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DINING The Optima opens, Derby and Cinco de Mayo, WingFest
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2018-05-01

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—The Optima ( from the Arizona-based restaurant group Glass Half Full ) was slated to open April 30 at 1252 N. Wells St. A press release says that the "4,000-square-foot space [with a first floor and mezzanine] is designed to impart a vintage-glam atmosphere." The modern American menu offers choices such as a ribeye ( $37 ), prosciutto risotto ( $16 ) and glazed salmon ( $24 ); shareable items such as pierogies ( $11 ), pretzels and cheese ( $9 ) and hummus ( $9 ); and combinations of charcuterie and cheese boards. See www.theoptimachicago.com .

—Replay Lincoln Park, 2833 N. Sheffield Ave., is launching a Star Wars pop-up bar Friday, May 4. Dedicated to the new Solo: A Star Wars Story coming out this year, Replay will transform its front bar into a Wretched Hive Cantina complete with a cantina band; specialty cocktails such as the Wretched Blue Milk, made with Stoli Vanilla, Rumchata, creme de cacao, Blue Curacao, Vanilla simple syrup and whipped cream; and cantina decor. Kicking off with Star Wars themed trivia Thursday, May 3, at 7 p.m., guests are invited to dress up as their favorite character May 4-6. See ReplayLincolnPark.com .

—Joe's Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab, 60 E. Grand Ave., will offer the Triple Crown Burger through May 31. The burger comes with an eight-ounce ground-beef patty topped with pimento cheese, bourbon maple bacon, red onion, fried green tomato and lettuce, served on a biscuit bun with a side of fried okra and French fries. It's been created in honor of the greatest accomplishment in thoroughbred horse racing: winning the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes in one year.

—Smoke Daddy Wrigleyville in Hotel Zachary, 3636 N. Clark St., is hosting its first-ever Kentucky Derby Party on Saturday, May 5, 2-6 p.m. There will be themed cocktails, barbeque and live music from the Derby Day Ramblers. Tickets for the event are $75 per person, and give patrons full access to appetizers, an open bar and the chance to win Limited Edition Woodford Reserve Derby bottles or a Woodford Reserve Barrel Head.

—Gene & Georgetti has launched its spring cocktail program at both locations with bourbon libations inspired by the Kentucky Derby to benefit Storybook Farm. Through May 13, people can pick their bourbon from $10 to $16, including Maker's Mark, Woodford Reserve and Hudson Baby Bourbon, then mix it into a cocktail including classics Mint Julep, Old Fashion, Manhattan; a Bourbon Sour, with fresh lemon, sugar and cherry; a Revolver with Tia Maria coffee liqueur, a dash of orange juice, orange twist; Bourbon Snap, with Peach Schnapps, Canton ginger liqueur, orange juice; or the Boulevardier, the American Negroni. See GeneandGeorgetti.com .

—Booth One will host a Kentucky Derby-related "Bourbon & Brims" Derby Watch Party in the Library Bar at Ambassador Chicago, 1301 N. State St., on Saturday, May 5, 2-6 p.m. There will be $8 mint juleps, Derby snacks, horse-racing games, prizes for best-dressed guests and live music by DJ Con-Text. Admission is free.

—For Cinco de Mayo ( May 5 ), guests at Broken English Lincoln Park can party with luchadores 1-7 p.m. while snacking on tacos. ( Improv luchadores will be doing physical comedy and really interactive with guests. ) At Broken English Old Town, guests can try their hand on the bull-riding machine. Broken English Lake Street will have a mariachi band and five-foot pinatas 1-7 p.m.

—On Saturday, May 5, Apogee, atop dana hotel and spa at 2 W. Erie St., is hosting a "high-stakes" Kentucky Derby affair at 1-7 p.m. Tickets to the event include two specialty drinks from the spot's bar selection featuring Stella Artois, Bulleit Bourbon mint juleps and Ketel One vodka cocktails, including Apogee's Nymph cocktail. Admission is $15; visit https://www.apogeechicago.com/.

