You know how they release a bunch of movies in January that you had no idea even existed? Restaurant news in Chicago is like that in January, too— the big ones all opened at the end of the year, now it's time for quirky little ones. Will they be surprise hits or duds quickly swept under the rug? Who knows! First up, the Trib reports that we're going to get a restaurant from the biggest chef in Peru, Gaston Acurio. "Biggest chef in Peru" may not sound that great an accomplishment but Acurio's main restaurant, Astrid y Gaston, is on the World's 50 Best Restaurants List and he has a 32-restaurant empire, so it's time to get excited about authentically done, high end Peruvian. Look for Tanta, the third location of a concept also in Lima and Barcelona, at 118 W. Grand this spring. [Tribune]
Last year, Men's Health anointed the Cheesecake Factory's Bistro Shrimp Pasta, a carb-y tangle of pasta and crispy shrimp awash in cream sauce, America's most gut-bustingly disgusting meal. Now the Center for Science in the Public Interest named it to their list of Xtreme Eating “dis-honorees” — they estimate that the sodium-soaked batter platter is 3,120 calories. That's three Olive Garden lasagnas! Also on CSPI's black list: Johnny Rocket's bacon-cheddar double burger, IHOP's country-fried steak 'n eggs, and Maggiano's veal porterhouse. But if their goal is outrage, they're x-tremely misguided.
In the rush of openings at the tail end of last year was one that got a bit overlooked, but that we made a note to pay more attention to after the new year. It's the tavern opened by the 124-year-old Chicago wine and liquor distributor House of Glunz— or maybe reopened is the proper term, since it was a tavern from the late 19th century until Prohibition. The space spent decades as a storage room and then, from the 1970s, as a room for tastings and the like, much of its original German decor "preserved" under 70s wooden paneling. Christopher Donovan, great-grandson of founder Louis Glunz, restored the room with both original fixtures and others from other historic Chicago restaurants including the Berghoff and the Red Star Inn, making it a virtual museum of Chicago restaurant history. He and his mother Barbara, who run the business today, also brought in Allen Sternwiler (The Butcher & Burger) to create a menu which pays homage in a contemporary way to House of Glunz's combined heritage of German, French, and classic American food. We spoke with Christopher about the resurrection of The Glunz Tavern, while our man Huge Galdones took some pictures of both food and atmosphere. Check out both the interview and the slideshow below.
Building out a great home bar is a long-game prospect: It takes time to prune a respectable collection of first-string spirits and mixing gear. But once you’re suited up with all the strapping English gins, malty genevers, chewy mezcals, and rare whiskeys your Ikea shelving unit can handle, what then? In the service of ambitious amateur cocktail savants everywhere, we asked a dozen bartenders to reveal the ingredients they trot out when a drink needs to go to the next level. Read on for alcoholic obscura and game-changing modifiers that will give even your simplest at-home highballs a pro-level boost.
There's a whole subculture of obsessives over ramen and other Asian noodle soups, who exchange tips and make sweeping pronouncements about how this place is the greatest or the whole city of Chicago sucks, man, noodle-wise, compared to [insert city here]. But take a lesson from the master, foodsters: L2O chef Matt Kirkley found an Asian noodle soup joint that beats them all for obscurity (Hammond, Indiana), atmosphere (straight out of James Bond) and authentic Asian diner cred (it was created for Asian customers and is barely mentioned in English by the establishment that owns it). It's the Foo Noodle Bar...
...behind the Baccarat pit of the Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, Indiana. I stumbled upon (quite literally) this hidden delight at 3 a.m. one evening, and since have become quite addicted... About 3 minutes after ordering, your food arrives. It's got to be quick, as the majority of the hardcore gambler guests inhale these noodle bowls (that are the size of your head) in about 5 minutes and book back to the tables.
Pierre Koffmann, the French-born chef who's received three Michelin stars for both La Tante Claire and Waterside Inn in London, loves the newest item on the McDonald's menu in France. The McBaguette, which is filled with cheese, ham, potato, lettuce, and mayo, is the company's attempt to appeal to local tastes; after the U.S., France is McDonald's most profitable market. Koffmann, who we really hope is getting paid generously for this endorsement, says he'd choose the "good bread" from McDonald's over local vendors. But shockingly, he does admit that it's "not the top bread in Paris." Michelin guide inspectors, please note. [Bloomberg]
The British hypermarket chain Tesco has been selling a line of frozen hamburgers that are ostensibly made from beef, but many of those all-natural patties are actually part horse, and one recently tested sample was actually 29 percent horse meat, the Telegraph reports, citing an investigation conducted by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland. In addition to burgers, meat pies and frozen lasagnas were tested, and most of these products were found to contain DNA from pigs.
We visited The Plant, John Edel's attempt at converting an old-time meatpacking building into a self-sustaining ecosystem, about a year ago. As is the nature of startups, some plans talked about then have come to fruition, others haven't, but the building keeps chugging along toward Edel's vision of a near-total self-sufficiency where waste from one operation is reused to feed or fuel the next and the building requires very little coming in and produces very little going out— except finished products for sale. Anthony Todd looks at the state of The Plant in early 2013 in this morning's Sun-Times:
The Plant isn’t some collective utopia; it’s a non-profit that aims to host profitable businesses. Part of that is attracting tenants: food businesses that find the facilities and the desirable amenities of cheap power and heat perfect for their model. One of these is SkyyGreens, an aquaponics startup (and Chicago’s first licensed indoor farm) that is already producing food at The Plant. Galen Williams, the CEO of SkyyGreens, explained why indoor farming was a viable business. “We’re down the street from buyers. This isn’t coming from California, it’s not coming from South America. We can harvest things the day they are served or the night before. It’s perfect for the customer; it’s fresher, it lasts longer and it tastes a lot better.”
“I love TBK”
Open super late and great food especially for the intoxicated!
“Try the Steak & Potato Pizza!”
Can you say philly sandwich on a pizza?
“Good Overall, just that greasy smell”
The problem is that my clothes smell like grease after every visit. They need to do something about that.