Twin Anchors: All Aboard

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Filed under Drink and Eat, Featured

Twin Anchors Ribs Chicago

That is a super cheese title, sorry. It’s hard not to get a little mushy about this place. Twin Anchors has been serving up fine food and booze since 1932 in Lincoln Park, Old Town to be exact. Located on the corner of Sedgwick and Eugenie, this neighborhood spot has all the charm of a yesteryear supper club. The layout, complete with booths in the bar and a small dining room, is cozy and intimate. There is nothing chic and modern about the decor–it actually reminds me of my grandparents supper club opened in the 1960’s. Memorabilia covers the wood paneled walls, and there seems to be a story in every photo.

It was pretty busy on a Thursday night with a 5 minute wait for a 9:00 dinner time. We sat in the bar booths and had a great view of Blackhawks game on 3 big HD TVs. It wasn’t distracting, it was great. The bar was also full with people drinking happily. Twin Anchors seems like a nice place to get full and get drunk.

The menu was pretty small, but that’s fine–who needs a bunch of filler when you have a rock-solid foundation? THE RIBS. The ribs are what makes this place famous. (Fun fact: Twin Anchors was Frank Sinatra’s favorite rib joint and he frequented dozens of times.) Ribs, chicken, a couple steaks, some no-frill salads (I did also spot a veggie burger or something to the effect), and some seriously awesome sides. Hint: get the pepperjack creamed spinach. Sooo good. The “1960’s Style Fried Fish” also got my piqued my interest. A classic fish fry is fitting for the establishment.

There was also a nice beer and wine list as well as some tasty cheesecake for dessert. However, the only thing you really need to know here are the ribs. Two kinds of sauce complete the delight, I preferred the “zesty.”

Places like Twin Anchors are a joy to have in Chicago. Well-worn, tried and true.

Visit www.twinanchorsribs.com for more.

Eleven City Diner: This Diner Goes To 11


Ah, the little neighborhood diner that is hardly little! Eleven City Diner, 1112 S. Wabash Ave., is a quintessential New York diner, Junior’s cheesecake and all, which just so happens to be located in the South Loop. Serving up simple but well-executed diner fare (think burgers, sandwiches, all-the-time breakfast, matzo ball soup) with a hearty sense of humor ($0.00 side of guilt available)—Eleven City may very well be an 11 on a 1-10 scale of diner splendor.

Can’t go wrong with any of the breakfast items, plentiful enough to serve as both breakfast and lunch, but what makes this place scream “diner!” is the love poured into the beverages. Milkshake? It’s huge (for $7, it should be, and is), and made with—wait for it—ice cream, not some frozen mutant mutation that was hopefully milk-based at one point. Cherry and vanilla Coke? Made with syrup, the real thing. Hot toddy? Yes, one can order a hot toddy.

In true diner fashion, this is not a place to go if you are watching your waistline, though salads are on the menu somewhere, this is a place to go if you (1) consumed a number of hot toddies the night prior, or (2) crave inch-thick challah bread/hefty fries/baked macaroni and cheese. (And non-meat eaters, take heed: lots of options for your kind—the mushroom burger is no short of amazing.) But go ahead and order a slice of cake.  It called our name, too.

Dead-right: Jack White’s Dead Weather

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Filed under Featured, Music

dead-weather

Tuesday and Wednesday at the Vic will bring the debut of Jack White’s third active band, the Dead Weather, to Chicago. Jack White, superhuman, also currently plays in the Raconteurs and the White Stripes.

White, in a rare turn on drums (he did play drums for his first mainstream band, Goober and the Peas), Alison Mosshart on vocals (of Kills fame), Jack Lawrence of the Raconteurs on bass and Dean Fertita of Queens of the Stone Age on keyboards and guitar all form this grunge-tinged blues collection–whose first album, Horehound, is available.

The band formed out of an impromptu “end-of-tour”  jam session in Nashville during the Raconteurs last tour, with the Kills opening, respectively. The band members say the birth of their new project doesn’t signify the death of the Kills, the Raconteurs or the White Stripes. Mosshart explains that the Kills are writing their fourth release.

