Monday, April 30, 2012

Westfield Old Orchard has Mother’s Day gift ideas, galore!

Mother’s Day will be here sooner than you think. So, it’s time to put pen to paper and come up with your list of what to get mom this year. No ideas yet? Don’t fret; Westfield Old Orchard has everything you’ll want to add to your list for mom, from the gadget-seeker to the trend-setter, and everything in between.
Diamonds are a mom’s best friend, and what better way to say “thanks” to mom than with a little sparkle from Westfield’s Tiffany & Co.? For the gift giver on a budget, Tiffany’s sterling silver Daisy earrings will put a smile on mom’s face for only $225. If money is no object, make mom gasp with the Elsa Peretti® Diamonds by the Yard® bracelet in 18k rose gold for $2,350.

If jewelry is not mom’s forte and she’s a techy at heart, head to Westfield Old Orchard’s Apple store and pick up the new iPad with crystal clear display and ultrafast 4G LTE speed starting at $499. You can even personalize it just for mom with more than 200,000 additional apps. If you are more budget conscious, Apple still has you in mind by offering iPods starting at $49 or an iTunes gift card for mom to store or purchase her favorite tunes.

Finally for the mom whose calling is fashion, beauty and trends, one of the many Westfield specialty retailers will definitely make mom’s heart go atwitter. Take her on a shopping spree to luxury retailers Bloomingdale’s or Nordstrom for the latest and greatest in designer clothes, shoes and handbags, like the MICHAEL Michael Kors “Hamilton- Large” Tote in Mocha Ostrich for $368. 

If your mom is young at heart, she’ll be up on the biggest spring trends, like floral prints, pastels, and bold accessories. All of which can be nabbed at up-to-the-minute Westfield retailers like Akira or Anthropologie. She’ll love the Racer Day Dress from Anthropologie for only $248! Finally for the beauty maven mom, prepare her for an evening of rest and relaxation with a facial and massage at Westfield’s Mario Tricoci and a new pair of pj’s from Soma Intimates, Victoria’s Secret, or J. Crew.  For more information on Westfield Old Orchard retailers, visit

Friday, April 27, 2012

Volare offers special Mother’s Day brunch service

After a highly successful grand re-opening this April, classic Italian eatery Volare (201 E. Grand Ave., 312-410-9900) is open Sunday, May 13 for a special Mother’s Day brunch service.   The four course spread will offer an array of new menu items conceived by Executive Chef Massimiliano Campagnini, and allow guests to choose from a menu of appetizers, soups and salads, entrees and desserts for the cost of $28.95. Tax and gratuity is not included. The brunch menu will be available 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.  Reservations are required.  

For the first course, diners will choose their favorite option from a selection of appetizers including Ostriche Rockefeller, Fresh Oyster baked to perfection with Baby Spinach in a cream Pernot sauce, Fried Calamari Fritti, Calamari served with Cocktail and tomato sauce, Mozzarella in Carrozza, Fried egg battered layered Italian bread with Eggplant, prosciutto and mozzarella served in a salsa di Pomodoro sauce or the Pizza Magherita. 
Next a soup or salad course will be offered where guest will choose from a menu of Minestrone Soup, Crawfish Bisque, Insalata di Rape Rosse, Spinach, roasted Beets, Apples, Gorgonzola Dolce, oven baked Parmesan Egg and roasted onion vinaigrette or Radicchio di Treviso, More e Salmone Affumicato, Treviso Radicchio, Blackberries, Blood Orange segment and smoked Salmon, served with a Cilantro/ Lime vinaigrette.
The third course offers  an entrée menu featuring  Pappardelle alla salsa di Pomodoro e Ricotta, Handcrafted Egg noodle sauteed with Tomato sauce and fresh Ricotta, Agnolotti ai Funghi, Half Moon shaped Pasta stuffed with Mushrooms and Mascarpone cheese, served with chive and Black Truffle butter sauce Crespelle ai Sapori di Mare, Homemade crepes stuffed with Crab and Lobster meat, served with a Crustaceans béchamel sauce, Fregolata,  Fregola pasta in a Jambalaya style, sauteed with Olive oil, Shallots, Shrimp, Mussels, Clams, Crawfish, Chicken, Sausage and a hint of creaole seasoning in a Brandy-cream sauce,  or Agnello al Forno Sliced slow cooked baby Lamb leg marinated in Garlic and Rosemary, served in an herbs demi-glaze sauce with Swiss chard and Potatoes Parisienne.
Finally the dessert menu features options including Crostatina di Fragole , Shortbread, Pastry cream, fresh Strawberries,  Pizzetta  alla Nutella, Baked mini pizza topped with Nutella chocolate and Mascarpone cheese,  Fruit & Cookies or Vanilla, Chocolate, or Lemon ice Ice cream.  In addition, a complimentary glass of champagne will be offered to adult diners.

New Retailers at Westfield Old Orchard

Henri Bendel is opening May 4.  Come take part in the opening soirée 6-9 pm.  Enjoy a champagne toast and take home some fun or glamorous photos provided by the digital photo booth.  All opening weekend long, while supplies lasts, guests will receive a limited edition Henri Bendel tote bag with a purchase of $150 or more, and a 20% off Splurge Card with any purchase.  Shoppers can also enter to win a 2-night say that the Surrey Hotel in New York City and a $2500 Henri Bendel Shopping Spree.
The new store will occupy 2,352 square feet near Lord & Taylor. This will be the second location in the Chicagoland area.  Known for its lavish and trendy fashion accessories, handbags and cosmetics, Henri Bendel is a highly anticipated treat for all of Chicagoland’s fashion savvy!

