Plenty has happened since my last column, so let’s just get right down to it.
The Chicago restaurant world is abuzz with the big news: the James Beard Awards (the industry’s Oscars) are moving to Chicago. I can only imagine the backroom discussions with the Rahminator on this one! This coveted annual awards ceremony, produced by the James Beard Foundation, has been held each May in New York City—until now. The 2015 James Beard Foundation Awards will take place at our Civic Opera House next May. Clearly the Beard Foundation recognizes that Chicago is now the epicenter of what’s happening in America’s best restaurants. We are the “Second City” no more!
Bye Bye, Pizza
Shocking news last week when the Homemade Pizza Co. suddenly closed all of its locations in the middle of the workday on Friday, May 30. A simple sign on the front of each storefront says, “Closed. Thank you for the years of business.” All of their social media—website, Facebook, Twitter—has gone dark as well. Started in 1997 by North Shore native Eric Fosse, it was a fresh alternative to delivery pizza. Fosse hasn’t been involved in the franchise for the past couple of years (HPC was taken over by outside investors a number of years ago). Fosse now owns Glencoe’s successful Guildhall restaurant and is working on another concept in Chicago. North Shore families mourn the demise of this family favorite with store closings in Evanston, Glencoe, Glenview, Lake Forest and Winnetka.
New and Noteworthy
Now for some happy news: openings! Orange Leaf frozen yogurt has opened (775 Waukegan Road, Deerfield), with a second location to open later this summer at 950 Green Bay Road, Winnetka. As is the current trend, Orange Leaf is a self-serve yogurt store, where you choose your own toppings and then pay by weight (the yogurt—not yours, thank God!).
Also on the sweet side: Say hello to Couture Cupcake (1157 Wilmette Ave., Wilmette, 847-438-9300), the brainchild of “CEO & Cake Artist” Cathi Volante. This adorably pink storefront features outstanding cupcakes and made-to-order decorated cakes, as well as a full barista coffee bar. Only the freshest organic ingredients are used and the results are pretty spectacular…and delicious.
Roll On By
The venerable Northbrook hot dog stand Little Louie’s is rolling with a new food truck called Louie B. Fresh Mobile Kitchen & Catering. Fresh wrap sandwiches and salads will be the focus for owners Peter and Jamie Weiss. You can track their daily North Shore whereabouts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter under @LouieBFresh, or contact them at 844-LB-FRESH.
Cook Me Dinner, Please
There’s a new personal-chef delivery service on the North Shore, and the food is super tasty. Chef Jonah Silva and his talented pastry-chef wife, Erin Winston, have opened Cooked in Evanston, and they deliver to Evanston, Glencoe, Highland Park, Kenilworth, Lake Forest, Lakeview, Rogers Park, Wilmette and Winnetka. Order your meals online through the website, choose a delivery time that’s convenient for you, heat your fully prepared meals at home, and enjoy. This week’s menus included: Cherry Gazpacho, Smoked Salmon Salad, Mediterranean Turkey Meatballs with Freekeh, Broiled Salmon with Ratatouille and Steak with Cauliflower-Potato Mash with fresh tomato sauce. Prices are extremely reasonable, with restaurant-quality, generous entrees ranging from $10-13. There are always gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian and dairy-free options.
The downtown Glenview location of Heinen’s Grocery Store is now open (1020 Waukegan Road, Glenview, 855-475-2300). Yet another exciting entrant (hello, Mariano’s!) in the North Shore grocery-store wars as regional chains vie to fill the void left for the dearly departed Dominick’s chain.
If you’re a World Cup fan, you should know that Avli (566 Chestnut St., Winnetka, 847-446-9300) has installed a giant eight-foot projection screen and plans on showing all of the World Cup matches over the next few weeks, starting this Friday, June 13. So whether you’re cheering for the U.S. or Chile, you can enjoy an authentic Greek meal, lift a glass of fine Greek wine, and root for your favorite team—or just enjoy some world-class soccer in air-conditioned splendor.
Fancy yourself an oenophile? Then you’ll want to check out the Wine Enthusiast Magazine’s Red and White Bash at Architectural Artifacts (4325 N. Ravenswood Ave, Chicago, 773-348-0622) Thursday, June 19 from 6-10 p.m. Styled after a 1920s Prohibition-style party (think “Boardwalk Empire”), you’ll find tons of 90-plus point wines, spirits and beers; food tastings from local restaurants including the Boka Group, 312 Chicago, South Water Kitchen, E & O Food & Drink and Ruth’s Chris Steak House; hair and makeup stations to “finalize your 1920s look;” and a live performance by Brooke & The Nice Things. Best of all, 100 percent of net ticketing proceeds will benefit Wine to Water to bring clean water sources to those in need globally. Red and white attire is recommended; tickets cost $95 per person.