Gelati, $3.50 per serving, from Sapore di Napoli, 1406 W. Belmont Ave.; 773-935-1212. Sugar cookie “minis,” $34.99 for 24 in a decorative box, from Cookies by Joey, a Buffalo Grove– based baker; 847-821-8913, Sodas by Goose Island, $4.39 for a four-pack, at Jewel-Osco. For table accessories, see “The Table.”

Chinese teacup, $3, and ceramic berry bowl, $5, from P.O.S.H., 613 N. State St.; 312-280-1602.


Photograph: Leonard Gertz




When setting a table, take stock of what you have. Use that as a basis, and add on. We borrowed two vintage silver serving platters and mixed and matched from there.

CHOOSE A THEME AND COLOR PALETTE Using the annual Taste of Chicago festival as our inspiration, we decorated the table with inexpensive Chicago flags. The blue and red became the color scheme.

REPURPOSE HOUSEHOLD ITEMS IN UNEXPECTED WAYS A Frank Lloyd Wright glass became an instant vase. All-purpose wineglasses can serve every drink.

Chicago skyline china dinner plate, (1) $16, side plate, (2) $10, and bowl, (3) $10; vintage ironstone platter, (4) from $10; vintage red franc plate (5) $14; silver hotel trays, (6) from $10; bistro wineglasses, (7) $3 each; red hand towel set, (8) $20; and designer vintage hotel flatware, (9) from $15 per piece, at P.O.S.H. Sabra red and stainless flatware, (10) $82 for a five-piece setting, and designer napkins, (11) from $19 each, at Material Possessions, 704 N. Wabash Ave.; 312-280-4885. Chicago flags, (12) $4.95 each, and Frank Lloyd Wright Coonley House glasses, (13) $12.95 each, at the Chicago History Museum Store, 1601 N. Clark St.; 312-642-4600.



By ordering in some of our local favorites, we saved prep time—and had a guarantee that the food would look (and taste) great.

GO SMALL The trend right now: gourmet sandwiches in miniature. We ordered ours from chef Michael Lachowicz, who recently opened a new Boystown venture, Wally & Agador’s Gourmet Café.

BUY PREPARED SIDES We made a list of our favorite accompaniments and picked up the phone. Bingo! We had stuffed peppers and homemade pub chips in less than the time it takes to drive to the store.

TRY A NEW BREW When the beer is from a new brewery,like the Flywheel lager from the North Side operation Metropolitan, it becomes a conversation starter.

Metropolitan’s Flywheel lager, (14) $9.99 for a six-pack, at Whole Foods Market, Sandwiches: (15) “The Divine Miss M” (grilled beef tenderloin, Roquefort, bacon lardon, and candied onion), “The Judy Garland” (roasted portabella mushroom, eggplant caviar, and confit artichoke hearts drizzled with truffle oil), “The Elton John” (chicken and truffle mousse sausage studded with huckleberries with port wine sauce and butter lettuce, pictured with and without pommes frites), “The Wham Samich” (slow-cooked leg of lamb, ratatouille, Laura Chenel’s sage-and-garlic-scented goat cheese), all from Wally & Agador’s, 3310 N. Halsted St.; 773-325-9664. Stuffed peppers, (16) $23.99 per pound, and tabouleh salad, (17) $7.99 per pound, at Pastoral, 2945 N. Broadway; 773-472-4781. Goose Island seasoned pub chips, (18) $3 per basket, at Goose Island, 1800 N. Clybourn Ave.; 312-915-0071. Barbecue sandwich, (19) $8.50, from Smoke Daddy, 1804 W. Division St.; 773-772-6656. Matilda ale, (20) $11.99 for a four-pack, at Jewel-Osco, and Goose Island’s root beer, (21) $4.39 for a four-pack. Coleslaw, (22) $18 for 15 portions, at Wishbone, 1001 W. Washington Blvd.; 312-850-2663.


Photograph: Leonard Gertz