Three additional new retailers will join the ranks of the many upscale specialty stores located at Westfield Old Orchard., C.D. Peacock and The North Face will be opening in August, and Rolex will be opening in October.

 Located next to Coldwater Creek and The Gap, The North Face’s new 6,278 square foot store will carry all of the high endurance and high performance apparel, equipment and footwear that it is internationally known. This will be the third location in the Chicagoland area, joining others in the John Hancock Center in Chicago and Sherman Plaza in Evanston.

 Luxury jewelry specialist C.D. Peacock, known for its beautiful and timeless creations, is making a grand entrance in Westfield Old Orchard! The luxury Chicago-based jeweler will offer stunning collections that are not available at any other Westfield Old Orchard retailer.  Covetable collections like Hearts on Fire and timepieces from names like Tocari, Hermes, Panerai, Chanel, IWC, Corum, Montblanc and Henri Daussi will be exclusively available at C.D. Peacock, opening this summer.  The 3,500 square foot store will be located next to Nordstrom and Tiffany & Co.

 As an added bonus for luxury timepiece shoppers, Rolex will be opening a boutique operated by C.D. Peacock located next to Tiffany & Co.  The world renowned timepiece crafter will be setting up shop in Westfield Old Orchard this fall.

Here are some other stores at Westfield that are making a move:

Brooks Brothers is open in a new location next to Wilde & Greene and Barnes & Noble. This beautiful, new flagship store is definitely a must-see for the dapper suburban gentlemen.

 Sticking close to its roots, Coldwater Creek is moving into a new location just south of the existing store.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

TGIF at Francesca’s… The Neverly Brothers at Francesca's Vicinato

Francesca’s Vicinato (12960 S. La Grange Rd, Palos Park, IL 60465, 708-671-1600)

Fasten your seatbelts for a guided musical tour through rock 'n roll history with The Neverly Brothers at Francesca’s Vicinato. Live for one night only at Francesca’s Vicinato in Palos Park, mark your calendar for this can’t-miss, toe-tapping, sing-out-loud event on Friday, April 27th.  The restaurant recommends that diners make dinner reservations between 7 and 7:30 p.m. After enjoying a delicious meal, diners may keep their tables for the show. After 8 p.m. the restaurant will offer general seating. For more information on The Neverly Brothers, visit their website at

Monday, April 23, 2012

Administrative Assistant's Day at Francesca’s Restaurants

Call it a Hallmark holiday if you will, but Administrative Assistant's Day honors a talented group of people that keep the wheels turning in any company.  Show the Admin in your department how grateful you are for their support with a special meal at Francesca’s Restaurants.  On Wednesday, April 25th all Francesca’s locations are open for lunch service (with the exception of Mia Francesca, Chicago) and taking reservations. Can’t get out – show your thanks with the gift from Francesca’s – gift cards available to purchase in-store or online at

Francesca’s Tavola (208 S. Arlington Heights Rd., Arlington Heights, IL 60005; 847-394-3950) will be offering a lunch special. Guests can choose a two - course meal (appetizer, soup or salad and pasta, sandwich or entree) with a soft drink or iced tea for $10.00 or a three - course meal (appetizer, soup or salad and pasta, sandwich or entree, and a dessert), with a soft drink or iced tea for $15.00.

Francesca’s on 95th ( 6248 W. 95th Street, Oak Lawn, IL 60453; 708-598-7007) Are you a boss treating your admin to lunch or dinner? Bring them to Francesca’s on 95th and you will receive 15% off your bill.

Celebrate Mother’s Day all over Chicagoland!

Celebrate mom this year by taking your pick of amazing Chicago Mother’s Day specials and events from brunch and dinner as well as some good old fashioned family time fun.  See what is available to help you lavish mom and make her feel special this Mother’s Day.
Mother’s Day Brunch at Elate: The new brunch hotspot!

Elate (111 W. Huron St., Chicago, IL 60654; 312-202-9900) will be serving up its notable brunch service this Mother’s Day.  Bring mom and watch her delight in Elate’s delicious brunch menu 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.  Sunday, May 13.  In addition to its classic menu items, Elate will be adding a buffet option for an additional $12.  The buffet spread will include seasonal fruits, cheese and desserts.  Elate’s a la carte brunch menu includes classics like its famous Breakfast Pizza, with ham, potatoes, truffle oil and a sunny side up egg for $13.00,  Banana Custard French Toast  for $12.00  and the Elate Burger, cooked to perfection with creamed leeks, apple wood smoked bacon and house-made bread and butter pickles for $14.00. Elate also features an extensive Juice Bar during brunch with familiar favorites like fresh squeezed orange and grapefruit juice and lemonade for $4.00,   and delicious juice blends like the Asian Rabbit, a mix of carrot juice and ginger for $7.00 and the Sunrise, a combination of pineapple, strawberry and lime juice for $9.00.

Want to celebrate mom with a champagne toast? For an additional $20.00, Elate also will provide bottomless mimosas with the purchase of any brunch entrée.

Dine at Fleming’s for Mother’s Day and receive a $25 Dining Card as a free gift to mom

Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar (25 E. Ohio St., Chicago, IL 60611; 312-329-9463 and 960 Milwaukee Ave., Lincolnshire, IL 60069; 847-793-0333) will be celebrating Mother’s Day with special brunch and dinner hours and specials, Sunday, May 13.  Brunch hours begin from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., and feature three courses for $34.95 excluding tax and gratuity. Moms will have their choice of appetizers, entrees and desserts from a comprehensive menu including Fleming’s favorites like The Wedge, with iceberg lettuce, grape tomatoes, red onions and crumbled blue cheese, Filet Mignon Benedict with sliced filet mignon and egg on an English muffin with herd béarnaise sauce and tomato concassé, New Orleans-style French Toast and White Chocolate Bread Pudding with bourbon crème anglaise.  A children’s brunch menu will also be available for $16.95, excluding tax and gratuity, for children 12 and under.  Fleming’s also will be offering its  Blood Orange Fizz Cocktail, a mix of Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur, Stoli Vodka, fresh lemon juice and a splash of club soda for $6.95.

