Street Smart Chicago

Prom Date? Highly Anticipated Food, Drink and Music Venue The Promontory Marks the Calendar

Food & Drink, Hyde Park No Comments »

DSCF0496The seemingly endless construction on 53rd Street is finally showing signs of completion and, before the year is out, Bruce Finkelman and Craig Golden, who between them are partners in some of the city’s most acclaimed venues, from Finkelman’s Longman & Eagle and The Empty Bottle to Golden’s Evanston SPACE, will have the doors to their newest project open. A two-story restaurant, bar and music venue combo in the works for almost two years, The Promontory will introduce more than a little North Side flair to Hyde Park.

Come December, patrons will be able to enjoy a modern hearth-style menu coupled with an artisanal drink selection, all the while having immediate access to a stage that will host a combination of local musicians and the indie/alternative tenor one expects to hear at The Empty Bottle. “I have a feeling it will be an honest reflection of the things we like to do,” says Finkelman. “Both from a musical and resto standpoint.” Read the rest of this entry »

Checkerboard City: The Izakaya Express

Checkerboard City, Food & Drink, Green, Transit 3 Comments »
Ned Abdallah, Jaclyn Thomson and Tony Koneko at Yoshino / Photo: John Greenfield

Ned Abdallah, Jaclyn Thomson and Tony Koneko at Yoshino/Photo: John Greenfield

By John Greenfield

Sometimes transportation and food intersect in curious ways. On July 3, I received an odd phone call from Mako Koneko, co-owner of Torishin, my favorite izakaya (Japanese pub-eatery) in Mount Prospect. This northwest suburb, along with Arlington Heights and Elk Grove Village, is home to the region’s largest Japanese expat community. The tavern was a popular place for salarymen to hang out after work over drinks and delectable bar snacks, expertly prepared by her husband Toshiro “Tony” Koneko, a native of Niigata prefecture who’d worked there for decades.

Mako told me that Torishin recently folded after Tony moved to Rochelle, a small factory town in north-central Illinois, to cook at a new restaurant catering to Japanese employees at the Nippon Sharyo railcar plant. This news greatly disappointed me but, on the bright side, she invited me to an opening party the next day for the first Midwest branch of Ramen Misoya, a Japan-based soup chain, which was launching in the former izakaya space. I’m a huge fan of quality ramen, so it was a consolation that a noodle shop was replacing the beloved pub.

With no pressing Fourth of July plans and lured by the promise of free chow, I bicycled seventeen miles from Logan Square to the open house. You can view my route at tinyurl.com/RamenRide. When I arrived, there was a line out the door and almost everyone was speaking Japanese. Mako declined to discuss the details of Torishin’s demise, but she translated while I interviewed Yu Furukawa, the North and Latin America manager for the soup chain, which has fifty branches worldwide. Read the rest of this entry »

Cycle of Regeneration: A bicycle store dies, a bike shop café is born

Bicycling, Food & Drink, Humboldt Park, Lakeview, Transit, Wicker Park No Comments »

Michael Salvatore outside soon-to-open Heritage Bicycles/Photo: John Greenfield

By John Greenfield

Chicago just lost one of its coolest bike shops, but we’re gaining one that may be even cooler. Last week Dutch Bike Co. abruptly closed its Chicago location, only three months after relocating from Lincoln Park to Wicker Park. Founded in Seattle, the company opened its only satellite store three years ago at 651 West Armitage in a gallery-like storefront. They offered beautiful, practical European-style city bikes by brands like WorkCycles and Linus, most costing over $1,000.

This summer the shop moved to 2010 West Pierce, around the corner from Penny’s Noodles, in search of lower rent and higher foot traffic, says owner Dave Schmidt, speaking from Seattle. But even in bike-crazy Wicker Park, sales were not what he’d hoped for. It probably didn’t help matters that Wicker Park mainstay Rapid Transit Cycleshop, 1900 West North, and Copenhagen Cyclery, another Euro-style store at 1375 North Milwaukee, were only a stone’s throw away. Read the rest of this entry »

Big Bang: Newcity’s Guide to New Years Eve 2009

Events, Food & Drink, Holidays, News etc. No Comments »

BARS, NIGHTCLUBS, HOTELS AND MOREist2_4331566-champagne-toast

Aberdeen
Listen to DJ Arkitek spin as you take advantage of a premium open bar and appetizers. There’ll be a chance to win prizes and a champagne toast, too. 1856 W. North, (773)772-5500.

Alhambra Palace
This two-floor, five-room spot is hosting an extravagant party from 9pm-1am with entertainment provided by DJs Shawn Edwards, Tony Tone, Ryan Pollano and others. For $75-$100, guests can get their drink on for four hours with a top-shelf open bar and fill up on an appetizer buffet. Additional information can be found at thepalace4nye.com. 1240 W. Randolph, (312)666-9555.

