Great news that all of our Kimpton Chicago properties are included in the winter 2014 issue of DiningOut (60,000 readers per issue)! This feature on Chicago’s “finest hotel restaurant destinations” includes a write-up of each restaurant, along with numerous photos, as well as information on private dining and events.
Hotel Monaco Chicago
225 N. Wabash Ave.
Chicago, IL 60601
The décor featured at Hotel Monaco Chicago offers much more personality than your standard banquet hall-style look. The same can be said for the food offered for the reception, with Chef Roger Waysok offering cuisine with a sophisticated flair and signature look. Wedding packages are offered for every price point to cater towards each couple’s unique style with a wedding expert that will strive to make your event unique. There are even some great room block options to ensure your wedding guests are taken care of, with the ability to block off six to 25 rooms for your wedding event.
Ask A Bartender: The Worst (and Best) Valentine's Day Dates You've Seen
"At a previous bar I worked at, I witnessed a guy who was clearly using an online dating service come in on multiple dates with different women. One of which was one Valentine's Day. He'd always get there first, put down two drinks before the woman arrived, and then he'd sip a glass of water when she showed up. He usually struck out." — Dan Rook (South Water Kitchen)
Red velvet Twinkies are pretty much the dream dessert for any love-addled diner. The rosy treats serve as the dessert for South Water Kitchen’s five-course Valentine’s Day dinner menu, which also includes raspberry salad, lobster tortellini, cumin-dusted ahi tuna, and grilled beef tenderloin with foie gras reduction.
Chicago Restaurant Week doesn’t end Thursday. True, Feb. 6 is the official last day, and the list of participating restaurants and menus will vanish from the choosechicago.com website. But, as in previous years, a number of Chicago restaurants are extending their three-course lunch ($22) and three- and four-course dinners ($33 or $44) for a few more days, and in some cases, a few more weeks.
Our friends at Chicago’s South Water Kitchen are letting us in on their sugar-packed Valentine’s Day secret—Red Velvet Twinkies! Chef Roger Waysok is gearing up to launch the signature sweet treat and is kind enough to share the full-blown how-to. So, if you can’t fly off to Chicago for cupid’s holiday, recreate the recipe at home.
Bake some extra love into your relationship with these goodies for two!
Red Velvet Twinkies
By Chef Roger Waysok of South Water Kitchen
Listen, we're all for a romantic, candlelit dinner at the hottest local restaurant. But... consider the Twinkie. Rather, the homemade version—without the preservatives and with red velvet. This delectable, hard-to-resist recipe from Chef Roger Waysok at South Water Kitchen has us rethinking our Valentine's Day reservation in favor of a home baking session. And what happens in the kitchen stays in the kitchen.
You may not be up for a polar bear plunge, but you might be willing to try South Water Kitchen's Outdoor Groundhog Day Lunch this Sunday, Feb. 2. The north Loop restaurant will set up tables outside on the sidewalk patio and offer a complimentary two-course lunch to anyone willing to eat it outside.
Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014 will be the most important day this year for Chicago. No, it has absolutely nothing to do with the Super Bowl. Yes, it has absolutely everything to do with this miserable winter weather. This upcoming Sunday a groundhog will come out of the ground and tell us humans, who have spent trillions of dollars on meteorological research and tools, whether there will be six more weeks of winter. South Water Kitchen will be hosting its annual Outdoor Groundhog Day Lunch to commemorate the special day.
In honor of Valentine’s Day, Chef Roger Waysok of South Water Kitchen will be preparing a special Red Velvet Twinkie for guests on their Five-Course Valentine’s Day Dinner Pre-Fixe Menu. For those not in Chicago, South Water Kitchen has kindly shared the recipe below, which is easy enough for at-home chefs to replicate!
Holidays like Valentine’s Day give us yet another reason to celebrate our friends and loved one. In honor of Valentine’s Day, Chef Roger Waysok of South Water Kitchen will be preparing a special Red Velvet Twinkie for guests of the popular restaurant in Chicago’s Loop neighborhood.
Essential Tools for the Home Bar
"You've got to stock the basic three ingredients: spirit, citrus, and sweetener. You can find ways to stir, shake, and strain... but if you don't have proper ingredients—forget it." — Dan Rook (South Water Kitchen)
Hot cocktails are always a popular winter menu addition, but in time for this particularly frigid season of polar vortexes and sub-zero temps across much of the country (hey, 50 degrees in L.A. is practically freezing), we've seen a lot of variation beyond Irish coffees (see our Recipe of the Month, below). From "Fallen," a warm bourbon/hard cider/brown sugar/walnut bitters blend at Chicago's South Water Kitchen to a hot "Plum Toddy" from New York's Pouring Ribbons (Unicum Plum liqueur, hot water, bitters), bartenders are finding inventive ways to fend off the shivers.
So many options for the HOLIDAY fun below. Whether it is Christmas, New Year's Eve or Day, if you can't find fun then you're missing out. With only a few days left to plan, don't be left out of the fun.
New Year’s Eve
South Water Kitchen – for the beer lovers! $75/person
Five-Course Dinner & Beer Pairing Menu, prepared by Executive Chef Roger Waysok:
Ask a Bartender: Easy Holiday Punch Ideas
'Tis the season for carols, snowmen, and lots and lots of punch. We asked bartenders across the country: What's a great punch for holiday entertaining—with nothing too complicated? Here's what they had to say.