As a special gift to mom, spend Mother’s Day with Fleming’s and receive a $25 Dining Card; perfect for treating mom to your next dining experience at Fleming’s.

To make reservations, call your preferred Fleming’s location or make reservations online at

Bring mom to Francesca’s Restaurants for Mother’s Day

“All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel mother” – Abraham Lincoln

Mother’s Day is Sunday, May 13th … Treat the amazing women in your life to a special Mother’s Day celebration at Francesca’s.  Reservations are available online or by calling your local Francesca’s locations.  Extended hours at all locations.  For more information visit

Francesca’s at the Promenade (641 E. Boughton Road, Bolingbrook, IL 60440; 630-739-6300) will have number of items, such as Vanilla bean French toast; Crispy chicken confit and bacon hash, as well as Frittata with sautéed asparagus, sausage, fresh mozzarella, spinach and house potatoes.

Francesca’s on Chestnut (200 E. Chestnut Street, Chicago, IL 60611; 312-482-8800) will feature Smoked salmon omelet with chopped tomatoes, rapini and roasted potatoes; Eggs Benedict with prosciutto and Hollandaise sauce; Fried eggs with spicy avocado pesto and oven dried tomatoes.

Additionally, the following locations will feature special brunch items. Call each location for more information. Francesca’s al Lago (111 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Madison, WI 53703; 608-255-6000); Francesca’s Famiglia (100 East Station Street, Barrington, IL 60010; 847-277-1027); Francesca’s Fortunato (40 Kansas Street, Frankfort, IL 60423; 815-464-1890); Francesca’s on Taylor (1400 West Taylor Street, Chicago, IL 60607; 312-829-2828)

Special Mother’s Day brunch service at Maxwell’s at the Club

Maxwell’s at the Club (200 N. Kingsbury St., Chicago, IL 60610; 312-527-5800) will have a special Mother’s Day brunch service 10 am – 3 pm, Sunday, May 13. 

Brunch options will feature prime rib, roast turkey breast and leg of lamb carving stations, an omelet and waffle bar, assorted pastries and seasonal fresh fruit.  Additionally a variety of appetizers, salads and entrée choices will be available. 

Come enjoy brunch and celebrate the special lady in your life at Maxwell’s for $45.  Children’s brunch also is available for $15 for children 10 and under.   For reservations, call (312) 527-5800, extension 301, or schedule at Maxwell’s website, using the Book a Table feature.

Prairie Grass Café serves up a delicious brunch feast for Mother’s Day

Celebrate Mother’s Day suburban style with Prairie Grass Cafe (601 Skokie Blvd., Northbrook, IL 60062; 847-205-4433).

Prairie Grass Café’s will be offering a delightful Mother’s Day brunch buffet for $45, excluding tax, gratuity and beverages, 9:30 am – 2 pm Sunday, May 13.   Every guest starts their meal with the signature “PGC Benedict” a poached egg with spinach and roasted tomato hollandaise. They are then able to take advantage of Prairie Grass’ amazing brunch buffet, which includes a made to order omelet station, hot waffles, its signature grass-fed beef Shepard’s Pie, Braised Lamb with yogurt sauce, raw onion and cilantro relish, Parmesan crusted Tilapia over creamed spinach, to name a few.  A variety of salads and fresh baked goods from Chopped veggie salad with crumbled Amish Blue Cheese, and red wine vinaigrette, Caesar salad with homemade dressing, croutons and shaved parmesan  to crusty multi grain artisan breads, mini chocolate croissants and Danishes, among other choices. To end the meal, diners also will have the opportunity to indulge in the dessert buffet, which includes Mom’s Homemade Crème Brulee Minis, Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble, Double Chocolate Cupcakes, a crepe station and a variety of seasonal fresh fruit.  Children’s brunch options also are available for $15 for children 10 and under.

Prairie Grass’ regular dinner menu will be available 5 pm -9 pm.  To see its dinner menu and to check out Mother’s Day dinner specials visit.

Westfield’s WFamily series returns this May with a Mother’s Day celebration at Tiffany & Co.

Westfield Old Orchard (Skokie Blvd & Old Orchard Center, 847-673-6800) is doing Mother’s Day right with a family-friendly celebration at Tiffany & Co.  From 11:30 am – 3 pm Saturday, May 5 in front of Tiffany & Co., participating families can come and enjoy a crafting session creating handmade cards and gifts provided by the Westfield retailer.  Along with cards, children will take home a hand painted clay pot with seeds included as a gift to mom on her special day.  Completed greeting cards will be photographed and for the week leading up to Mother’s Day, cards will be displayed on Westfield’s LED billboard to commemorate the little ones’ efforts in showing love for mom.  Volunteers from Wilmette District 39 schools will be on hand to help with craft time and work to raise funds for their school district. No registration is required, so bring the entire family to celebrate mom at Westfield Old Orchard.


Friday, April 20, 2012

Fleming's Introduces Small Plate, Big Pour special

Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar once again delivers by introducing the new dining experience, Small Plates, Big Pours. This new special features a pairing of seven original Flemings’ Small Plates with seven oversized, Big Pour selections from the Fleming’s 100 ® wine menu for only $24.95. Diners can choose from an option of upscale bites including Sliced Filet Mignon, Shrimp Scampi Skewers, Petite Lamb Chops, Seared Ahi Tuna, New Bedford Scallops, Fillet Mignon Skewers or Lobster Tempura. Accompanying wine options include a Penley Gryhpon Merlot (Australia), a Paco& Lola Albariño (Spain), a Cline Cashmere Red Blend (California), a A to Z Wineworks Pinot Noir Oregon), a Cakebread Sauvignon Blanc (Napa Valley), a B.R. Cohn Silver Cabernet (Napa Valley) and a Silverado Chardonnay (Napa Valley).

