Food Fun Friday

Food Fun Friday

Who going to the Taste? Come on…who? Okay if they have a festival and no one goes is it still a festival? It seems the revamp/reinvention of the Taste of Chicago hasn’t gone over well in the “foodie” world but is that any surprise. I think it could be a good maybe even great event again but the advice the Mayor is getting isn’t the greatest. He’s busy I know trying to lower the murder rate but it seems like those giving him advice on restaurants, food trucks and the Taste are a bit on the wrong track. Ah but what do I know…

Here are some fun events to try and some great ideas to enjoy the summer – picnic and weekend brunch ideas at the end…

Whether you're French, love French fare or are just looking for a reason to toast with French bubbles, Maison invites guests to celebrate Bastille Day at Lakeshore East's newest French brasserie! On Saturday, July 14 beginning at 4 p.m., Maison will present a half-priced raw bar and a special sampling of sparkling French wines  available throughout the evening.

Reservations are recommended. For additional information, (312) 241-1540. Maison   330 E. Randolph, Suite 300               

Mercadito (108 W. Kinzie St) will offer River North party-goers a late night fix with the new Midnight Brunch menu available only on Friday and Saturday nights from midnight until close (Fridays at 2 a.m. and Saturdays at 3 a.m.) starting on Friday, July 20. Guests can refuel from dancing at Double A, Mercadito’s underground lounge, with the menu of Mercadito’s traditional Mexican brunch favorites. Reservations can be made by calling 312.329.9555.

Steve's Deli and Food Network star Robert Irvine, host of Restaurant Impossible, are teaming up at the Wrigley View Rooftop on Sunday, July 15th during the Chicago Cubs v. Arizona Diamondbacks baseball game.S ponsored by Transitions Optical, Irvine has created an eye healthy ball game menu that Steve's Deli will prepare and serve to all of the fans who purchase a ticket at Wrigley View Rooftop for the game.  The menu will include (see below for full menu) pan fried salmon cakes, broccoli carrot potato salad, turkey burgers with roasted tomato spinach and aioli, and sweet potato bread pudding.

"Wrigley View Rooftop is a fantastic place to experience Wrigley Field. I think fans will really enjoy the opportunity to meet Chef Robert Irvine and taste his fabulous menu." Says Steve's Deli Operating Partner Seth Herkowitz From baseball games to concerts, Steve's Deli is at every Wrigley View Rooftop event serving traditional ball game fare along with Steve's Deli homemade soups, entrees and desserts including: turkey chili, roastedchickens, brisket, mini chocolate chip cookies and brownies.  For ticket information contact with Wrigley View Rooftops or Steve's Deli.

On Sunday, August, 12th, Chicago’s Bridgeport neighborhood, will welcome the second celebration of Street Food Artistry, an exploration and adventure of the arts for all ages, families, locals and visitors alike. Street Food Artistry will take place at the Zhou B. Art Center, located at 1029 W. 35th St., from 1PM - 7PM. The festival will include street art and face painting, photography exhibits with Chicago art lovers and gallery owners curators, a Food Truck Pavilion, a sound stage, mixology sessions featuring adult beverages for starters. Sponsors for the event include: Time Out Chicago, beverage partner, Coca-Cola (SmartWater and Fuze brands) and Whole Foods Market. All activities, food and beverage are included in a single ticket price with crafts and additional beverages available per purchase. Tickets for the festival are $35 (early bird) and $40 after July 1 for adults and $15 for children and available for purchase at

I Dream of Falafel is launching a monthly cooking class series beginning Saturday, July 21 teaching guests how to prepare Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine right at home. At the first class, Executive Chef Henry Nuguid will show guests how to grill dishes a bit more exciting than your average hotdog for their own backyard bbq! The class will take place at the 555 W. Monroe location beginning at 11 a.m. followed by lunch at noon for just $15 all inclusive.

Kimpton’s five Chicago restaurants invite you on a culinary journey across the city with the introduction of the Kimpton Chicago Restaurant Passport. Dine at Sable Kitchen & Bar, South Water Kitchen, Encore Lunch Club & Liquid Lounge, Atwood Café and 312 Chicago to receive a stamp for each entrée purchased. Once guests fill their passport with one stamp from each restaurant, they are entered into a sweepstakes for amazing prizes like a five-course dinner at Atwood Cafe with an overnight stay at Kimpton’s historic Hotel Burnham or brunch for six prepared by Bravo Top Chef alum Chef Heather Terhune at Sable Kitchen & Bar.

Simply request a Passport upon the first visit to any Kimpton Chicago restaurant. At each subsequent restaurant visit, request a stamp for ordering one entrée. Once one stamp for each restaurant has been obtained, submit the completed Passport to a server, host or manager. Or go digital: simply post pictures of each entrée to the Foodspotting app for a digital stamp. Once one entrée from each restaurant has been “spotted,” the user will automatically be entered into the drawing.

