Pump Up the Jam
The crowds at the breakfast favorite Jam (937 N. Damen Ave.; 773-489-0302) frequently have made the name feel more like a verb than a noun. Expansion seemed inevitable. “We’re doing another Jam in Logan Square,” says Anthony Fiore, the owner of Elate (Hotel Felix, 111 W. Huron St.; 312-202-9900). A big fan of the current Jam, Fiore is teaming up with its owner, Jerry Suqi, and chef, Jeffrey Mauro, for the new 60-seater (Jam père has 40). The menu, including the from-scratch breads, will replicate at the new location, the address of which Fiore isn’t divulging yet. The trio plans a spring opening and, of course, hopes that Jam’s success can be preserved.
A couple of years ago, Mel Markon, the onetime proprietor of Mel Markon’s and Dixie Que, announced a new Italian project he described as “eclectic Italian matched with a lively pub ambiance.” Somewhat later than his original projection, Markon now expects a mid-January or February opening for Bia for Mia, on Grand Avenue in River West. “My files go back a long time on this concept—about three years,” he says. In what seems to be a theme for Dish this week, the exact address is a secret, as is the chef. Markon did spill the cannellini about a few menu items, though, including seared sea bass with spicy soffrito and something he calls “sushi from Sardinia,” which is shrimp wrapped in prosciutto. Somehow “sushi from Sardinia” seems like it ought to involve sardines.
“The bologna was pale pink, the size of a bread-and-butter plate, a perfect circle of compacted piggy byproducts. Chester tossed in the meat without even pausing to remove the plastic casing. While the bologna was frying, he slathered mayonnaise on one slice of bread and mustard on the other. He shook hot sauce across the yellow mustard in perfect red polka dots. . . . The air in the kitchen was now scented with browning bologna, which was curling up around the edges to form a little bowl with butter puddled in the center. I could feel myself getting dizzy from the sensory overload. I said, ‘I’ll give you four hundred dollars if you fix me one of those.’”
—Sue Grafton (1940–), in L Is for Lawless
When people think about evangelism and the suburbs, Peruvian food is never far behind, right? Eñye (330 W. State St., Geneva; 331-248-0366), a new Latin fusion restaurant, seeks disciples using lomo saltado (a classic Peruvian dish), paella (available for one person!), and churrasco. “We thought about putting more American stuff on the menu, but we are still in our religious phase of trying to convert people,” says Bob Di Pasquantonio, who owns Eñye with his wife, Jeanette. Another section of the menu features classic tapas such as blue cheese–stuffed dates and bacon-wrapped Marcona almonds. Various loaves and fishes also available.
When one Italian bakery closes, another opens—there are two ends on the Great Cannolo of Life. Just as the world hears that Natalie Zarzour is closing Pasticceria Natalina, word arrives that Scafuri (1337 W. Taylor St.; no phone yet), which closed in Little Italy in 2007 in its 99th year of business, is reopening. Kelly Lynch, a Scafuri family member who apprenticed in an Italian bakery in the Chianti region, hopes to greet her first customers this summer after renovations bring the building up to code. A poor health inspection and Lynch’s great-great-aunt Annette’s advancing age caused the 2007 closing, but now Lynch and her aunt Michelle are ready to take up the reins. “The family all grew up visiting this bakery, and we are all excited to see it reopen. It’s been such a special thing in our family,” Lynch says.
Because It Was There
Mark and Margarita Challenger, the owners of Guanajuato, plan to open a fast-casual burger spot called Everest Burger and Bakery (91 Green Bay Rd., Glencoe; no phone yet) in the first half of January. The burger side of the business will have chicken, turkey, wild salmon, and black bean burgers in addition to the standard beef; and the bakery side will sell pastries, croissants, and desserts, including tres leches cake and several flavors of flan. Margarita Challenger explained the name to us, but we’re not sure we quite got it: “We were playing with the names, and Mount Everest sounded so big and extensive. It just keeps going forever. It sounded good with burgers. We could do so much with burgers. We could make a burger out of anything and just keep going. It sounded so good. Everest Burgers.”
Jam Up the Pump
The Pump Room (1301 N. State Pkwy.; 312-266-0360) serves its last meal January 1st, when both the restaurant and its home, the Ambassador East hotel, begin renovations. (The hotel will remain open.) A spokeswoman for the company that owns the hotel says it hasn’t been determined if the Pump Room name will be kept.
• Ruby gives Chicago some gift rap for its 40th anniversary.
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On the Blog
The sudden closing of Mado looks different from different sides. Side one: an owner, David Richards. Side two: Brandon Baltzley, who had been chef for barely a month.
Things to Do
1. Walk into a ready-made date night this Friday at Restaurant Michael (64 Green Bay Rd., Winnetka; 847-441-3100), where Michael Lachowicz will serve roasted beef tenderloin, carved tableside, in a dining room lit only by candlelight and filled with live jazz.
2. Pick up a complimentary tote bag at Chicago French Market (131 N. Clinton St.; 312-575-0306), which celebrates its first year in business this Friday and Saturday with free tastings, live music, and chances to win one of three $300 gift certificates to L2O.
3. Get tips on easygoing Indian home cooking from an expert, Madhur Jaffrey, who gives a talk (free with museum admission) at The Art Institute (111 S. Michigan Ave.; 312-443-3600) this Saturday at 1:00 p.m.
• RedFlame (2417 N. Clybourn Ave.; 312-462-0486) fires up its pizza grill tonight in Lincoln Park.
• Wasabi (2539 N. Milwaukee Ave.; 773-227-8180), a sushi spot in Logan Square, had its soft opening Tuesday.
•Meli Cafe on Grand (540 N. Wells St.; 312-527-1850), the second location of the all-natural, mostly-organic pancake house and diner, is now open for breakfast and lunch in River North.
• Jameson’s Original Charhouse, a suburban steak-house minichain, launched its fifth location last week, when it took over the former Boston Blackie’s space in the Doubletree Hotel in Skokie (9525 Skokie Blvd., Skokie; 847-673-9700).
• Oak Park is the latest abode for Chicago’s Home of Chicken & Waffles (543 W. Madison St., Oak Park; 708-524-3300), which unites sweet and savory at another location in Bronzeville.
• As you’ve probably heard, the months-long wait is over: Graham Elliot opened his hotly anticipated cash-only sandwich joint, Grahamwich (615 N. State St.; 312-624-9188), this morning.