Posts for November 5, 2012

Ashkenaz, Deli With Roots Back To 1910, Closes To Be Replaced By Trayf

A Jewish resident of the Gold Coast we knew once told us that the first two calls you make when someone dies are to the next of kin, and to Ashkenaz for a deli tray for shiva. That suggests both the overlooked deli's importance to its neighborhood... and why it closed Sunday, as its core clientele increasingly passed away. Founded by a family named Ashkenaz, it began in the North Lawndale neighborhood in 1910 and moved to Rogers Park around 1940; when that location burned in the 1970s, others opened in Wilmette and in the Gold Coast. The current owners had owned it for about eight years but sold it recently after observing business decline with the years; the buyer is a restaurateur who plans to open a bargain-priced lobster roll spot called Da Lobsta. Chicagoist had a good feature on the deli earlier this year here. [Crain's]

Will The Menu After Next: The Hunt Be Next: Vegetarian?

An interesting postscript to today's story on Next: The Hunt, the first of 2013's Next menus, due in January. We mentioned that there might be some flak from the kinds of vocal vegetarians who respond to any meat-relishing published piece, and Nick Kokonas tweeted in response:

@GrubStreetCHI perhaps the menu *after* the Hunt will ameliorate the concerns about wild game.

A vegetarian Next menu? "Vegetarian menu" is not a phrase that typically gets our blood racing, but when it's done with artistry (and an eye to breaking vegetarian-restaurant cliches), it can be impressive, and perhaps there's something more to it than merely vegetarianism— an Asian spin? Next Jain? Who knows? It might make season ticket sales a bit harder to cover such opposite bases... oh, we forgot, it's Next, tickets will still sell out in minutes. Watch for more as this story develops.

Kitchen Horror Stories 2012: Eleven Ghastly Tales of Restaurant Mayhem

Get ready for more grisly stories.Photo-illustration: Drew Luster

Each Halloween, Grub Street runs a series of Kitchen Horror Stories — gruesome tales from behind the pass. (Here's last year's!) But last week, with so many chefs and owners living out actual (flooded, powerless, ingredient-spoiling) nightmare scenarios after Sandy, the mood hardly seemed right for a new set. Today, the Northeast is a long way from a full recovery, and it's tough to overstate how important it is to get out and support restaurants as they work to get running again. Even so, let this year's set of stories serve as a reminder of just how incredibly hard chefs and restaurant workers are. We can think of no other job where things like severed digits and horrible burns occur with at least some frequency — yet kitchen staffs work through them as if they were nothing, even when just reading about them would make most people squirm. See what we mean, straight ahead.

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Election Night: Wine at Avec, Red or Blue Cocktails at Tesori, Geja's Fondue

Mitt Romney dreams of being sculpted in butter.

We're sure many bars will have at least one of their many TVs turned to an election news channel, but here are some events coming up tomorrow night that will make it a little more interesting. First off, Avec will be hosting winemaker Luis Pato, maker of "ultratraditional" Portuguese wines, with a five-course menu at $55/person and optional wine pairings at a super-reasonable $25. Better yet, show your "I voted" sticker and and you'll get a complimentary glass of Luis Pato Brut (good for toasting victory). The event runs all afternoon and evening, from 3:30 to 10:30 p.m., and reservations are required at 312-377-2002.

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Wahlberg Brothers Sue Burger Business Partner for Being an Idiot

Needs a meeting with H.R.Photo: Getty Images

Mark Wahlberg apparently chooses his movie roles better than his business partners: The Boston Globe reports that he's sued Edward St. Croix, who managed the family's Boston-area burger restaurant, Wahlburgers. The lawsuit alleges that St. Croix is essentially the biggest moron in the world: He did an "abysmal” job and “failed to meet even the most basic duties as business manager.”

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Why Glenn of Glenn's Diner Is Out Of His Namesake Place

Half a dozen years ago in Evanston, an unpretentious seafood joint and oyster bar, the kind of place that puts its specials up on a chalkboard, called Davis Street Fishmarket acquired new owners, upscaled the joint... and lost one of its co-owners and key personnel, Glenn Fahlstrom. Fahlstrom came into the city and opened his own version of a seafood joint, again unpretentious (it had a quirky sideline in breakfast cereal) and nothing too gourmet, but good quality fish prepared in an old school way that respected the ingredients and showed them at their best. And now it's happened again: Glenn Falhstrom is out of Glenn's Diner in North Center after a dispute with partner Laurence Jones, which apparently stretches back to 2009. And some of the details, at least, can be found in a court judgement filed over a year ago.

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The Next Next Theme Is ... the Hunt; Plus: Alinea to Paris, London?

At this weekend's Chicago Humanities Festival, Grant Achatz finally revealed the next Next theme, which should begin sometime in January. It's going to be called the Hunt, and all we know about is that it will have a focus on game meats. While this is a natural enough theme for both Achatz and Next chef Dave Beran, who both grew up in the kinds of small towns in Michigan where hunting is a common pursuit, we wonder if it will run into some flak here in Chicago, where any time Mike Sula writes about eating another species, it prompts dozens of angry comments. At the same time, if this is the same upcoming menu (which we assume it must be) that we heard was worked out before it had a theme settled upon, then maybe the Hunt is only one side of it and it's going to be something more intricate and varied about life in semi-rural America than merely a dozen courses of different woodland creatures. As usual, the more Next reveals, the more Next intrigues and fascinates.

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