White recently opened a Nashville music complex (Third Man Records) that recalls the setup of old-school labels like Stax: recording studio in back, record store in front, office and performance space on the premises. For the time being, White will be Third Man’s only producer, so his sensibilities will rule–lucky for us.

Horehound, is an electric experience. Mosshart sounds scary and screamy and sexy, while the blues-grunge aesthetic White is famous for, lives and breathes.

Catch the Dead Weather at the Vic, July 28 and 29.

Art Institue Partners with ArtBabble.org

art institute

The Art Institute of Chicago recently joined in an online partnership of world-class art museums, officially becoming a partner of the online art video site ArtBabble.org

The website showcases hundreds of  art-centric videos, providing high-def and personal access to works of art,  interviews with artists and curators, documentaries, poetry readings, and videos of art installations.

Founded by the Indianapolis Museum of Art, the site partners currently include Art21, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the New York Public Library, the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, the Van Gogh Museum Amsterdam, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Rubin Museum of Art, the Norman Rockwell Museum, the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, the Museum of Arts and Design and the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

“We are thrilled to be joining ArtBabble,” Sam Quigley, vice president of Collections Management, Imaging and Information Technology at the Art Institute, said in a statement. “ArtBabble is really a great leap forward both for museums and for Web users looking for information related specifically to the visual arts. It offers content of extremely high quality, technological innovation and the opportunity for us to dynamically and directly engage those who share our interests.”

ArtBabble.org describes the Art Institute as “one of the world’s leading art museums.”  Doubled with the recent opening of the Modern Wing, the Art Institute is the second largest encyclopedic art museum in the United States.

There are currently about a dozen videos from the Art Institute on the site, surely with more to come.

International Night at Map Room

maproom

Map Room really doesn’t need to do much to lure people into this beer lover’s paradise, but International Night, which takes place every Tuesday, is hard to pass up. Here’s the concept: buy two drinks, receive a stamped ticket for the meal of the night. Each Tuesday features a different cultural cuisine; this month was Israel, Soul Food, Costa Rica, Nigeria and BBQ.

Map Room boasts over 200 brands of beer, plus 30 something styles of brewing. They really mean business. If you really want to have a proper beer experience, I would probably advise coming on a less crowded night though. International night is definitely a bit of a circus. Expect to see broke hipsters along side beer nerds and suits. If you can handle the crowd and line to the food, this is a must do.

Here’s a tip: The line forms when the food attendees announce that it is feeding time. Don’t ask for anything extra, different, or modified. These guys serve up no less than 100 plates and have it down pat. It’s standard issue–everyone gets the same meal. If there are extras, the guys will alert the feeders that seconds are available. Also, try to get there before 6pm, so you can score a table. It’s no fun to stand and eat.

Real Pirates at the Field Museum

pirate gold

Running now through October 25, 2009, Real Pirates: The Untold Story of the Whydah from Slave Ship to Pirate Ship brings the age of pirates to Chicago and the Field Museum. More than 200 artifacts recovered from the wreck of the Whydah—the first fully authenticated pirate ship ever to be ascertained in U.S. waters.

The Whydah was on of the most technologically advanced vessels of the era, but was captured on her maiden voyage as a slave ship by legendary pirate Sam Bellamy and his team. A couple modifications and a quick hoist of the Jolly Roger, the Whydah became the crown jewel of Bellamy’s flotilla, spreading terror throughout the Caribbean the Atlantic coastlines.

Then on April 26, 1717, a perfect storm put an end to the Whydah’s pirating days, and the vessel sank with most of her crew aboard—as well as the bounty from more than 50 pirated ships. Almost 300 years later, underwater explorer Barry Clifford and his team managed to locate the wreck of theWhydah and carefully unearthed her riches from the bottom of the sea.

Organized by National Geographic and Arts and Exhibitions International, the exhibition details the colorful history of Caribbean trading routes during the 18th century and the link between the slave trade and piracy, as well as true stories from those on both sides of the story.

The 8,400-square-foot exhibition is fully interactive, so you can experience pirate life by hoisting the skull-and-crossbones, tying pirate knots, learning how to fire a cannon, and more. Treasure chests of gold and jewelry, as well as armories of cannons and swords, aim to show how these men lived and died in the “Golden Age of Piracy.”

