Fire Foxes

I think there’s a secret grandmother cabal that meets every week at Prairie Fire, the seasonal contemporary American restaurant in the West Loop. How else to explain that there are probably more bubbes per square inch chowing down in the dark wood-trimmed dining room than on the shuffleboard court at a Palm Springs retirement community? Advertisements


Divine Davanti: Little Italy can always use more Italian joints like this

Anyone who’s seen “The Godfather” or watched an episode or two of “The Sopranos” knows that people like to send messages at Italian restaurants. So what’s a food writer to think when a food runner at the new Davanti Enoteca in Little Italy “accidentally” tips a full glass of Chianti into his lap and all over his brand new white Puma tennis shoes? I mean I wasn’t worried I was gonna get whacked. This is Taylor Street, Chicago. The worst thing that happens around here is that Oscar DeAngelo, the unofficial mayor of Little Italy, will yell at you at a community policing meeting. I was concerned however, that maybe I’d been made, that the affable owner, Scott Harris (Mia Francesca, Purple Pig), holding court at the bar made from 180-year-old refurbished barn wood and lit by the glint from a medieval-looking metal-cart-wheel-like lantern, was on to me and wanted to let me know that maybe he didn’t like my pan of his Neapolitan pizza joint, Nella, a few months ago. The truth is, though I had to eat the rest of my meal with a soggy crotch emanating a bouquet of blackberry and tobacco, I was kinda happy, for…

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On Fowl and Filipino Breakfast: Uncle Mike’s is a place of pleasant contradictions

There are a half-dozen penguins gathered on a high ledge. It’s not clear how they got there or what their purpose is. They could be suicidal, biding their last minutes while peering gingerly over the edge, contemplating the hot bath of ginger-chicken porridge or the searing splash that awaits in a duo of over-easy eggs perfumed with sesame oil below.

Hip To Be Square: Apart is the Huey Lewis of pizza, and that’s a good thing

If you were semi-conscious in the eighties, you probably read the title of this column and thought of Huey Lewis. Or, if born later, maybe you recalled the film “American Psycho” adapted from Bret Easton Ellis’ novel, wherein Christian Bale as investment banker/serial killer Patrick Bateman hacks a dude up with an axe while jigging to the cute organ fills on Lewis’ song. I don’t really like “Hip To Be Square.” I prefer Lewis’ “Power of Love” from the “Back to the Future” soundtrack as it recalls my old bromantic worship of young Michael J. Fox and also because it’s a simple confection. “Hip To Be Square” is a confection too, but Lewis pretends it’s more by using the song to explore what it means to give up on a dream and sell out to the man. He also interweaves the idea that pretending like you sold out to the man while being a rock-star, i.e. not selling out, is now cool. Lewis is pretty much Billy Joel without soul—and the alcohol problems and hot wives. His music, a formulaic brand of funk and blues mixed with secondhand soccer-mom-friendly Talking Heads is sell-out packaged pop of the greatest vintage and…

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Staxed : A new Little Italy breakfast spot puts out the hits

On December 8, 1967 at the Memphis recording studios of Stax Records, Otis Redding didn’t have a lyric written for the last verse of his newest song, so he improvised and whistled a few bars, planning to return to the studio again to finish. Two days later he died in a plane crash outside of Madison, Wisconsin, his body recovered from Lake Monona. Redding’s partner and lyricist, Steve Cropper, went to the studio right after the crash, finished up the recording, preserved the whistling as an outro and launched Redding’s biggest hit, “Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay” on Stax record’s Volt label.

Gettin My Goat

Who names their restaurant after a bestiality porn video? I mean, c’mon Stephanie Izard, don’t you have PR people who are supposed to vet that stuff? You’re practically best buds with Spike from Top Chef. Dude clearly watches lots of seedy stuff – he could have given you the heads up that a Google search for your restaurant would be illegal.