Just Announced: Locavore Green City Market Menu for September 22

Join Chicago French Market September 22 for an all local family style dinner to celebrate the Locavore Challenge and share recipes and stories with other supporters. The event takes place 5:30pm-7:30pm, Wednesday, September 22, 2010 at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum in Lincoln Park. Tickets are just $25 and can be purchased at the Market, or online here.

Herb Crusted Lamb with Natural Juices

Whole Roasted Herb Chicken with
Caramelized Apple and Onion Compote

Three Sisters Herb Pasta with Spinach

Pickled Genesis Cucumbers and Radishes
over Green Acres Asian Mesclun Greens with Mint

Yogurt Dressing

Grilled Corn with Basil Butter

Delicata Squash Tart

Cauliflower and Hard Cooked Egg Salad

Market Bread and Whipped Butter with Chives

Poached Plum Galette with Limelight Honey Whipped Cream

Decaf Coffee, Hot Tea, Mint Iced Tea

Everyone will also have the opportunity to participate in an interactive community discussion based on their Locavore experience!  Help The group frame this discussion by filling out our Locavore Discussion Survey – just 6 simple questions!

Growing Organic Vegetables in Your Own Backyard with Jeanne Pinsof Nolan, Green City Market’s Project Manager of The Edible Gardens, and founder of The Organic Gardener, Ltd.

Are you interested in the satisfaction of growing your own food? Come learn the basic principals of organic gardening with Jeanne Pinsof Nolan.  If you are a novice, this discussion will provide a start at giving yourself and your kids the very real and rewarding experience of growing your own food. For the more experienced gardener, get advice on organic gardening techniques and soil improvement. She’ll talk about what to grow, when to plant, proper garden maintenance and more.

Posted in Dinewise Chicago, Green City Market, Kurman Communications, Lee Barrie, Lincoln Park, Locavore, Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, Streetwise | Comments Off on Just Announced: Locavore Green City Market Menu for September 22

The StreetWise Guide to Passionate Chicago Barbecue

Barbecued ribs are one of those subjective things. If you’re asked who makes your favorite ribs, you’ll probably have a quick answer and, no matter what your choice, there is no wrong answer, only what you like.

So, rather than give you our opinion about who makes the best ribs, we’d like to share with you some of barbecue makers that take their barbecue personally. They are passionate about what they’re doing and so they make the extra effort to create something authentic and special to enjoy.
Sweet Baby Ray’s
800 E. Higgins Road, Elk Grove; (847) 437-9555; www.sbrbbq.com
Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Mon.-Tues.; 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Wed.-Fri.; 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m., Sat.; 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m., Sun.
249 E. Irving Park Road, Wood Dale; (630) 238-8261
Hours: 11 a.m.-8 p.m., Mon.-Thurs.; 11 a.m.- 9 p.m., Fri.-Sat.; www.sbrbbq.com
Everyone has heard of the barbecue sauce (it was born in Chicago), but many people still don’t know that there are two Sweet Baby Ray’s restaurants in the Chicago area. The team at SBR’s includes the original Sweet Baby Ray (Dave Raymond), executive chef Paul Papadopoulos (Elk Grove Village) who earned his culinary stripes at Heaven on Seven, and Dave’s nephew Duce (Wood Dale location), who is also a trained chef and equally enthusiastic about the barbecue. Dave himself is a diehard fanatic with what would be the equivalent of a PhD in BBQ. He’s done his research.
These guys are experts at a variety of regional barbecue styles and often present specials to showcase authentic offerings that emanate from Kansas City, the Carolinas, St. Louis, Texas and other regions. Dave is passionate about educating Chicagoans about the Chicago style of barbecue, which centers on baby back ribs.
Smokin’ Woody’s
4160 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago; (773) 880-1100; www.originalsmokinwoodys.com
Hours: 11 a.m.- 9 p.m., Mon., Wed.-Thurs.; 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Fri.-Sat., noon-9 p.m., Sun.; closed on Tuesdays
This neighborhood joint, located where the North Center and Lincoln Square areas meet, has been serving up superb dry rub smokehouse baby back ribs to a cadre of fans for several years. The aroma is smoky and pungent and the staff is helpful. We like Woody’s dry rub version so well that we ask for the barbecue sauce on the side and then use just a touch, preferring them unaltered. The place isn’t big, although the outdoor back patio is fun, and so we often get our ribs to go and take them home for a casual feast. Smokin Woody’s takes cash only, no credit cards.