New Food: Tapas Valencia

paella

Named for Valencia, Spain; this Spanish-style tapas spot is new to the South Loop/new Southside neighborhood (although a couple other restaurants have existed in the location) and is another addition to the growing dining scene in the are. The space is modern and on the edge of trendy: big, open loft-like accommodations with some industrial touches. It’s bright orange and yellow touches of color on the walls and chair and there was some cool looking Mosaic tiles on the walls, but other than that, the place is pretty minimal on decor. The converted warehouse feel is left in tact with huge cement pillars in the dining room.

The menu is a little more sparse than other tapas places in the city (Cafe Ba Ba Reeba, Emilio’s) but filled with many of the classics, such as Serrano ham and cheese (great!) and paella. I tried a rock shrimp dish that was very good, as well skirt steak with blue cheese that was only so-so. The chorizo and black bean soup needed more chorizo to complete it, but my ‘Spanish garlic potato salad’ was incredible, not shy with the garlic. My biggest disappointment came in the squid in ink sauce. Where’s the flavor!? This dish was painfully bland and tasted unfinished. However, Tapas Valencia redeemed themselves with the bacon wrapped dates. These delicious little morsels were both sweet and salty, despite initially appearing a little iffy. I had glass of sparkling rose that was very nice…not at all sweet, surprisingly and a nice glass of sauvignon blanc. I felt the prices were fair and on par with other tapas places in the city. The portions seemed a little small however.

One of the best things about Tapas Valencia was the service. We were greeted by several staff upon walking in and out server never skipped a beat. She was helpful, knowledgeable ans very sincerely asked that we fill out a comment card if we felt anything could be improved. (I chimed in my two cents on the squid.) She knew a lot about the wine list, and seemed excited to describe the food. Service can really make or break a place for me, and in this case I think it gives Tapas Valencia that extra push it needed.

Best Chicago Pizza Joints

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Filed under Drink and Eat, Featured

 

deep-dish

As far as styles of pizza go, Chicago is parent to one of the most ubiquitous and well known: deep-dish. According to Wikipedia, “true Chicago-style pizza features a buttery crust, generous amounts of cheese and chunky tomato sauce,” and I would have to agree. But not all the ‘za coming out of the Windy City is “stuffed.” Each pizza is different and delicious in it’s own right. Many of the thin crust style pizzas served here are also unique to Chicago. Chicago and pizza have a pretty saucy (sorry) history.

The first deep-dish came out of Uno’s kitchen in 1943–so they say. Other sources quote that the first of its kind actually showed up a few years later, but by the hands a Malnati cook working in the Uno’s kitchen. I think the bottom line is that we are all grateful for yet another menu option. Chicago’s thing crust is also unique due to a crispy, crunchy crust instead of a soft floppy one; and it’s also served in squares instead of the triangle pie shape. Chicago will always love it’s pizza’s; and here is a list of the best-loved versions.

1. Home Run Inn Pizzeria
4254 W 31st St, Chicago, IL
South Side, low-key, and some of the best damn sausage. A great style of crust, too. A thinner crust, but with real substance.

2. Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria
439 N Wells St, Chicago, IL
Well-known and well-loved deep-dish.

3. Pat’s Pizzeria & Ristorante
2679 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL
My all time favorite thin crust. Roger Ebert’s too.

4. Pequod’s Pizzeria
2207 N Clybourn Ave, Chicago, IL
Lincoln Park hangout offers big, flavorful pies and a devoted following.

5. Piece Restaurant
1927 W North Ave, Chicago, IL
Spacious and complete with brewpub, this place is delicious and cool.

6. Pizzeria Uno
29 E Ohio St, Chicago, IL
The one and only. You will leave as stuffed as the pizza.

7. Giordano’s
730 N Rush St, Chicago, IL
As stuffed as they come; and loved by visitors and residents.

8. Gino’s East
633 N Wells St, Chicago, IL
It’s a little touristy, but graffiti for reading material is always fun–like the pizza.

9. Art Of Pizza Inc
3033 N Ashland Ave, Chicago, IL
This locals favorite for Chicago-style and thin-crust pies on the city’s North Side could be easily overlooked. Don’t make that mistake!

 

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