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Dining news: Lidia Bastianich, Ping Pong Ball, Veterans' Day specials
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times

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—Emmy-winning chef Lidia Bastianich will be at the McAninch Arts Center at College of DuPage, 325 Fawell Blvd., Glyn Ellyn, to share behind-the-scenes stories from her PBS show Lidia's Kitchen; provide an insider's view of the nuances, twists and turns of the restaurant business; and talk about her newest book, Celebrate like an Italian, on Thursday, Nov. 9, at 7 p.m. WBEZ reporter Monica Eng will moderate. A book-signing in the MAC lobby will follow. Tickets are $39-$75; visit or call 630-942-4000.

—Jackson Chance Foundation's Fifth Annual Playing It Forward Ping Pong Ball—an interactive ping-pong party benefiting neonatal intensive-care unit ( NICU ) families—returns Thursday, Nov. 9, at 5:30 p.m. at the Hard Rock Hotel, 230 N. Michigan Ave. Some of the highlights will include a table-tennis tournament; Chicago celebrities, including a few from Chicago sports teams; Chicago's own top-ranked table-tennis pros; and culinary treats and cocktails. Admission is $50-$225 each; visit .

—"A ( Mostly ) Veggie Affair" will take place Thursday, Nov. 9, at Lakeshore Beverage, 400 N. Elizabeth St., at 6:30 p.m. Throughout the evening, guests will partake of stationed tasting featuring local chefs' all-vegetable savory and sweet dishes made with Green City Market vendor produce. ( Green City Market Board member chefs will also prepare meat-centric dishes. ) Participants will include Vie, Quiote, Cruz Blanca, Abby's Crepes, Tuscan Hen, Salero and Eataly, among others. Tickets are $65-$80 each; visit .

—In recognition of Veterans Day on Saturday, Nov. 11, Hakka Bakka, 1251 W. Fullerton Ave., will offer a dine-in special featuring buy-one-get-one FREE kati rolls ( whole wheat wrap ), rice bowls or salad bowls with proof of U.S military ID ( one free item per identification ). Also, MAK: Modern Asian Kitchen, 1924 W. Division St., will offer veterans half off all orders. In addition, Phil Stefani Signature Restaurants would like to thank veterans for their service by offering them a freelunch or dinner entree ( up to $40 value ) on Nov. 11 at all Tuscany locations ( Chicago, Oak Brook and Wheeling ), and Weber Grill, 539 N. State St., will take $25 off veterans' meals ( dine-in only ) of $50 or more.

—SafeHouse Chicago, 60 E. Ontario St., will be offering veterans 50-percent off their entire orders on Nov. 11. In addition to hosting various events throughout the year that support the armed forces, SafeHouse Chicago has an interactive "Wall of Honor" in the restaurant space where patrons can read stories about real-life heroes and their sacrifices.

—The Nielsen-Massey Buttercream Ball will take place Saturday, Nov. 11, at 8 p.m. at The James Hotel, 55 E. Ontario St. Creativity will take center stage during the Domino Sugar "Showpiece Showdown" cake competition live at the gala; there will also cocktails and confections, music and dancing, and food ( including a large dessert selection ). The event will benefit Icing Smiles, a nonprofit organization that provides custom celebration cakes and other treats to families impacted by the critical illness of a child. See for information and tickets.

— Food & beverage fans voiced more than 11,000 recommendations for the 2018 Jean Banchet Awards. Just a few of the nominees include restaurants such as The Publican, Monteverde, Daisies, Smyth and Ras Dashen Ethiopian Restaurant; and chefs such as Genie Kwon ( Oriole ), Andrew Zimmerman ( Sepia; Proxi ) and Diana Davila ( Mi Tocaya AntojerÃ≠a ). The awards ceremony will occur Sunday, Jan. 14, 2018 at Venue SIX10, 610 S. Michigan Ave.

