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Cookie fries; baking series holding tryouts
Dining news: Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times

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—The Cookie Joint, which advertises itself as the "home of the cookie fries," has launched. The treats come in five varieties: original, chocolate chip, double chocolate chip, cinnamon spice and chocolate toffee crunch. Dipping sauce flavors include tangy raspberry, lemon, salted caramel, hazelnut, chocolate, marshmallow and peanut butter. However, cookies are in traditional form as well. Orders can be placed at or by calling 847-461-3068.

—CBS is holding open casting calls for its new competition baking reality series based on the hit UK format The Great British Bake Off, where amateurs with a passion for baking can prepare their signature dishes for a chance to compete on the series. Auditions will be held Saturday, Dec. 8, 11 a.m.-4 p.m., at Kendall College, 900 N. North Branch St. See

—bellyQ, 1400 W. Randolph St., now has a lunch menu. Chef/Owner Bill Kim is offering dishes such as chilled somen noodle salad with pork and mint rice paper roll ($12) or fried tilapia tacos with Asian cole slaw and chile mayo ($14), among others. See

—Pizza Rustica, 3908 N. Sheridan Rd., now holds a "Beer & Burger" night on Wednesdays (5-10 p.m.), highlighting a different specialty burger each week with a coordinating side ($10), along with a paired brew (prices vary). For example, the Nov. 28 special is the Mexican cemita, with the burger's toppings being Oaxacan cheese, chipotle cream sauce, avocado, lettuce, tomato and onion. See .

—On Sunday, Dec. 2, Kit Kat Lounge & Supper Club, 3700 N. Halsted St., will host an all-Britney brunch service from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The date marks the pop princess' 31st birthday. Brunch guests will bop along to the singer's music and will enjoy entertainment by Diva Madam X performing as Spears. The full brunch menu will be available, and martinis will be half-priced (11 a.m.-2 p.m.). See .

—The new Bucktown restaurant Grass Fed, 1721 N. Damen Ave., has just launched a new fixed-price dinner menu with the addition of a chicken and seafood option. The current selections are the cast-iron boneless half chicken and Porter mussels. For more information, call 773-342-6000 or visit .

—Fabio Viviani, a contender on the fifth season of Top Chef, is opening his first Chicago restaurant, an Italian eatery in the River North area, according to . It's slated to open early next year. Viviani teamed with Lucas Stoioff and David Rekhson of DineAmic Group to come up with what they hope are an authentic menu and atmosphere.

—Weather Mark Tavern, 1503 S. Michigan Ave., has announced its daily specials. The nautically themed restaurant and bar offers an extensive menu, but specials include a $7 burger with two toppings and a domestic pint (Mondays) and 50-cent wings (with drink purchase) and $5 Skyy Vodka drinks (Tuesdays), among others. See .

—Cru Cafe and Wine Bar, 25 E. Delaware Pl., has unveiled its holiday cocktail list. Items include the Cranberry Mistletoe (cranberry aromatic bitters, Prosecco, sugar cube), Cozy Amsterdam (Italian pistachio liqueur, Dutch holiday eggnog and dash of bourbon whiskey, served chilled) and Royale Chocolate (hot cocoa, King's Ginger liquor, Royal Combier orange liqueur). See .

—Fulton's on the River, 315 N. LaSalle St., will offer a Thanksgiving menu that includes items such as seared Atlantic salmon, apple cider-brined turkey breasts, brioche stuffing, broccoli casserole and banana cream pie, among many other items. Executive Chef Kevin Schulz's holiday spread is available for $49.95 for adults and $15.95 for children 12 and under. (Kids under 3 eat free.) See .

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