The Small Plates, Big Pours special only runs for a limited time in the Fleming's bar area at both the Chicago (25 E Ohio, 312-329-9463) and Lincolnshire (960 Milwaukee Ave, 847-793-0333) locations. This is a can't miss opportunity to experience the delicious and upscale offerings of Fleming's at an amazing price. We hope to see you there!

Earth Day at Francesca’s Tavola

Earth April 22! April 16th- April 22nd, Francesca’s Tavola (208 S. Arlington Heights Rd., Arlington Heights, IL 60005; 847-394-3950) will be featuring an Earth Day Cocktail.  This cocktail will consist of Muddled Organic Cucumber and Organic Lemons, Organic Vodka, St. Germain, Simple Syrup and club Soda. $1 from each cocktail purchased will be donated to The Nature Conservancy of Chicago. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Enjoy live jazz and dinner every Thursday at Elate in Chicago's River North

Jazz Thursdays with Graham Czach and the Time MachinesThe live contemporary jazz from Graham Czach ( and the Time Machines on Thursday evenings has also been a strong attraction and a crowd pleaser.

Graham Czach jazz photo bw 300 pixels for ETThe music has been so well received that Elate now calls Thursday evenings, simply, Jazz Thursdays. It’s the place to be to hear top notch jazz that fills the room with a hip, contemporary fusion of sounds. Czach, the very popular and highly respected singer-songwriter who has built a strong following in Chicago, is also a musician’s musician as an instrumentalist. He is a versatile, creative composer, arranger and jazz bassist who teams up with long time musical partner, drummer Makaya McCraven (, plus a host of guest musicians to create an energetic groove that bridges the gap between jazz, R&B, hip hop and electronica. The group’s music fits in perfectly with Elate’s eclectic, sustainable vibe.

Friday and Saturday night DJ adds smooth groove

Late nights on Friday and Saturday, Elate becomes a lively place to meet for specialty cocktails, great wine and craft beer and the latest in hip hop, house and electronica spun by live DJs. The music goes from 9:30 to 1 a.m.; Elate’s late night menu is available until 11 p.m.

ELATE, 111 West Huron, Chicago, Illinois 60654, 312-202-9900, Elate’s menus offer organic wine, spirits and fare and the restaurant composts, recycles, and purchases as much local product as possible. The interior features reclaimed wood tables and flooring, high efficiency lighting, eco-friendly paint and 80% recycled drywall. Elate encourages the use of hybrid vehicles by offering those cars complimentary valet parking.

Complimentary Green City Market Gazapacho at Elate on Earth Day (April 22)

C:\fakepath\elate treetini_edited-1
Earth Day is always very meaningful at Elate and this year, on Sunday, April 22, Chef Michael Noll will feature complimentary tastings of his special Green City Market Gazpacho. Full portions of the GCM Gazpacho may be purchased for $9. Also special for the day is the Elate Ginger Fixx TREEtini with Veev Acai spirit and Ginger Beer for $8 (the normal price is $12). For every cocktail sold, a tree is planted through  Live It Green. The first 40 guests ordering a TREEtini will receive a complimentary Acai Berry Bracelet. Other complimentary gifts will be available while supplies last.

If you want to try the Ginger TREEtini at home, the recipe includes 1 1/2 oz. VeeV Acai spirit, 2 oz. Ginger Beer, Splash of Lime Juice, Touch of Simple Syrup, and garnish with bitters. Mix the ingredients over ice and serve on the rocks or up as you prefer.

Parking is complimentary for earth friendly guests who drive hybrid vehicles.
ELATE, 111 West Huron, Chicago, Illinois 60654, 312-202-9900, Elate’s menus offer organic wine, spirits and fare and the restaurant composts, recycles, and purchases as much local product as possible. The interior features reclaimed wood tables and flooring, high efficiency lighting, eco-friendly paint and 80% recycled drywall.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Elate announces new spring menu.

Elate Executive Chef Michael Noll continues to delight diners with an evolving contemporary American menu that features mostly organic and locally produced ingredients. The new spring dinner menu puts a bit more emphasis on the small plates, which have been very popular. New small plate creations include Grilled Elate Octopus 300 pixels for ET Octopus (photo left) with shishito peppers, toasted peanut, radish and sourdough, Rushing Water Trout with fettucini, fava beans, corn pudding and roasted red pepper ($15), and a new soup, Chilled Spring Pea Puree with goat cheese Arincini, elephant garlic, crème fraîche and mint ($14).

Amish Chicken spring 2012 300 pixels

A delicious new entrée is the Amish Chicken (photo left), with tasso roulade, San Simon fondue, corn bread, pickled okra ($24).

oystersDon't forget, every Wednesday is $1 Oyster Day at Elate, from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. All fresh oysters on the menu are available for the special low, low price of $1.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Lagunitas Brewery Beer Dinner at Francesca’s al Lago

April 18, 6:30 p.m. - Francesca’s al Lago (111 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, Madison, WI 53703; 608-255-6000)

Whether your beer of choice is a pilsner or pale ale, Lagunitas Brewery is sure to make you a believer in their brews.  Come out on Wednesday, April 18th and enjoy 5 beer selections paired with a menu handcrafted by Chef Sergio Lopez of Francesca’s al Lago. Tickets are $50 per person, excluding tax and gratuity. Reservations are required and sure to sell out quickly.