—Scofflaw Group partners ( Andy Gould, Kristofer Nagy and Danny Shapiro ) opened The Moonlighter on Nov. 1—directly across the street from Scofflaw. the group's inaugural gin-focused concept that opened five years ago. Located at 3204 W. Armitage Ave., The Moonlighter is a neighborhood bar that has a 1,000-square foot indoor space that seats 100 guests. ( During patio season, The Moonlighter will open a sidewalk-facing outdoor space with a front porch and yard with built-in fireplaces. ) The place serves American fare such as six burgers, Topsy's Tacos ( deep fried beef taco, iceberg, American cheese, taco sauce ) and loaded fries; and beer, wine and cocktails.

—Cafe Robey, 2018 W. North Ave., is offering 20 percent off the entire bill on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays for guests who show proof of residence within a 60647 or 60622 zip code. Recently unveiled menu highlights include sauteed shrimp ( with sunchoke puree and chips, polenta panisee, cucumber, pomegranate seeds, feta cheese, Kalamata olives and chorizo oil ), pork belly ( braised and crisped pork belly, sweet potato, five-minute egg, pickled pearl onions and kale ) and rotating seasonal warming soups from Executive Chef Kevin McAllister. See

—The Dearborn, 145 N. Dearborn St., has unveiled its fall menu. New dishes include, among others, house-cured salmon belly served with lentil pancakes; street corn with mashed potatoes and parmesan creme; and grilled pear-and-gruyere grilled cheese with honeycomb and sherry gastrique. See .

—On Nov. 14-18, Fat Rice, 2957 W. Diversey Ave., will celebrate its fifth anniversary by rolling out the original dishes that helped put the restaurant on the map, earning accolades such as Bon Appetit's "Top Ten Restaurants in America" ( 2013 ) and Michelin Guide's Bib Gourmand ( 2014-18 ). Dishes will include pork-and-shrimp pot stickers, Portuguese chicken, baked pork-chop rice and pineapple upside-down cake, among other items. ( Also, many of the featured items will come from recipes straight out of The Adventures of Fat Rice cookbook, available for $25 each. ) See .

—Texas de Brazil Churrascaria will host Kentucky bourbon dinners at the Chicago location on Wed., Nov. 15, and in Schaumburg on Tuesday, Nov. 14. The special four-bourbon, three-course dining events pair Jim Beam and other whiskey brands with the restaurant's menu, begin at 6:30 p.m. and cost $95 per person, inclusive. Purchase tickets at

—Chicago French Market is celebrating the release of Beaujolais Nouveau wines Thursday, Nov. 16, 12-6:30 p.m. There will be free pastoral tastings of the 2017 Joseph Drouhin Beaujolais Nouveau paired with French cheeses 4-6 p.m.; the Frietkoten Bar will be sellings wines by the glass; live music; and a gourmet pirze giveaway. See

—Lawry's The Prime Rib, 100 E. Ontario St., has unveiled a full program of festive happenings throughout November and December. This year's lineup includes a dinner and drama package on Sunday, Nov. 19, featuring dinner at Lawry's and tickets to A Christmas Carol at the Goodman Theatre, plus the inaugural Lunch with Santa on Saturdays in December ( Dec. 2, 9, 16 and 23, at 12:30-2:30 p.m. ). See

—Executive Chef Luca Corazzina of 312 Chicago, 136 N. LaSalle St., has prepared a four-course traditional Thanksgiving menu available Nov. 23, 5-9 p.m. Items will include pesto lasagna, Italian-style roasted turkey, butternut-squash tortelloni and pumpkin cheesecake, among other things. The cost is $55/person or $25/child 12 and under. Reservations can be made online or at 312-696-2420.

—French restaurant Bistronomic, 840 N. Wabash Ave., will offer a special three-course, prix fixe menu for Thanksgiving on Thursday, Nov. 23. Guests may select from options including the artisanal smoked salmon salad, with celery root remoulade, Dijon mustard, chive oil and citrus caviar; hand-cut Yukon potato gnocchi, with cranberries, sweet potato, house-cured duck confit and aged red wine vinegar sauce; Belgium endive salad, with Maytag blue cheese, black mission figs, caramelized walnut and mixed green salad; and more. See .

