Brendan Sodikoff has a barbecue joint and a ramen shop in the works. But those concepts have been pushed back to make room for a third restaurant: Dillman's, a Jewish deli that the restaurateur hopes to open in River North by March 1, 2013.
I should point out that there's a 1% chance the deal on the space (an undisclosed address) won't go through. But Sodikoff seems confident he'll sign papers before the new year, and that's good enough for me. Let's get into some details:
- Dillman's will eventually be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but it will initially open only for dinner. "It's counterintuitive," Sodikoff admits. But he wants to "identify from the beginning that this is a dinner place." Dinner, and also drinks—there will be a full bar.
- The food will be—surprise!—Jewish. "We're going to invest in the signatures," Sodikoff says. Playing with Jewish food isn't necessarily new for Sodikoff, who has had the deli idea for some time. He notes that some of the food at Au Cheval actually previews the food at Dillman's: the matzoh ball soup, the chopped chicken liver.
- Bagels are part of the plan. They will be baked on site. (Actually, they will be boiled-and-baked on site. Sodikoff on bagels that aren't boiled first: "That's like baking a French fry.")
- Aesthetically, Sodikoff is going for a "Lower East Side, old-world-mafia feel": wood panels, floor tiles, a long bar with a diner-style kitchen (much like Au Cheval). "I want a warm, glowing space," he says.
- The 120-seat space will be equipped with copious outlets, so that people can camp out. "I really just want people to hang out there all the time," Sodikoff says. If he gets those bagels right, I don't think he'll have a problem.
A few days ago Choose Chicago (the tourism org) announced the second annual First Bites Bash, the walk-around tasting event in Union Station's Great Hall that officially kicks off Restaurant Week. In that announcement, Dirk Flanigan (Henri, The Gage) was revealed as the evening's host. But who would the other 49 chefs be?
Normally I wouldn't care—these tasting events happen all the time. But the First Bites Bash is a little different, because it adds credibility to a concept that doesn't always get food obsessives excited. Restaurant Week can be akin to Valentine's Day, or New Year's Eve—that is, days when restaurants pump out the same meal en masse, sending the same plates to every table. These are nights not to experience the true nature of the restaurant.
But Choose Chicago seems to want to make Chicago's Restaurant Week a little more—sorry, but it's the best word—foodie. And judging from a few names appearing at the First Bite Bash, it's working.
So who are the chefs? The list—which could still morph and grow before the January 24th event—is below.
Brian Jupiter (Frontier)
Tony Priolo (Piccolo Sogno)
Alex Shalev (Cru)
Curtis Hawk (ZED 451)
Alvaro Zamudio (Kinzie Chophouse)
Lee Guidry (SushiSamba Rio)
Michael Ponzio (Bar Umbriago)
Peter Balodimas (Rosebud)
Michael Stewart (Roy's)
Daniel Marquis (Quay)
Aldo Ayala (Mercadito)
Jose Zetina (Pazzo's)
Ricardo Amaya (Zapatista)
Mark Rimkus (Flo & Santos)
Trevor Hoyte (IPO)
Ben Goodnick (Mon Ami Gabi)
Luis Vazquez (Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba)
Moreno Espinoza (Wildfire Restaurants)
Evandro Caregnato (Texas de Brazil)
Mark Steuer (Carriage House, The Bedford)
Greg Carso (Metropolitan Club)
William Johnson (Filini)
Matt Reichel (Berghoff)
Chon Reynozo (Berghoff)
Lee Ann Whippen (Chicago Q)
David Dworshak (Carnivale)
Filemon Ochoa (or Marcelino Rivera) (Tapas Valencia)
Alex Ageneau (Paris Club)
Tim Kirker (Bistrot Zinc)
Christian Fantoni (Phil Stefani's 437 Rush)
Luigi Garcia (Riva Crab House)
Victorio Moreno (Tuscany on Taylor)
Michael Dean Reynolds (Leopold)
Andrew Deuel (Tesori)
Ryan Poli's back in the news, for two reasons:
1. His new restaurant, Little Market Brasserie, is slowly revealing itself in the PT space. (The restaurant is now in soft-open mode, but the build-out is not complete and several PT items remain on the menu.)
