Summer in the City-Join Us at City Winery Chicago’s Outdoor Patio!

 

If you are looking for an exceptional al fresco dining experience, City Winery Chicago’s outdoor patio is the place for you! Great wines paired with delicious food are served in this gorgeous outdoor space complete with an outdoor fireplace and beautiful landscaping and greenery.

As a bonus for patio diners, on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays throughout the summer, we offer live music on the patio from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.!

And, patio diners do not have to miss out on the great food served in the dining room, as the full spring/summer menu is offered on the patio. New items for warmer months that are perfect for noshing outdoors include our cheese and charcuterie plates, green gazpacho, chilled asparagus salad, flatbreads and braised duck tacos. These are great for sharing with friends while enjoying a summer afternoon or evening in the city.

Tables are first-come, first-served, so the earlier you can get here to grab a table on the patio, the better. And, if you are looking for a great spot for a private outdoor event, ask us about reserving the patio.

Patio hours are Monday through Thursday from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m.; and Saturday and Sunday Noon to 10 p.m.

For more views of our patio, check out the Restaurant/Bar page on City Winery Chicago’s website.

 

City Winery Chicago Serves Up New Spring Menu!

We are thrilled to announce we’ve introduced our new spring menu at City Winery Chicago, after months and months of testing new recipes and experimenting with new flavors for spring and summer. The menu also lists new wine pairing suggestions for each new dish.

As warm weather approaches (it will be here eventually, right?), we replaced some of our heartier, heavier dishes with lighter, more refreshing items that are perfect for sharing and enjoying with a crisp summer wine.

New charcuterie plate on the City Winery Chicago spring menu.

Here’s the scoop on a few of my favorite new items:

• Green Gazpacho (green tomato, honeydew, cucumber, cubanelle peppers, Marcona almonds). This soup is perfect for those hot summer days and warm summer nights on our outdoor patio. The flavor profile includes cool and refreshing mint, fresh crisp cucumber, a touch of sweetness from grapes and honeydew melon, toasted notes from the Marcona almonds and a little heat from cubanelle peppers.

• Baccalao Fritters (served with orange-fennel aioli). These flavor-packed fritters are a light and fluffy combination of whipped salt cod and potatoes, lightly fried and teamed up with a creamy aioli made with fennel pollen and orange zest.

• Grilled Merguez (Aleppo pepper yogurt, apricot-almond couscous, grilled red onion). My hope is this dish inspires images of Morocco. Merguez is a spicy lamb sausage found throughout The Middle East and Northern Africa. We make ours in-house from lamb that is hormone and antibiotic free. The complex flavors come from a range of spices and herbs, most notably paprika, garlic, roasted red peppers and our own wine made in-house. Accompaniments add to the experience: lemon mint couscous to temper the heat, grilled red onions to bring out more of that “grilled on a street cart in Marakesh” vibe and a smoky Aleppo pepper yogurt sauce to add a complex zing.

• Cheese Plate – Three perfect cheeses make up our new cheese plate, Petit Billy (pasteurized goat, aged three weeks, France); Sartori MontAmore (pasteurized cow, aged 20 months, Wisc.); and Roelli Red Rock (blue-veined cheddar, pasteurized cow, aged two months, Wisc.). Each has its own voice but they come together in perfect unison. The “Petit Billy” has a chill lactic tangy flavor that brightens up the palate with hints of lemon with the texture of cheesecake. The MontAmore has a soft, creamy texture with the added bonus of a crystalline crunch. The “Red Rock” takes everything we all love in aged cheddar and introduces blue veining into the mix, giving the cheese a slightly musty and earthy finish.

• Charcuterie Plate – Our new charcuterie selection features three hand-crafted cured meats all made from humanely raised animals without antibiotics or hormones. Fermin Chorizo Iberico is an all-natural Spanish-cured pork with garlic, pimento and paprika. Smoking Goose “Gin & Juice” is lamb with juniper and orange zest. And no, this selection wasn’t made just because Snoop Dogg is one of the kitchen’s favorite artists but because of it’s a funky combination of flavors that mesh with the natural gaminess of the lamb. Creminelli Mocetta is beef with cracked black pepper that is a smaller version of bresaola and has no casing. It’s one of the few beef products in Italy’s salame arsenal. This recipe has been in the Creminelli family since the 1600s (according to family legend) and is made by drying the salted meat.

We’re really looking forward to having you join us and taste these and all the other great new items on our spring menu. Please share your thoughts and feedback!