3800 N. Pulaski, Chicago; (773) 545-7427; www.smoquebbq.com
Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Tues.-Thurs.; 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Fri.-Sat.; 11 a.m. – 9 p.m., Sun.; closed on Mondays
This Northwest Side eatery has been slammed daily ever since it opened in 2007. The team is quite passionate about the product and they prepare the smoked ribs, brisket and chicken with tender loving care. We particularly like the brisket and chicken, which, thankfully, aren’t drenched in an oversupply of sauce. The sauces, which come on the side, are very good but you’re better off using the amount you prefer. Smoque also makes great hand cut French fries and the corn bread is better than most. If you’re a White Sox fan, we understand there is now a Smoque kiosk at US Cellular Field.
Smoke Daddy
1804 W. Division, Chicago; (773) 772-6656; www.thesmokedaddy.com
Hours: 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m., Sun.-Thurs; 11:30 a.m.-midnight, Fri.-Sat.
This hot food and music joint has been a Wicker Park staple for years, but it was when the Dunlay Group took over the place a few years ago that it really began to shine. The food is hearty and the atmosphere is as homespun as one can hope for, with an intriguing cast of regulars. We like the barbecued baby back ribs the best, although the spare ribs, rib tips and barbecue beef sandwiches have no trouble holding their own. The fries are decadent, too. There are many raves for the burgers, if you’re in the mood. There is live music every night.
Yes, we’re talking about the retail store. One day we purchased the Curly’s pre-cooked barbecue short ribs that come in a 48-oz. pound package. We heated them up according to the directions, and we were truly surprised at how good they were, competitive with the ribs at any of the good barbecue joints. Since then, when we go to Costco, we make a point to pick up 4 or 5 packages and drop them in the freezer. To defrost them quickly we put them in the microwave—20 minutes on the defrost cycle and they’re good to go. Then we scrape off some of the excess sauce, put them in the oven for 30-40 minutes (or on the grill for about 10 minutes to finish them off), and the meat just melts off the bone. Yum. Really. Something to be passionate about.
Cindy Kurman Barrie and Lee Barrie are the principals of Kurman Communications, Inc., a Chicago-based marketing and public relations agency. Please visit their blog at www.gotbuzzatkurman.com and check out all DineWise articles at www.dinewisechicago.blogspot.com.
Posted in Best BBQ in Chicago, Chicago Barbecue, Chicago Labor Day, Costco, Kurman Communications, Lee Barrie, Smoke Daddy, Smokin' Woody's, Smoque, Sweet Baby Ray's | Comments Off on The StreetWise Guide to Passionate Chicago Barbecue

Reza’s healthful and tasty Mediterranean fare hits the mark for quality and variety

Reza’s Restaurant
432 W. Ontario, Chicago,
(312) 664-4500
5255 N. Clark, Chicago,
(773) 561-1898
40 N. Tower Rd., Oak Brook,
(630) 424-9900

Hours: 11 a.m.-midnight, seven days a week
Prices: dinnertime entrées: $14.95-$21.95; family style, $24.95-$29.95 per person

We were enjoying our delicious Mediterranean dinner at Reza’s so much the other day that we almost forgot to acknowledge we were also eating quite healthfully. Smart eating is easy when you go for Mediterranean fare. The cuisine is, by design, relatively low-fat but high in good nutrition. Reza’s offers the kind of dining experience that lends itself to regular enjoyment. It’s not expensive, there are leftovers to bring home and, if you’ve been at all conscious of your portion size, you won’t feel bloated or tired afterward. You can also enjoy a generous lunch buffet on weekdays.

These facts are, of course, nothing new to Reza’s large cadre of regular customers. With three locations, Reza’s is an accessible and attractive neighborhood spot in which to enjoy a wide-ranging menu that features many vegetarian dishes in addition to the lamb, beef, poultry and seafood.

Reza’s mission is not grandiose, and they don’t offer cutting edge interpretations of Mediterranean fare. Rather, the restaurants focus on quality and freshness, offering well-prepared renditions of traditional items that are pleasing to a diverse range of diners. Those who enjoy ethnic food adventure as well as those who prefer to stay with the basics will find much to enjoy here. The emphasis on healthy eating is stated on the menu: no artificial ingredients, additives or MSG are used.

The lunch and dinner menus are similar although there are more dinnertime choices, including family style dining. The salads are straightforward; nothing fancy. The signature salad is the Fattoush, with Romaine lettuce, scallion, cucumber, parsley, green pepper, radish, mint, toasted pita mixed with olive oil and freshly squeezed lemon juice.

