New Year's Eve is one of the biggest nights out of the year, and many of the best Chicago restaurants are celebrating with special prix fixe dinners. Whether you want a bite before heading to a New Year's Eve concert or would prefer to toast midnight with steak and Champagne, you'll find a special New Year's Eve dinner to ring in 2014.
RECOMMENDED: New Year's Eve Chicago parties and things to do
A10 Matthias Merges’s new Hyde Park restaurant rings in the New Year with a four-course tasting menu offering dishes like wood-fired burrata, charred cauliflower tortellini, winter leek casserole and chocolate beignets. Dec 31. $85. Beverage pairings start at $40.
Acadia Toast 2014 with an 1889 Parisian cabaret–themed dinner. There are two seating times for the six-course meal, which includes options like beef wellington, lobster thermidor and opera cake. A vegetarian option is available if ordered at least 72 hours in advance. 5:30pm. $125 (wine pairings $75); 9pm, $165 (wine pairings $85).
Ada St Nosh on small plates prepared by chef Zoe Schor while listening to vinyl records you pick out yourself. Meat-friendly and vegetarian prix fixe menus will also be available and include dishes like seared diver scallops and housemade potato gnocchi. 6:30pm. Vegetable $60, Animal $80.
Aria Sous chef Bo Counts prepares a five-course dinner with choices like mussels with Chardonnay butter sauce and housemade pappardelle with chanterelles. There are also special rates at the Fairmont Chicago hotel, so you can keep the party going all night. 5–10pm. $62, wine pairing available for additional fee.
Atwood Café The Loop spot will have a six-course tasting menu that pays homage to famous Chicago chefs. Executive chef Derek Simcik will make dishes inspired by Graham Elliot, Charlie Trotter, Grant Achatz, Rick Tramonto and others. There’s also a Champagne toast. $70.
Avec The foodie haven will be serving a five-course prix fixe menu including items like artisan cheese with bitter greens, marcona almonds and quince vinaigrette and paella with octopus, snail boudin, mussels and langoustines. 5pm–midnight. $65, optional wine/beer pairing with Champagne toast $40.
Nathan Lane, Brian Dennehy and the entire cast of the Goodman Theatre's 2012 production of The Iceman Cometh will reconvene for a six-week remount at New York's Brooklyn Academy of Music, set to open in February 2015.
Goodman artistic director Robert Falls will restage his production of Eugene O'Neill's five-hour epic for a February 5–March 15, 2015, run, presented by BAM and producer Scott Rudin. Dennehy and Lane join fellow cast members Stephen Ouimette, Larry Neumann Jr., Salvatore Inzerillo, Marc Grapey, John Judd, John Reeger, James Harms, John Douglas Thompson, Lee Wilkof, John Hoogenakker, Patrick Andrews, Tara Sissom, Lee Stark and Kate Arrington.
The production will again feature design work by Kevin Depinet, Natasha Katz and Merrily Murray-Walsh. "Displaying a painterly sense of composition, Falls uses Natasha Katz’s sculptural lighting design and Kevin Depinet’s monumental, mud-colored sets to subtly reference everything from Caravaggio’s half-lit religious canvases to Edward Hopper’s melancholy loners," Zac Thompson said in our review of the show.
I sat down over drinks with Dennehy and Lane for a cover story in advance of The Iceman Cometh's Goodman run last year; read the interview for their thoughts on O'Neill, comedy, mortality and Jessica Lange.
Winter WonderFest Tourists will be working with less elbow room than usual. The annual extravaganza returns. Longer lines to ride the Ferris wheel are offset by new spinning attraction Hot Cocoa Cups. Other amusements include video games, ice skating, gingerbread workshops and inflatables. Navy Pier. 10am–8pm. Wristband (excludes ice skating) $16, advance $13; premium wristband (includes ice skating) $20, advance $17.
Lemonade Beauty Bar's Motown and oldies night features a special guest DJ every week. With no cover and some old jams to groove to, guests can be sure to dance away their mid-week blues. Beauty Bar. 9pm. Free.
Holiday Carolers at Quince Sip cocktails and order bites from the lounge menu or full dinner menu while CQ, a North Shore men's quintet, serenades you with Christmas songs. The performance will take place in the lounge. Reservations are recommended; call 847-570-8419. Quince Restaurant. 1625 Hinman Ave, Evanston. Dec 17 at 7:30pm.
Pagan Days Found celebrates the pagan holidays with a tarot card reading. Lady of Libations Jan Henrichsen will lead a tasting of white whiskies. Proceeds benefit Connections for the Homeless. Found. 1631 Chicago Ave, Evanston. Dec 17 at 6:30pm. $80.
