Eater Chicago

Hopcat Chicago: Lincoln Park Craft Beer Bar

As a native of Grand Rapids, I had to jump on the opportunity to photograph Hopcat's newest location in Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood. The new Clark St. space is practically two full restaurant spaces joined together. On top of that, there will be over 130 beers on offer. I have a feeling that this will become a staple much like it is in my hometown. Be sure to check out the full coverage over at Eater Chicago.

Boeufhaus: Humboldt Park Brasserie

On the border of Ukrainian Village and Humboldt Park, Boeufhaus has claimed a space to call home. The German influenced steak-house offers not only a great food and drink menu but a charming atmosphere, too. The space is filled with vintage pieces including the old icebox that was found on the property and originally used by a German butcher who used to occupy the same space. This stretch of Western Ave. is definitely growing quickly and is looking like a great spot to spend the evening. Check out the Eater Chicago article here.

Burger Week 2015: A Ground Beef Tour Of Chicago

My glorious journey photographing Eater Chicago's Burger Week 2015 at Mott Street, Formento's, Eataly, Bohemian House, and Au Cheval.

Anyone who knows me knows that there are few things on this planet that make me happier than a delicious burger. In its most basic forms it combines two wonderful things; a sandwich and the grill. Eater's Burger Week, however, features the cream of the crop on Chicago's burger scene.

Tony Quartaro of Formento's & Nonna's created the "Juicy Lucy" burger. "A burger patty stuffed with mozzarella (made in-house), 1-year aged provolone ('It has a nice bite to it. Nice, strong depth of flavor. Not stinky cheese strong, but more of a peppery finish.'), garlic and neonata ('It's chili based, slightly acidic, kind of rich and oily. [It] will add some brightness and some heat.')".

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Edward Kim Chef/Partner of Mott Street created the Mott Burger for Burger Week 2015. "featuring two quarter-pound chuck patties with sweet potato shoestrings, hoisin aioli, pickled jalapenos, dill pickles, miso butter, diced onion and American cheese on a toasted bun".

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Jimmy Papadopoulos of Bohemian House, entered the monster "Bohemian Sleeper Hold". "The 8-ounce grilled burger is topped with Emmentaler cheese, braised sauerkraut (fermented in house for three weeks, then braised with onions, caraway, bacon and garlic), a fried egg and a special secret sauce on a house-made bun and is served with house dill pickles along with salt and vinegar chips".

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Chef Alex Pilas at Osteria in Eataly Chicago created the aptly named "Eater Hamburger alla Eataly Chicago". "a combination of local ingredients, with an Italian twist - think ramps salsa verde as an ode to Chicago's name, and mayo made from local eggs, combined with traditional Italian flavors, such as Parmigiano Reggiano."

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And of course, we can't forget the Au Cheval burger. Since they have already been crowned with the title of 'Best Burger in Chicago,' Chef Annie Gano didn't need to add any crazy twists or flare, instead just sticking with the classic recipe. "The burger gets "dressed" with Dijonnaise (lemon juice, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard) and housemade pickles. You can add a fried egg, thick-cut peppered bacon and, if you really want to gild the lily, a three-ounce slab of foie gras."

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Ramen Takeya: Fulton Market Ramen Shop

Chicago has graduated from plastic wrapped microwavable noodles to a more authentic and gourmet dish, sparking the beginning of the Ramen Renaissance. I was sent out by Eater Chicago to shoot the brand new Ramen Takeya in Fulton Market brought to us by the owners of Logan Sqaure's popular Wasabi. The decor was top notch and immediately transports you to a small steamy alley somewhere in Japan complete with neon lighting (Pac Man spotting!) and custom made chochin (paper lanterns). Plus, I was really excited to try out a new lighting technique - I really love the outcome and would love to know what you guys think! Check it out below...

Miss Ricky's: Downtown Chicago Diner in Virgin Hotel

The atmosphere at Miss Ricky's was humming and alive, well representing the idea behind the diner-esque restaurant located Downtown Chicago in the new Virgin Hotel. One menu item I'm pretty excited to try is the piece of chocolate cake with an edible steak knife stabbed right through the middle to stop the towering dessert from falling over.

Level 257: Pac Man Restaurant & Gaming Destination

Occupying 40,000 square feet in the Woodfield Mall out in Schaumburg is the first Level 257: A Pac Man world complete with a restaurant and gaming galore. The Woodfield location is the first of what could be many more similar ventures by Namco Entertainment. It was seriously so much fun shooting this space for Eater Chicago. I got to speak with some of the essential players who had a hand in making this Pac Man world a reality and was clued in on the story behind the name. In the original game of Pac Man, you reach a kill-screen at level 256 (I wonder how many people have actually reached this...) Level 257 is Pac Man's next step! The space encourages patrons to be social with one another while playing games, so adults have the chance to go back and relive a piece of their childhood. Looking forward to an evening of "1 Up's" and "Filet Mig-Nom". 