The meal gets more interesting with the appetizers. Signature starters include Herbed Roasted Feta Cheese, topped with roasted red pepper, black olives and tomatoes, finished with olive oil; Dolmeh Felfel, a sweet green pepper, stuffed with choice of spinach or mushrooms, with cheese, in a delicately spiced Persian tomato sauce, then baked; Vegetarian Shami, patties of minced green vegetables, coated with chickpeas and delicately sautéed, served in a sweet and sour pomegranate sauce with finely crushed walnuts, and Kashkeh Bodemjan, a medley of eggplant, curds and whey, flavored with garlic and mint, served with pita bread. The Grilled Mushrooms and Grilled Potatoes are appetizers that also work well as side dishes.

Reza’s offers a selection of five lunchtime vegetarian combos; At dinnertime, the vegetarian combos are similar, but there are some additional choices. All are served with fresh Persian bread, soup and a choice of dill or white rice (choose the dill), couscous, grilled potatoes or Persian salad. Veggie combo I features Hummus, Tabbouli, and Baba Ghannouj. Combo II offers Vegetarian Dolmeh, Vegetarian Shami and Kashkeh Bodemjan; Combo III includes Cous-Cous, Reza’s vegetarian appetizer and steamed string beans; Combo IV features eggplant steak, hummus and couscous. Combo V presents Stuffed Green Pepper with spinach or mushroom stuffing, Reza’s vegetarian appetizer and falafel.

If you’re in the mood for a wrap, choose for the kabob-based Koubideh (seasoned minced beef), Chicken Koubideh, Chicken Breast, Seasoned Ground Chicken, Lamb or Filet Mignon. If you’d prefer a vegetarian wrap, you can order Falafel, Portabella or Eggplant.

Moving on to entrées, fish and seafood lovers have many choices; all dishes are served with the same accoutrements as the veggie combos. Choices include Broiled Filet of Salmon, Broiled Lake Superior White Fish, White Fish Persian style (breaded and sautéed in olive oil), and Shrimp or Scallops (either choice is garlic marinated). A special dinnertime-only entrée is the Chilean Sea Bass Kabob (charbroiled seasoned chunks of Sea Bass).

If you’re in a mood for meats or poultry, you will easily find something to fit the mood. Choices include Filet Mignon (charbroiled with grilled mushrooms in a mushroom sauce), Lamb Chops (two double-cut broiled baby spring lamb chops) or Lamb Loin Chops (three broiled loin chops), and Koubideh (seasoned minced beef kabob). The Lamb Shank is simmered in home made tomato-based sauce. Two interesting dinnertime-only entrees are the Fessenjan, boneless chicken breast simmered in a sweet and sour pomegranate sauce, and the Ghamieh Bodemjan, beef and yellow split peas simmered in a tomato sauce.

Kabobs arrive right from the broiler. Choose the Lamb Kabob (charbroiled lamb loin on a skewer, served with grilled vegetables), the Chengeh (Filet Mignon shish kabob) served with a grilled tomato, Boneless Chicken (marinated boneless chicken breast, charbroiled with grilled vegetables, the Chicken Koubideh (charbroiled seasoned ground chicken kabob with Persian seasonings) or the Quail Kabob (marinated and charbroiled, served with grilled getables).

The family-style dinners are offered as five-course feasts, offered on a per-person pricing. Choose from three appetizers and three entrees. These are also excellent for carry-out.

In addition to the tasty Baklava and Bamieh, there are American-style desserts such as rich Double Chocolate Cake, White Chocolate Mousse Cake, Carrot Cake and Raspberry Cheese Cake. Don’t forget to enjoy the aromatic Persian coffee or tea.

Cindy Kurman Barrie and Lee Barrie are the principals of Kurman Communications, Inc., a Chicago-based marketing and public relations agency. For more information, please call (312) 651-9000 or stay in the know by visiting their blog at www.gotbuzzatkurman.com. For more DineWise features, subscribe to http://dinewisechicago.blogspot.com and follow us on Twitter @dinewise.