- Executive Chef Andres Barrera

New cheese plate at City Winery Chicago.

 

Meet Executive Sous Chef, Kevin Coulter

Kevin Coulter may sound like the name of a singer/songwriter lighting up the City Winery Chicago music stage, but he’s actually a talented young chef heating up the kitchen as our executive sous chef.

Born and raised in Racine, Wisc. (where he still lives!), he grew up in the hospitality business and began cooking at age 12 at his parent’s bar. He spent five years in the U.S. Marine Corps, where he developed patience and honed his management style. Following his stint in the Corps, he followed his true passion for food and began taking classes at Le Cordon Bleu Chicago.

After graduation, he worked in nearly every department for the Marriott in Racine, and worked in numerous other restaurants and bars. Then, his spark was really lit when he worked with chef John Fuente at Prix Fixe in Lincoln Square, where he developed and perfected his real passion for cooking and fine dining.

At City Winery Chicago, he brings his culinary talents and skills but also focuses on the critical role of mentoring staff and other cooks. One of his proudest achievements, he says, has been mentoring great line cooks who became successful sous chefs, and some even run their own kitchens now. As Kevin says, “teaching others is what being a chef is all about; anyone can cook a slider.”

He’s been in the kitchen at City Winery Chicago since September 2012, and is responsible for a number of creative dishes on our menu. One new dish he created for our new spring menu is root beer rubbed pork belly with savory French toast and a maple bourbon demi glace. He’s a talented chef and excellent problem solver whom we are thrilled to have performing in our kitchen nightly!

The Art of Food and Wine Pairing

Here at City Winery Chicago, it’s imperative that we perfectly pair food and wine. I work hand-in-hand with our sommelier, Rachel Speckan, to taste our wines and look for flavors and notes that I can pair with food. This spring, I’ve been working closely with Rachel to pair new menu items with her selection of new seasonal wines. As you may have noticed, our menu is laid out as a guide for food and wine pairing—starting with sparkling and whites working on down to reds—to make it easier for guests to make selections.

One new wine we are offering is a sparking wine called Jane Ventura, which is a Cava from Spain. After tasting the Cava, I knew what dish on our new spring menu to pair with it—fried smoked chicken served with a pickled watermelon salad. The effervescence of the sparkling wine stands up to the smokiness of the chicken while the sweetness of the wine goes nicely with watermelon.

We also tasted another new wine, Mercouri, which is a Chardonnay from Greece. It is briny like the sea, so I wanted to pair it with our new scallop dish, which is a pan-seared scallop with celery root and apple puree. The wine complements the natural sweetness of the scallops.

One new red we’re offering is The Loop, which is a Cabernet Sauvignon from California. We have a new lamb offering for spring that we’re really excited about, and I knew I had to match it with the wine’s deep red berry flavors. The homemade lamb merguez is a slightly spicy sausage served with cous cous, toasted Marcona almonds and a roasted red pepper yogurt sauce.

If you want a “sneak peak” of these dishes, we’re currently running them as specials to try them out, so come on in and let us know what you think!

– Chef Andres Barrera

April Brings the Heat to City Winery Chicago

The days are slowly getting warmer (we hope), but things inside our venue are staying at a heated pace. We’ve got music coming from classic knights, rock ‘n roll kings, and celebrated queens, that you shouldn’t miss.

This Monday, April 15th, we have two big names in Chicago music coming together to play the music of the biggest name in rock. Phil Angotti (The Idea) and Steve Dawson (Dolly Varden) are coming together to play the music of Sir Paul McCartney. As part of our Think Pink month at CWC, Angotti and Dawson will be playing McCartney’s post-Beatle hits including the 1971 release, Ram. With a full backing band made up of Chicago music friends, the duo will be pumping out your favorites from Sir Paul, while we pair the tracks with some great wines in our cozy venue. Great wines and great music are the order of the (k)night, and how could you go wrong? Live a little! Be a gypsy, and get around. Get your feet up off the ground and get your tickets!

The Verve Pipe

The Verve Pipe plays City Winery Chicago Thursday, April 18.

Thursday, April 18th, we’ve got a chart-topping, award winning rock band that you’re sure to remember: The Verve Pipe. Since their 1996 platinum album, Villians, which spawned the #1 single, “The Freshmen,” The Verve Pipe have been releasing hit albums and selling out stadiums across the U.S. and Europe. Three albums, a couple EPs, and endless touring, have set up The Verve Pipe for the works of a new record for their legion of fans. They also recently released an acclaimed album for kids called The Family Album. They’re bringing their deep back catalogue to our Randolph Street venue for a solid night of music.

