The Way It Is

Six-or is it seven?-weeks into the Shelter At Home quarantine, life has settled into a mind numbing routine for some and a frightening reality for others. There is no news that isn't about the Coronavirus itself or the effect it's had on every aspect of life as we knew it.

People who never-or hardly ever- cook have learned how to turn on the stove and get dinner on the table. Chefs and restaurateurs have adapted, and without doubt, there are some interesting options for carry-out.

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Brasserie Jo

Chef Jean Joho’s Brasserie Jo is back, albeit not as a brick and mortar restaurant, but as a limited time, carryout only concept. Menus will change every two weeks with a limited number available per day.

Guests can choose between a menu for two ($32.95 plus tax) or four ($65.90 plus tax). Orders must be placed by 1 pm. Pick-up is daily from 4:30 to 6:30 pm at 620 North State Street.

The opening menu, which will be available now through May 9, includes Coq au Vin, Alsace Knepfla, and Chocolate Mousse. Three French wines, all hand selected by Chef Jean Joho, are also available, along with an Alsatian beer.

Lettuce Entertain You’s Brasserie Jo, arguably the city’s first authentic French brasserie, was a James Beard Award Winning Restaurant. It opened in 1995 in River North and closed fifteen years later in 2010. Chef Joho and Lettuce Entertain You continue their partnership at Everest, a four-star French restaurant specializing in French cuisine from the Alsace region, Chef Joho's birthplace.

FYI: The restaurant's Mother's Day menu includes Brasserie Jo's signature shrimp bag with lobster cognac sauce.

Orders for Brasserie Jo are available online via Tock: https://www.exploretock.com/brasseriejo/

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Prairie Grass Cafe

At Prairie Grass Cafe in Northbrook, partners Sarah Stegner and George Bumbaris continue to fine tune their curbside carry-out menu, in addition to offering a hotline (847.920.8437) every day from 2-4 pm to answer questions from home cooks.

"We get callers from all over the country," Stegner says. "Given that many of the questions focus on basics, it's clear that a lot of people are cooking more than they ever have before."

Stegner, an ongoing participant in the Green City Market and a leader in the emphasis on local and sustainable ingredients, is also providing customers with the option of pre-ordering fresh fish for delivery on Mondays. Produce from Three Sister's Garden is also available. Check for specifics on the restaurant's website, which also includes specials for the upcoming week.

One of them, a "Kids' Kitchen Crew Activity Kit" that has to be ordered 24 hours in advance, is complete with all of the ingredients for both a pizza and chocolate chip cookies. The doughs for both the pizza crust and the cookies are mixed and ready to use.

FYI: The Mother's Day menu includes stuffed carrot cake French toast

Prairie Grass Cafe, 601 Skokie Blvd. Northbrook 847.205.4433

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Piccolo Sogno

After being closed for forty-plus days, Piccolo Sogno is, once again, open for business, albeit only for carryout. Partner Tony Priolo says the first week or so will be a "trial run."

"We're dealing with a set of circumstances that we've never experienced before," he observes. "But it's something we have to do. Ciro and I have been paying our staff their full salary all along, and we need to generate some income."

Looking ahead, boxes- one for meat, another for vegetarians etc.- are already in the planning stages. Piccolo Sogno's current carryout menu is available on the restaurant's website.

FYI: Check back next week for Piccolo Sogno's Mother's Day menu.

Piccolo Sogno, 464 N. Halsted,  312.421.0077  Curbside Pick-up and delivery daily from 4-8 pm. The restaurant's parking lot will be open.

Sparkling Wine Beverages from Round Barn Winery. Brewery.Distillery

Sampling new products is one of my job’s perks. Some are good, some aren’t. Happily, the new, low alcohol Raspberry Lemonade sparkling wine from Round Barn Winery in Baroda, Michigan merits two thumbs up.

I remember sampling boxed wine for the first time on a train from Milan to Barcelona more than twenty years ago. It was an acceptable table wine that paired nicely with entrees, the details of which I've forgotten. Canned wines, on the other hand, are a more recent addition to the beverage landscape.

In addition to their fruit forward wines, the Round Barn Winery in Baroda, Michigan produces hard ciders and microbrews, along with a newish line of canned

the new addition to Round Barn Winery's lineup of wine beverages

the newest addition to Round Barn Winery's lineup of  sparkling wine beverages

“sparkling wine beverages.” The newest addition, “Raspberry Lemonade,” joins a lineup that already includes Red Sangria, Crantini, Peach Bellini, and Cherry Spritzer. Available in 12-ounce cans (two servings per container), the wine beverages are 5% alcohol by volume. 

Round Barn Winery. Distillery. Brewery, Baroda, Michigan  269.422.1617

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