Posted in Chicago restaurants, Dinewise Chicago, Kurman Communications, Lee Barrie, Mediterranean food in Chicago, Resa's, Restaurant News, Streetwise | Comments Off on Reza’s healthful and tasty Mediterranean fare hits the mark for quality and variety

Bon Appetit and Chicago Gourmet Dine Around

The Bon Appétit and Chicago Gourmet Dine Around extends the event beyond Millennium Park into some of the city’s best restaurants.  Special prix-fixe menus will be available at participating restaurants offering guests not only a unique dining experience but a chance to earn a free ticket to Chicago Gourmet.  Guests who purchase five meals during the Dine Around period, Monday, August 30 through Sunday, September 26, at any participating restaurant must attach a copy of their receipt to their receipt holder in order to redeem a complimentary ticket to Chicago Gourmet.  Receipts must be presented at registration the day of the event in order to redeem your one-day pass.    

2010 Dine Around restaurants:

Balsan at the Elysian Hotel
Bittersweet Pastry Shop & Cafe
Boka Restaurant
Branch 27
Café des Architectes at Sofitel Chicago Water Tower
cibo matto
Courtright’s Restaurant
Firefly Grill
Green Zebra
Harry Caray’s Italian Steakhouse
Hugo’s Frog Bar & Fish House, Chicago
Hugo’s Frog Bar & Fish House, Naperville
Keefer’s Restaurant
Lao Beijing
LM Restaurant
May St. Café & Catering
Mercat a la Planxa
Morton’s The Steakhouse
N9NE Steakhouse
Oceanique Restaurant
Old Town Social
one sixtyblue
Park Grill 
Perennial Restaurant
Phil Stefani’s 437 Rush
Piccolo Sogno
Prairie Fire
RIVA at Navy Pier
Rockit Bar & Grill
Seasons, Four Seasons Hotel Chicago
Spring Restaurant
Sunda New Asian
Tavern at the Park
Tavern on Rush
The Bristol
The Dining Room at Kendall College
The Gage
The Metropolitan Club
The Parrot Cage Restaurant
The Signature Room at the 95th

The list of Dine Around restaurants continues to grow. Check here for more information

Posted in best Chicago restaurants, Bon Appetit, Chicago Gourmet 2010, Chicagourmet, Dinewise, Dinewise Chicago, Kurman Communications, Lee Barrie, Streetwise | Comments Off on Bon Appetit and Chicago Gourmet Dine Around

Amelia’s Mestizo Grill is an oasis of culinary treasure in the historic Stockyards neighborhood

Amelia’s Mestizo Grill
4559 S. Halsted, Chicago
(773) 538-8200; www.ameliaschicago.com

Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Mon.-Fri.; 10 a.m.-10 p.m., Sat.; 10 a.m.-9 p.m., Sun.
Prices: entrées, $17-$24

Driving south on Halsted to the historic Stockyards area, we were not expecting the warm, sophisticated and gracious atmosphere that greeted us; it’s a tribute to owners Leo and Eusevio Garcia that they have created such a comforting respite in a relatively industrial, stark neighborhood. Through word of mouth, Amelia’s Mestizo Grill has become a beloved destination restaurant for many Chicagoans, and the Garcias have clearly put much heart and soul into it. They are passionate about their food and their desire to please their guests. The beautiful exposed brick walls are generously decorated with Mexican art, the seating is very comfortable and the service is thoughtful and considerate.

Amelia’s Mestizo Grill presents a sophisticated blend of southern central Mexican and European cuisine, much like the food one would enjoy in cosmopolitan Mexico City. They are using authentic, fresh ingredients and have refined the food with subtle seasonings and flavor combination’s that make the dining experience memorable. In keeping with the beautiful décor, the food is handsomely presented as well.

We chose some popular dishes as well as some we couldn’t resist because they sounded so good. The menu is extensive. We were pleasantly surprised by the quality of everything.

To start your meal, there is a more than ample choice of appetizers, salads and soups, with more than enough variety to please everyone and great for sharing. We loved the Taquitos de Cangrejo, which were more like spring rolls: crabmeat rolled in rice paper, with papaya, cilantro, basil, fresh mint, peanuts and spicy mango. Three other great starters were the Tamal Nejo (ash layered tamal with spicy black bean puree and red mole sauce and sheared chicken), the Croquetas Fritas (artichoke corn fritters, squash blossoms, epazote and salsa cruda), and the Quesadilla de Huitlacoche (corn truffle, Chihuahua cheese, epazote, roasted corn and black bean salad with tomato salad). The guacamole had a nice touch of heat to liven things up. Some other choices to whet your appetite include the Eggplant Empanada (roasted eggplant, caviar, sun dried tomato, baby arugula salad, goat cheese and basil pesto), and the popular Queso Fundido and Ceviche.