To celebrate both of these events, photo editor Martha Williams and I visited Poli in the Little Market test kitchen. There, the chef demonstrated how to make one of Little Market's signature dishes: ceviche. If you watch the video below closely enough, you can probably replicate the dish in your own kitchen—a good holdover until Little Market fully opens in the middle of January.
When they hear about Penguin Hops, the beer Revolution Brewing made with the Shedd Aquarium, most people probably raise their eyebrows, mutter a comment ("Interesting...") and go back to their day. But photographer Hannah Fehrman wanted to know more. So she delved into how the Shedd and Revolution got together, and put her findings in the slideshow above.
RJ, Jerrod and Molly Melman have made a career opening Lettuce Entertain You Restaurants that aren't always very Lettucelike. But their newest venture, Bub City (435 N Clark St, 312-610-4200), which opens tomorrow, is a departure. Kind of.
Bub City is a re-launch of a former Lettuce spot, Bub City Crabshack and Bar BQ, which lived from 1988 until 1998 on Weed Street. How will the new Bub City compare to the old one? Nobody under the age of 30 will ever know. But here are some crucial stats about the new spot:
- The chef is Doug Psaltis. (We're pretty sure the old Bub City didn't have a Ducasse protegé at the helm.)
- The drinks are by master bartender Paul McGee, who put together a list of 125 whiskies, a bourbon-heavy cocktail list and had the balls to make one of those cocktails—the Mexican Firing Squad—frozen.
- Psaltis's menu focuses on barbecue (bone-in short rib, baby back ribs, burnt ends, pulled pork, house-smoked pastrami) but also branches out with a shellfish bar (shrimp cocktail, crab claws, oysters). Finally, there's a lot of southern food on this menu: po' boys, hot links, mac-and-cheese, etc.
- Ed Warm and Tom DeSanto, the guys who own Joe's on Weed, curate the live music, which will, naturally, gravitate towards country music.
The final thing that differentiates this Bub City from the previous one? This one has a soon-to-open tiki bar in the basement...
Dan Weiss, the owner of Dollop and Kickstand coffee shops, is expanding his reach to Streeterville this month, opening a second location of Dollop in the Streeter building (345 E Ohio St). "I love the idea of neighborhood cafés," Weiss says. And "the idea of putting a neighborhood-style café in downtown Chicago is an incredible opportunity." That opportunity came in the form of a 1,600-square-foot, 50-seat space, that, with the help of Paul Leisen (the former Director of Development Design for Intelligentsia), Weiss is transforming into the second location of Dollop. Like the original, the Streeterville Dollop will serve Metropolis coffee (both slow—i.e., pour-over or French press—and fast—i.e., drip), Rishi tea, Hoosier Mama Pie, Southport Grocery pastries and vegan doughnuts from Fritz Pastry. "I grew up in coffee shops," Weiss says. "I love them. I love the idea that they're this sponge for the neighborhood."
Dollop (345 E Ohio St, twitter.com/Downtown_Dollop) is slated to open the week of December 17.
What do you do with an empty Douglas Park warehouse on a random Thursday night in Chicago?
Serve a ton of booze, add some circus freaks and throw a party, of course.
Last night, we raged with Lagunitas Brewing Company at the site of its soon-to-be brewery on S Rockwell St and W 15th St to celebrate the impending opening in March 2013—and of course, to drink lots of beer. Taps were overflowing with the famed brewery's IPA, PILS, Pale Ale and Little Sumpin’, and food trucks served barbeque and burgers while guests mingled with circus jugglers and dancers to the sounds of Lil’ Ed. Even the Blues Brothers made an appearance.