—Shaw's Crab House in Chicago is hosting a traditional Thanksgiving buffet on Thursday, Nov. 23, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. The buffet is priced at $75 per adult and $20 for kids 12 and younger ( exclusive of tax, gratuity, and beverages ). Items will include lobster mac 'n cheese, corn casserole, herb-roasted turkey, candied sweet potatoes, creme brulee, seafood bisque and much more; call 312-527-2722 or visit .

—Smoke Daddy, 1804 W Division St., is offering a Thanksgiving catering menu. The BBQ restaurant will offer house-smoked whole turkey ( 11 lb., $65; 20 lb., $90 ); pulled whole turkey ( 1 lb., $16 ); and glazed ham, a partial bone-in, smoked ham with a sweet mojo glaze ( half., $69; whole $129 ). Sides such as cornbread stuffing with sausage and spices ( $10 per quart ); Brussels sprouts oven-roasted with a lemon butter sauce ( $10 per quart ); and green-bean casserole ( $10 per quart ) as well as desserts like apple ( $22 ) and pumpkin pies ( $20 ) round out the menu. Visit

—Mott Street, 1401 N. Ashland Ave., is offering a Thanksgiving group catering feast for delivery. ( It's primarily for groups of 12-15 and 25-30 people. ) Items will include sweet potato with honey miso; roasted pork shoulder; and candied baby shrimp, chicken and kohlrabi salad; and other items. See .

—The Signature Room, 875 N. Michigan Ave., invites friends and family to welcome the 2017 holiday season with its annual Brunch with Santa event on Saturday, Nov. 25, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. The brunch buffet includes chilled seafood, charcuterie, made-to-order omelets, and more; entrees such as banana nut bread French toast, fried chicken & waffles, brunch burger, and fusilli pasta; along with a seasonal hot chocolate station. While the adults sip on hot chocolate, coffee, or a mimosa, children can enjoy various holiday-themed activities, including cookie decorating, face-painting, holiday wish-list creation and a balloon artist. Tickets are $65 for adults and $30 for children under age 12. Reservations are required; call 312-280-0465.

—Brindille, 534 N. Clark St., will host "Architectural Tea with Carol Ross Barney" on Thursday, Nov. 30, 2-5 p.m. For this special service, architect Ross Barney will host čand share her thoughts on the building of the RiverWalk and other famous Chicago projects. This includes a selection of exotic teas, scones, crumpets čandč jam, pastries, finger sandwiches and more. Admission is $65/person; RSVP at .

—The Fairmont Chicago—at Millennium Park, 200 N.Columbus Dr.—will host its fourth annual "Cookies and Cheer," a luxury cookie exchange on Thursday-Friday, Nov. 30-Dec. 1, 5:30-7:30 p.m. "Cookies and Cheer" gives guests the opportunity to mix and mingle with Fairmont's culinary staff while enjoying wine tastings and sampling seasonal cookies. Single tickets for Cookies and Cheer are $60 on Thursday and $75 on Friday; visit .

—Mon Ami Gabi, 2300 N. Lincoln Park West, will host a Veuve Clicquot holiday dinner on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 6:30-8:30 p.m. Executive Chef Nelli Maltezos will serve a four-course dinner paired with Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label and more. The event is priced at $75 per guest plus tax ( gratuity not included ). Space is limited; call 773-348-8886 for tickets.

—The Driehaus Museum, 40 E. Erie St., will have its Glitter & Gold Holiday Brunch on Sunday, Dec. 10. ( Doors will open at 10 a.m. for the 11 a.m. event. ) The brunch will include a Prosecco toast, elaborate buffet and live music. In the spirit of the season, tables will be shared. Tickets are $95 each for adults, and $45 each for children 23 and younger; visit

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