Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Chicago's Best Valentine's Celebrations of 2014

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If you're looking for a special way to celebrate Valentine's day, these Chicago area businesses have something to offer every budget. Whether you're looking for an intimate romantic evening, a family celebration, party ideas to celebrate with friends at home and gift ideas, these are our picks for Chicago's best.
ET big chef - gourmet burgers

Celebrate a Casual Valentine’s Weekend 
And Enjoy a Fun Heart-Shaped Pizza with your Sweetie
at Big Chef Burgers in Schaumburg
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Celebrating Valentine’s weekend doesn’t have to break the bank. Big Chef Burgers (1602 E. Algonquin Rd., Schaumburg, 847-221-8539) invites you and your sweetie to enjoy a casual yet romantic evening over a heart-shaped homemade Neapolitan pizza Friday, February 14 and Saturday, February 15. Families welcome.Thirsty, sure you can share a lovely bottle of Chianti or your favorite bubbly. But if you really want a treat, try a spiked “adult” strawberry gelato milkshake with two straws.
Big Chef Heart Shaped PizzaAny of Big Chef’s pizza can be made heart-shaped. The menu features a number of pizzas to suit all tastes including: Pizza Con Buffalo with Mozzarella, Prosciutto, Arugula and cherry tomatoes; Pizza Con Pancetta E Grana with tomato sauce, Pancetta and shaved Parmesan; Pizza Con Prosciutto Cotta E Funghi with tomato sauce, sautéed mushroom, Italian ham, and Mozzarella; Pizza Margarita with tomato sauce, Mozzarella and basil; Pizza Salsiccia E Cipolla with tomato sauce, homemade mild Italian sausage, onion and Mozzarella; Quattro Formaggi with Mozzarella, Gorgonzola, Brie, and Fontanilla cheeses; Quattro Stagioni with tomato sauce, Italian ham, artichokes, sautéed mushrooms, and black olives,. and Pizza Vegetariana with tomato sauce, Mozzarella, roasted pepper, grilled eggplant, zucchini, and sautéed spinach. All pizzas are $8 each. 
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Da Lobasta Logo
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Be Mine. Celebrate Valentine’s Weekend with Catered Da Lobsta Goodies
Celebrating Valentine’s weekend with special friends and family is an annual tradition and serving luscious lobster makes the occasion even that much more tasty. Da Lobsta at Chicago French Market and 12 E. Cedar St. has created The Perfect Party with its catered options. Create your own platter featuring a variety of Da Lobsta rolls (Traditional, Asian, Mexican, Green, Indian, Surf & Turf, and The Skinny), awesome sides (Lobster Mac-N-Cheese, Lobster-Crab Spinach Dip, Coleslaw, Spicy Butter Pickles and Cape Cod Chips) and you’ll win the hearts and palates of all of your lucky friends.

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Delightful logo
Delightful Pastries Treats A Welcome Addition to Your Valentine's Menu

February is the perfect time to celebrate great pastries and Delightful Pastries at the Chicago French Market is your go-to spot for picking up gifts that are sure to please your significant other.  Delightful will custom create a special Valentine’s gift 
box or you can pick up one that’s been pre-made with customer favorites. Think chocolates, homemade cookies, homemade truffles and fabulous French macarons in any combination. Also special for Valentine’s Day are Delightful Pastries' luscious extra-large hand-dipped in bittersweet dark chocolate strawberries, available for $2.50 each or a baker’s dozen special (13) for $30 (the extra one is complimentary).
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Buy your sweetheart a gift box ($30) including gingerbread sugar cookie hearts, raspberry and chocolate Parisian macarons, cookie bag of your choice, and ¼ lb. handmade chocolate bark or ¼ lb. handmade truffles. 