A trolley-ride down the street, brewers held flashlight tours inside the 300,000-square-foot brewery warehouse (where Chicago Fire is also being filmed), complete with swing dancers and video montages. The brewery will be an expansion of the company’s 650,000-barrel brew house in Petaluma, California, and will allow Lagunitas to distribute to all locations east of Denver by October 2013. Will Lagunitas brew anything exclusively for Chicago? Tour Guide Nick said he’s advocating for a Pilsen Pilsner, but we’ll just have to wait and see what kinds of hop-tastic ideas owner Tony Magee comes up with.
Mix one part Santa’s workshop with two parts Willy Wonka’s candy factory, and you might have a sense of what downtown Geneva will look like this Saturday. Resident Alain Roby—a renowned pastry chef, proprietor of the All Chocolate Kitchen and already twice winner of Guinness World Record titles for enormous cookie and chocolate creations—has spent weeks working with hard candy, forging and twisting what he believes will become the world’s longest candy cane. With an intended length of 45 feet (after it's assembled December 8), the enormous holiday confection will stretch down Third Street, from the west-surburban town's courthouse to the intersection near his bakery. And the best part? Once it's all measured and documented, he intends to take a hammer to it, so you can take a piece of it home with you.
Earlier this week, Time Out Chicago Kids talked to the chef to get all the sticky details, including the thought process behind his drive to make these enormous confections. “With pastry chefs, each one has his niche: One is famous for chocolate, one is famous for this, one is famous for that. I wanted to find my niche, my little spot somewhere,” he said. “I really wanted to make an impact as a chef. A two- or three-feet centerpiece doesn’t really create the wow I’m looking for. So I came up with the life-size things. The first piece I built was a life-size chocolate astronaut of Neil Armstrong. Life-size! Astronaut! With the helmet and the whole thing, on a moon landscape. And I got the oh wow! from people ... and since then, I can’t stop. Oh boy!”
You can read the entire interview on TOCK’s blog.
Name Tom Douglas
Occupation Restauranteur, chef, author
Welcome to Chicago! Why are you here?
Thank you! I'm here to eat some delicious food, give a demo at the fabulous Macy's downtown and promote my new book, The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook.
Did you have any fears/anxieties/nervousness about coming to the Midwest? Explain.
My biggest fear is that Takashi will run out of ramen at the Slurping Turtle before my plane lands. Also, since my mom and dad were born here and I still have cousins in Harvey, I'm concerned that I'm able to speak the language, like "hot dish," "dallar" and "da Bears." [Ed. note: Don't even dare trying to pin "hot dish" on Chicago.]
True or false: You will be eating at Avec while in town.
Where else will you be eating?
I'm here for a full day and a half so I can do Takashi, Frontera, Girl and the Goat, Quality Meats, Wow Bao and still have time to check out some new joints after reading about them in Time Out. [Ed. note: Tom, you flatter us...]
The Chicago hot dog—yes or no? (Choose one.)
C. I don’t know what that is.
What does Chicago have that your home city doesn’t have? (We’re talking food and restaurants here, but feel free to go into other arenas.)
It's good you all can make a dog in this town because you sure don't know much about pizza!
What does your home city have that Chicago doesn’t have?
Salmon. Did I say king salmon? Oysters. Black cod. Did I say sockeye salmon? Geoduck. Ling cod. Did I say silver salmon? Good pizza. Heart (the band, stupid). Pink salmon. And yes we have steelhead also...
Tell us an interesting story from your childhood.
I was born fat and still am, though I prefer the term round.
Tell us a funny/interesting/frightening tale about your restaurant.
I have 15 food businesses with no end in sight. I love this business and can't stop opening restaurants.
Fill in the blank: If I had just one more day in Chicago, I’d use it to ______________________ .
I’d use it to bring my mom here from her home in Delaware and spend the day driving around the city and reminiscing about where she and my dad hung out and their fateful meeting at a square dance while he was the date of her best girlfriend...oh la la!