The next night, April 19th, we will have the vocal force of Holly Near. Near has been a celebrated musician and activist since she made her name during multiple protests of the Vietnam War along side Jane Fonda and Donald Sutherland. She’s worked with Arlo Guthrie, Jackson Browne, and Joan Baez among others on an impressive discography spanning nearly 30 albums. Her music has been honored by multiple outlets, while Near’s activism has been recognized by the ACLU, National Organization for Women, and the National Lawyers Guild. Get your tickets now to hear one of the best voices in music and activism perform on our stage. I for one am quite excited to hear the music and relive the stories of Holly Near Band.

For more information on tickets and other great shows, check out website at citywinery.com/chicago, call us at 312-RED-WINE (312-733-9463), or email us at chicagoconcierge@citywinery.com! We hope to see you at the show!

Wine-Infused Flatbread Pizza Dough

Because we are a fully functioning winery, our kitchen has access to unusual ingredients from the winemaking process. A big advantage is I have a constant supply of wine “lees” and wine at my disposal. One very unique dish we make is our flatbread pizza dough, which we infuse with “lees.”

Wine lees refers to the dead or residual yeast that settles to the bottom of the vat of wine during fermentation. We use the white lees from white wine. The result is a flavor similar to sourdough, and you can actually detect the taste of wine in the dough. In case you were wondering, red wine produces a pink wine lees that, yes, will change the color of dough to purple and more greatly affects the flavor of the dough, so we steer away from using red wine lees.

Other than the addition of lees, we make our dough as simply as possible with only yeast, water, salt and high-gluten organic flour. It is mixed at various speeds for different times and proofs overnight.

We offer three different flatbreads made with this dough, our most popular being the Wild Mushroom Flatbread. The base is a bechamel sauce made with goat cheese, and we use a nice variety of mushrooms: velvet pioppini, Hen of the Woods, Honshimeji, oyster and nameko.

For our flatbreads that feature red sauce—such as our Margherita and Salame Flatbreads—our red sauce is a no-cook sauce. We use DOC San Marzanos tomatoes and mill them through a course food mill and only add salt to taste. San Marzano tomatoes are known for their bittersweet flavor as well as being less acidic than regular plum tomatoes.

Be sure to check out our flatbreads next time you’re in!

Andres Barrera

April Rocks in the West Loop!

April is a new glorious spring month, and with it comes a new set of great shows at the City Winery Chicago! We are kicking off spring with some big shows from some musical heavy weights. Won’t you join us?

First up we have the fantastic double bill of David Bromberg and Allen Toussaint on April 6th and 7th. Two greats in the musical world, Bromberg and Toussaint have played with and written songs for an incredible number of musicians. From George Harrison and Paul McCartney to Levon Helm and Bob Dylan, to more modern artists like Widespread Panic, Bromberg and Toussaint have been all over the map. Bromberg has focused mainly on folk, bluegrass, rock, and country, while playing pretty much any stringed instrument you put in his hands. His progressive recording of “Mr. Bojangles”, which featured spoken word stories of his travels with Jerry Jeff Walker, made a big radio splash upon its release in 1972. Toussaint’s brand of New Orleans R&B has been respected for years by musicians, and he has written some of the great songs of his generation, including “Working in a Coal Mine”, “Fortune Teller”, and “Southern Nights”. Toussaint is still a fixture in the New Orleans music scene, and he has done a lot in the rebuilding process since Hurricane Katrina.

After that fantastic double bill, we have another major double bill with two major Icons, with a big capital “I”, in the bluegrass and mandolin world: David Grisman and Andy Statman playing on April 9th and 10th. Grisman is the founder of what became known as “Dawg” music (an affectionate nickname given to Grisman by Jerry Garcia) which is a combination of jazz, folk, and bluegrass. His solo mandolin work, as well as his work with the David Grisman Quintet, has been celebrated fans and musicians for years. Andy Statman is also an influential mandolin player, who is actually a protegé of David Grisman. Grisman taught Statman mandolin at an early age, and while Grisman went more toward jazz, Statman focused on bluegrass and klezmer music. With the teacher and the student playing together in our intimate venue at City Winery Chicago, you’re sure to see instrument mastery like you won’t see anywhere else. Make sure to get your tickets now if you are a bluegrass fan, mandolin fan, or just a fan of virtuosity. It’s sure to be a great night.

