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SAVOR 'Pie in the Sky'; Heartland closing; Yugen opening
DISH Dining Guide
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times

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A pizza dinner is a pizza dinner, until there's a special element added—like dining 1,300 feet high.

Skydeck Chicago ( 233 S. Franklin St.; )—located in the Willis Tower, the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere—offers a one-of-a-kind dining experience: "Pie in the Sky." The VIP dining experience takes place after hours ( starting at 9 or 11 p.m., depending on the time of year ), so there's concern about foot traffic—and there are four tables, max, so only a few people get to roam the lofty floor and partake of the Chicago skyline from a vantage point few people acquire.

The table is not on the ledge, but on its edge, which still provides a magnificent view while enjoying dinner. ( I personally think a lot of people would be freaked out if they actually dined on the ledge. ) By the way, said dinner is a three-course meal featuring Giordano's items, including salad, dessert ( tiramisu or apple pan pie ) and, of course, stuffed pizza for up to eight people. The pizza was delicious, the dessert was enjoyable—and Giordano's has some of the tastiest green tea I've ever had.

However, no experience is perfect, and this one had a couple snags. The night my friend and I dined was particularly chilly, and the heat wasn't circulating; when we asked the waitstaff about making things warmer, we were told a different department was in charge and they really couldn't do much. Worse, we were informed the same thing regarding the light—or lack of it. I know the darkness helps with romance and visibility ( of the city lights ), but if it's truly a VIP experience, let's shed a little light on the subject. ( Eventually, one of the friendly waiters procured three candles. )

But even with those snafus, this was a lovely and unique experience. You won't soon forget it. To make a reservation, call 312-875-9447 or email .

Heartland Cafe closing

Longtime Rogers Park fixture The Heartland Cafe's last day of business will be Monday, Dec. 31.

In a letter to people addressed as "family," owner Tom Rosenfeld wrote, in part. "There has been a lot of uncertainty hanging over us lately, with questions on the fate of Heartland. As you know, the Heartland building has been listed for sale and we are now pretty far along with a sale. We might be able to come back once the new owners build a new building, but that won't be for some time. So we have been reviewing new spaces. At this time, there are a few that might work and we are trying to work out details, but nothing is certain.

"No matter what happens next, we will need to close down for at least a few months. What we know now is that Heartland's last day of operation in our home for 42 years will be December 31.

"This has been such a hard moment to arrive at. We are so thankful to you, our community, for the steadfast support and love you have shown to the Heartland Cafe over 5 decades."

"Financially, I can't keep up with the building anymore," Rosenfeld—also an organic farmer and owner of Earth First Farms in Berrien Center, Michigan—told The Chicago Tribune in September. "We can't function like a normal restaurant. We're just spread out all over this building in all these small spaces."

The 9,600-square-foot building, at 7000 N. Glenwood Ave., housed the Heartland Cafe, Heartland Studio Theatre and Red Line Tap.

Yugen opens

One of the most anticipated local openings of the year has taken place at contemporary Japanese restaurant Yugen, 652 W. Randolph St.—complete with a Dec. 4 media event.

Inspired by Executive Chef Mari Katsumura's lineage, the word "yugen" means "the power to conjure indescribable appreciation for the simplicity of beauty," according to a press release. Katsumura has had experience in highly rated local spots such as Blackbird, Grace, Acadia and Entente.

Katsumura leads an all-woman team at the restaurant, working with Pastry Chef Jeanine Lamedieu and General Manager Morgan Olszewski.

Menu offerings include such items as crab rice, binchotan-grilled octopus, Japanese curry, cheesecake and more.

See .

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