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Dining news: Zoo cafe, new Winnetka spot, NaKorn, Lyric Opera
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times

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—The Patio at Cafe Brauer ( at the Lincoln Park Zoo ) will be serving special menu items Sept. 22-Oct. 20 to mark Oktoberfest. Items include beer-braised bratwurst with grilled onions and mustard ( $11.95 ); pork-schnitzel sandwich on a pretzel bun ( $14.95 ); and roasted pork and braised cabbage with boiled potato ( $15.95 ). Also, Baderbrau Oktoberfest and Hofbrau Oktoberfest are among the draft beers.

—Fred's Garage is opening Sept. 27 in Winnetka at 574 Green Bay Rd. Menu highlights include Mini "Maxwells" ( house sausage, Cipollini relish and grain mustard aioli ), soba noodles ( Shishito peppers, carrot, radish, soy, peanut and chile vinaigrette ), the Griddle Burger ( double patty, American cheese, tomato, bibb lettuce, red onion, remoulade on a brioche bun ), fried chicken and biscuits ( half chicken, chorizo gravy, buttermilk biscuit, burnt honey ), and Vindaloo ( shitake curry, dried fruit, couscous, goat cheese and herb salad ). The restaurant will also feature a full-service bar offering signature craft cocktails, a local craft beer program and an accessible, well balanced wine list. See .

—Evanston's NaKorn urban Thai restaurant, 1622 Orrington Ave., will mark its one-year anniversary celebration with the debut of new fall and winter menu items such as roasted duck breast, crispy-skin wild Atlantic salmon, and charred eggplant and tomato. NaKorn's one-year anniversary will be celebrated for a full week, on Sept. 24-30. Extra special for the kids during NaKorn's lunch shift on Saturday, Sept. 30, will be boat races at 11:30 a.m. that feature Thai "pok pak" boats. See .

—The Lyric Opera—whose new season starts Sept. 23—is offering several dining options for patrons. Among them are The Sarah and Peer Pedersen Room and the Florian Opera Bistro's on-site dining choices. In addition, Master Sommelier Alpana Singh has curated new wine lists for The Pedersen Room ( which features new décor and a new menu by Jewell Events Catering ) and the Florian.

—Eurest announced the development of Forum 55, a food hall and marketplace that will be located on the concourse level of 55 E. Monroe St. It is slated to open in October. A very special feature will be The Apron Exchange, a "food service incubator" designed especially to provide a platform for female and minority-owned businesses that want to introduce a new product or get an idea off the ground. In addition, Forum 55 will feature a community garden and even original programming. See .

—Texas de Brazil Churrascaria is partnering with The Red Cross for a new fundraising initiative to raise funds for those affected by hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Through Sept. 30, one dollar for every dessert sold at the 44 domestic locations will be donated to the American Red Cross, with a minimum donation of $25,000 guaranteed by the family-owned restaurant group.

—The fast-casual spot honeygrow is opening a second Chicago location at 70 E. Lake St. on Oct. 20. Known for its signature stir-fry and salad combinations, a build-your-own honeybar ( mixed fruit base with toppings and honey drizzles ) and cold-pressed juices, honeygrow will be bringing menu staples along with some new fall seasonal items ( such as Fall the Things, a salad with maple-cider vinaigrette, organic arugula, roasted yams, red onion, pecans, dried cranberries and goat cheese ). See .

—Dovetail Brewery ( 1800 W. Belle Plaine Ave.; 773-683-1414 ) and Begyle Brewing Company ( 1800 W. Cuyler, 1E, ; 773-661-6963 ) are teaming up to host their second annual Oktoberfestiversary—a celebration of the neighborhood, season and beer—on Sept. 23-24. Oktoberfestiversary will feature flagship offerings and a few rare brews from Begyle to celebrate the brewery's fifth anniversary of brewing. See and; also, see "Oktoberfestiversary!" on Facebook.