—Chicago WingFest will take place Sunday, May 6, at the UIC Pavilion, 525 S. Racine Ave., at 1 p.m. Dozens of restaurants will have their wings for guests to sample ( with categories including mild, hot, BBQ and exotic ), and there will also be a wing-eating competition. Note: Kids younger than 10 are not allowed. Tickets are $50-$100 each; see https://wingfest.net/.

—Blackbird, 615 W. Randolph St., is marking 20 years with a special dinner Tuesday, May 8, with a four-course dinner presented by iconic Los Angeles chef Suzanne Goin ( Lucques, a.o.c., Tavern ) in collaboration with Executive Chef/Partner Paul Kahan and Chef de Cuisine Ryan Pfeiffer. ( The dinner will start the Blackbird at 20 dinner series. ) May 8 items will include avocado-and- Meyer lemon ricotta, halibut and clams, braised beef cheeks and cherry vacherin. Tickets start at $165 ( including dinner, drinks, tax and gratuity ); visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/Blackbird-at-20-collaborative-dinner-with-chefs-paul-kahan-and-suzanne-goin-tickets-45066507136.

—Shore Club, 1603 N. Lake Shore Dr., will return to the Chicago dining scene on Saturday, May 11. Described as an "upscale dining option and event space," it is set to feature a newly developed set of programming and activities this year ( including morning workout classes on the beach to a cold towel service in the cabanas ). The Patio at Shore Club, which features lunch and dinner service on a first-come-first-serve basis, will add an additional bar and a new set of lighting for evening dining. There will also be The Oasis at Shore Club and The Restaurant at Shore Club. See ShoreClubChi.com .

—Mother's Day is Sunday, May 13—and practically every restaurant will have some sort of special. For example, Cochon Volant Brasserie, 100 W. Monroe St., will a special roasted crab Benedict ( $24.95; asparagus, espelette hollandaise ) alongside brunch favorites like the super green Benedict ( $15.95; avocado, spinach, crispy artichoke ) and the blueberry quinoa pancakes ( $13.95; warm berries, agave syrup ). Call 312-754-6560 to RSVP for brunch, which is 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

—Commonwealth Tavern, 2000 W. Roscoe St., will host a family-friendly Mother's Day brunch on Sunday, May 13, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Adults will enjoy a $3 Build-Your-Own Mimosa Bar and $6 Build-Your-Own Bloody Mary Bar. Brunch highlights will include brunch schnitzel, Belgian waffles and more; the kid's menu ranges in price from $5 to $6, with options like bacon and eggs, grilled cheese, mini cheese burgers and chicken fingers. See CommonwealthChicago.com .

—Winnetka spot Michael, 64 Green Bay Rd., is offering a Mother's Day dinner. Dinner will be available 4-8 p.m., and is $68 per guest and $34 for children under 10. ( Restaurant Michael will additionally be hosting a special prix fixe brunch menu 11 a.m-2:30 p.m. Brunch is $58/guest and $29 for children under 10. ) Dinner items include casoulette of scallops, spring mushrooms & asparagus tips, mushroom cream sauce; twin tempura soft-shell crabs, wild rice, lemon caper beurre blanc sauce; and hot fallen chocolate souffle and butterscotch gelato, among other items. See RestaurantMichael.com .

—For Mother's Day, Bernie's Lunch & Supper, 660 N. Orleans St., will offer brunch at 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Noteworthy items include Lox & Pita ( $16; caper schmear, red onion, cucumber, parsley-sumac salad ), Croque Madame ( $14; Coppa ham, Gruyere, sunny-side egg on sourdough ), brioche French toast ( $10; caramelized brioche, seasonal jam, maple Syrup ) and doughnuts ( $5 ). Call 312-624-9892.

—Steak 48, 615 N. Wabash Ave., will have a special Mother's Day brunch on Sunday, May 13. The custom brunch menu features a selection of elevated appetizers, salads, brunch entrees and sides. Guests can indulge in dishes such as the fresh burrata with tomato jam, smoked sea salt and pickled onion; superfood salad with baby arugula and kale, sriracha sunflower seeds, seasonal berries, goat cheese and champagne fig dressing; and bone-in filet mignon with a fried egg. See https://steak48.com/steakhouses/chicago/.