Angels & Kings
The DJ duo The Fabulous Ladies of Fitness will make an appearance alongside additional guest DJs as guests enjoy snacks, a dessert bar, a champagne toast and a souvenir champagne glass. 710 N. Clark, (312)482-8600.

Angels and Mariachis
Tables range from $50-$100 and the party package (10pm-1am) includes an all-you-can-eat taco bar, sangria, beer, margaritas, cocktails and a midnight champagne toast. Bottle service is also available for $50-$300. 1721 W. Division, (773)227-7772. Read the rest of this entry »

Fall Forward 2009

Events, Food & Drink, Lit, Museums, News etc., Politics, Running No Comments »

Newcitycover1We like the way culture upends the universe’s metaphors. Mother Nature might be in the autumn of her year, but the arts are alive with the spirit of new birth.

Labor Day ushers out what meteorologists like to call meteorological summer, making schoolkids go back to school, closing beaches far too soon, and forcing outdoor festivals to sound their last notes, but it gushes in a deluge of culture too magnificent for even the most ardent of arts lovers to fully appreciate. The full richness of our city comes alive in the fall, even when the Bears don’t have a messiah behind center. Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology

Food & Drink, Free Will Astrology No Comments »

By Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): While reading a crime report in the online version of Northern California’s Arcata Eye newspaper, I came across this entry: “A dreadlocked man attacked a lamp post on the Plaza with his mighty fists, punching it while yelling and, in the memorable description of a witness, ‘fighting amongst himself.'” I immediately thought of you, Aries. According to my analysis of the omens, you’ve been fighting amongst yourself with—how shall I say this?—crafty ferocity. I’d be ecstatic if I could convince you to call a truce, begin peace talks and maybe even begin practicing some crafty tenderness toward yourself. Read the rest of this entry »

Newcity Resto launches with Resto 100

Food & Drink No Comments »

We’ve just launched Newcity Resto (resto.newcity.com) to coincide with the publication of Resto 100: Chicago’s Essential Restaurants, and all future content related to the subject of eating will be posted there. An exploration of Chicago’s dining and food culture, we’ll hope it will whet your appetite in more ways than one.

411: Organic Survival

Food & Drink, News etc. No Comments »

Despite last week’s closing of Greg Christian’s Catering, his Organic School Project is here to stay. The OSP provides Chicago Public Schools students with healthy, organic alternatives to typical lunchroom fair and was the subject of a Newcity cover story in 2007. “We aspire to inspire children, to excite them to make better food choices,” says OSP Executive Director DiAnne Richardson. In addition to providing students with nutritious lunch options, the program also incorporates the “Grow. Teach. Feed.” model, which allows children to participate in healthy lifestyle workshops and grow a garden at school. “For young people to understand the whole growing process and make better food choices will lead to a sustainable, healthier lifestyle,” Richardson says. OSP is currently operating at Alcott Elementary, Lowell Elementary and Reavis Elementary, where it is running a garden project. The OSP has also expanded to creating community gardens, the first being at the Garfield Park Conservatory. According to Richardson, they are open to reaching out to other schools and communities throughout Chicagoland: “We are always looking to expand and bring healthy food to our young people.”

The Fearless Mr. Foss: Unlocking the man at Lockwood

Food & Drink, News etc. 1 Comment »

By Michael Nagrantcover

Do you like pinball?

What do you mean?

You know, do you play it? Do you find it fun?

A minute or so passed without an answer from one of Chicago’s mega-celebrity chefs, as he faced a local food reporter while they stood near a pinball machine. The chef was usually so prepared that he’d given the same answers to many questions for almost twenty years with almost no variation in delivery or syllable. His ability to stay on message made even the disciplined Barack Obama look more like the drunken political godchild of Gerald Ford and Sarah Palin.

But that’s when the chef expected to be interviewed. The reporter had not given the chef a heads up that he’d stop by this particular photo shoot. And when he did, the chef was so befuddled he couldn’t even answer a simple question about an arcade game without calculating what the answer might say about him.

Sure, chefs are the new rock stars, but rarely have they acted like them. I chose to write about chefs and restaurants in no small part because I had no interest in profiling celebrities so doped up on fame that their paranoia and control made Kim Jong Il look asleep at the wheel. Read the rest of this entry »

Crawling to the South Side: The calm before the St. Paddy’s Day storm

Beverly, Events, Food & Drink, Lincoln Park No Comments »
Photo: Elise Jesnig

Photo: Elise Jesnig

Keegan’s Pub on 106th and Western is surprisingly calm the day before the 31st Annual South Side Irish Parade. Four regulars are interspersed around the U-shaped bar, drinking a pint and talking amongst themselves while the bartender wipes down the counter and flips through the channels to see if there is anything good on TV. It’s almost a little too relaxed considering that in less than twenty-four hours, more than 300,000 will come into Beverly by the busload and the bar will swell up to its 133-person capacity.

“We just wait for the storm to come,” says the bar’s manager Mary McDermott. “The whole week before, it’s the calm before the storm.” Read the rest of this entry »