The Delightful Pastries Amazing Gift Box is, simply said, AMAZING. For $50, you get a heart cookie sandwich with chocolate butter cream, black and white cookie – cupcake; a large box of raspberry, passion fruit and chocolate Parisian macarons; a box of rum balls - chocolate pecan turtle; maple cranberry almond granola and two chocolate dipped strawberries.
And perhaps the most romantic (and certainly customer favorites) are their heart-shaped chocolate mousse torte for two ($6.75) made with a chocolate mousse and finished off with ganache made with bittersweet Belgian chocolate, and Chocolate Raspberry Ganache Tart  ($30.00) with sweet buttery tart dough layered with chocolate ganache and covered in fresh raspberries with a dusting of powdered sugar.
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Madison and Rayne Logo
Do It Yourself Artisan Valentine’s Day Dinner Courtesy of
Madison & Rayne
Madison & Rayne has a beautiful 3-course artisan dinner planned for your Valentine's Day. Order by Saturday, February 8 and get ready for a special home-made meal, perfect for foodies, that’s prepped by Chef Josh Jones and cooked at home by you. The cost is $28 per person inclusive. The Valentine’s menu will be delivered on Tuesday, February 11. Delivery is complimentary. Visit for details.
The menu includes:
- 1st course:  roasted chestnut soup, pickled shallots, black truffle oil
- 2nd course: ricotta gnudi, braised Amish chicken, Shishito peppers, preserved lemon
- 3rd course:  flourless chocolate cake, fig jam
For those of you not familiar with Madison & Rayne, it’s a new concept in “delivery” where Chef Josh Jones, formerly of Spring restaurant in Chicago, prepares the food and delivers all of the ingredients, complete with a detailed explanation on how to cook the meal. You finish the meal at home. Most meals take between 10-30 minutes from start to finish. All are delicious and costs between $12 to $18 per person.
Madison & Rayne has redefined the cooking experience. It’s like having a personal chef but the chef is you. They make the cooking experience easy. The food is pre-measured, pre-marinated, washed, chopped, sliced, and ingredients are ready for assembly. All you need to do is create a wonderful meal in the comfortable privacy of your own home. 
“Think about having a personal shopper, personal assistant, and personal delivery all rolled into one,” says Melanie Mityas, founder and partner. There’s minimal prep and minimal clean-up time, meaning your valuable time is better spent cooking and enjoying dinner. All ingredients and a detailed recipe card are provided - you just need to have basic kitchen tools, and olive oil and seasoning on hand. Josh sources high-quality meats, vegetables and grains from local farms. Madison and Rayne maintains a strong focus on organic and sustainable products and meals are inspired by seasonal produce.
Valentine’s weekend is the perfect time to try Madison & Rayne, especially if you want to avoid packed, expensive and noisy restaurants. Create your own romantic meal at home and spend a leisurely evening with your loved one.
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Maxwells Valentines Day
 Best Chicago Valentine’s Day Deal $45
Celebrate a romantic Valentine’s Day at Maxwell’s at the Club

Maxwell’s at the Club (500 N Kingsbury St, Chicago, IL 60654, (312) 527-5800 x301) is celebrating Valentine’s Day with a special prix fixe menu for only $45 per person that includes choice of petite filet and lobster tail, New York strip steak, Chilean Sea Bass or Veal Medallions. The regular Maxwell’s menu also will be available. The special prix fixe dinner menu is available only on Valentine’s Day, Friday, February 14.
The prix fixe menu features four courses. Choose from Duck Confit, California Sushi Roll, or Grilled Shrimp Diavolo to start. The second course features choice of Roasted Cauliflower and Black Barley Salad, Baby Red Romaine, or Crab Bisque, followed by the entrées featuring choice of Petite Filet and Lobster Tail, New York Strip Steak, Soy-Ginger Chilean Sea Bass, Pan-Seared Veal Medallion, and finally, dessert, Churros with Cinnamon Ice Cream.

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Celebrate an Exquisite Valentine’s Weekend at Oceanique

If you’re looking for an exceptional dining experience this Valentine’s weekend, look no further than Oceanique (505 Main Street, 847-864-3435) in Evanston. Recognized as the best seafood restaurant in the Chicago area and one of the top in the nation, Chef Mark Grosz has prepared a special meal – perfect for couples wishing to enjoy one of the most delicious and memorable meals ever. Valentine's will be celebrated both Friday, February 14 and Saturday, February 15.

Planning to pop the question? Think about doing it at Oceanique. The dining room is intimate, the atmosphere is sexy and the service is superb. 

The beautiful special Valentine’s menu features five courses with or without a Champagne or wine pairings. The cost is $99 per person without pairings, excluding tax and gratuity. Add an additional $150 per person with Champagne or $69 for the "Intro", $125 for the "Premiere" or $250 for "The Grand wine pairings."

The meal begins with a Chef’s Surprise, followed by your choice of Wild Maine Diver Sea Scallops, Country Pate, Butternut Squash Ravioli, Chilled Maine Basket Island Oysters, Pear Maytag Blue Cheese Salad, or Wild Maine Lobster. The third course is an intermezzo of Passion Fruit Sorbet. Choose from Wild Maine Skate, Organic Arctic Char, Nebraska Prime Filet Mignon, Organic Spanish Turbot, Eggplant Heirloom Carrots and Pea Tips, or Wild Maine Lobster for your entrée. Finish with the dessert from the chef’s pastry selections.

Oceanique serves dinner from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., Monday-Thursday and from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. The restaurant is closed on Sundays. For more information or to make reservations, please contact Oceanique at 847-864-3435 or visit the website at

Friday, February 14, 2014

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Without Pairing - $99 per person
 Champagne Pairings - $150 per person
Wine Pairings - Intro - $69 per person
Wine Pairings - Premier - $125 per person
Wine Pairings - Grand - $250 per person  
(excluding tax and gratuity)

Chef’s Surprise

Wild Maine Diver Sea Scallops
Lobster-Soy Broth       Kimchi      Cilantro

Country Pate
Almonds   Parsley-Apple Salad     Blackberry Gelée     Poilâne Toast   

Butternut Squash Ravioli 
Fennel      Prosciutto      Crispy Sage       Walnuts

Chilled Maine Basket Island Oysters (6)
Jalapeño-Red Onion Salsa    Radish      Seaweed       