—Tarralyn Jones, cancer survivor and the mother of Chicago Bear Christian Jones, and NBC-5's Zoraida Sambolin, also a cancer survivor, are hosting Mother's Day High Tea Brunch on Sunday, May 13, 1-3 p.m., at The Drake, 140 E. Walton Pl. Admission is $100-$150; visit mothersdayteachicago.eventbrite.com . The dress code is upscale, and hats are encouraged.

—Chicagoans can celebrate National Burger Month this May at Estelle's, 2013 W. North Ave., with half-price burgers on Mondays and a $10 Loaded Nacho Burger special on Sundays. Half-price burgers on Mondays include the Patty Melt ( Swiss cheese, grilled onions served on Texas toast; normally $10 ), and the Surfer Rosa Burger ( portobello, Swiss, red pepper; normally $12 ), among others. See EstellesChicago.com .

—After last year's summer pop-up preview of their inaugural dining concept, Chef/Partner Charles Welch ( Sepia, mk Restaurant ) and fellow Out To Lunch Hospitality partners Andrew Miller and Hector Gonzalez announced that Good Fortune has found a permanent home at 2528 N. California Ave. The 2,000-square-foot interior will seat 49, and will include an intimate nine-seat bar as well as an open kitchen, custom furniture and lighting, and a glass-enclosed wine room. It's slated to open this summer.

—On the heels of the release of his debut cookbook, chef Bill Kim has introduced a new menu at bellyQ, 1400 W. Randolph St. Among six new starters, there's a chilled ramen noodle salad tostada that layers ramen noodles, jicama and tomatillo salsa-topped shrimp. Lamb pot stickers are a nod to lamb gyros, combining cumin, curry and other spices with yogurt sauce and a soy dipping sauce ( his mother's recipe ). See BellyQChicago.com .

—Lotties Pub, 1925 W. Cortland Ave.—recognized for playing a role on NBC's Chicago Fire as Molly's Bar—has partnered with Spiteful Brewing to releasing the "Molly's By Day IPA." This 5.2 IPA brew will be available seven days a week on draft at Lotties Pub. To celebrate the launch of Molly's By Day IPA, Lotties will host a Happy Hour at 6-9 p.m. on Friday, May 18. Guests can enjoy $3 Molly's By Day IPAs, and can win free Molly's pint glasses and Spiteful Brewery group tours. Additionally, guests and Chicago Fire fans can win the chance to tend bar. For more details and to enter to win, visit Lottie's Pub's Facebook page.

—To kick off Chicago Craft Beer Week ( May 18-25 ), Dove's Luncheonette, 1545 N. Damen Ave., is hosting Burnt City Brewing, a local Lincoln Park brewery, on Wed., May 23, 6-10 p.m. Guests will be welcomed to the Wicker Park diner with a Burnt City can and receive five-ounce pours from each of the taps from the brewery's full takeover, including Face Melter Hibiscus IPA, Balloon Boy Farmhouse Ale as well as a beer from the Sour Series Launch. Dinner will be served buffet style with an assortment of culinary stations prepared by Chef de Cuisine Tom Carlin. Tickets are $40 each; email corina@doveschicago.com .

—FRIO Gelato's Lake View location, 3721 N. Southport Ave., will celebrate one year at that address Saturday, May 19. From noon to 10 p.m., FRIO will give away two-ounce scoops of the Argentine gelato ( one per customer ). See FrioGelato.com .

—Signature '18 at the National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show—a modern take on the traditional keynote—welcomes 66th Secretary of State Dr. Condoleezza Rice for a discussion with National Restaurant Association President/CEO Dawn Sweeney. The National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show runs May 19-22 at McCormick Place. For more information about this year's Show, visit https://show.restaurant.org/Home.

—Imperial Lamian, 6 W. Hubbard St., will hold a #TeachMeHowToNoodle class on Tuesday, May 22, at 6-8 p.m. The event begins with a hands-on demonstration, while guests kneed, roll and pull the lamian. From there, the expert chefs boil the noodles to perfection and attendees dig their chopsticks into their own creations. Also, wine is served throughout the evening. Tickets are $59 each; visit https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3390533.

Send items to Andrew@WindyCityMediaGroup.com, or follow on Twitter @Azygous60610 or on Instagram at azygous333.


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