Entrées were equally delicious. We were thrilled with an entrée special, crispy Peking Duck topped with a subtle, spicy Mexican sauce. Another clear winner was the Lomo de Puerco (grilled pork tenderloin with fava beans, andouille sausage, baby spinach in a spicy ciruela sauce) which was well balanced and perfectly prepared, although we recommend getting it medium rare rather than medium.

On the seafood side, we also loved the Camarones Ala Pipiana (sautéed shrimp served in green mole with plaintains). Other great sounding entrée selections include Cordero Al Carbon (grilled baby lamb chops, polenta cake, roasted tomatoes, asparagus salad in a chipotle pasilla reduction), Raviolis de Queso de Cabra (goat cheese stuffed ravioli, stir fry, eggplant, green peas, cherry tomatoes and basil pesto), and Pescado Empapelado (tilapia wrapped in foil, steamed with nopales, chorizo and epazote, served with rice and grilled banana).

The dessert menu is also quite intriguing. We loved the chocolate infused tres leches cake with coconut ice cream, which was beautifully presented.

Keep in mind that weekend brunch is also very extensive, offering some of the same starters and entrees as on the dinner menu, as well as some delicious brunch specials. Special brunch egg dishes include Heuvos Al jardin (two poached eggs, grilled Portobello mushrooms, Mexican zucchini and red pepper hollandaise sauce), San Pedro Omelet (crab meat, roasted corn, quelites and muenster cheese), Halsted Omelet (avocado, pico de gallo, spinach and feta cheese) and the Frittata, an egg white soufflé with artichoke hearts, spinach, cherry tomatoes and pesto.

Cindy Kurman Barrie and Lee Barrie are the principals of Kurman Communications, Inc., a Chicago-based marketing and public relations agency. Please visit their blog at www.gotbuzzatkurman.com and check out all DineWise articles at www.dinewisechicago.blogspot.com. Follow us on Twitter @Dinewise.

Posted in Amelia's Mestizo Grill, best Chicago restaurants, best mexican restaurants in Chicago, Dinewise, Lee Barrie, Stockyards restaurants, Streetwise | Comments Off on Amelia’s Mestizo Grill is an oasis of culinary treasure in the historic Stockyards neighborhood

Gourmet Brain Freeze: Chicago’s Best Ice Cream Shops

By Lee Barrie and Cindy Kurman
First published in StreetWise Magazine

As we write this, we’re gearing up to attend the second annual Chicago Luxury Ice Cream Festival at the Peggy Notebaert  Nature Center in Lincoln Park, July 30-31. By the time you read this, the festival, the brainchild of our friend Jeff Reid, will have become history, but an even bigger annual foodie event. This leads us to consider our topic of the week: artisan ice cream.

Almost everyone who likes dairy loves ice cream or a suitable variation like frozen yogurt, frozen custard, and gelato. Whether you’re a purest and prefer your ice cream plain or an adventurer who will try any and all types of flavors, mix-ins and toppings, Chicago offers up many great places to try an ice cream creation that refreshingly rises above the typical supermarket ice cream experience.

Here are some fun places to try when it’s hot out and you’re looking for a relatively inexpensive fix of frozen delight.

The Chocolate Shoppe
5337 W. Devon Ave., Chicago           1823 Waukegan Rd, Glenview, IL
773-763-9778                                       (847) 998-0809

We stumbled upon the Glenview location when it first opened last year, taking over a former Baskin Robbins space. What a difference! They feature more than 40 flavors, with a very helpful, enthusiastic staff. Their Zanzibar Chocolate, a dark chocolate scoop of guilty pleasure, is the best chocolate ice cream we’ve ever had. Our advice: go there and get two flavors, one being the Zanzibar and the other a suitable, but lighter accompaniment. There is nothing better.

Black Dog Gelato
859 N. Damen Ave., Chicago
773-235-3116; www.blackdoggelato.com

Using fresh, locally produced ingredients, this gelato and sorbet shop offers traditional flavors such as vanilla bean, milk chocolate and pistachio, or more adventurous choices such as salted peanut, goat-cheese cashew caramel and roasted red pepper.

Gertie’s Ice Cream
7600 S. Pulaski Rd., Chicago
(773) 582-2510

If you’re nostalgic for an old-time ‘50’s era ice cream parlor, Gertie’s is the real deal. They make their own ice cream and their signature dish is an old fashioned banana split, with three scoops of ice cream, strawberries, pineapple, chocolate syrup, whipped cream, chopped nuts and a cherry. Sometimes classics withstand the test of time for good reason.