The evening begins with Insalata di Spinaci e Pistacchio, spinach, radicchio, watercress, and pistachio in honey champagne vinaigrette, paired with PILS, Czech Style Pilsner. This is followed by Carpaccio di Mele, apple Carpaccio with brie cheese and cracked black pepper drizzled with a balsamic glaze. It is a perfect pair for IPA, India Pale Ale. The third course features Tagliatelle con Cozze, homemade pasta sautéed with mussels, slow roasted tomatoes, sliced shallots, garlic and extra virgin olive oil. An American Brown Ale, Wilco Tango Foxtrot, makes the perfect companion. Next is Branzino e salsa d’ Aragosta, roasted sea bass with grilled asparagus in tarragon lobster cream sauce, paired with Hop Stoopid Ale, Pale Ale. The meal finishes with Savoiardi con Cioccolata Fondente, lady fingers soaked in Cappuccino Stout with dark chocolate, topped with strawberry compote, and is paired with Cappuccino Stout, Big and dark Stout.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

April 16 is National Eggs Benedict Day - Celebrate at Elate.

Eggs Benedict is one of those delectable treats that should be enjoyed in all its sinful glory.
Elate Country Fried Pork Belly Benedict $13 v1 300 dpi
Don’t forget National Eggs Benedict Day is Monday, April 16. Elate's new Weekday Brunch menu will be spruced up on this day with Chef Michael Noll’s unique Country Fried Pork Belly Benedict ($13). Need we say more. Don't forget that Elate's bottomless Mimosa is always available at brunch for $20 with the purchase of an entree...a great way to celebrate. Elate, 111 W. Huron at Clark, 312.202.9900.

Francesca’s Restaurants celebrates the Day of the Mushroom, April 16th at all Chicagoland locations

Button, shiitake, oyster, wild, portobello, cremini, enoki, beech… with so many mushroom varieties to choose from how will you select just one to top your list for National Mushroom Day on Monday, April 16th?  Celebrate the day of the mushroom with Francesca’s Restaurants and we’ll point you in the right direction with the Pasta Funghetto. Featuring the porcini and wild mushrooms, tossed with perfectly al dente pasta, mascarpone cheese, white truffle oil, fresh oregano and brandy-veal sauce to create a rich, decadent pasta dish that will make you a believer.  Available for $10.99 at all Francesca’s restaurant locations for lunch & dinner on Monday, April 16th.

Davanti Enoteca spices up your weekend mornings with a build-your-own Bloody Mary bar

Have you been bitten by the Davanti bug? The hottest destination in Chicago’s Little Italy neighborhood just got hotter (or spicier) with the addition of a build-your-own Bloody Mary bar for Saturday & Sunday brunch.  You can choose from 10-15 different hot sauces, various pickled veggies such as cucumbers, carrots, white asparagus, green beans, cauliflower and of course the classic garnishes like limes, olives or celery. Sundays are “Sinful Sundays” you can enjoy this classic brunch beverage, made just as you like it for only $5. Brunch is served every weekend from 11a.m. to 3 p.m.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Bacon Makes Everything Better… Baconfest & Francesca’s Forno!

Chicago’s hottest ticket in town is Baconfest on April 14th.  If you weren’t lucky enough to snag a ticket (they’ve been sold out for weeks), get in on the fun at Francesca’s Forno.  In conjunction with the event, they’ll be featuring their Baconfest creation in-house for restaurant guests on Saturday, April 14th… Yes, the same creation to which only Baconfest ticket holders are privy.  Get your bacon-fix at Francesca’s Forno!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Start your weekend out right with Friday night music events at Francesca’s

Sit back, relax & unwind with friends at Francesca’s Bellezza every Thursday 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. & Friday night from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. Live jazz, a glass of wine & a bite to eat will make the hustle-bustle of your work week seem like a distant memory.  Seats are first come, first serve and there is never a cover charge, so arrive early!

Raise a glass to the end of tax season with a Wine dinner event at Francesca’s Bryn Mawr

April 17, 7 p.m. – Francesca’s Bryn Mawr (1039 W Bryn Mawr, Chicago, IL 60660; 773-506-9261)

Uncle Sam’s annual day of reckoning is upon us…. (drum roll please) TAX DAY.  If April 15th is a day to celebrate in your household, chances are you are receiving a tax refund; but if you owe, the tone is surely not so upbeat.  Whether you are drowning your sorrows or toasting to your own financial windfall, we have an event for you.  “Uncle Sam meet Auntie Vino” is a 4-course wine dinner hosted by Francesca’s Bryn Mawr.  Guest speaker, Danny Kleiman, of Heritage Wines takes you through a guided tour of Italian wine varietals paired with an innovative Francesca’s menu.  $48 plus tax & gratuity, reservations required.

The evening begins with Citrus House cured Salmon with shaved fennel and extra virgin olive oil. This is paired with Voveti Prosecco DOC. Following this is English pea filled ravioli, soft poached hen egg, in a parmesan broth with browned butter asparagus, paired with Inama Soave Classico 2010. The next course features Prosciutto wrapped seared ahi tuna with braised pork cheeks, morels, and spring onions. The Endrizzi Teroldego 2009 wine pairs perfectly with this course. The dinner ends with Grilled lamb chop with sweet garlic puree, petit spring vegetables, anise scented lamb au jus. Tenuta Sant’ Antonio Valpolicella Ripasso Monti Garbi 2008 is paired with this course.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Lagunitas Brewery Beer Dinner at Francesca’s Passagio – It’s “Doggone Good Beer”

April 12, 7:00 p.m. – Francesca’s Passaggio (3124 South Route 59, Naperville, IL 60564; 630-946-0600)

Whether your beer of choice is a pilsner or pale ale, Lagunitas Brewery is sure to make you a believer in their brews. Enjoy 5 beer selections expertly paired with Francesca’s food. Tickets are $45 per person, excluding tax and gratuity. Reservations are required.