Prize winners will be announced on September 4, 2012. Prizes include:

  • Five-course dinner for two at Atwood Café and an overnight stay at Kimpton’s Hotel Burnham
  • Four-course dinner for two prepared at 312 Chicago
  • Dinner for two at Sable Kitchen & Bar and an overnight stay at Kimpton’s Hotel Palomar
    And many more...

312 Chicago, 136 N. LaSalle Street, 312.696.2420
Encore Lunch Club & Liquid Lounge, 171 W Randolph Street, 312.338.3788
Atwood Café, 1 W. Washington Street, 312.368.1900
Sable Kitchen & Bar, 505 N. State Street, 312.755.9704
South Water Kitchen, 225 N. Wabash Avenue, 312.236.9300
Between NOW and September 3, 2012- Lunch or dinner

Grab your salt shakers and limes – it’s National Tequila Day and Barrio is ready to celebrate! On Tuesday, July 24, Barrio will be hosting a special reception to honor our favorite smooth and zesty beverage. And no National Tequila Day would be complete without a freshly squeezed margarita!  Guests attending the reception will receive a Barrio house margarita of their choice.  Take a sip while sampling Chef Carlos Affron’s signature appetizers available during the event.

Not only is Barrio honoring tequila, but also contributing to a good cause.  A portion of the proceeds from the National Tequila Day reception will benefit the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence, the oldest and largest statewide organization in the U.S. working to prevent the devastation caused by firearms. $20 per person. Event includes one margarita, Oro Azul tequila tasting, and Barrio’s signature passed appetizers. Barrio Urban Taqueria - 714 W. Diversey Pkwy, Chicago, IL 60614 - 773.360.8316

Saturday, July 21 – Chef Tony Mantuano is inviting guests to walk a day in his shoes and experience three of his Michigan Avenue restaurants with the inaugural Tour di Tony! Guests start the day with Chef Mantuano at Terzo Piano for antipasti and some refreshing spreetzs, then take a trolley to Bar Toma for pizza and wine, and then end the day with a stroll up Michigan Ave. to Cafe Spiaggia for dessert. Cost is $150 per person, inclusive of food, beverage, transportation, tax and gratuity. To make a reservation, please contact Alexandra Barton at 312.280.2750. Tour di Tony begins at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, July 21 at Terzo Piano, 159 East Monroe Street, 3rd Floor.

Sunday, July 22 – Chefs Tony Mantuano and Chef Meg Colleran Sahs are hosting a Produce-palooza cooking demo and tasting at Terzo Piano. The class will give attendees tips on how to find the best produce at local farmers’ markets and then how to make those flavorful summer fruits and vegetables the star of any dish. In addition to tasting the dishes, recipes will be distributed and seasonal beverage pairings will also be served.  Cost is $65 per person, not including tax, please call 312.443.8650 to reserve. The class is from 3 p.m. – 5 p.m. on Sunday, July 22 at Terzo Piano, 159 East Monroe Street, 3rd Floor.

Barcito! - Amigos of Pintxo takes place every other Monday from 8 to 10 p.m. (with the exception of this coming Monday, June 11, which will begin at 9 p.m.). A portion of the sales from the series are donated to Common Threads - whose mission is to educate children on the importance of nutrition and physical well being, and to foster an appreciation of cultural diversity through cooking.

Chef Poli and Pintxo have confirmed the following lineup of Amigos through November:
• July 23- Merlin Verrier of Graham Elliot
• August 6- Jason Hammel of Lula Café and Nightwood
• August 20- Brian Huston of The Publican
• September 10- Andrew Brochu of Graham Elliot
• September 24- Dave Beran of Next Restaurant
• October 8 - Justin Large of Big Star
• October 22 - Matthias Merges of Yusho
• November 19 - Charlie McKenna of Lillie's Q

All are welcome to attend. Seating is available on a first-come-first serve basis.

Tavernita and Barcito are located in the heart of Chicago's River North neighborhood at 151 W. Erie St. Tavernita is open seven days a week. Lunch is available Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dinner is served Sunday through Tuesday from 5 to 11 p.m., Wednesday and Thursday from 5 p.m. to 12 a.m. and Friday and Saturday from 5 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. Late-night dining is available on Friday and Saturday until 2 a.m. Barcito is open Sunday and Monday from 4 p.m. to 12 a.m., Tuesday through Thursday from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. and Friday and Saturday from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m.

2 Sparrow, located in Lincoln Park 553 W. Diversey, is offering fans headed to Cubs games a complimentary house made doughnut by Chef Gregory Ellis! Guests just have to show their ticket and breakfast is served! 2 Sparrows serves a selection of delicious doughnuts such as maple bacon and strawberry chocolate.

