Dining Lures

Wed. February 1, 2012 12:00 AM
by Rick Karlin

New menu items seem to pop up on menus this time of year. Maybe it's an attempt to lure us out of our hibernation in order to check out something new in familiar places. Or maybe it's a way for chefs to avoid cabin fever. Whatever the cause, there are plenty of new dishes to try, so let's get to it.

Rustic House , 1967 N. Halsted, has added "Fish & Kettle Chips" to its menu. The dish features pan-fried fish with red cabbage slaw and house made remoulade. Another dish debuting is "Baked Jumbo Shrimp Scampi" with white wine, garlic butter, fresh lemon and panko bread crumbs. (312) 929-3227 rustichousechicago.com

New seasonal specialties at Gemini Bistro, 2075 N Lincoln, include Florida red grouper served with kale, crispy proscuitto, garlic confit, and cioppino broth and pork tenderloin with parsley potatoes, haricot verts, and whole grain mustard sauce. As a sweet finish, Chef Jason Paskewitz, who began his culinary career by baking and selling cheesecake out of his home in New York City at the young age of 13, has added an authentic New York Cheesecake with graham cracker crust and cranberry compote. (773) 525-2522 geminibistrochicago.com

If you can't head down to New Orleans for Mardi Gras, stop by Kit Kat, 3700 N. Halsted, on Fat Tuesday, Feb. 21. A special menu item, Kit Kat Gumbo, combines tiger shrimp, Amish chicken, okra and rice and serves it up with a warm buttermilk biscuit. Diva Tracy Ross will perform a variety of songs and will distribute beaded necklaces, hats and other giveaways. (773) 525-1111 KitKatChicago.com

Chicago Q, 1160 N. Dearborn, has added hickory-smoked bacon cheddar sausage, which is made in-house, to its menu. The sausage, which features Niman Ranch nitrate free bacon from heritage hogs raised in rural Iowa, can be included as one of the meat options on the "q2" or "q3" entrée combinations or as a sandwich served on a brioche roll. Entrée combinations include sausage or one to two pulled meats, plus a half chicken or half slab and cornbread, coleslaw or fries. (312) 642-1160 chicagoqrestaurant.com

LM Restaurant, 4539 N. Lincoln, Lincoln Square's authentic French gastro bistro has added a $45 four-course Alsace Menu Decouverte featuring cuisine from the Alsace region of France, available Monday through Saturday. (773) 942-7585 lmrestaurant.com

It's not only new menu items that lure us out to forage for meals. Many area eateries are offering special tasting menus or classes. Carnivale, 702 W. Fulton Market, and its sommelier Rebecca Green will lead a hands-on class featuring wines from Argentina on Wednesday, Feb. 8. Guests will visit wine stations from different regions of Argentina with information about the wines, regions and countries along with paired appetizers created by Carnivale's chef. Cost is $25 per person and reservations are required. Carnivale is also offer a three-course prix fixe dinner on Thursdays. (312) 850-5005 carnivalechicago.com

At Koi, 624 Davis Street, Evanston, the first Tuesday of every month the restaurant's chef will create an eight-course tasting menu paired with featured wines and sake. The dinner is limited to 12 people and is $45 per person, all-inclusive. (847) 866-6969 koievanston.com

Hugo's Frog Bar & Fish House, 55 S. Main in Naperville, holds a special Oberon Napa Valley winemaker dinner featuring paired dining courses for $75 per person. (630) 548-3764