Even after realizing that we didn't exactly like pumpkin- and candy corn–flavored fall treats, we decided to give it another try with peppermint- and eggnog-flavored items. On the whole, these treats were far less disgusting—peppermint is a much better complement for chocolate than fake pumpkin spices—but we were still super grossed out by some of the things we ate. Here's what we tried, arranged in order from worst to best.
RECOMMENDED: Christmas activities in Chicago
Christkindlmarket Chicago Designed to mimic Germany's annual market celebration, the Loop replica returns for another year. Live entertainment, dozens of vendors selling miscellaneous handmade ornaments and classic food and drink—mulled spice wine, marzipan, schnitzel, stollen and strudel— are yours for the taking. Daley Plaza. 11am-8pm.
ART & DESIGN
"It's the Political Economy, Stupid" This traveling exhibition, co-organized by Oliver Ressler and Gregory Sholette, features contemporary photography, installation, drawing and video addressing economic and political problems that started in 2008 and have been ongoing. One video shows Chicago-born artist Dread Scott on Wall Street burning dollar bills and chanting "Money to burn, money to burn." Titled after a James Carville phrase from 1992, the group show presents artworks that effectively reflect, engage with and resist our crisis-plagued "new norm." Gallery 400. 10am–6pm.
December is clearly the month for major Italian restaurant openings, as Mike Sheerin's Cicchetti (671 N St Clair St) opens today. The new restaurant sets itself apart from other high-profile openings (Nico Osteria is Paul Kahan's seafood-centric restaurant, while Eataly is, well, a beast unto itself) by focusing on Venetian small plates. Sheerin, late of Trenchermen, which he ran with his brother Pat, teamed up with sous chefs Phil Rubino (Acadia, Moderno) and Sarah Jordan (the Boka group's former pastry chef) to open Cicchetti, a name which comes from the Venetian term for small plates.
"There are a lot of classic Italian dishes that are Venetian,” Sheerin said. “Polenta is one, squid ink another classic. There’s a good amount of seafood on the menu, like oysters, raw crudos.”
Alliance Winter Dance Bash! This holiday-themed variety show features season-inspired dance works in a variety of styles, including ballet, foxtrot, jazz, hip-hop, modern, swing and tap. Ruth Page Center for the Arts. Dec 20, 21 at 7:30pm. $24, students/seniors $16, children 4–12 $8.
"Chicago Works: Lilli Carré" Carré is best known for her comics, illustration and animated films (we're fans), but we look forward to seeing some of her new interdisciplinary experiments. The Chicago artist's MCA solo debut features all new work, including a series of ceramic pieces, projected animation and works on paper. Museum of Contemporary Art. Through Apr 15.
DKV Trio Formidable improv heavyweights Hamid Drake (percussion), Kent Kessler (bass) and Ken Vandermark (reeds) team up for what's become an annual gig here at the Hideout's Immediate Sound Series. A chance to see this alternately fierce and fearless combo in action is rare and should not be missed. Hideout. Dec 17, 18 at 10pm. $15.
Chicago musicians kicked out the holiday jams Saturday night at the Bottom Lounge for the Slo ’Mo Spectacular: A Soulful Holiday Shindig. Sidewalk Chalk served as the house band for the night, joined by guests including JC Brooks of the Uptown Sound, Psalm One, Matthew Santos, Jeanine O'Toole of the 1900s and Bare Mutants, Damon Locks of the Eternals, Lili K, KOKUMO, David Sampson of Cains & Abels, Deja Taylor, #rthe St. James, Grana' Louise and the a cappella group Queerty.
The evening was hosted by Kristen Kaza, producer of the regular Slo ’Mo night at the Whistler (a nominee for best LGBTQ night away from Boystown in this year's Time Out Chicago Best Awards), and Ike Holter of the Inconvenience, and served as a benefit for Project Fierce Chicago's efforts to support homeless LGBTQ youth. The next Slo ’Mo at the Whistler is this Thursday, December 19.
Rustie + DJ Rashad Part of a Scottish beat revolution that also includes Hudson Mohawke and numerous highlights on the Numb3rs label roster, Rustie is currently one of the U.K. scene's top names, praised in the Guardian (winning its Best First Album award in 2011 for his Glass Swords on Warp Records). The low-end, leftfield beatmaker descends on the Mid with hometown footwork king DJ Rashad, who has critics in a tizzy with his Double Cup, a masterwork of soulful, hip-hop riddled Chicago drum & bass. The Mid. Dec 20 at 10pm. $10, free before 11:30pm with R.S.V.P. at clubtix.com.