The beer dinner begins with Carpaccio di Cernia con Finnocchietto Selvatico e Pompelmo, grouper “Crudo” with shaved fennel, grapefruit sea salt, extra virgin olive oil. Lagunitas crispy wheat and pale malt A Little Sumpin’, makes the perfect companion. This is followed by Gambetta di Pollo al Rosmarino, citrus marinated chicken thighs pan seared in rosemary and chiles oil, paired with IPA, India Pale Ale. The third course features Agnolotti con Funghetti, homemade pasta filled with Prosciutto, caramelized onion in a mushroom sauce and Parmigiano. It is a perfect pair for Wilco Imperial, brown Ale. Next is Pesce Bianco Delicato con Faglioni, roasted Lake Superior Whitefish, French Beans, lemon-butter sauce, paired with New Dogtown, Super premium Pale Ale. The meal finishes Mousse di Cioccolato, chocolate Pot au Cream, and is paired with The Censored, rich Copper Ale.

The Menu at Di Sotto Enoteca expands to include Desserts

Reeling from a nomination by Time Out Chicago for “Best New Bar in 2012”, Di Sotto Enoteca steps up their game and adds gourmet Italian desserts and premium Intelligentsia coffee to their already well-respected small plates menu.  Dessert selections include handmade truffles, lemon-ricotta fritters and zeppoles. These light and doughy Italian doughnuts are filled with decadent cheesecake or dark chocolate. Served alongside French press Intelligentsia coffee and “black cat” espresso, the desserts at Di Sotto Enoteca make the perfect after dinner treat.  Check out the full menu at & indulge your sweet side with a visit.

Goose Island Beer dinner at Francesca’s Vicinato

April 12, 6:30 p.m. – Francesca’s Vicinato (12960 S. LaGrange Road, Palos Park, IL 60465; 708-671-1600)

Chef Mario Lopez of Francesca’s Vicinato serves a savory Italian meal with courses paired perfectly with famed Goose Island beers.  Jim De Bolt of Goose Island leads the meal, educating diners on food & beer pairings at this fun, festive dining event.  Reservations are required, $45 per person, excluding tax and gratuity.

The evening starts with Crostini misti, an assortment of crostini’s paired with 312 Urban Wheat Ale. This is followed by Insalata Mista con Gamberi e Granchio, frisee, arugula, lemon & olive oil, jumbo shrimp wrapped in prosciutto stuffed with crab meat, pepper aioli and aged balsamic. It is a perfect pair for Summertime, German Style Kölsch. The third course features Papardelle con Anatra, homemade wide pasta, duck confit, asparagus, roasted artichokes, brown butter sage and parmigiano reggiano. A Nut Brown Ale makes the perfect companion. Next is Lombo di Maiale al Vicinato, grilled pork tenderloin, caramelized onion mashed potatoes, grilled peach and balsamic rosemary demi-glaze, paired with Matilda, Belgian Style Pale Ale. The meal finishes with Brownie alla Moda, chocolate caramel pecan brownie served warm with chocolate sauce, caramel sauce and vanilla gelato paired with Bourbon County Bramble.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Win a Trip to the Aspen FOOD & WINE Classic from Fleming's

We don't ususally promote sweepstakes on our blog but I couldn't help but pass this one on to our readers. I've been lucky to have attended the FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen and it is truly one of the most fabulous food experiences. If you want to get up close and personal with most of this countries best and most celebrated chefs, drink fabulous wine, eat fabulous food and party until all hours of the morning. This is the place to be in June. Our client, Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar, is running this promotion on its website.

Here’s your chance to spend a weekend with Emeril Lagasse, Bobby Flay and Mario Batali. Enter our “Weekend in Aspen” Sweepstakes and you could win a memorable trip for two to the 30th annual FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen, June 15–17, 2012 — the premier culinary event in America.

The FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen is the nation’s hottest ticket of the year for true food and wine aficionados. Guests at the three-day event can attend more than 80 cooking seminars and demonstrations. This year’s lineup includes:
• Top Chef: Salty & Sweet with Gail Simmons and Tom Colicchio
• Italian Sunday Supper
with Mario Batali
• Meatless Mondays
with Michael Symon
• Sizzling Skillets
with Emeril Lagasse
• Brilliance of Bordeaux
with Paul Grieco
• Return of the famous Classic Cook-Off
Don't miss your chance to experience the pinnacle of good taste, mingle with stars and enjoy a pleasure-packed weekend at the base of spectacular Aspen Mountain, all courtesy of Fleming’s! If you are our lucky winner, we'll notify you on or about May 28th so you can start planning your trip.
Click on the link below and enter by May 20th. Official Sweepstakes Rules.

Enter Now

*Sweepstakes Prize includes:
● Roundtrip coach airfare for two
● Two nights hotel accommodations
● $500 American Express® gift card for incidentals
● Two tickets for the 2012 FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen
Approximate retail value of travel package: $4,500

* No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited or restricted. Sweepstakes ends 5/20/12. Open to legal U.S. residents 21 and over. Winner must be able to travel Friday, June 15th through Sunday, June 17th. Read Official Rules.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

First of the Season Columbia River Wild Alaskan King Salmon at Prairie Grass Cafe

Head to Prairie Grass Cafe (601 Skokie Blvd., Northbrook; 847-579-1240) tonight (and this weekend) for the First of the season Columbia River wild Alaskan King salmon with first of the season Klug Farm Asparagus, broken mustard herb vinaigrette $43.

