up sandwiches and charcuterie. Allie will supply her beloved desserts. “We also plan on calling some of our chef friends, to have them come in and make things specific to what they do,” Rob says. “We know someone who is known for doing Mexican food—maybe he would come in and butcher a goat, and we could make goat and mole and serve tacos.”
“My favorite animal is steak.” –Fran Lebowitz (b. 1950), American author
Five Questions for Barbara Fairchild
In her ten years as editor of Bon Appétit, Barbara Fairchild has earned a reputation as a foodie extraordinaire. Before she steps down at the end of November, she will embark on a whirlwind book-signing tour to promote the release of Bon Appétit Desserts: The Cookbook for All Things Sweet and Wonderful—including a two-day stop in Chicago this Friday and Saturday.
Dish: What changes have you seen in culinary magazines?
Barbara Fairchild: Any good magazine keeps evolving, but the category has certainly broadened over the last five to seven years. The Internet and The Food Network have obviously had an impact on print products. The web poses the biggest challenge to print these days, as the immediacy is so appealing to the reader.
D: Your book—or, I should say, tome—is like a bible. How long were you thinking about it?
BF: We’ve been thinking about it since finishing up with Fast, Easy, Fresh, our book from two years ago. We thought it would be nice to have a trio [with The Bon Appétit Cookbook (2006) and The Bon Appétit Cookbook: Fast Easy Fresh (2008)]. Everybody loves desserts. It’s the last impression you get, but sometimes the most lasting one. If the dessert is fantastic, you will come back.
D: Did most of these recipes appear in some issue of the magazine?
BF: Yes. [The book] includes all of the recipes that you forgot to make, didn’t get to make, or lost. It’s a wonderful resource and a great trip down memory lane if you have been with us for a long time.
D: What’s next for you?
BF: I’ll be working on a blog of my own [called Fairchild on Food] sometime next year. I’ll also be tweeting [@fairchildonfood], starting with the book tour.
D: Are you a baker?
BF: I like to make cakes, but I still have dough phobias when it comes to pies.
Three chances to meet Fairchild this weekend: November 5th, 12 p.m. at Costco (2746 N. Clybourn Ave.; 773-360-2053) and 6 p.m. at Spice House (1512 N. Wells St.; 312-274-0378); November 6th, 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. at Macy’s (111 N. State St.; 312-781-1000) in the lower-level demo kitchen.
One. Six One + One = ?
One. Six One (1251 W. Taylor St.; 312-226-1611) gets a new chef in the form of Miguel Chavez, who’s logged time in the kitchens at Sheraton Chicago. The restaurant, which opened in June and splits its space with The Bar 10 Doors (1259 W. Taylor St.; 312-226-1611), will keep its “global” (read: eclectic) menu but—zigging while everyone else zags—seems to be giving up on small plates.
• Penny predicts: A trend is afoot.
• At Owen & Engine, go for the burger and head upstairs.
• At a place like Girl & the Goat, even the croutons shine.
• City Provisions’ deli case kills it (in the good way, starting with the egg salad).
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On the Blog
Things To Do
1. Get two thin-crust, wood-fired pizzas for the price of one at Sono Wood Fired (1582 N. Clybourn Ave.; 312-255-1122) every Tuesday.
2. Score $7 parking and a three-course meal (for between $20 and $30) at Francesca’s on Chestnut (Seneca Hotel, 200 E. Chestnut St.; 312-482-8800) by flashing tickets for that night’s show at Broadway Playhouse.
3. Listen to Amanda Hesser, food writer for The New York Times, talk about her experience editing The Essential New York Times Cookbook, a 1,000-plus-recipe compendium weighing almost as much as the average newborn, at Kendall College on November 9th. Tickets are $15 and include wine and samples cooked up by local chefs—including Dirk Flanigan from The Gage and Henri—from their favorite NYT recipes.
Dot Dot Dot . . .
With Blokes & Birds (3343 N. Clark St.; 773-472-5252) opening its pub doors this week in Lake View and Bangers & Lace (1670 W. Division St.; 773-252-6499) pouring its first brew in Wicker Park, it feels like the beginning of a British invasion. . . . Lincoln Square got a cozy new neighborhood place, serving traditional Italian grub, with Due Lire (4520 N. Lincoln Ave.; 773-275-7878). . . . Nick’s Fishmarket Grill & Bar (222 Merchandise Mart Plaza, Suite 135; 312-621-0200) gives Merchandise Mart visitors another casual lunch option. . . . There will be no spring for Spring (2039 W. North Ave.; 773-395-7100), which shuts its doors after a farewell dinner on New Year’s Eve. . . . And another sad adieu, this one for Café Matou (1846 N. Milwaukee Ave.; 773-384-8911). The owner, Charlie Socher, will close the French bistro after November 14th ahead of a personal move to southwest Wisconsin. . . . It looks like curtains for Rendezvous Bistro (2656 W. Lawrence Ave.). A drive-by revealed that the place is dark, the phone number has been rubbed off the awning, and makeshift lettering on the window spells out: King of Kebab—Falafel. (Efforts to reach RB’s owner were unsuccessful.). . . Lincolnshire Gourmet (675 Central Ave., Highland Park; 847-432-6600) serves its last meal this Saturday; the owner, Terri Rogers, is retiring from restaurants to pursue a retail project, NoOodle. . . . And we won’t be the first to tell you, but Crumbs Bake Shop (303 W. Madison St.; no phone yet) is coming to Chicago in time for the holidays. What may set Crumbs apart from the cupcake pack is its line of birthday cakes, wedding cakes, and a 6.5-inch-by-6.5-inch beast called the Colossal Crumb.