—Petterino's Monday Night Live ( MNL )—the impromptu musical showcase hosted by Denise McGowan Tracy and Beckie Menzie—will celebrate its 10th Anniversary with a series of Monday-night events beginning Monday, Sept. 25, at 7:30 p.m. at the Petterino's, 150 N. Dearborn St. Also, the spot is now offering its "Monday Night Live $19.95 3-Course Prix Fixe Menu and Specialty Cocktail" package. ( Menu items include fried calamari, almond-crusted whitefish and tiramisu, among other things. ) There is no cover charge, but there is a $19.95 food-and-beverage minimum; call 312-422-0150 to RSVP.

—Weber Grill Restaurant, 539 N. State St., will celebrate its anniversary throughout September. Now through Saturday, Sept. 30, guests can enjoy a chef-inspired anniversary burger paired with a Weber Backyard Brew ( a Goose Island wheat ale ) draft beer for $15. The burger—created by Executive Chef Jason Friedland of Weber Grill Restaurant's Chicago location—has a certified Angus beef patty, hickory-smoked beef brisket, Merkt's cheddar cheese, bread-and-butter pickles, and brisket mustard aioli.

—The Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel, 221 N. Columbus Dr., has announced the appointment of Frank Mnuk to executive chef. Mnuk will oversee all culinary operations of the hotel's food-and-beverage program including the hotel's contemporary Italian restaurant, Filini. His past jobs had him at places such as Bistro Bordeaux, Cite Restaurant and Standard Market ( in the suburbs ).

—French spot Bistronomic, 840 N. Wabash Ave., will offer a special menu for Rosh Hashanah staring Wed.-Friday, Sept. 20-22. Some of the items will include cured Faroe Island salmon with radishes, country mustard and leek potato salad; prime beef shortribs with Nichols farm eggplant caviar, ratatouille, nicoise olives and preserved lemon; and Bistronomic apple crepes, among others. The three-course, prix fixe menu will be offered for dinner from 5 to 10:30 p.m. for $39 per person, exclusive of tax and gratuity. See .

—Wheeling restaurant Tuscany, 550 S. Milwaukee Ave., will serve Rosh Hashanah dinner on Sept. 20-21. For the occasion, Executive Chef Bolla Loza has created a three-course prix fixe menu that will be served family-style. Some of the dishes will include challah with apples and honey; roasted half-chicken; wild Atlantic salmon piccata; and homemade apple tart. See

—Fast-casual restaurant Muscle Maker Grill will now offer breakfast at its recently opened Chicago location in the Boystown neighborhood at 920 W. Belmont Ave. The spot will celebrate by giving away one free breakfast bowl or wrap per guest on Tuesday, Sept. 26, 7-11 a.m. Bowl/wrap varieties include Western, Philly, garden, Texas and Flex Fuel Flatbread.

—Sable Kitchen & Bar, 505 N. State St., has partnered with Bella Cuisine Kids Cooking Club ( BCKCC ) to host "Fall Into Autumn" on Thursday, Sept. 28, 6-9 p.m. Bella Cuisine is a non-profit composed of volunteer chefs who aim to fight childhood obesity by educating kids about healthy eating with hands-on cooking classes. One donation of $50 provides four hands-on cooking classes for one child; visit

—Chefs Bill Kim, John Besh and Aaron Sanchez will host "Brunch at bellyQ" at 1400 W. Randolph St. on Saturday, Sept. 30, at 11 a.m. The chefs will offer items such as Korean carnita lettuce-wrap tacos; mini-squid ink arepas with crema and caviar; and pork shoulder with coconut grits with red Thai BBQ sauce. ( An $85 ticket for entry—exclusive of handling, tax or gratuity—provides guests with a family-style brunch and cocktails. A special VIP ticket can be purchased for $125 and includes a meet-and-greet with the chefs, caviar and champagne. Tickets can be purchased in advance at )

—In celebration of Grand Cochon—happening Oct. 1 in Chicago—Cochon555 Chicago 2017 Winner and Travelle Kitchen + Bar Chef Ricardo Jarquin is hosting a ticketed collaboration dining experience with past Cochon555 winners including Tim Graham ( Twain ), Andres Padilla ( Topolobampo ), Nicole Pederson ( Found ), Nathan Sears ( TheWit Hotel Chicago ) and more on Sept. 26. ( Travelle is at 330 N. Wabash Ave. ) Admission is $125 per person, excluding tax and gratuity; call 312-923-7703 or email Lindsay Srednicki at .