The Spring-run of Columbia River King Salmon is recognized as “some of the best salmon in the world – better than the highly marketed Copper River salmon.”

Millions of years of evolution have gone into creating the world’s most flavorful fish, the wild Columbia River King Salmon. With an oil content as high as 22 percent it even out ranks its popular cousin from the Alaskan Copper River which weighs in with an oil content reaching only 18 percent.

Since salmon don’t feed once they reach fresh water they’ll spend their lives in the ocean building up energy reserves in the form of oil which is intended to sustain their treacherous journey back upstream to the spawning grounds from which their life began. The spring-run salmon which navigate the powerful waters of the Columbia River basin will be up against over 2000 miles of waterways. By comparison the Copper River salmon have a steep 300 mile journey. These massive oil reserves required for this long journey is what gives the Columbia River King its amazing flavor.

Also known as the Chinook Salmon, the Columbia River King salmon have played a major role in the livelihood of the Pacific Northwest Chinook Indians as not only a major source of food but also a spiritual and economic resource as well. The Chinook tribe understood that catching these salmon early in their journey was essential in finding the fish at their healthiest. This also meant a maximum oil reserve ensuring the best possible flavor which made the salmon a valuable commodity. Today that practice holds true.

Chicago’s restaurants challenged to join forces and offer Healthy Fare for Kids

Healthy Fare for Kids program
encourages restaurants across Chicagoland
to offer at least one healthy meal for children

Chicago’s restaurants have begun to enthusiastically support a new grass-roots program, Healthy Fare for Kids, which asks restaurants to offer at least one healthy and delicious meal for kids on their menu. Having started in the 43rd Ward of Chicago (Lincoln Park Area) in December, 2011, Healthy Fare for Kids is now launching a citywide push to recruit restaurants throughout the Chicagoland area.

Diane Schmidt, local parent and health educator, came up with the idea after her decade long experience dining out with her school age daughter. She approached Alderman Michele Smith of the 43rd Ward and Chef Sarah Stegner, the James Beard Foundation awarding winning chef and the co-owner of Prairie Grass Café in Northbrook, Illinois. The team brought in Carol Wagner, holistic nutrition specialist, to help in developing nutritional guidelines for the chefs. Since its launch, more than 35 restaurants have pledged to create healthier menu options for kids.

Schmidt described why she got the idea for Healthy Fare for Kids. "I got sick of the same kids’ menu in so many restaurants and wondered why the worst food in the restaurants always ended up on the kids’ menu," she said. "We know the drill—mac and cheese, chicken fingers, hamburgers, hot dogs and piles of French fries, paired with pop and dessert.  It is a nightmare for families trying to feed their kids well."

Today, families spend more than 50 percent of their food dollars eating out. In addition, kids eat 50 percent more calories at restaurants than they do at home. Numerous studies link eating out with obesity and other related conditions. Obesity rates have increased dramatically among all age groups since 1970, more than quadrupling among children ages 6 to 11. Today more than 23 million children and teens in the United States—nearly one in three young people—are overweight or obese.
"The increase in childhood obesity is one of the reasons we’ve launched the program," said Schmidt. "Since many families visit restaurants often, it is important that restaurants across Chicagoland offer something for kids that tastes really good but is also fresh and healthy. We hope that many, many restaurants will join this program—every restaurant can and should make a difference."
"We’re confident that the restaurant community as a whole will embrace this program and make children’s health a priority," said Stegner. "It’s simply the right thing to do and the time to do it is now."

Stegner, who was one of the founding members of the popular Green City Market, has personally invited some of Chicago’s top chefs to participate in the Healthy Fare for Kids program:  Alexander Brunacci, Tim Cottini, Christian Eckman, Brian Huston, Beverly Kim, Matt Moroni, Sean Sanders, Bruce Sherman, Jared Van Camp, Paul Virant and Susan Weaver, among others. She has piloted similar fare in her own restaurant and has been surprised at the great response from kids and their families. "If you put delicious, healthy food in front of kids and give them a chance, they will eat it!" she said.

The Healthy Fare for Kids leaders have been thrilled at the response the program has received thus far. "I’ve been so impressed with the chefs I’ve met and their generosity and commitment to help," said Schmidt. "Almost all the restaurants I’ve approached have been enthusiastic about the idea and have asked what they can do. At Ditka’s restaurant, Executive Chef Tom Kenney sat down with me, and within two weeks had new menus."

Alderman Smith is also very pleased with the successful launch of the program in the 43rd ward. "When Sarah and Diane approached me about Healthy Fare for Kids, I was more than happy to help spread the word and encourage the restaurants in our ward to get involved," she said. "It’s even more gratifying to know that we spearheaded the effort and that the program will now expand to the rest of Chicago."

The leaders understand that it takes a lot of time and resources to change a menu and so they are extremely appreciative of the efforts these restaurants have made.

Nookies, for example, has overhauled its children’s menu, serving antibiotic free turkey and multi-grain pancakes with fruit. "As a popular family restaurant with four locations, Nookies is a wonderful example of how restaurants can participate in Healthy Fare for Kids," said Schmidt.

Other restaurants have joined in. Café Ba Ba Reeba has a new festive kids’ menu, Goose Island was the first restaurant to put out a special kids menu and offer complimentary veggies and humus to each family table along with several Healthy Fare for Kids specials. Four Farthings, which serves many neighborhood kids, also revamped its entire kids’ menu. Basil Leaf Café created a new kids menu and Zapitistas Mexican Grill is working on a new kids menu for their three restaurants.