Homer’s Homemade Gourmet Ice Cream
1237 Green Bay Rd., Wilmette, IL

We know you’ve heard of it, but now is as good as any time to actually give it a try. Homer’s is family owned, award-winning, offering 35 flavors of premium frozen joy. Rave reviews for the Fresh Peach ice cream, and many say that the simpler flavors are so good that they are worth ordering over the more complex flavors. Either way, you’ll get your fix of pure pleasure. Don’t forget the shakes and malts, either.

2951 N. Broadway
Chicago, IL 60657
(773) 880-7372; www.bobtailicecream.com

Bobtails is another delightful retro journey back to the days of yesteryear’s soda jerks. The ice cream is made on-site; you can even view the factory while you’re there. Choose from about 20 original flavors, including the “signature sunset”, which is a merlot ice cream with dark chocolate chips. It’s also a great place to try a special ice cream creation such as a sundae.

Artisan Micro-Creameries for your Ice Cream Radar Antennae
We’re the first to admit that it would take page after page to describe all of the wonderful ice creams available in Chicagoland. So here’s a shortcut: peruse the following list of micro-creameries and then keep your eyes open for a restaurant or ice cream shop that carries these brands. You’ll enjoy some of the finest ice cream made in the Chicago area, some with offbeat flavors and unusual ingredients. Then enjoy the brain freeze:

Blue Marble Dairy of Chicago
Sibby’s Ice Cream
Trader’s Point Creamery
Nice Cream
Ruth & Phil’s Gourmet Ice Cream
Mayfell Farms (sheep’s milk ice cream)

Cindy Kurman Barrie and Lee Barrie are the principals of Kurman Communications, Inc., a Chicago-based marketing and public relations agency. Please visit their blog at www.gotbuzzatkurman.com and check out all DineWise articles at www.dinewisechicago.blogspot.com. Follow us on Twitter @Dinewise.

Posted in Black Dog Gelato, Bobtails, Chicago Luxury Ice Cream Festival, Chicago's best ice cream, Dinewise, Gertie's Ice Cream, Homer's Ice Cream, Kurman Communications, Lee Barrie, Streetwise | Comments Off on Gourmet Brain Freeze: Chicago’s Best Ice Cream Shops

Crepes worth seeking out in Chicago

Lutz Cafe and Pastry Shop
2458 W. Montrose Ave., Chicago
Tel: (773) 478-7785
11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday – Saturday

You have to love and respect a neighborhood restaurant that’s been around for 62 years. Such is the case with popular Lutz Cafe and Pastry Shop. This internationally inspired cafe opened in 1948 as a pastry shop influenced by the Black Forest region of Germany. Lutz is a Chicago tradition. Just mentioning the name elicits stories and memories from childhoods passed. While the pastry shop is a destination for fabulous pastries, cakes and tortes. A menu staple includes Chicken & Mushroom Crepes ($8.95) and Spinach Crepes ($8.95) both finished with hollandaise sauce. Always delicious and worth coming back for return visits. The lovely outside garden in back is one of Chicago‘s most charming.