House Call: Uptown Chicago Condo

It's not often you get to walk into a strangers home and photograph their space. But now that Curbed Chicago has started a new series on the blog featuring their readers homes in Chicago, I have had the chance to meet some great new people and take a tour of their homes. Last week I traveled to Uptown and met Jarod, the homeowner of this great condo. He shared stories of his travels and how he came about collecting so many prints and pieces of art. And of course I have to give many thanks to my personal tour guide (the dog) who did a great job showcasing her favorite places to lounge.

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If you enojoyed this real-life home tour, take a look at the rest the shoots I have done for Curbed Chicago's House Calls over on their site!

Community Tavern: A Boutique Steakhouse Offering in Portage Park

From the creator of the gastropub The Portage comes Community Tavern, a 'New-American' boutique steakhouse with a menu inspired by French cuisine. Driving up to shoot this new restaurant, I found myself thinking how little I have explored Portage Park. I was pleasantly surprised to find a great stretch of shops along Milwaukee Ave. that made me look forward to getting the chance to spend more time in the area. Just down the street from the Portage Theater, Community Tavern has a luxurious vintage flare that accurately reflects the history of the neighborhood. Really looking forward to seeing the coming success of this restaurant!

The Betty: Fulton Market Vintage Cocktail Bar

Going out for cocktails in the West Loop is a chore. A chore, because of the countless fantastic bars and restaurants to choose from.  Fulton Market Street, already populated with some of Chicago's most popular bars and restaurants, has a new neighbor with a lot to show. The Betty (839 W. Fulton Market) is a vintage inspired cocktail bar by Footman Hospitality complete with a taxidermy peacock and an antique player piano. I had a great time shooting this space and all of the little details that make up the warm inviting atmosphere, curated and designed by Studio K. Looking forward to going in and trying the build-your-own gin and tonic!

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Check out The Betty's sister bar, Bangers & Lace - Evanston, which we had the pleasure of shooting a few weeks ago just before it's opening.

Bangers & Lace Evanston: Wicker Park Heads North

Where can you find delicate and ornate lace adorning the windows of a bar rated year-after-year as one of the Top 100 Beer Bars in America? Only in Wicker Park one might have said, but thanks to Bangers & Lace's northern expansion, this unique experience can now be had in Evanston as well. The new location may be significantly bigger, but Footman Hospitality has done a wonderful job filling it with elements that immerse you in a truly cozy and lodge-like atmosphere. I had the opportunity to spend some time photographing the new space just before the New Year, and even though I froze my butt off shooting the exterior, the icy-blue morning made for the most amazing light pouring in through the front facade. Thanks again to Darcy at The Door for giving me the tour!

Be sure to check out all the coverage at Eater Chicago.

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Oak + Char: Wood-Fired Restaurant in River North

Oak + Char may be simply named, but that is where the simplicity stops. I had the opportunity to tour and photograph the space for Eater Chicago prior to its opening, and whether you're rating the restaurant on its design/atmosphere or by the culinary output and experience of its staff, its most definitely a place to experience. I appreciated the detailed work that went into the construction, and the great organizational apparatus behind the restaurant in MBL Hospitality and Grapevine PR. Be sure to check out the entire article at Eater Chicago!

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The Kitchen Chicago: River North Restaurant With A Consciense

"Community Through Food". This is the mantra of The Kitchen, a Boulder-based restaurant group and charity focusing on community wellness through food. Just a few steps into The Kitchen's first midwest location in the historic Ried Murdoch building on the banks of the Chicago River, you can feel the mission-focused atmosphere. It certainly wouldn't be fair to reduce this feeling simply to strong branding, its much more a sense of purpose. Purpose in the creation of over 100 community learning gardens at schools across Chicago, and educational programs to encourage healthy eating and home cooking. I'm looking forward to trying some of the great dishes crafted by former Telegraph chef Johnny Anderes, especially their Monday night family-style community dinner benefitting The Kitchen Community. Be sure to check out all of Eater Chicago's coverage of The Kitchen Chicago here!

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Recognize that big blue glass beauty across the street? That's right, it's OneEleven, Related Midwest's luxury apartment development. Check out my tour of that building here!

Umami Burger Wicker Park: LA Burger Chain Enters The Midwest

In search of a straight-to-business high end burger joint in Wicker Park? The quest is over. Los Angeles based Umami Burger is now open to the public on Milwaukee Ave. The wildly popular chain has expanded from coast-to-coast and now has a foot in the Midwest market. First up on my list is the "Truffle Burger" with truffle a aioli, cheese, and glaze. Be sure to check out the full coverage on Eater Chicago!