Bistronomic - featuring Chef/Owner Martial Noguier's innovative interpretation of French bistro classics - will recognize Bastille Day, the national celebration of France, on Friday, July 13, Saturday, July 14, and Sunday, July 15, $39 Prix-Fixe Menu - Friday, July 13- Sunday, July 15 with a three-course menu for $39 per person (exclusive of tax and gratuity). Additionally, one of the desserts offered on the prix-fixe menu includes a Blue, White & Red Bistronomic Baked Alaska made with Blueberry Fruit Salad, Vanilla Bean Ice Cream and Nichols Farm Strawberry Coulis in honor of the colors of the French flag.

PL8 Simply Asian will celebrate a culinary tour of the Far East this summer with three events, each featuring a different Asian destination. Guests can experience summer food and wine with Far East flair without even leaving Chicago!

  • Journey to the South Pacific
    Thursday, August 9
    Guests visit the South Pacific Islands for a festive and dynamic celebration featuring Tiki-inspired libations such as Suffering Bastards, Mai-Tais, Zombies and the Tiki Puki Punch. PL8 will feature Polynesian theme appetizers including pu-pu platters filled with favorites such as BBQ Ribs, Rumaki, Crab Rangoon Chop Sticks, and other Polynesian specialties. Polynesian dancers will be performing to authentic island music.
  • Final Destination Singapore and the Philippine Islands
    Thursday, September 13
    PL8 will tantalize your taste buds with Singapore Slings, RumTinis and San Miguel Beers. Guests can sample an assortment of Malaysian and Philippine appetizers like Shanghai Lumpia, Kilaw Crisps, Curried Samosas and Ukoy. PL8 Chef Jose Galvan will demonstrate how to prepare a traditional dish at home using authentic ingredients and flavors.
    July 12, August 9 and September 13; 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
    $25 per person, all-inclusive for each event

PL8 Simply Asian - 736 West Northwest Highway, Barrington, IL 60010 - 847-382-1988

“Summer of ‘79”: From Memorial Day to Labor Day, Sullivan’s will feature a three-course menu for two for just $79. Guests can begin with one of Sullivan’s signature starters, including Chilled Asparagus Bisque with Jumbo Lump Crab & Chive Oil or their famous Iceberg Lettuce Wedge, then move on to a choice of Filet Mignon, Salmon Fillet, Roasted Chicken or Shrimp Francese paired with one of Sully’s signature house-made side dishes. Finish it off with a perennial dessert favorite such as Bananas Foster Bread Pudding, Key Lime Pie, Chocolate Mousse or New York-Style Cheesecake. Sullivan’s Steakhouse, 415 North Dearborn, Chicago (312) 527-3510

Weekend Saturday Brunch Spots
SUSHISAMBA rio: The Peruvian, Brazilian and Japanese River North hotspot is dishing up favorites like quinoa waffles, feijoada and lobster eggs benedict alongside brunch cocktails such as Bahia punch, rum lattes and sakegria, a sake take on sangria.

Lockwood: Located in the Palmer House Hilton, Lockwood serves a spectacular brunch with innovative takes on classics like a Benedict Oscar with poached eggs, sautéed spinach and fresh crab and Swedish breakfast of smoked salmon, lemon crepes and lingonberries and a wide variety of mimosa and Bloody Mary selections.

Mercadito: Guests can enjoy some spicy Mexican flair during the festive brunches all weekend at Mercadito. Choose from signature dishes like huevos ahogados served with crispy corn bread and chipotle hollandaise sauce or pancakes with manchego cheese, strawberries and cinnamon butter. Brunch sippers include cocktails like the Auntie Ox with green tea vodka, passion fruit, agave, orange and guajillo.

Estate: Get a hair of the dog with cocktails like the cereal milk martini and whiskey for breakfast while refueling over the lobster mac and cheese or buttermilk pancakes with blueberry-lavender maple syrup.

Markethouse: Chef Scott Walton dishes up fan favorites all weekend such as Biscuits and Beignets. What makes them unique are the flavor pairings: a roasted beet beignet with goat cheese and maple blis, a Meyer lemon ricotta beignet with salted butterscotch and honey crisp apples, and biscuits with a variety of gravy offerings such as foie gras and brisket “burnt ends” gravy.

Hash House A Go Go: Opening in late July, the twisted farm food restaurant will offer delicious dishes like sage fried chicken benedict, meatloaf has with roasted red peppers, fresh spinach and smoked mozzarella; and made-to-order Bloody Mary’s.

Picnic’s Yogi Bear would LOVE - HEY BooBoo
Steve's Deli delivers picnics just about anywhere Chicagoans gather in the summer
Just a few folks on your outing? Then everyone will need their own Sandwich Box. It comes with an overstuffed sandwich that can be selected off Steve’s carry out menu, a choice of potato salad, coleslaw or healthy coleslaw and a cookie or brownie…all for just $9.99.