Crepes A Latte
1840 W. Irving Park Rd., Chicago
Tel: (773) 549-4444
We were pleasantly surprised at Crepes A Latte with blue “clouds” suspended from the ceiling, a clock tower and a caricature of a Parisian street scene on the back wall, Crepes A Latte is whimsical and fun.  We don’t think that you’d find Crepes A Latte in France but the broad crepe selection is impressive if not confusing. With breakfast crepe options ranging from egg and cheese to the enticing crumbled blueberry muffin with vanilla bean sauce for under $5, there’s something for everyone. We have to note that we were confused by the printed menu. While it appears that there are choices other than crepes, the perhaps too cleverly worded menu packages everything in a tasty light wrap. For lunch, dinner or an afternoon snack, there are a variety of savory options ($6.75), Avocado, Tomato & Cheese, Baked Apples with Brie, or Chicken Peanut Satay. There’s also a Smoked Turkey and a number of  veggie selection. Visiting Crepes A Latte for dessert? You won’t be disappointed. Try a twist on an old favorite, Bananas Foster or Caramel Apple Pie or be more European and enjoy our favorite, Nutella Banana (all $5.75). They have a nice selection of “hot stuff”, i.e. coffee, tea and hot chocolate drinks, as well as drinks to “chill out” with including frappes, iced, smoothies and milkshakes. Crepes A Latte is a perfect for a multi-unit operation. Look for more coming to Chicago. This is one concept with legs worth the run.
Crepes Cafe
410 S. Clark St.
Tel: 312-341-1313
If you can dream it, you can have it at Crepes Cafe. They offer a large variety of traditional and not-so-traditional crepes, sweet and savory, including Beef Stroganoff ($12) or Frutti di Mare ($11), Spinach and Feta ($7), Sweet Lemon ($4), Maple Syrup ($4), Vanilla Cheese ($7), PB&J ($7), and Fruit Preserves ($7), among others.  If you’re a hot dog ($7) fan, you don’t have to go elsewhere. They wrap theirs in a crepe. You can also have a Polish Sausage ($10), Chili ($7), Corned Beef ($12), or Lasagna ($10). And, if you haven’t guessed, you’re welcome to “create your one.”
Other’s worth mentioning:
Crepe Bistro & Martini Bar
186 N. Wells, Chicago
www.crepebistro.net – (312) 269-0300  
FliP Crepes at Chicago French Market
131 N. Clinton, Chicago
www.flipcrepes.com – (312) 504-2541  
Crepes and Coffee Palace
2433 N. Clark, Chicago
 (773) 404-1300  
Crepe Crave & Gelato
1752 W. North, Chicago
www.crepecrave.com – (773) 698-8783 
Cindy Kurman Barrie and Lee Barrie are the principals of Kurman Communications, Inc., a Chicago-based marketing and public relations agency. Please visit their blog at www.gotbuzzatkurman.com and check out all DineWise articles at www.dinewisechicago.blogspot.com.

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Let’s Do Lunch at the fabulous Chicago French Market

Chicago French Market
131 N. Clinton, Chicago (entrances on Canal St. and Clinton)

Hours: 7 a.m.-7:30 p.m., Mon.-Fri.; 8:30 a.m.-6 p.m., Saturday. Closed on Sunday. Vendor opening times vary, but all are open by 10 a.m.

The buzz continues to grow about the new Chicago French Market, located adjacent to the Ogilvie Transportation Center in Chicago between Canal and Clinton. This memorable and exciting European style market is home to a diverse collection of specialty food booths. Some vendors offer food to take home and prepare, while others offer freshly prepared gems to be enjoyed right at the market. The spacious dining area offers ample room for market goers to settle in and enjoy their treats. It’s a food lovers’ paradise so take a stroll and enjoy the adventure. If you become a regular, you’ll get to know the vendors and you’ll learn a lot about the foods. How nice to actually know your food seller!
Our suggestion: come to the market, pick up lunch, relax while you eat in the dining area, then take time to browse the aisles and pick out some fresh meat, fish or cheese, organic produce, prepared meats, fresh pasta, some wonderful bakery or chocolates to take home. If this becomes a routine, you’ll have a daily adventure that’s memorable and you’ll have some very happy family members.

When you’re inclined to do lunch at the market, here are some of the stops you should be sure to check out.

Chundy’s Bistro features Indian-fusion cuisine. There are hot meals, delicious soups, salads and sandwiches. Chundy’s offers Indian-fusion dishes, plus a variety of quality grab-and-go meals, salads, snacks and drinks. Menu highlights include cold sandwiches, meat and vegetarian Panini, soups such as green curry coconut, traditional Indian mulligatawny and lentil, salads, side dishes, a selection of chutneys and slaws and a collection of fruit and vegetable sweet breads, flatbreads, plus fresh fruit smoothies, milkshakes and iced fruit teas.

Buen Apetito is a family owned taqueria that specializes in traditional Mexican favorites with a modern flair and a focus on healthy, fresh and flavorful ingredients. The menu features grilled steak, chicken, salmon and vegetarian tacos and tostadas, plus burritos. All dishes are prepared with fresh herbs and distinctive spices. Appetizers include a hot or cold selection such as ceviche, pico de gallo or guacamole as well as tortilla soup, cebollitas or quesadillas. For the sweeter side, Buen Apetito offers Dona Marias signature flan cheesecake, rice pudding or tropical fruit medley.

FliP Crepes serves a delicious variety of savory and sweet crepes, prepared with a master’s touch using healthy ingredients such as wheat flour, buckwheat and wheat germ. FliP gets its name from its distinctive presentation: the crepes arrive on your plate in the shape of a burrito.

