Tag Archives: 312 Chicago

Review: 312 Chicago restaurant

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The folks at 312 Chicago know how to cook, for sure, but they also have a sense of humor. They’ve just spent the month of March celebrating their 18th birthday with a special “Get Smoked” 3-course prix fixe dinner for $18.
312 Chicago turns 18
312 Chicago turns 18
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When I asked our server why the “get smoked” thing, he said, “Well, Chicago used to have a law that you couldn’t smoke until you were 18. So we decided since we were turning 18 we’d get smoked! Alas, Chicago changed the law just a couple of weeks ago to say that you can’t smoke now in Chicago until you’re 21.” We all agreed, then, that customers can likely expect another fun opportunity like this again three years from now…

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The wines on their list lean towards the Northern Italian, as does the food, so we asked our server to recommend for us. We were pleased with the suggested Cannonau di Sardegna D.O.C. Riserva. Hearty enough to go with the appetizer and the pasta courses, but not so strong as to overwhelm. According to one wine writer in “The World’s Best Wine under $25,” it “emphasizes ethereal, perfumed aromatics rather than an overt expression of fruit.” Well, okay!
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They did a fabulous job with their “get smoked” menu. Starting with a dish of hot, melty soft, creamy, smoked house-made mozzarella served atop two lightly cooked, peeled slices of delicious fresh-tasting tomato and accompanied by ribbons of fresh, fragrant basil.

Next up was a dish of their house-made fettuccine – tender, delicate and delicious wide noodles – coated with just the right amount of tomato-y Ameritriciana sauce and studded with bits of fried pancetta, and seasoned with a touch of red pepper flakes. Perfect spice. Perfect pasta. Perfect combination. The serving was generous, and the leftovers were delicious again a couple of days later served with sautéed scallops and steamed greens. Mm-mm.

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We were pleasantly surprised when we cut into the third course dessert, “torched chocolate cake with lemon gelato,” a light yet rich-tasting layered confection topped with browned (smoked) meringue that hit just the right note after the meal. The gelato was especially tasty and the caramel sauce was just icing under the cake.
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And then came, compliments of the house, little après-dinner glasses of their house-made Limoncello. Thick and lemony and sweet and a lovely ending to a fresh and pleasant meal. Although the restaurant no longer does regular wine dinners, they are introducing a new feature this year. They will have a bartender serving drinks out on the patio (weather permitting, of course) all summer. The restaurant, attached to the Hotel Allegro, is situated at the corner of LaSalle and Randolph, across from the Townsend Center, so if you’re going to be that area, don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy their food and drink in a comfortable yet elegant atmosphere.
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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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