  • Steve’s Trio Salad Picnic is great for groups of 5 or more and includes tuna salad, chicken salad, egg salad or egg white salad. Plus it comes with tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, onions and pickles. Yes, there is healthy coleslaw, Swiss and Muenster cheese and a choice of bagels, rye, onion or Kaiser rolls. And it’s only $9.99 per person.
  • Steve’s Cold Cut Picnic includes roast turkey breast, lean corned beef, rare roast beef and turkey pastrami. It also comes with Swiss and American cheese as well as a choice of potato salad, coleslaw or healthy coleslaw. Pickles, mustard, Russian dressing and rye bread make it complete. And this is a deal at $7.99 per person and is recommended for groups of 5 or more.
  • Looking for something light on those hot summer days? Steve’s Cheese and Fruit Picnic is the perfect choice. Seasonal fruit including cantaloupe, honeydew, pineapple, red and green grapes, strawberries, watermelon and berries are accompanied with an assortment of cheeses, Parmesan bagel thins, crackers and pita chips. A cool $5.99 per person.

It’s recommended that picnic orders be made 24 hours in advance but, if possible, Steve’s will do same day orders. Contact: Steve’s Deli - 354 West Hubbard, between Orleans and Kingsbury - 312-467-6868

For the Oenophile in Nearby Millennium Park
Wine Totes from BIN 36 / Adjacent to Hotel Sax: Available in BIN 36’s retail Market, custom-stocked wine backpacks come in two sizes: two bottle totes for $22 and three bottle totes for $40. Each tote includes a wine key, two wine glasses, and a personalized selection of cheeses, snacks, and other picnic-perfect accompaniments hand-curated by the BIN 36 cheese experts. Also available for purchase at BIN 36 are ‘Picnic Stix,’ a $14 set of three wire stakes that can be easily planted into the ground to hold up wine glasses and bottles. (339 N. Dearborn St.; 312.755.9463)

For the Campesino in Nearby Grant Park
Spanish Demo and Picnic from Mercat a la Planxa / Adjacent to Blackstone Hotel: Chef de Cuisine Cory Morris will demo how to put a Spanish twist on traditional picnic favorites. Following each demo, the chef will pack picnic lunches for guests to enjoy, such as bocadillos like the El Ravel with Ortiz Tuna and Celery Caper Aioli as well as the La Baceloneta with North Country Bacon, Egg & Cheddar. Priced at $25 per guest, the demo and picnic are offered on the following Saturdays at 12 pm: Saturday, June 30; Saturday, July 14; Saturday, August 11; Saturday, August 25. (638 S. Michigan Ave., 312.765.0524)

For the Indecisive in Nearby Daley Plaza
‘PICKnic’ from Lobby Lounge at JW Marriott Chicago: Executive Chef Michael Reich of the landmark, luxury hotel has created a menu for hotel guests and Chicago locals alike. Priced at $30 for two people, guests can select three items from the “PICKnic” menu of locally-sourced, portable dishes and receive a JW Marriott Chicago branded picnic tote. Half bottles of Apaltagua Chardonnay or Pinot Noir can be added for an additional $14. Picnic regulars are invited to bring back their picnic tote and restock throughout the summer months for only $20, which represents over 30% savings. The ‘“PICKnic” menu will be available now until Labor Day. (151 W. Adams St., 312 660 8200)

For the Sausage King in Nearby Milton Olive Park
House made Sausages from Markethouse Restaurant / Adjacent to DoubleTree Magnificent Mile: Executive Chef Scott Walton will pack up a selection of house made specialty sausages (seafood, lamb merguez, veal and pork bratwurst, hot or sweet Italian pork, spiced apple chicken sausage), rolls, house made mustards (violet, apple cider or tarragon), and salads (Markethouse Chopped and Markethouse Garden Tomato, Cucumber and Basil). Priced at $12 per person, Markethouse will offer these picnics throughout the month of July in honor of National Picnic Month.
(611 N. Fairbanks Ct., 312.224.2200)

For the Foodie With Everything in Nearby Lakeshore East Park
Luxury Package from Filini Bar & Restaurant / Adjacent to Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel, Chicago: This July, the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel will unveil a new luxury picnic package, featuring a lavish keepsake “basket” filled with an impressive presentation of the crème de la crème of canapés and caviar. Designed to make a romantic al fresco meal even more memorable, each dish will showcase the contemporary Italian flair of Filini’s Executive Chef Christian Fantoni. Price and additional details available upon request.
(221 N. Columbus Dr., 312.477.0234)

Joe Campagna is the Chicago Food Snob. A former restaurant General Manager, Server and Chef you can find him on twitter @chifoodsnob. You can reach him through email at Joe also contributes to Chicago and

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