Oval + Container + Anenon + Natural Information Society As Oval, Marcus Popp creates music that is anything but pop. His minimal electronic compositions, often abetted by programmed software, is all ping-ponging pins and needles, Autechre and Aphex Twin pushed into a realm that approaches classical chamber music. L.A.'s Anenon approaches jazz in his clean, hushed electro-organic works, chopping up sax and voices into the mix. This brainy, intimate Red Bull Academy concert is proof the energy drink is about more than giving you an extreme jolt. Empty Bottle. Dec 22 at 8pm. $8.
Kanye West + Kendrick Lamar Oh, sweet Yeezus! Kim Kardashian's baby daddy is embarking on his first solo tour in five years, with Kendrick Lamar in tow. Kanye pranced around in his leather skirt with Jay Z during 2011's. Now he has a freaking mountain and moon onstage. Will it be all Walt Disney meets Steve Jobs? Will his tour rider include croissants? We'll just have to wait and see. United Center. Dec 17, 18 at 7:30pm. $35–$150.
Wale + Meek Mill + Twista + L.E.P. + Spenzo + Kam WGCI's UB's Big Birthday Jam brings a packed hip-hop bill to Uptown. D.C.'s lead spitter, Wale headlines, hopefully previewing tracks from his upcoming 2014 album, The Album About Nothing, a collaboration with Jerry Seinfeld (reportedly, seriously) that spins off his career-making debut mixtape. Fellow Maybach Music MC Meek Mill tells dark tales of the Philly streets. Of course, Chicago represents with South Siders L.E.P. and scene grandfather Twista. Aragon. Dec 17 at 9pm. $30.
ZooLights Open late through the holidays, the zoo guides evening visitors along its winding pathways with a sprawling display of illuminated designs, many of them shaped like animals. If the lights leave you dazed, the hot cider and chain-saw-wielding ice sculptors are sure to wake you up. Lincoln Park Zoo. 5pm– 9pm.
ART & DESIGN
"Art and Appetite: American Painting, Culture and Cuisine" If we are what we eat, then this exhibition—featuring more than 100 paintings, sculptures and decorative arts depicting an array of edibles, lavish meals, the remnants of meals and factory-produced foods—tells us a lot about what we are. Organized by the Art Institute and exploring the presence of food in artwork from the 18th through 20th centuries, "Art and Appetite" speaks to America's evolving but ever-important food culture and the historical art of eating. Art Institute of Chicago. 10:30am–5pm.
Breakfast with Santa at Brookfield Zoo Join Santa and Mrs. Claus for an all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet at the Brookfield Zoo's Discovery Center. There will be live music and appearances by costumed characters, which will offer plenty of family photo ops. Reservations are required. Brookfield Zoo. 9am, 11am. $21.95-$40.95.
Anders Nilsen Nilsen celebrates the release of Rage of Poseidon, his new accordion-style book from Drawn & Quarterly, full of silhouette images of mythical characters and haunting narratives. He'll discuss the book with Chicago journalist Jessica Hopper, followed by a signing. City Lit Books. 4pm. Free.
The Jerry Seinfeld that bounded onto the Chicago Theatre stage on Friday night was a somewhat different man from the even-steven, cereal-and-Superman–obsessed perpetual bachelor version of himself that we came to know from television. At 59, the comedian has a little less hair, but he seems to have gained a measure of perspective in the 15 years since Seinfeld ceased production. (Yes, it's been that long.) The "What's the deal with…?" guy, so easily caricatured over the years for his absurd riffs on airline peanuts and car-rental reservations, is now looking at minutiae with the broader, less self-involved view of the family man who realizes those things affect his wife of 14 years, their relationship and the world in which they're raising their three kids.
"I don't like my whole generation—the way we parent. Too into it! When we were kids, our parents didn't give a damn about us," he said. "If you're a parent now, putting your kid to bed, it's like a royal coronation ceremony, with the flossing and the plaque rinse and the reading of the eight moron books. You know what my bedtime story was? Darkness!"
Seinfeld admitted he doesn't hang out with single guys anymore. "You have a girlfriend? That's wiffle ball, my friend. You're playing paintball war; I'm in Afghanistan. You're sitting on a merry-go-round blowing on a pinwheel; I'm driving a truck full of nitroglycerin."
This is all to say that a modern Seinfeld stand-up set is not a show about nothing. In the era of everyone and your mother sweating the smallest of life's small stuff on social media, Seinfeld seems a comedian made for this time. More so than in the past, his jokes resonate as little nuggets of cultural criticism. There are still bits about the quirks of automatic faucets and his parents' retirement home being a minimum-security prison, but he has largely updated his repertoire to fit these overcaffeinated, tech-centric times. Jerry is still "just walking around, looking around"—as his previous riff on the male mind goes—but now he's glancing at his smartphone, too.
