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Dining news: Chicago Restaurant Week; soda-fountain stamps
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times

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—Online reservations for Chicago Restaurant Week ( Jan. 22-Feb. 4 ) can be made at, where one also can see every participating restaurant ( a record 354 this year, 54 of them first-timers ) and their featured menus, according to The Chicago Tribune. A few of the participating restaurants are 312 Chicago, Macku Sushi, May St. Cafe, Park Grill, Gibson's Bar & Steakhouse, SideDoor and Spiaggia.

—The U.S. Postal Service will be issuing soda-fountain stamps. ( The precise release date has not yet been revealed. ) Each of the Soda Fountain Favorites stamps features one of these five illustrations by artist Nancy Stahl: a double-scoop ice cream cone, an egg cream, a banana split, a root-beer float and a hot-fudge sundae.

—Chefs John B. Shields and Karen Urie Shields will unveil two original restaurant and lounge concepts: Smyth + The Loyalist, 177 N. Ada St., in Chicago's West Loop restaurant community in late spring 2016. Smyth will feature a tasting menu, while The Loyalist will be a lounge located downstairs. See .

—Honey Butter Fried Chicken, 3361 N. Elston Ave., has announced the launch of lunch and dinner delivery with the company Caviar. Delivery is available through Caviar Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday from 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Orders require a $15 minimum and can be made via the free Caviar app. See or call 773-478-4000.

—On June 2-4, more than 1,500 people will gather in Madison, Wisconsin, for the 8th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference. The biennial conference's theme this year is "Moving Forward Together." See

—Chef Michael Symon, a cookbook author and one of the panelists on ABC's The Chew, said a fire over the weekend significantly damaged one of his first restaurants in his hometown of Cleveland, according to Page Six. Cleveland's fire department says the fire at Lolita started on the first floor and destroyed offices upstairs. Investigators think it started near an oven and don't suspect it was arson.

—Swedish Covenant Hospital donated more than 3,000 pounds of food from its annual food drive to the Lincoln Square Friendship Center, a food pantry dedicated to serving members of the community. Donations to the Lincoln Square Friendship Center included shelf-stable food items ( such as canned soups, tuna, pasta sauce, beans, jelly and snack items ) and toiletries ( such as toothpaste, toilet paper, deodorant and shampoo ) that were donated throughout December. See .

—Rebar, at Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago ( 401 N. Wabash Ave. ), is debuting new seasonal dishes and cocktails. Some of the new items include dishes such as crab-cake sliders and beet carpaccio as well as drinks like Bobbing for Apples ( white rum, Chila Orchata, lemon, pumpkin and apple cider ) and the Fear Not ( Angel's Envy, Carpano Antiqa, Zirbenz Pine Liqueur and chocolate bitters ). See

—Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steak House, 58 E. Oak St., will have happy hour-specials available on Wednesday evenings beginning Jan. 13. "Wednesday Night Del-ight" will highlight Del Frisco's bar offerings, including a selection of appetizers, the Prime DF Burger and Buffalo Style shrimp and more—all available at half price, as well as discounted drink pricing. In addition, Del Frisco's will have special door prizes from participating Oak Street stores such as Barney's, Tom Ford, Prada, Jimmy Choo and more. Prizes will be awarded each Wednesday at 9 p.m.

—Pi Gallery Bar, 738 N. Clark St., invites Chicagoans to enjoy its new daily specials, including BOGO Pizza Nights on Tuesdays, weekday Happy Hour specials and more. The restaurant also launched its "A Pi for a Pi" initiative in December: For every pizza purchased, one will be donated to help feed Chicago's homeless. See .

—The second installment of Embeya's Spice Route Dinner will take place Thursday, Jan. 14, at 6:30 p.m., and will feature award-winning chef Paul Virant of Perennial Virant, Vie and Vistro. This five-course dinner will meld together the flavors and styles of Virant and Embeya chef Mike Sheerin, , along with wine pairings from Embeya Director Attila Gyulai. Tickets are $125; call 312-612-5640.

—Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steak House, 58 E. Oak St., is hosting its 2nd annual Bring Your Own Magnum Party to thank patrons. On Friday, Jan. 22, at 6:30 p.m., guests can enjoy a special menu that will be paired with wines from their very own collections; patrons are encouraged to bring wine to share with their friends, family and guests. The price is $125 per person plus tax and gratuity; call 312-888-2499.

—Phil Stefani's 437 Rush, 437 N. Rush St., celebrates National Soup Month with a lobster bisque available daily for $9 at lunch or $10 at dinner. Similarly, Navy Pier's Riva will feature a selection of daily soups created by Executive Chef Luigi Garcia like Riva Clam Chowder ( New England style, fresh clam meat; $7 lunch and $8 dinner ) and Lobster Corn Bisque ( sherry, brandy, Maine lobster; $9 lunch and dinner ).

—At mk, 868 N. Franklin St., Pastry Chef Lisa Bonjour and Wine & Beverage Director Jordyn Sotelo are hosting a cocktail and baking class Sunday, Jan. 31, at 4:30 p.m. Bonjour will teach guests how to make a chocolate tart, while Sotelo will demonstrate how to craft a cocktail made with bubbly Prosecco, Luxardo Aperitivo and citrus. Price for the class is $20 per person, or free to anyone who stays for dinner afterward at mk; email to reserve.

—Sophie Evanoff, owner of the French-inspired artisanal patisserie Vanille, has announced that Vanille Lake View's ribbon-cutting will take place Thursday, Feb. 4, at 3243 N. Broadway, at 5:30 p.m. On Friday-Sunday, Feb. 5-7, customers will have the chance to help celebrate with some special offers including a free macaron for anyone who stops by. Also, the first 25 customers through the door each of those three mornings will receive a $25 Vanille gift card for their next visit, and everyone can enter to win a $500 Vanille gift card to be given to one lucky customer. See .

—On Saturday, Feb. 6, the Illinois Restaurant Association Educational Foundation ( IRAEF ) will welcome 12 culinary teams and nine management teams composed of high school ProStart® students from across the state to compete in the 15th Annual Illinois ProStart® Invitational—a full day of culinary and restaurant management competitions. The event will be held at McCormick Place, 2301 S. Lake Shore Dr., 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

—Beef & Barley Chicago & Gastropub, 3001 N. Ashland Ave., is doing a Walk of Shame brunch on Sunday, Feb. 14 ( Valentine's Day ). It's for all of those singles out there who were looking for love the night before. There will be some themed punch-bowl specials and a new brunch menu for guests enjoy, as well as an old-school photo booth with some Valentine's Day-themed props. There will also be a single's themed soundtrack during brunch service.

—Chicago's Best WingFest will return for its 17th year on Feb. 21, 2016, 1-5 p.m., at Bailey Auditorium, 1340 W. Washington St. There will be wings from 25 area restaurants, competitive wing-eating and six categories of wing competition, among other things. See .

—The Northalsted Business Alliance will host the Frost Fest Craft Beer Festival on Feb. 27-28, 2016. Through Dec. 28, 2015, there's a pre-sale offer that includes two tickets for the Frost Fest Craft Beer Festival at $50—and admission is normally regularly $35 apiece. Tickets are available exclusively on .

—Snap Kitchen—a healthy takeaway concept that has recently opened seven locations in the Chicagoland area—has released its winter menu. Some winter items include maple-roasted banana oatmeal, beef stroganoff, ginger-glazed salmon and quinoa "fried rice." See .

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