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Yusho Hyde Park: Matthias Merges' Newest Chicago Restaurant Offering

Walk into Yusho Hyde Park on the slightly quieter end of rapidly developing 53rd Street, and you can immediately tell this bold and colorful little space is going to pack a serious punch. Chef Matthias Merges (Charlie Trotter's Executive Chef of 14 years) has taken the "yakatori-inspired" restaurant from Logan Square to Las Vegas, and his newest Yusho outpost is now open to the public. I've been finding myself making the trip down to Hyde Park much more often as of late (check out my previous coverage of Promontory), and I can't wait to try the "Japanese Loaded Fries w/Bacon & Kimchee Gravy!

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Baker Miller: Lincoln Square Bakery & Millhouse

"We call it toast, because it is toast. You won't see us calling them tartines or anything like that." It may seem like semantics, but Dave Miller's simple distinction eloquently captures the new approach of the Baker Miller Bakery & Millhouse in Lincoln Square. Dave & Megan Miller came to fame with the founding their Logan Square landmark, Bang Bang Pie. After 4 years of meteoric growth, the Millers found themselves looking to move back to the basics. Enter the Baker Miller concept. Dave and Megan will be hands-on throughout the entire baking process, from milling their own wheat to hand-rolling oats. In just the few menu items that I had the opportunity to speak with Millers about and photograph, one could tell that they were carefully crafted and more importantly created by someone having fun doing what they love. Baker Miller will be opening its doors to the public on September 22nd, and I will surely be making many trips over to Lincoln Square to get my baked good fix! Make sure to check out all the coverage on Eater as well!

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Roasted Capon Chicken Grain Bowl. Seasonal grains with pickled carrots and greens. The Millers searched extensively for a source for this particular type of heritage chicken while developing this dish.

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Three of the Miller's amazing toast offerings. At left: Nova Lox (pickled in beet juice) with House-Made Chevre. At right: Prosciutto & Poached Egg with House-Made Chevre and Dandelion Greens. Below: Radish & Poached Egg Toast with House-Made Chevre, Kale, and Blake Flake Salt.

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Popovers, Whole Wheat Cookies, and Hand Pies. Oh My!

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Vegans can definitely be happy about this next point. After careful experimentation, the Millers were able to re-formulate their pie crust recipe without lard! As you can see below in their classic apple pie, not a single bit of the golden-brown flaky goodness was lost either.

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Bar Takito: Latin American Bar & Restaurant Opening In Fulton Market / West Loop

Taco aficionados rejoice! Bar Takito is expanding upon Takito Kitchen, its Wicker Park sister restaurant, in the Fulton Market neighborhood of the West Loop. Adding to the veritable restaurant boom that is happening in the area, Bar Takito will offer a bright and colorful dining alternative. Having just sampled my first tacos at Takito Kitchen a couple of days ago (Oxtail Tacos with an amazing fresh corn salsa), I'm really excited to give this new place a try! Even while completely empty, the space on Morgan St. was uplifting and fun to be in. I'm sure it will be a great atmosphere when it is buzzing with diners too. Be sure to check out the whole article from Eater Chicago here!

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The Promontory, Hyde Park's newest Restaurant & Live Music Venue

Longman & Eagle, The Empty Bottle, Duseks, Thalia Hall, Punch House, Beauty Bar, and the list goes on. Chicago bar and restauranteur Bruce Finkelman, along with his partners Craig Golden and Chef Jared Wentworth, can now add The Promontory to their growing list of awesome places to eat/drink/hang out in Chicago. I had the great opportunity to spend some time taking a tour with Bruce, and photograph the space for Eater Chicago. Make sure to check out the whole article here!

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Right off the bat stepping into The Promontory, you can see what elements were most important in the minds of Finkelman, Golden, and Wentworth when designing the space. Humongous tall ceilings with a front facade that slides almost entirely open gives this place a serious open-air feel (not to mention the huge amount of actual outdoor patio seating). You're greeted not only with a full bar teeming with fresh herbs and fruit, but also with the campfire-like smell of the hearth cooking. It was a combination of senses that really made you want to pull up a chair and hang out, and of course then stuff your face with amazing food and drinks.

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Its incredibly important as a photographer to be able to taste the cocktails your shooting in order to be able to capture the full experience ;-) I'm glad Dustin Drankiewicz, Promontory's Mixologist extraordinaire, agreed! The two cocktails pictured are the "Thursdays on 53rd" and the "Promontory Paloma", and they were as delicious as they look. If you're into cocktails I'd highly recommend a trip down to Hyde Park to make your way through this incredibly creative drink menu.

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A kick-ass restaurant and cocktail bar not quite enough for you? How about an entire floor as a live music venue? It wasn't totally finished when I got the tour, but it definitely seems like it is going to be a unique spot to see a show. I'll be excited to see what the show lineups will be when they're announced.

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