Posts for January 29, 2013

What To Eat at Stetson's Steak + Modern Sushi, Now (Re)Opened

Photo: Courtesy Hyatt Regency

Okay, sometimes you have a name and you gotta work with it. So Stetson's Chop House and Bar, in the Hyatt Regency Chicago on Wacker Drive, delivered what it sounded like— steak, meaty enough for guys in cowboy hats. But times change, businessmen eat lighter and more eclectically... and the hotel's gotten a $168 million renovation, including reconcepting Stetson's. So now you're Stetson's Modern Steak + Sushi, and the new ultramodern decor is way chicer than the old west, with its marble walls and fireplaces. But what are we getting so hung up on here? This is the largest hotel in Chicago, the largest Hyatt property in the world, and it's the gorgeous-looking lead restaurant in a property with 140 cooks. They can call themselves anything they want. And it's a triumph for Austrian-born Executive Chef Robert Lang, who got his start with Hyatt as a sous chef here 30 years ago, has worked for the hotel company all around the world and is now commander of all he surveys at their flagship property. Check out the new menus for the restaurant and the lounges below.

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Border Patrol: Taco Bell Confirms New Flavor of Doritos Locos Tacos

Cool Ranch Doritos, making a run for the border.

The world has been waiting with bated, nacho-cheese-y breath to see how Taco Bell would duplicate its extraordinary success through the wizardry of Frito-Lay-flavored taco shells. Today Greg Creed, the Bell's wild and crazy CEO, previewed the chain's new Super Bowl ad for CBS. Since the commercial's stale setup of old people tasting a product and acting young again sort of hit its apex already with 1985's Cocoon, Creed had no choice but to then resort to spilling some industry secrets as the segment arrived at its long-awaited end. "We've got Cool Ranch. That's coming ... That's my tease," the suit admitted to Gayle King about the next taco barreling down the fast-food Mexican pipeline. (Guess those tests last summer worked out.) Great news, since everyone knows Cool Ranch is basically the best flavor of Doritos out there. So, when can we try one?

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Produce From The Plant Now For Sale at the Logan Square Farmers Market

When we took a tour of The Plant, the sustainable vertical farm in the Back of the Yards neighborhood, one of the hitches the guys growing things faced was that the city was making it tough to legally sell their food, based on the issues surrounding other aspects of the building's ecosystem that fed it... which is to say, poop from fish. It's okay to feed plants poop if it's first passed through a large factory and been bagged, apparently, but fish straight to soil was another matter. As Anthony Todd reported a couple of weeks ago, those hurdles seem to have been overcome, and as Mike Sula reports today with some gorgeous pictures, you can now buy greens and mushrooms at the Logan Square Farmers Market. (Which is to say, they've gone from one dilapidated early 20th century Chicago building to another, since this time of year, the market's in the Congress Theater lobby.) Anyway, a bowl of Plant plants, per Sula:

It's almost a shame to even dress it with oil and vinegar, as it's a riot of distinct flavors and textures in each bite: peppery, buttery, crunchy and tender, from meaty purple-veined leaves to feathery wisps of greenery. They taste like they were pulled from the dirt on a sunny, late April morning.

[Reader]

James Deen Redefines Food Porn

No relation to Paula.Photo: WoodRocket.com

Sex-industry sweetheart James Deen stars in a video food blog on the porn site WoodRocket.com. Though the website itself is obviously NSFW, the "James Deen Loves Food" series is surprisingly PG-13. Watch him make liquid nitrogen ice cream, order everything on Burger King's menu, and re-create the last meals of death-row inmates. The latter is where things get really weird: The porn-star-next-door (turned actor in The Canyons with Lindsay Lohan) is obsessed with serial killers John Wayne Gacy and Ted Bundy. Hollywood has clearly corrupted Deen. But at the end of the day, he's just a boy, eating empanadas at Johnny Pacific, and cruising through the Del Taco drive-through. Deen's going so mainstream, he may just be the next Paula. [First We Feast]

Want To Cook Your Own Lunch at Moto? Sign Up for Chef Cantu's Laboratory Cooking Classes.

Moto's kitchen is surely one of the greatest skunkworks in cooking today, full of cutting-edge ideas and technologies, innovative and zany in equal measure. And they'd never just let anybody in, right? No, but if there's one thing about chef Homaro Cantu it's that he's always bursting to share his ideas with new audiences. And so, as the video below explains, there's a way you can not only hang out behind the scenes in Moto's kitchen and other space-age settings, but you'll even be able to make your own lunch there. It's not cheap— $300 for a three-hour class, lunch and wine— but watch the video and you'll see this is no mere kitchen tour, they're not holding anything back. The first one is Sunday, February 17, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.; call 312-491-0058 to book a spot.

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OpenTable Will Buy Foodspotting for $10 Million

Sadly, the new company will not be called OpenFoodTableSpotting.