Restaurants need to commit to offering one healthy choice, following these guidelines, in order to become official participants in the program. The guidelines emphasize whole grains, seasonal foods, cooking methods that are low in fat and appropriate portion sizes:

1. Limit the bread at the table before the meal
Bread, muffins, crackers or other starchy items can quickly elevate blood sugar, increasing cravings and causing kids to overeat. Limit the amount of bread or substitute it for fresh vegetables and let kids’ hunger be satisfied with the main part of the meal.
2.  Ensure some lean protein with the meal
Eating protein is an essential part of the diet and ensures that kids won’t feast on only starchy food. Consider a lean cut of meat or an entrée showcasing legumes:  both are rich sources of protein. We highly encourage the use of lean proteins that are free of antibiotics and growth hormones.
3. Portion sizes: Keep it simple
Children consume almost twice as many calories when eating food made outside the home. Children’s stomachs are about the size of their fist, so smaller portions of good food will fill them up and leave them satisfied.
4. Use whole grain breads and pasta
Choose whole grains for part of your ingredients instead of highly refined products.  Whole grains are packed with nutrients and fiber.
5. Use cooking methods that are lower in fat while still retaining flavors
Steer away from serving fried food that is high in fat, saturated fat and calories.  As well, avoid all food using trans-fat or hydrogenated fats.
6. Prepare your dishes with great flavors while limiting salt
High sodium diets can cause a number of health challenges—even in children. Build your dish with flavor profiles that introduce children to the naturally delicious taste of healthy foods.
7. Keep it local and seasonal
Local produce is fresher, tastier and a great way to get kids engaged in learning about local and seasonal food. It’s great for the environment and kids love to be a part of being green.
8. Serve no-sugar beverages and small, if any, desserts
Have kids order flat or sparkling water flavored with vegetables or fruit, even with 100% juice.  Or serve non-flavored milk with dinner.  Soda and concentrated fruit juice are unwelcomed guests at the dinner table.  Finally, end this healthy dining experience by retooling desserts.  If you want to add dessert to the meal, continue the idea of small and seasonal.

Healthy Fare for Kids also emphasizes that these guidelines are good advice for at-home cooks as well. "These guidelines can be very helpful to parents in planning and serving their meals at home," said Schmidt. "Healthy eating really starts at home. I would love for parents to use these guidelines for planning their own meals. They’re straightforward and easy to use."

Among the restaurants participating in the Healthy Fare for Kids program are:

Aria at the Fairmont Hotel (200 N. Columbus Dr., Chicago, IL 60601; 312-565-8000
Basil Leaf Café (2465 N. Clark St., Chicago, IL 60614; 773-348-7243
Brown Trout, 4111 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago, IL 60618; 773-472-4111
Café Ba Ba Reeba (2024 N. Halsted, Chicago, IL 60614; 773-935-5000
City Provisions 1818 W. Wilson, Chicago, IL 60640; 773-293-2489
Convito Café and Market, 1515 Sheridan Road, Wilmette, IL 60091; 847-251-3654),
Ditka’s,100 E. Chestnut, Chicago, IL 60611; 312-587-8989
Feast, 25 E. Delaware Pl., Chicago, IL 60611; 312-337-4001
The Four Farthings Tavern and Grill, 2060 N. Cleveland Ave., Chicago, IL 60614; 773-935-2060
Franks ‘n Dawgs, 1863 N. Clybourn Ave., Chicago, IL 60614; 312-281-5187
Gemini Bistro, 2075 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago, IL 60614; 773-525-2522
Goose Island, 1800 N. Clybourn Ave., Chicago, IL 60614; 312-915-0071
John’s Place, 1200 W. Webster St., Chicago, IL; 773-525-6670 and 2132 W. Roscoe, Chicago, IL; 773-244-6430
MK, 868 N. Franklin St., Chicago, IL 60610; 312-482-9179
Mon Ami Gabi, 2300 N. Lincoln Park West, Chicago, IL 60614; 773-348-8886
Mörso, 340 W. Armitage Ave. Chicago, IL 60614; 773-880-9280
Nookies, 1746 N. Wells St. Chicago, IL 60614; 312-337-2454; 2114 N. Halsted, Chicago, IL 60614, 773-327-1400; 3334 N. Halsted, Chicago, IL 60657, 773-248-9888, and 1100 W. Bryn Mawr Ave., Chicago, IL 60660, 773-516-4188
North Pond, 2610 N. Cannon Drive Chicago, IL 60614; 773-477 -5845
Old Town Social, 455 W. North Avenue Chicago, IL 60610; 312-266-2277
Perennial Virant, 1800 N. Lincoln Avenue Chicago, IL 60614; 312-981-7070
Prairie Grass Cafe, 601 Skokie Blvd., Northbrook, IL 60022; 847-205-4433
Publican, 837 W. Fulton Market, Chicago, IL 60607; 312-733-9555
R. J. Grunts, 2056 N. Lincoln Park West, Chicago, IL   60614; 773-929-5363
Socca, 3301 N. Clark St., Chicago, IL 60657; 773-248-1155
Terzo Piano, Art Institute of Chicago, 159 E. Monroe St., Chicago, IL 60601; 312-443-8650
Vie, 4471 Lawn Ave., Western Springs, IL 60558; 708-246-2082
Yusho, 2853 N. Kedzie Ave., Chicago, IL 60618; 773-904-8558
Zapatistas Mexican Grill, Fullerton and Clark St., Chicago, IL 60614; 773-525-4100;  1307 S. Wabash St., Chicago, IL 60605; 312-435-1307;  992 Willow Rd., Northbrook, IL 60022; 847-559-0939

Restaurants will continue to be added as the initiative grows.
For more information on Healthy Fare for Kids, please visit for a complete and growing list of participating restaurants.