—The Boundary, 1932 W. Division St., will mark its 10th year in business with a special anniversary celebration on Thursday, Oct. 5, beginning at 6 p.m. The sports bar's 10th-anniversary party aims to transport guests back with a video DJ playing music videos, comedy, trivia and internet hits from its original year, various themed food and drink specials, a photo booth, a raffle and more. See .

—For the Chicago Marathon, The Florentine, 151 W. Adams St., will feature a three-day Marathon Menu for fueling up before the big race, along with runners specials featuring discounts and free Two Brothers. Dishes include spaghetti and meatballs ( pork, veal, beef ), rigatoni bolognese ( spaghetti squash, zucchini, red onion ) and arugula salad, amongo other items. View

—SafeHouse Chicago, 60 E. Ontario St., will be celebrating Global James Bond Day on Thursday, Oct. 5, by hosting a special James Bond Lookalike happy hour at 6-8 p.m., in which the winner ( male or female ) will receive a $200 bar tab. Contestants may also dress up as any character from the iconic films to compete. The winner will be chosen and announced at 8 p.m. See .

—The City of Highwood and Celebrate Highwood will host the Eighth Annual Great Highwood Pumpkin Festival on Oct. 6-8 in downtown Highwood. The event will benefit Make-A-Wish Illinois, and is sponsored by HGTV Magazine and Muller Auto Group. Also, in an attempt to to break a world record, festival organizers are inviting the community to come and carve early Oct. 2-5 at 9 a.m.-9 p.m. at City Hall ( 17 Highwood Ave. ). See .

—Identita Golose, an international culinary organization that highlights contemporary Italian cuisine, returns to the United States for the fourth annual Identita Chicago on Oct. 7-8. Eataly Chicago, 43 E. Ohio St., will host the two-day event that will feature Corrado Scaglione, Davide Oldani, Sarah Grueneberg and other prominent chefs; four master classes; and an inaugural "Pizza & Pasta" event that will allow guests to eat their way through Eataly. Tickets are $48 each; visit

—Loews Chicago Hotel, 455 N. Park Dr., will hold its third annual Harvest Fest on Saturday, Oct. 14, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. The hotel's rooftop terrace, Streeterville Social, will be transformed into a fall pumpkin patch and biergarten to celebrate the autumn season. The pumpkin patch will have pumpkins of various sizes available for patrons to take home and decorate. Every pumpkin is $10 ( any size ), and all pumpkin proceeds benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland & Northwest Indiana.

—The 17th annual Kohler Food & Wine Experience will take place Oct. 19-22 in Kohler, Wisconsin. The chef line-up includes Richard Blais, Alex Guarnaschelli, Stephanie Izard, Jeff Mauro and cast members from America's Test Kitchen. See .

—At Chez Moi, 2100 N. Halsted St., Chef Dominque Tougne will celebrate Sweetest Day with a a special prix fixe menu for two. Items will include pumpkin soup served in a pumpkin bowl, a special surf-and-turf and "Bleeding Heart" for Two. The three-course menu for two is $150; see .

—Kendall College Trust's ( KCT's ) Fried Chicken & Champagne Fest will take place Saturday, Nov. 4, 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. at the college's Skyline Room. A dozen of Chicago's award-winning chefs ( including Acadia's Ryan McCaskey and Monteverde's Sarah Grueneberg ) will make their best chicken renditions, while KCT Executive Director and Check, Please!'s Catherine De Orio will host. Admission is $85-$195; visit

—Arun's Thai Restaurant, 4156 N. Kedzie Ave., is hosting a luxury excursion to Thailand on Jan. 15-31, 2018. It will be a trip to James Beard Award-winning Chef Arun Sampanthavivat's native Thailand for a culinary tour with an intimate group of 20 guests. Fare is $7,500-$10,500; to book; email Paul Schermerhorn at .

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