Score one for the imperiled practice of taking food photos at the table! The online restaurant reservation service OpenTable is buying Foodspotting, the food-photo-based social media network app, for $10 million, reports Bits. Turns out the food photography platform is data-rich: Foodspotting has a database of 3 million photographs and is growing at a "few hundred thousand photos" each month, the blog says. But since OpenTable is all about the business of making reservations, and Foodspotting allows its users the chance to virtually share their meals, how will the companies integrate?

"Mind if I set up my tripod right here?" »

Ready For Scott Walton's Charcuterie and 360 Taps in the Trib Tower?

The restaurant will be located in the former press room where papers like this were printed.

A year ago we reported that the main floor of the Tribune Tower was set to be a really big new restaurant from Bottleneck Management, who had several somewhat generic dining spots around town (Old Town Pour House, The Boundary, South Branch, Sweetwater). A couple of months ago we reported that Scott Walton, who had given another somewhat generic location (MarketHouse in the Doubletree Hotel) a higher profile with his farm to table leanings and in-house charcuterie, was leaving for an unspecified project. Get where this is going? Crain's— yes, Crain's, not, you know, somebody in the Tribune Tower— reports that Bottleneck has recruited Walton for what's now going to be called Howells & Hood, a 17,000 square foot restaurant named for the original architects of the Tribune Tower.

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The Bocuse d’Or 2013 Has Begun

Rosendale: He's got his head in the game.Photo: Bocuse d'Or

The culinary chops of several nations' finest cooks are being tested today and tomorrow at the Bocuse d'Or in Lyon, France, and team USA — Richard Rosendale and his commis Corey Siegel, who hail from West Virginia's Greenbrier resort — have been preparing for a year and are now in competition. The world's greatest chefs are waiting to judge; Iceland's meat platters are being presented; and someone, somewhere is serving gargantuan quenelles de brochet. How will Rosendale and Siegel fare at the Bocuse d'Or? Tune in live to find out. [Bocuse d'Or, Earlier]

"Sustainability... Wasn't Sustainable": City Provisions Deli Has Closed

Cleetus Friedman.

Sad news from one of the most progressive businesses in town: Chef Cleetus Friedman has closed his restaurant and shop City Provisions Deli in the Ravenswood neighborhood. Friedman, who traveled a unique path from improv (as student of Del Close) and hiphop artist to catering, opened his store in 2010, offering an assortment of local artisanal products as well as in-house cured meats and brunch and lunch offerings. He's also been a highly visible figure for the sustainability and locavore movements in Chicago, participating in countless events with other chefs and everything from beekeepers to breweries. But a farewell letter to the customers and community expresses frustration and sorrow that running a business on a sustainable basis is hard— and that the north side location may not have been a good choice in the long run.

I was committed to doing what I believed to be the right thing. Real food takes not just passion, but labor. And these numbers add up. The fact is, I put the same level of ingredients and labor into a sandwich, chips and pickle that my colleagues are putting into a $25 entree. Perhaps we, as a community, are not prepared to take on the challenge of a $15 - $20 lunch ticket.

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Ben & Jerry’s Unveils 30 Rock Flavor

"Well, the theme-restaurant business model does work. NASCAR's Fat Load Cafe is a gold mine." — Jack

From Alec Baldwin's Schweddy Balls to Jimmy Fallon's Late Night Snack, it was only a matter of time before Ben & Jerry's honored another comedic legend with an ice-cream flavor. It's basically the American version of knighting. NBC's 30 Rock comes to an end this Thursday, but don't fret: You can catch your tears in a pint. Co-founder Jerry Greenfield will announce details of the flavor at the finale viewing party, but if we had to guess, it'll include the following ingredients: Sandwich scraps (for Liz), paper (for Jenna's Japanese-porn-star diet), pig (for that time Kenneth ate Harold), additional meat (made in Tracy's meat machine), and Cheesy Blasters. The flavor must be named Adultaraisin, because that's the name of Tracy's fictional Ben & Jerry's flavor. Or at least Muffin Top, after Jenna's No. 4 single in Belgium. [Vulture, HuffPo]

Men Arrested for $65,000 Chicken-Wing Heist

Follow the celery sticks!

You may have heard that chicken-wing prices are up to an all-time high of $2.11 per pound. Since the Super Bowl is this weekend, and desperate times call for desperate measures, it sort of makes sense that two men pulled off a brazen, high-stakes theft of $65,000-worth of frozen Tyson chicken wings from the cold storage facility where they worked in Doraville, Georgia.

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Taylor Swift’s Future Breakup Lyrics About Diet Coke

Fake sugar doesn't lead to real love, T Swizzle.

This weekend, Taylor Swift announced her partnership with Diet Coke, which is "one of the great loves" of her life. If Taylor's prior relationships are telling, the inevitable end of this endorsement deal is going to be hella emotional. America's sweetheart will cope the only way she knows how — she'll write depressing songs about her ex. The tunes will make us all a little uncomfortable, but they're so damn catchy that we'll bop our heads and smile at her heartbreak. Diet Coke, that bastard.

"All you're ever gonna be is aspartemean." »

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