Penny’s Love-Hate Relationship with Chicago Cut Steakhouse
Pollack popped into Chicago Cut Steakhouse (300 N. LaSalle St.; 312-329-1800), the city’s newest meat emporium, for a first impression of the contemporary American steak house from David Flom (14 years at Rosebud) and Matt Moore (12 years at Smith & Wollensky).
• Loved the room. Truly stunning with two glass walls overlooking the river and a tree-lined plaza.
• Hated the iPad wine list. Techno-hip but totally impersonal.
• Loved the rib eye. Well marbled, juicy, done exactly as ordered.
• Hated the halibut. Mushy and boring, despite the well-executed rosemary crust.
• Loved the scene. The eye-candy customers dug out the spandex, and everyone was kissy-kissy.
• Hated the scene. The eye-candy customers dug out the spandex, and everyone was kissy-kissy.
830 Million French Sandwiches Can’t be Wrong
The ultimate sandwich parisien is le jambon-beurre, a buttered baguette with ham. (We’re serious. The French ate 830 million of them in 2008.) The sandwich’s French-language Wikipedia page suggests adding fries to make it more American. The new LM Café, set to open at the Chicago French Market (Ogilvie Transportation Center, 131 N. Clinton St.; 312-575-0306) next Thursday, isn’t going the frites route, but the French owner, Stephan Outrequin Quaisser, is straying from tradition with toppings such as pickles, cheese, and a homemade tomato jam for his jambon-beurre. Quaisser, who also runs LM Restaurant (4539 N. Lincoln Ave.; 773-942-7585), will carry three variations on the classic croque-monsieur—the traditional ham and Emmental cheese, smoked salmon, and turkey and Camembert. Hmm. We wonder what an American in Paris would do with a PB & J.
Bo Fowler (of Fat Willy’s Rib Shack) is opening Owen & Engine (2700 N. Western Ave.; 773-235-2930) a “straightforward” English gastropub, tomorrow night. Hard to believe that a gig that took five years to build and boasts tempearture-controlled coolers (55°F) in the basement is going to be totally straightforward. Halfway across town, Charlie’s Ale House (5308 N. Clark St.; 773-751-0140) serves its last meal on October 3rd, then reopens as Acre on the 12th. Just another rustic setting where the beer pours freely and the kitchen touts charcuterie and condiments made in-house.
“Cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education.” –Mark Twain (1835-1910), American humorist
At the Rib-A-Que Smoke-Out at Moonshine Brewing Company (1824 W. Division St.; 773-862-8686) last weekend, a pair of thirty-somethng amateurs—Paul Samojluk and Brian Milacek, competing as Top Shelf BBQ—walked away with the top prize. Now they plan to start their own business. Dish caught up with Samojluk to get the scoop on their project.
D: Who are you guys?
PS: We are partners in construction. We are union laborers. We work for Abt, but that work is slowing down.
D: What were you doing at the Rib-A-Que?
PS: We took classes this summer with Myron Mixon, owner of Jack’s Old South in Georgia. We were cooking for our friends all summer, and we went to the Rib-A-Que to get feedback from a larger audience. And we won.
D: What did you win?
PS: A trophy and a [$400] cash prize.
D: So what’s next?
PS: We would like to start doing some catering in the next month. Now we have a smoker on my buddy’s balcony and we do everything at home. We are also trying to go pro as soon as we can.
D: Any plans to open up a storefront?
PS: Yes, but we don’t want to bite off more than we can chew. We are both very passionate about barbecue, but we were surprised by the results [of the contest]. Now we’re trying to catch up to the demand.
Reinventing the Wheel
You’ve seen this concept before: Pick your proteins, pile up the veggies, and pour on some sauce from a tricked out salad bar at a DIY pan-Asian stir-fry concept. In mid-October, Firepot Grill (2626 N. Lincoln Ave.; 773-360-8774) wok’s into Flat Top Grill’s orbit with another take on this not-so-unique idea, albeit with a few twists: The sauce menu includes more global flavors like chipotle, jerk, or curry and lime in addition to Asian standbys, and the whole concoction can be served three ways—with rice, over pasta, or as a sandwich on Vietnamese bahn mi.
