News-now on 7 Chicago food and drink spots

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It’s never a dull day in Chicago for lovers of food and drink. Here are a few tidbits to keep you excited no matter whether spring is really near or not.
The music and the libations are just right at The Lodge Tavern
The music and the libations are just right at The Lodge Tavern
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Lodge Tavern, 21 W. Division St., just celebrated 59 years (that’s five-nine, folks) of serving up good drinks in a warm and friendly atmosphere with a great jukebox playing the hits of whatever decade is your favorite (typically people tend to love the music that was popular when they were teenagers – Town Without Pity, anyone?). Customers in a mixed bag of ages make the place feel homier – think: pubs in England and Ireland – than many a hangout for a single age group. And speaking of drinks, besides the full assortment of beers and liquors they serve up chilled mini black bottles of Freixenet Cordon Negro, one of the world’s most popular cavas (that’s Spanish for champagne/sparkling wine).

ONLY 16 places at the table at Osteria la Madia Chef's dinner
ONLY 16 places at the table at Osteria la Madia Chef’s dinner
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Get upfront and personal with Osteria La Madia‘s Chef/Owner Jonathan Fox and Sous Chef Matt Reidy. Experience a selection of their new Spring dishes in a very intimate setting, 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 15. The Chef’s Table is limited to only 16 guests. The 5-course prix-fixe dinner with wine pairings is $65 plus tax and gratuity. Osteria La Madia is located at 59 W. Grand Ave., Chicago. Get your tickets at Eventbrite or by calling 312-329-0400.

Even if you already have a favorite ramen spot, keep an open mind and try something new this March. Miku Sushi, 4514 N. Lincoln Ave. in Lincoln Square, has two top-flight ramen dishes at only $8 all month (usually $13 and $14). And/or get half-off any of their Lincoln Square Classic Maki and Traditional Maki all month long between 11 am and 6 pm.
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From March 12 to 20, build your own Irish Coffee at THE BAR at Fairmont Chicago, Millennium Park, 200 N. Columbus Dr. Choose a hot beverage (espresso, coffee, hot chocolate or tea) and an adult libation (everything from Jameson to Peppermint Schnapps), then either a cool or steamed mixer of milk or flavored syrup and toppings like whipped cream, chocolate syrup, caramel sauce and cinnamon. All for $14.
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Get Smoked with smoky food and drink at 312 Chicago
Get Smoked with smoky food and drink at 312 Chicago

312 Chicago is celebrating its 18th birthday March 21-31, and Chef Luca Corazzina invites you to Get Smoked with a 3-course pre-fixe dinner menu ($18 pp). Optional 2.5 oz smoky cocktail pairing is +$7 per course. Start with warm Smoked Caprese Salad (smoked mozzarella, tomato + basil). Next enjoy Spruce-Smoked Pasta (house-made pasta smoked with spruce branches) served with amatriciana sauce + toasted bread crumbs. And finally Smoked Italia torched chocolate sponge cake, meringue + lemon gelato. Head Bartender Jenn Knott surprises with smoky cocktails like Negroni Smoke (Ardbeg 10 Year, Campari, Punt a Mes and an Orange Peel).

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Crispy-tender red snapper (one side) at Oyster Bah
Crispy-tender red snapper (one side) at Oyster Bah

Had a lovely birthday dinner recently at Oyster Bah, 1962 N. Halsted. Cousin to Shaw’s Crab House, it calls itself an East Coast oyster Mecca in Lincoln Park. Surprise: past the oyster bar and through the dining room there is a an entire wall dedicated to hot sauces – made to complement (almost) everything, from oysters and stuffies to calamari and chowder.

The crab bites were delicious – and they only give you the pieces with straight shells so all you have to do is push, and presto! your big chunk of juicy crabmeat comes right out. The One-Sided Red Snapper was delicious, crispy fried flour coating and super-tender, sweet flesh. I forgot how good red snapper can be! And do not fail to order the only dessert available – the chef’s own coconut cake, served with chocolate sauce. Num. Thanks for the candle, guys.

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The BEST creamed spinach anywhere at Shaw's
The BEST creamed spinach anywhere at Shaw’s

Speaking of Shaw’s Crab House, 21 E. Hubbard, they do a really bang-up job on Mardi Gras. And please note: all the delicious dishes they serve on Fat Tuesday (except for the crawfish boil) are already on the regular menu, so you can order ’em any time. And the only desserts I’ve tasted at Shaw’s have been the mini versions served at the weekend brunch (available on Saturdays, too, now in addition to Sundays). On Fat Tuesday we  took a chance and ordered the full version of a few desserts. Verdict: scrumptious. We decided we’ll have to save room for dessert now every time we go to Shaw’s.

Unbelievably succulent raspberry pie at Shaw's
Unbelievably succulent raspberry pie at Shaw’s

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