Saigon Sisters is an authentic Vietnamese eatery such as one would find in the bustling markets of Vietnam. This popular stop offers a more modern environment but is operated under the same principle: offer fresh delicious food and products sourced from local suppliers. Choose from the delicious Pho (noodle and broth dishes), spring rolls, herb noodle salads, and Banh mi (sandwiches). The ingredients focus on healthful, flavorful and aromatic herbs, spices, vegetables, seasoned meats and seafood from locally sourced farmers and purveyors.

RAW is the very popular stop at the Chicago French Market for raw foods. The raw food diet continues to grow in popularity, in part due to the fact that it is delicious and very satisfying. The food items are made from 100% organic raw vegan ingredients and the delicious foods taste as fresh as can be. Choices include sandwiches, salads, pizza, pastas, muffins and granola. smoothies, desserts, drinks and snack items, all made on-site.

Bowl Square serves healthy, traditional Korean fare. Korean food is also growing in popularity and here you’ll find approachable Korean food in nicely-sized portions. The menu focuses largely on simplified versions of popular Korean food with an emphasis on fresh ingredients and fast service.

Pastoral is a European-inspired, authentic neighborhood cheese shop, offering fine artisan cheeses, small production wines and freshly baked breads along with a full complement of related items such as charcuterie, olives, tapenades, honeys, jams, olive oils and artisan sweets. For lunch check out the prepared gourmet sandwiches, salads and side dishes.

Fumare Meats: You won’t find any more passionate or knowledgeable people about cured and smoked meats than these folks. Working with the finest purveyors, Fumare offers traditionally cured and smoked meats from local producers, including prosciutto, hams, smoked sausages, and bacons. You’ll find a nice selection of prepared sandwiches and side dishes. Make sure to try the old-fashioned Montreal-style smoked meat, cured and naturally smoked, peppered and slow-cooked to a well-marbled tenderness.

Frietkoten: If you love fries, you’ll have to stop here to enjoy Amsterdam’s traditional ‘fry shack’ experience: hand cut Belgian fries served in a paper cone. They’re crisp on the outside and soft on the inside, the way fries should be. Keeping with the Amsterdam tradition, there are nearly 20 different dipping sauces to choose from every day.

Espression by Lavazza raises the bar for coffee stops with a wide range of creative espresso beverages made with world-famous Lavazza coffee. This Italian company has taken Chicago by storm and the Chicago French Market location is the perfect setting. You’ll also love the gelato. Better yet, get a scoop of gelato topped with a shot of espresso.

Juice Bar is the place to go to round out your meal with fresh, squeezed-to-order fruit and vegetable juices, plus homemade smoothies made with seasonal fruits. All juices are 100% juice, with zero added sugar or concentrates.
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Yelp Eats Offering $25 Dining Deals at 33 Chicago Area Restaurants June 21-27

Yelp.com, the website that connects people with great local businesses, presents Yelp Eats, June 21-27, a week-long promotion dedicated to giving consumers the chance to try local restaurants at discounted prices.

Prix fixe dinner menus are being offered at 33 restaurants throughout Chicagoland for $25. 

Restaurants participating in the promotion include:


1492 Tapas Bar, River North 
Bin Wine Cafe, Wicker Park
Bin 36, Near North Side
Blue 13, River North
Branch 27, Noble Square
Broadway Cellars, Edgewater
Corner 41, North Center
Duchamp, Bucktown
Eve, Gold Coast
Fontana Grill, Uptown
Green Zebra, Noble Square
Kinzie Chop House, River North
La Madia, Near North Side
LM Le Restaurant, Lincoln Square
LOKal, Wicker Park
Nacional 27, River North
Sapori, Lincoln Park
Scoozi, River North
Spring, Wicker Park
State & Lake, The Loop
Thalia Spice, River West
The Drawing Room, Gold Coast
Treat, Humboldt Park

Chicago Suburbs

Birch River Grill, Arlington Heights
Bluegrass, Highland Park
Glen Prairie, Glen Ellyn
Kama Bistro, La Grange
Karma Asian Food & Wine, Mundelein
Marion Street Cheese Market, Oak Park
Meson Sabika, Naperville
Oceanique, Evanston
The Stained Glass, Evanston
Vie, Western Springs
Zak’s Place, Hinsdale

These special menus are open to the public. Reservations should be made in advance by calling the business and mentioning Yelp Eats. For more information about the special menus, visit www.yelp.com/events/chicago-yelp-eats-3.

Posted in Birch River Grill, Dinewise Chicago, Dining Deals, Glen Prairie, Karma, Kurman, Streetwise, Yelp | Comments Off on Yelp Eats Offering $25 Dining Deals at 33 Chicago Area Restaurants June 21-27