Pear   Maytag Blue Cheese Salad
Red Watercress      Pecans      Buttermilk       

Wild Maine Lobster   
Bufala Mozzarella     Caviar     Basil     Avocado                 

Passion Fruit Sorbet

 Wild Maine Skate
Fennel     Pea Tips     Green Beans    Porto    

 Organic Arctic Char
       Elote       Butternut Squash       Turmeric     Poblano      

Nebraska Prime Filet Mignon
         Escargot       Purple Potatoes      Chanterelles    Red Onion     

Organic Spanish Turbot
   Fennel      Heirloom Carrots     Purple Potatoes     Lemongrass    
Eggplant   Heirloom Carrots   Pea Tips
Chanterelles        Red Onion        Leek-Basil Broth       

Wild Maine Lobster
          Golden Beets     Pea Tips     Basil Potato     Yuzu-Saffron     

Chef’s Pastry Selections

Mark Grosz
Chef de Cuisine / Entrepreneur
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Maine Basket Island Oysters
 Maine Lobster with boarders

 Wild Maine Lobster 
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Prairie Grass Cafe
 Celebrate Valentine’s Weekend at 
Prairie Grass Cafe in Northbrook

Celebrating Valentine’s weekend (February 14 and 15) with the entire family is always special, and enjoying a great meal with your loved ones makes the day that much better.
Valetine Heart cookie_et2 Prairie Grass Cafe (601 Skokie Blvd., Northbrook, 847-205-4433) Chefs Sarah Stegner and George Bumbaris have prepared delicious Valentine’s Weekend specials, including a complimentary heart-shaped cookie for children. The cookie recipe used is Sarah's grandmother's. The regular menu also will be available.

The Prairie Grass Cafe Valentine’s Weekend specials not on the menu include: “Three Sisters Garden” Farmer Greens with Roasted Squash, Pomegranate, Pumpkin Seeds, “Pleasant Ridge Reserve” Cheese and Herb Vinaigrette, $9.50; Wild Striped Bass with Olive Oil Poached Winter Vegetables – Splashed with Aged Balsamic, $34; “Creekstone” All-Natural NY Strip with Sweet Potato & Bacon Gratin, Ragout of Mushrooms, $39, and Thin Apple Tarts with Crème Anglaise, $10.

A separate children’s menu is available as is Prairie Grass Cafe’s regular menu. Dinner is served from 5 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.; the Valentine’s Weekend specials will be available on both Friday and Saturday night (February 14 and 15). 

Sarah's Grandmother's Valentine’s Day Heart Cookies
Chef Sarah Stegner and Chef George Bumbaris
Featuring all Natural Icing – No Food Dyes!
1½ cups Flour
¾ tsp. Baking Powder
¼ tsp. Salt
½ cup Sugar
½ cup Butter - Softened 
½ Slightly Beaten Farmer’s Egg
1½ Tbsp. Local Cream
½ tsp. Vanilla Extract

Mix together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Cut the butter into the flour mixture. Add the egg, cream and vanilla. Blend thoroughly. Chill the dough. 
Roll the dough out on a floured surface to desired thickness and cut with heart cutter.
Bake cookies at 400° for 8-12 minutes or until very lightly browned around the edges. Allow to cool and frost with natural pink frosting.

Natural Pink Frosting:
½ cup Butter - Softened 
3 cups Powdered Sugar
3 Tbsp. Local Cream
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
One small red beet peeled

In a mixer blend the butter and sugar – add the cream and continue to beat until smooth. Add the vanilla and mix well.
Using a coarse microplane grater – grate approximately 2 Tbsp of red beet into frosting. Stir by hand with a rubber spatula till frosting is bright pink.
Transfer the frosting to a sieve and push through using the rubber spatula, leaving the beet pieces in the sieve.
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waterleaf logo 
  Book Your Valentine’s Reservation Early
You don’t want to miss experiencing DuPage’s most romantic restaurant - Waterleaf

Waterleaf restaurant (425 Fawell Boulevard in Glen Ellyn, Ill, telephone: 630-942-6881), provides the perfect setting for a romantic Valentine experience. The contemporary dining room overlooks a scenic lake nestled on the campus of College of DuPage. The restaurant also features a beautiful fireplace. Waterleaf is now taking reservations for Valentine’s day and the accompanying weekend.

During the entire month of February, celebrate love and romance with an exquisite meal, a bottle of fine wine or a Valentine’s themed martini at Waterleaf. “We want to celebrate the romance of Valentine’s Day all month at Waterleaf,” said Jean Pierre Leroux, General Manager. “There’s no better way to celebrate romance than an evening at Waterleaf.”

Diner’s will select from the ala carte dinner menu.

The adjacent Inn at Water’s Edge offers a Romance Package for the entire month of February.

Celebrate love and romance with an overnight stay at Inn at Water’s Edge.

Book an overnight stay for two and receive:
  • A bottle of champagne
  • Chocolate-covered strawberries
  • Turndown service
  • Continental breakfast the next morning
The Romance Package is $150 per night plus tax and is available throughout February. Reservations are available by calling (630) 942-6888.
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