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Moody Tongue Debuts Its High-End Tasting Room

That and other morsels from this week in dining news.

Photos: Courtesy of Moody Tongue

A highly anticipated spot is opening this week, especially if you’re a beer lover. The team behind Moody Tongue has been working on a high-end tasting restaurant (along with a more casual dining room and bar area), which I profiled back in July, and it’s now open for business. The $155 12-course menu is on their website; reservations are available now.

There’s another big opening this week. Gaijin, Chicago’s first spot focusing on okonomiyaki, or Japanese savory pancakes, is now open. Chef Paul Virant (who I profiled a few months ago) has finally returned to the city limits with this homage to Japanese bar food.

Chef and humanitarian José Andrés debuted the first of two Chicago restaurants this week — on Tuesday, he opened Beefsteak, his veggie-centric restaurant, at the Louis A. Simpson and Kimberly K. Querrey Biomedical Research Center at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. A location of Jaleo, his Spanish tapas restaurant, debuts next year.

The Spice House is back! After a fire closed the beloved Old Town retail space, it was closed for a pretty intense renovation, but it’s now open again for business. All your favorite spice blends are available in a slightly more modern space, with lots of antiques, reclaimed wood, and quirky design elements.

I’ve been in love with Rhine Hall for years – it’s one of the only Chicago distilleries that makes something really different, rather than the usual lineup of vodka, gin, whiskey, and rum. The line of fruit brandies, in nearly infinite variation, keeps me coming back for more, and now Rhine Hall has got yet another awesome thing: a coffee liqueur. Previously only available for fancy people at the Aviary and Alinea, the coffee liqueur is now on store shelves throughout the city. Rhine Hall is also launching a new barrel-aged pear brandy, so keep an eye out for that one as well.

Next Tuesday, 10 chefs and eight bartenders from around Chicago, including Passerotto’s Jennifer Kim, Lost Lake’s Fred Noinaj and Dani Kaplan, and Bar Sotano’s Rishi Kumar are teaming up to host #InLivingColor at Lula Café. Tickets are $38, which includes food and drinks, and proceeds support Silver Fork, a culinary arts program that helps low-income members and allies of the LGBTQIA+ community.

My favorite Chicago guidebook has just released a new edition, and you definitely should get this version. The Fooditor 99 is updated for 2020, and it’s less of an update than a wholesale change – more than half the restaurants included are new, since so much awesome stuff has been opening in the city. A full description of why you should buy it – along with links – is at Fooditor.

The Jean Banchet Awards have come out with their 2020 restaurant nominations. The closest thing Chicago has to its own James Beard Awards, the Banchet awards celebrate Chicago food in a variety of categories. There’s a big awards ceremony on January 19, and the full list of nominees is out now. Up for restaurant of the year? Brindille, mfk, Smyth, and Oriole.

Wow, that was fast. Food hall Fulton Galley is closing abruptly after only five months in operation. It’s too bad, since the food hall was an incubator for up-and-coming concepts, with Pink Salt looking particularly promising. Get there to try Palita Sriratana’s Thai dishes before the hall closes November 15.

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