Rounding out our great first couple weeks, will be Ron Sexsmith, a singer/songwriter who has been recording and releasing music since his late teens. Sexsmith’s brand of poppy folk rock has been championed by Elvis Costello, Coldplay, Sir Elton John, and Rick Davies of the Kinks, and he’s been nominated for numerous award in his native Canada. He even had a documentary made about him and his life called, Love Shines, which followed him as he recorded his 2011 album, Long Player Late Bloomer. The film itself was nominated for awards as well. Sexsmith has a smooth laid back deliver, and his songs are infectiously catchy and amazingly written. He’ll be playing tunes from his newest album, Forever Endeavour, which I was able to review recently here.

For more information on tickets and other great shows, check out website at citywinery.com/chicago, call us at 312-RED-WINE (312-733-9463), or email us at chicagoconcierge@citywinery.com! We hope to see you at the show!

Nick – City Winery Chicago

Purveyor Close-Up: Rain Crow Ranch

This week, I want to take you behind the scenes into our kitchen to discuss one of our favorite purveyors—Rain Crow Ranch, a great family-owned farm in southern Missouri. Rain Crow supplies all our beef, and it is 100% grass-fed, free-range, and hormone & antibiotic-free.

The taste and quality of the beef is exceptional, but we also appreciate that all of their animals are treated humanely. It really comes through in the product. The cattle are born, raised and finished on open grass pastures, and the family is truly passionate about providing the healthiest, safest and highest quality beef possible.

I like to use the beef for our City Winery Sliders because it tastes like a real no fuss, no muss burger. An order of our sliders includes three mini all-beef burgers, served with lettuce and tomato on pretzel rolls. I don’t add a lot of fancy ingredients to the burgers and like that the natural beef flavors can stand on their own. On our new spring menu, we will be offering the sliders on a light brioche bun.

Another popular menu item made with Rain Crow beef is our Braised Short Rib. The short ribs are braised in red wine and stock at a low temperature in the oven for close to six hours. They are served over creamy rosemary scented polenta and topped with a tangy tomato chutney. It’s an elegant, delicious dish.

These are two of our most popular items, thanks to Rain Crow Ranch. The sliders are a big hit with kids, too, and are great for sharing and even hearty enough to be an entree. Even if you are a vegetarian, this meat will make you wish you weren’t! I’m exaggerating, but you are missing out if you haven’t tried these menu items!

- Chef Andres Barrera

You Can Go Home Again…and I’m Happy to Be Back!

Welcome to our weekly food column. We will be writing a new post each week with the latest on our menu, specials, food and wine pairings, our chefs and more at City Winery Chicago!

For the first installment of our weekly food column, I want to take a moment to introduce myself and tell you how thrilled I am to be here at City Winery Chicago!

I’m a Chicago boy who took a great detour working at some wonderful establishments in NYC, including City Winery New York, but now I’ve come full circle by returning to Chicago to be your executive chef at City Winery Chicago.

My passion for food and cooking started as a young boy growing up in Marquette Park on the South Side. I was inspired by the great chefs I watched on television, such as Jeff Smith, Martin Yan and Julia Child (I was also intrigued by Jack Tripper from Three’s Company and the Swedish Chef!). I learned the basics from my mother, grandmothers and aunts, cooking with them from the time I was 10 years old. My love of food and cooking continued to evolve as I attended Le Cordon Bleu here in Chicago, where I studied classical French and Italian cuisine. I then moved to NYC, where I learned precise cooking and perfect plating techniques at the renowned Capital restaurant, worked slinging pizzas at the famed Franny’s in Brooklyn, then headed up the kitchen at City Winery New York.

I’m now happy to bring all of these experiences to the menu at City Winery Chicago. I love the challenge of creating a menu inspired by the wine producing regions of the world while also making food designed around our customers, many of whom are here to enjoy music or to dine in the bar with friends. I love creating sharable plates that are delicious and delight guests. A personal favorite of mine on the menu is our seared scallops with a carrot puree and bacon chutney. Another dish I am really excited about is an item we currently are developing for our spring menu called faux marrow. Conceived by my executive sous chef Kevin Coulter, this play on bone marrow is a vegetarian dish made from a variety of hand-foraged mushrooms we source from a great local purveyor. Be sure to come in later this spring to check it out!

I look forward to serving you and hope you enjoy your dining experience at City Winery Chicago!