Loved everything about BLVD, the retro Hollywood-inspired eatery in the West Loop. In addition to the beautiful design and decor, we loved the oysters, charred shishito peppers, scallops and braised short rib. Photos by Matt Lowell
Decided to finally check out Blind Barber because my girl Michelle was in town this week. It’s a neat little speakeasy tucked behind a barber shop in the Fulton Market District, and it serves nightly burger specials and no-frills cocktails. It’s cool. But I’m always going to remember Blind Barber because of a particular young man I met as we sat at the bar. He was 31, attractive and a little wasted, which is why he was likely so talkative to complete strangers. Here’s what had me bewildered. He asked us advice on how to connect with a woman in whom he was interested. Michelle told him to ask for her number. He looked at us like we told him to grab her by the hair and drag her across the room like a caveman. He responded: “I already follow her on Instagram. Shouldn’t I just communicate with her there? What would YOU prefer?” I point blank told him: “I’m off the market now, but when my current beau first met me, he asked for my number and then HE CALLED ME TO ASK ME OUT ON A DATE.” He looked awestruck and responded: “Wow. Now that’s a REAL man.” HUH?! When did calling a woman on the phone and asking her out become unusual? Have I been out of the game too long? When did the rules change? I’m so confused!
Much of my early journalism career at the Chicago Tribune consisted of reviewing Neo-Soul, R&B and hip-hop concerts around town. Back in those days, I was covering the likes of Erykah Badu, Chaka Khan, Usher, The Roots, Luther Vandross, Whitney Houston, Mary J. Blige, A Tribe Called Quest and other prominent musicians. So reviewing comes natural to me, as I found myself mentally doing tonight at Meshell Ndegeocello’s incredible performance at Evanston SPACE. As expected, she introduced the crowd to material from her latest album, “Ventriloquism,” which takes the listener on a journey of her powerful renditions of classic 1980s and 1990s hits. From George Clinton’s P-funk masterpiece “Atomic Dog” to Al B. Sure’s steamy “Night and Day” to TLC’s ethereal “Waterfalls,” Ndegeocello puts her signature funk-infused sound on each of them. Of note was “Atomic Dog,” which put a broad smile on her face as she banged out the beats on her bass guitar. If you thought this song couldn’t get any funkier, think again. She did that, extending it several times, each time funkier than the next. Not surprising, she performed only a few songs from her former albums, including from “Plantation Lullabies” and “Peace Beyond Passion,” but the crowd didn’t mind. Her music goes beyond making you want to groove. It gets in your head and makes you want to re-evaluate how you interpret music. 📸 by Matt Lowell
Dined at Sushi-san Saturday with awesome friends and loved absolutely everything we ordered. The standout dish, however, was the sizzling rice entree. You could order it topped with roasted king crab, pork katsu nuggets or beef n’ bop. We opted for the roasted king crab, and it was generously portioned throughout the dish. You could say the rice was similar to fried rice, but as you can see, the dish was still “sizzling” in a miniature pot when it arrived to our table. That made our food extra fresh and flavorful. Definitely a dish to remember! 👍🏾👍🏾🔥🔥 Video by Matt Lowell
“Saying it was time for ‘a fresh start’ and ‘a new home,’ chef Carrie Nahabedian announced that she will close NAHA (500 N. Clark St.) and reopen in an undisclosed location in the fall.” Its last day in its current home is March 31.
Nothing makes me happier than a good old-fashioned Baked Alaska. 😆😆 Video by Matt Lowell
Had a great time at the annual Chicago Chefs Hall of Fame inductee ceremony/For the Love of Chocolate Ball. It was an honor watching new inductees take their rightful places in the Hall of Fame: John HoRiver RoastRoast), Mindy SeMindy's HotChocolate Bakeryakery) and Fred Hoffmann (Ala Carte Entertainment) as “Chef of the Year,” “Pastry Chef of the Year” and “Restaurateur of the Year” respectfully. Congratulations, guys! PhotoMatt Lowellowell
#FBF to when I served as a “best baguette” judge last year with top French chefs at SOFITEL-Chicago Water Tower! 😉😉😉😉😉😉😉😉😉😉😉😉
We went allll out this year for #valentinesday. Matt has always wanted to do this, so I made reservations early last month. This is definitely a GREAT time! ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️🎉🎉🎉🎉 . . . . #312diningdiva #mattlowellphotos #mattarshia #chicagogram #whitecastlevalentinesday #whitecastle #chicagofoodie #chicagofoodscene #chicagofoodanddrink #likefoodchicago
VIP opening party for The Esquire Champagne Room had plenty of bubbly and Champagne cocktails, a raw bar with caviar and oysters, and live jazz. The intimate, romantic lounge is not sold out for #valentinesday yet, so jump on it. It’s on the top level of Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steak House. 😉🥂 Photos by Matt Lowell
Congratulations to Duck Inn Chicago’s Chef Kevin Hickey on winning $5,000 for his award-winning chili at the first-ever Abt Electronics chili challenge. His winnings will benefit Greater Chicago Food Depository, and what a well-deserved win! His creation was unique, featuring duck three ways: ground, smoked sausage and in hot dog form. It made all the difference. I had fun judging this contest with the gorgeous and vivacious Rochelle Trotter. and dashing Adam Soko. Big ups also go out to Formento's Chef Todd Stein and The Fifty/50’s Chef Jake Peterson, who were worthy competitors. 🙌🏾🙌🏾 Photos by Matt Lowell
Sometimes you need a little soul food. Lamar Moore, the newly installed executive chef at Currency Exchange Café, is bringing his family recipes to this sweet Garfield Park storefront. We thoroughly enjoyed everything on our plates, from cheesy grits and drop biscuits (his mom’s recipe) to a crispy and flavorful catfish po’boy. Get here as soon as you can. It’s right off the expressway! 🔥🔥🔥🔥 Photos by Matt Lowell
Dinner was a blast at Geja's Cafe Saturday. If you haven’t been in awhile, you should check it out for three reasons: 1. Who doesn’t love dipping fruit and cake and marshmallows in hot, gooey chocolate?! 2. It’s such a great deal if you love seafood and steak. There are not too many places in town where you can get lobster, shrimp, scallops AND beef tenderloin for $57. 3. Loved the guitarist. We somehow lucked up and got a table directly in front of his mini-stage. It was like he was serenading us. Photos by Matt Lowell
Feast your eyes upon the delights we indulged Saturday at PR Italian Bistro. I love Italian cuisine, and Chef Stefano’s cooking is homestyle at the highest level. Highlights included shrimp risotto, short rib ravioli, black truffle oil potato pizza, and walnut-crusted halibut, which was perfectly flaky and flavorful. 📸 by Matt Lowell