Girl Unit + Nguzunguzu Girl Unit's a Night Slug. Gross, right? Hardly. One of a number of increasingly prominent U.K. bass-music innovators, joined under the banner of the Night Slugs label, GU has a deep-seated love of American R&B and hip-hop, and it comes out in his productions, which are nonetheless decidedly from the U.K.: soulful and full of that low-end 808 whomp whomp dubstep fans crave. L.A. digi-tropical duo Nguzunguzu are hot off producing alien R&B for Kelela's wonderful Cut 4 Me. Primary. 10pm. $10–$12.
Chicago Tap Theatre: Tidings of Tap! Festive dances are on tap at this special performance by Chicago Tap Theatre, featuring dynamic interpretations of various Christmas, Chanukah and winter songs, as well as a dusting of indoor snow. University of Illinois at Chicago Theatre. 8pm. $35, seniors $27, students/dancers $22.
The holiday season brings with it a variety of seasonal stage entertainments, from a menagerie of Scrooges to religious-minded pageants to non-denominational family fun, such as the Hypocrites' Mikado. We reviewed 10 holiday offerings this year; click through the photos above for our full takes, or check out our more comprehensive guide to holiday plays.
As even those astronauts in the International Space Station know by now, Beyoncé shock-dropped a new album on iTunes at the stroke of midnight this morning. Titled BEYONCÉ (Of course. It was either that or Pepsi Blue.), Mrs. Carter's fifth album is a shadowy, downtempo showcase for her unparalleled pipes. "Radio tell me, Speed it up / I just go slower," the 32-year-old raps in "Partition." So, if you're looking for another "Single Ladies," you might be bummed, irrationally.
Well, not quite. The incredible "Grown Woman," which comes off like Major Lazer producing an Afrobeat track for MJ's Thriller, made my day. Over and over. Upon downloading these 1.17 GB, I immediately dug through the tracks to find this year's "Countdown," my favorite song of 2011. "Grown Woman" is it. Unfortunately, it's not exactly on the album proper. The cut comes as bonus video at the tail end of this "visual album." Oh, right, I forgot to mention: There's a slick, expensive, choreography-and-booty-riddled music video for each and every track. Eat that, Taylor Swift. Watching is easily the best way to experience the record (if we can still call this merely a "record").
Lucky us, we get the queen herself in concert tonight, at the United Center. To celebrate, I've ranked all 17 new videos. Here is the countdown:
I’ve heard a lot of brewers say that their brewing philosophy is “______ with a twist.” But Begyle is one of the few breweries who have demonstrated that twist with quiet consistency. Their first beer was a pale ale, but with added wheat. Instead of angry, demonic names (Malevolence, Dark Lord, Darkness, Wake Up Dead), their stouts were cuddly little Flannel Pajamas and oh-hey-nice-to-see-you Neighborly. Their summer beer was released days before September. Christmas ales are often spiced with nutmeg, clove, allspice and ginger—theirs uses bay leaves and sassafras instead. You see a pattern forming. Begyle’s beers are just different enough to take notice, but not crazy enough to, well… to be Pipeworks.
The Christmas Ale is one of the first few batches on their new, expanded 10bbl system—one that Begyle’s Kevin Cary tells me is “a little oversized for us at the moment”—that’s been operating since November. While brewing on their new toys and waiting for a few final T’s to be crossed with the build-out and licensing of their retail space, Begyle opened reservations for their much-discussed Community Supported Brewery program.
The Drake concert experience is all about rings. The rapper performs atop a circular catwalk, his band tucked in the dark of the hole. Another large ring hangs above his head, a massive halo. Smoke arises from the ring, as many in the crowd blow their own smoke rings. Late in the show, a ring lifts the 27-year-old into the rafters, like a Bulls championship banner, so that he may serenade the cheap(er) seats.
Aside from the occasional guest vocalist—the breathy siren Jhené Aiko, the amusingly emo and dopey ATLien rapper Future, a man dressed as the owl mascot from his October's Very Own brand logo—it's largely just Drake up there on his Would You Like a Tour? Tour. Nothing else is needed. Like perhaps a mere handful of other MCs, Drake can capture a stadium in his aura with no accompaniment. Hubris helps. Golden light throws his shadow large against the backdrop, projecting a two-story Drake, as he both boasts of his fortune and struggles to maintain humility on his songs largely pulled from his last two albums, Take Care and Nothing Was the Same. The Toronto native closes with "Started from the Bottom." A couple ten thousand people overlook the mistruth of the song title and imagine themselves in his shoes.
That's the difference between Yeezy and Drizzy. Kanye underlines how nobody can or will be like him. Drake instills the idea that his lifestyle is attainable. Even if that's just an illusion, like his shadow projected in a haze.