Come One, Come All
The former Gentry space comes to life again, resuscitated by the former Eve waiter Brian Martin. The new Downtown Bar and Lounge (440 N. State St.; 312-464-1400), scheduled to open in mid-October, will be a food-free watering hole—an “all bar,” says Martin. “I wanted to create an LGBT presence in the Loop where all are welcome, where nobody cares who they are or what they are. It’s really just about having a good time.” To that effect, he’s offering “decent drinks at a good price” and bringing back live music with twice-a-month cabaret nights. The eclectic interior includes tufted brown leather, rich walnut tables and chairs, deer antler chandeliers, and heavy-handed gold accents. And the waitstaff is eclectic, too—“70 percent gay, 20 percent straight, and 10 percent who knows,” according to Martin. With 120 barstools, it sounds like there’ll be room for everybody.
Sneak Peek at a Promising Menu
“Hominy tortellini de teste, which is head cheese wrapped in [corn] tortellini and served in a pozole consommé. For dessert, cardamom tofu ice cream with fried chocolate and coffee cake.” —Mike Sheerin, chef de cuisine at Blackbird (619 W. Randolph St.; 312-715-0708), on his new restaurant concept, The Trencherman, which he hopes to open early next summer at an undisclosed location in the city.
All in the Family
Two-month-old Moccio’s Pizzeria (1620 Deerfield Rd., Highland Park; 847-831-6900) is taking its fresh-baked panino sandwiches and pizzas to a second location in Naperville this November. The new spot will be called Donato’s (227 E. Ogden Ave.; 630-357-9000), after owners Bart Moccio and Jeff Urso’s "Uncle" Don. "He’s not our uncle, but we’re Italian, so everyone who’s older than us we call uncle," says Urso.
• Glenview’s Gusto Italiano has us gushing about garlic butter.
• Penny learned that Lan’s delivers.
• Pretty little things at Café des Architectes.
• The Melmans will replace Brasserie Jo with Paris Club.
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Charitable Things to Do
1. Order a $12 bubblegum martini at Lockwood or Potter’s Lounge (17 E. Monroe St.; 312-917-3404, 312-917-4933) in October, when half of the proceeds will help the Lynn Sage Foundation find a cure for breast cancer.
2. Skip the booze and order a milkshake (including the new seasonal flavor, pumpkin pie) at DMK Burger Bar (2954 N. Sheffield Ave.; 773-360-8686) today or tomorrow and your whole five bucks will be donated to programs for kids with cancer.
3. Sink your teeth into a strawberry cupcake at Sprinkles (50 E. Walton St.; 312-573-1600) and know that all of the proceeds go to the Entertainment Industry Foundation’s Women’s Cancer Research Fund. Now that’s sweet.
Dot Dot Dot . . .
Province (161 N. Jefferson St.; 312-669-9900) spawns a second location in downtown Phoenix, slated to open in early March as the only restaurant in a new Westin Hotel. Way to go, Randy Zweiban. . . . Kilwin’s, a Michigan-based ice-cream chain, opened Saturday in a former porn shop in Old Town (1405 N. Wells St.; 312-654-1962). . . . Hinsdale is about to score a sleek and chic Asian spot, Nabuki (18 E. First St.; 630-654-8880). The owner, Peter Burdi, (Il Poggiolo, along the same block) promises a mid-October opening. . . . London-based Pret A Manger (211 W. Adams St.; 312-546-8270) opened in the Loop on Friday, offering preservative-free, from-scratch café fare. Expect another location on LaSalle Street to follow in its footsteps shortly. . . . The Andersonville Dessert Crawl is this Sunday, October 3rd. Choose between the Sugar Route and the Spice Route ($25 in advance)—or splurge for Everything Nice ($40). Visit the event’s website for tickets.