Father's Day dining around Chicago

Thu. June 6, 2013 12:00 AM
by Rick Karlin

The producers of WTTW-TV's Check, Please! have named the new host of the popular restaurant review show: Catherine De Orio. The food consultant and former lawyer was chosen after an exhaustive and much-publicized search that drew over 900 applicants and an astounding amount of media attention. De Orio has some mighty steps to follow in beloved former host Alpana Singh, who left to start her own restaurant.

De Orio's hiring has been known in the halls of WTTW for weeks, but kept under tight wraps. Producer David Manilow told the Sun-Times De Orio nailed down the job with her mock show taping. "She pops off the screen. She's engaging, lively, smart, quick-witted,"
De Orio works in recipe development, event consulting, public speaking, brand ambassadorship and travel and lifestyle writing via her company, Culinary Curator.

(Image: Catherine De Orio from WTTW)

The show's new host is jumping into the thick of things with the second annual "Farm to Table Fest." The event brings together an all-star lineup of award-winning chefs to The Round Barn Winery, a working farm in Michigan on Sunday, September 1. This unique fest will pair chefs with family-owned Michigan farms and boutique food artisans for an afternoon of sampling and sipping of the local bounty. Festival-goers can travel to the source of their food and experience outdoor cooking demonstrations, sample gourmet tastings, meet renowned chefs and interact with working farmers - all celebrated under a big-top tent! Tickets are available at ticketweb.com.

Speaking of Alpana Singh, one of the places you might consider taking Dad for Father's Day is her restaurant, The Boarding House, 720 N Wells, especially if Dad is a fond of the grape. The 450-bottle wine list curated by Singh, paired with Mediterranean fare, is the perfect fit for the father who prefers the finer things in life. The River North restaurant will be open for its regular evening business hours on Father's Day, providing bar provisions in the bar and adjoining patio, as well as a full dinner menu available in Call (312) 280-0720 for reservations.

Father's Day Picks

With the wide variety of Father's Day brunches and other meals being offered for the special day, there is a dining destination perfect for every style of dad. From a refined French brunch to beautifully grilled steaks (and everything in between), you can give dad the gift of a feast. Below are some of the more unusual offerings available for this Father's Day.

2 Sparrows, 553 W. Diversey, is offering a seasonal menu of local favorites including biscuits & gravy (lamb sausage gravy, poached eggs, fresh greens), eggs in purgatory (spicy tomato sauce, shirred eggs and grilled baguette) and chilaquiles (tortilla chips, fire roasted tomatillo salsa, sunny side eggs, queso fresco and chicken or beef chorizo). In addition to the regular brunch menu, the popular Lakeview spot will offer up a handful of unique sweet and savory specials for dad to dig into just for the occasion. Call (773) 234-2320 for more information. The restaurant does not take reservations.

Boka, 1729 N Halsted, will offer a seven-course comprehensive Chef's Tasting for $85 per person. All pricing is exclusive of tax and gratuity. Reservations are highly recommended, call (312) 337-6070.

GT Fish & Oyster, 531 N. Wells, now offers brunch on Sunday. The smoked whitefish quiche, shrimp and grits and crab Benedict are sure to be Dad-pleasers. Reservations are recommended, call (312) 929-3501.

Many fathers love a steak and a b-ball game. If your father is one of those types, Michael Jordan's Steak House, 505 N. Michigan, seems like the perfect option, and it's celebrating Father's Day by giving the first 23 dads who order Michael's favorite, the Delmonico, a signature engraved steak knife. MJ's prime Delmonico is a 16-ounce steak, dry-aged 45 days and served with a ginger-balsamic jus. The steak house will be open on Sunday, June 16 for lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and dinner from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Reservations are recommended and can be made by calling (312) 321-8832.

If your dad tends to prefer the Henry the 8th style of dining, check out what's on tap at Sixteen, 401 N. Wabash. The Michelin-rated restaurant will feature an elaborate brunch, fit for a king. The extensive buffet will include a raw bar, chef stations with hand-carved meat, assortment of charcuterie and endless amounts of sweet treats. On top of all that, all fathers receive a complimentary Buffalo Trace Manhattan or a selection from the restaurant's special beer offerings. It's $95 per person, reservations are recommended, call (312) 588-8030.

However, it's not all about Father's day this month. On Friday, June 21 through Sunday, June 23 celebrate summer's favorite berry and kick-off the season at Long Grove's 29th Annual Strawberry Festival, the largest of Long Grove's signature festivals, drawing close to 40,000 visitors to the historic business district for the three-day event. Long Grove is located in the northern suburbs, near Routes 53 and 83, north of Lake Cook Road. For more information, call the Visitor's Information Center at (847) 634-0888 or check it out at visitlonggrove.com.

Looking ahead to July, there are, of course, numerous outdoor concerts and fireworks displays taking place downtown. The Florentine, 151 W. Adams, is now offering a convenient, portable picnic-for-two for those wanting to add a gourmet twist to enjoying the Chicago outdoors this summer. Whether checking out Chicago Park District's Movies in the Park, heading to an outdoor concert at the Harris Theater, or taking in the city sights during an evening in Millennium Park, diners can order their choice of two seasonal Italian picnic baskets to dine and imbibe al fresco. For more information, call (312) 660-8866, or go to the-florentine.net.

Finally, Bistronomic, 840 N. Wabash, will offer a three-course prix fixe menu from July 8 to July 14, 2013 in honor of Bastille Day, the French National Celebration. Showcasing a variety of seasonal flavors and favorite French dishes, the menu will be available for $30, or $40 with wine pairing, exclusive of tax and gratuity. Bistronomic's special Blue, White and Red Baked Alaska, a dessert representative of the colors of the French flag, has fast become a Bastille Day favorite. For more information call (312) 944-8400 or visit bistronomic.net.