Belly Up

This Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., as part of the Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival, Logan Square Kitchen (2333 N. Milwaukee Ave.; 773-342-2333), a commercial kitchen and event space, hosts a pop-up restaurant with food from Bill Kim (Urbanbelly, Belly Shack) and Jason Hammel (Lula Cafe, Nightwood). Kim says he’s using the pop-up to field-test food for an inkling of a new restaurant called Country Belly. Kim’s menu:

• Asian elotes with curry mayo, $3
• Lettuce wrap with quinoa, lemongrass chicken, and hoisin barbecue sauce, $5
• Watermelon with spearmint-and-citrus salt, $2
• Yuzu lemonade, $3

“Instead of putting money down on a restaurant and hoping and wishing it will be successful, this is a way for us to test out the market and see,” Kim says. He also promises more pop-up restaurants to test concepts in the next year. Uncoincidentally, we promise to eat at more pop-up restaurants in the next year.

More More Cupcakes

You know what the problem is with cupcakes? They’re just sooo hard to find. Never fear, More Cupcakes (1 E. Delaware Pl.; 312-951-0001) is following the lead of Flirty Cupcakes and launching a cupcakemobile. The More Mobile can carry 1,500 cupcakes and will offer 12 flavors at any given time—ten permanent flavors and two specials. Patty Rothman, More’s owner, says that the truck should make its first run in about three weeks, and that during the first week, the Mobile cupcakes will be free. It seems like people have been predicting the end of the cupcake trend every year since it started a decade ago. “I think we can say if it’s been more than ten years, cupcakes are here to stay,” Rothman says.

More Cupcakes Near More

When the box from Sprinkles (50 E. Walton St.; 312-573-1600) arrived at the office, the response from more than one of us was a groan—oh God, not more cupcakes. But these came from an early progenitor of the unslayable trend: Sprinkles opened in Los Angeles in 2005 and now has seven U.S. locations, counting the one scheduled to open here July 26th, located only one block from More. So we diligently tasted. The cakes were uniformly moist and flavorful. The frostings were rich but somehow light, sugary but not cloying, and, it must be said, delicious. The staff favorite was the red velvet, with banana running a close second; the best wacky flavor was the supersweet peanut butter chip. Will Sprinkles unseat More as the best cupcake on the Gold Coast—or in Chicago, even? At the moment, we’re not feeling the need to pick sides. In this case, more is more.


“The artichoke above all is the vegetable expression of civilized living, of the long view, of increasing delight by anticipation and crescendo.” –Jane Grigson (1928-1990), British food writer

Green Line

“Forget the whole deli,” says Cleetus Friedman, the owner of City Provisions Deli (1818 W. Wilson Ave.; 773-293-2489), a storefront location for the similarly named catering company and farm-dinner series. “This is about connecting people with their food. We just happen to do it in the form of a deli.” Proof: All the pastries are made in house. Butchering is done in house for their house-made deli meats. Rye bread comes from Crumb, an artisan breadmaker that sells at farmers’ markets. Ice cream from local companies. All the wood used to build the place is reclaimed, and all the tile sustainably produced. “Everything on our shelves has a story,” Friedman says. Where do you live, Cleetus? “About a 12-minute bike ride from here.” Of course. The deli is scheduled to open August 6th.

Why We Report on Restaurants, Not Interior Design

We talked to Christine Tully Aranza, who, with her husband John Aranza, owns the forthcoming Autre Monde Cafe & Spirits (6727 W. Roosevelt Rd., Berwyn; no phone yet), a Mediterranean- and Italian-inspired farm-to-table spot with a planned October opening. The couple met at Spiaggia, where she was the assistant general manager and he was the assistant sommelier. In describing the construction that will turn the former deli space into a 70-seat bar and restaurant, Christine Tully Aranza lost us on the décor:

“We’ll roll back to a Metropolis-era kind of feel. We’re playing a little bit behind steam punk. The idea behind it is designed, repurposing things—a little industrial and Victorian but done in a new way. Found objects. This spring, we will have a greenhouse in the back. Juxtaposing city and green and that sort of thing.”

On the Blog

Mia Figlia, the third recent opening from a Tizi Melloul veteran, has launched in Edgebrook.

Things to Do

1. Spirit away to the Secret Spirits Society events on Tuesdays from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at Potter’s Lounge, in the Palmer House Hilton (17 E. Monroe St.; 312-917-4933). Each event focuses on a particular drink (next Tuesday’s is vodka) and features hors d’oeuvres made by Phillip Foss (Lockwood). Admission is $25.

2. Reserve a lovely backyard patio table for Dinner and a Movie at Chicago Firehouse (1401 S. Michigan Ave.; 312-786-1401) taking place every Wednesday through August 11. Dinner starts at 7 p.m., and a free movie screening starts at 8:30 p.m. Each movie has corresponding dinner specials (for a recent showing of Casablanca, the restaurant had a Moroccan special).  Tonight’s movie is High Noon (Texas T-Bone, natch), but if you miss out, next week’s flick is foodie fave Julie & Julia. Complimentary gourmet popcorn is provided, and flavors vary to correspond with the feature. To participate in the screening, a minimum food or drink purchase is required, and tonight’s popcorn recipe involves olive oil and herbs. We thought it would be barbecue sauced.

3. Watch mesmerizing videos of fruit and vegetable MRIs.

Dot Dot Dot . . .

Crain’s Chicago Business reported that the Japanese barbecue chain Gyu-Kaku plans to open at 210 East Ohio Street in September or October. . . . Chikurin Japanese & Asian Cuisine (1811 W. North Ave.; 773-252-8880), a new Japanese-Thai-Chinese (in that order) place in Wicker Park, has two chef-partners from Tamarind in the South Loop. . . . Only four days after opening, Maxwell Grill (6339 N. California Ave.; 773-761-4800) had to close with water damage. The new West Rogers Park spot serves Philly cheese steak, gyros, Italian beef, and rotisserie chicken and hopes to reopen in a matter of weeks.