"Eggnog is always fun to play with this time of year. Approximately 1 egg for every two ounces of spirit (bourbon with a nice amaro or spiced rum), heavy whipping cream, demerara syrup, nutmeg, cinnamon, etc." — Dan Rook (South Water Kitchen)
Ask a Bartender: What's Your Friday Night Playlist?
"My go-to jukebox's jam is Toto's Africa—people don't realize how much they love that song until they find themselves fist-pumping and singing 'I Bless the Rains...' Probably follow that up with some upbeat classic rock—Zeppelin, The Stones, The Who—there's a reason that music is still relevant." — Dan Rook (South Water Kitchen)
Ask a Bartender: Molecular Mixology, Yay or Nay?
"The name 'Molecular Mixology' suggests science, but really it's art, and I've got nothing but respect for anyone who can do that professionally. That being said, I'd still rather have a nicely balanced craft cocktail without all the bells and whistles." — Dan Rook (South Water Kitchen)
Tell Us About Your First Bartending Gig
While many of our favorite bartenders have long and storied careers, they all got their start somewhere—and most entry-level gigs weren't too glamorous. We asked bartenders across the country about their first stint behind a bar; here's what they had to say.
"Bussing tables and bar-backing when I was 13 years old at an Irish Pub called The Goal Post. They would get a live feed from Ireland for Irish football games on Sunday Mornings. I'd show up at 8am to a packed bar of Irishmen, squeezed in shoulder to shoulder drinking Guinness, chain smoking cigarettes, and eating Irish breakfasts. I guess I was doomed from jump." — Dan Rook (South Water Kitchen)
For a fraction of the pie calories, enjoy pumpkin pie-flavored tea at South Water Kitchen in Chicago. The drink is made with pumpkin puree strained through cheesecloth and infused with water, heavy cream, nutmeg, brown sugar syrup and Earl Grey tea.
What's a Great Pre-Thanksgiving Dinner Drink?
When you put hours and hours of effort into a fabulous Thanksgiving meal, you deserve the perfect drink before digging in to turkey and stuffing. What's the best drink to sip before Thanksgiving dinner?
"My favorite pre-Thanksgiving cocktail is a Journeyman Rye Old Fashioned served clean—none of that muddling nonsense. It's ideal because it delivers some beautiful cinnamon/spice fall flavors (and because I'm very thankful to have Journeyman spirits on our back bar)." — Dan Rook (South Water Kitchen)
Fallen Available at Chicago’s South Water Kitchen, courtesy of Bartender Sarah Mengoni
There’s nothing quite like a warm and boozy beverage to take the chill off—and these 10 seasonal sippers are guaranteed to satisfy.
The Old Twelfth Night
Named one of City Eats’ “Top 10 Winter Cocktails Around the Country,” this cocktail from the menu of Chicago’s South Water Kitchen combines apple brandy, high-proof bourbon, lemon, and freshly made thyme syrup for a todd-tastic classic that packs a fruit ‘n’ herb punch. Garnish with an apple slice for full effect.
South Water Kitchen is serving the Fallen cocktail with Wild Turkey bourbon, Vandermill cider, brown sugar and walnut bitters.
Is there a more satisfying combination than crunchy bread and melted cheese? We think not, which is why we found ten gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches that are turning the classic upside-down with imported cheese and artisan bread.
Mr. Grilled Cheese meets Ms. PB&J. This sweet hybrid sandwich combines soft brie with crisp pear and blueberry jam. The special sandwich recently made its debut on the fall menu.
South Water Kitchen
225 N. Wabash Ave.; (312-236-9300)
When mom starts nagging you about your love life over Thanksgiving dinner, down one of these.
½ oz. Wild Turkey 101 Bourbon
4 oz. Vandermill Hard Cider
¼ oz. brown sugar
1 dash walnut bitters
Combine all ingredients in a mixing tin that is sitting in hot water. Stir slightly until warm, then pour into a glass.
Source: Sarah Mengoni, bartender at Chicago's South Water Kitchen
What bar gadget do you covet?
"A Hoshisaki or Kold Draft ice machine. Hands down." — Sarah Mengoni (South Water Kitchen)
What bar would you take a visitor to?
"Depends on the visitor. For the cocktail and spirits enthusiasts in my life, and the adventurers, Sable. For those who refuse such things, Cunneen's is my wonderful neighborhood bar." — Sarah Mengoni (South Water Kitchen)
Ask a Bartender: What 3 Words Describe Your Ideal Bar?
"Convivial, lurid, free." — Sarah Mengoni (South Water Kitchen)
Ask a Bartender: What's One Drink We Should Be Making at Home?
"Manhattan, Manhattan, Manhattan. Every dedicated drinker should know how to make this cocktail. It's very easy to make it at home." — Sarah Mengoni (South Water Kitchen)
Head bartender Sarah Mengoni created a pair of seasonal mocktails perfect for sipping on the patio. The Lavender Soda is similar to the common cooler and is made with lavender syrup, blackberries, lemon juice and soda, while the Cherry Fizz replicated the traditional sling cocktail sans booze, with fresh cucumber slices, cherry syrup and soda water.
Ask a Bartender: What's Your Favorite Bitter Liqueur or Amaro? So many great ones! I love Averna. It's a great introductory amaro for the uninitiated." — Sarah Mengoni (South Water Kitchen)
In yet another example of the Chicago food scene being the best in the world, the Kimpton restaurants of Chicago are offering patrons a culinary adventure. They are showing love to people who love their restaurants, all of their Chicago restaurants. Kimpton will be giving away prizes to guests who eat or drink at each of their five Chicago-based restaurants through August 31st.
So you didn’t get to travel overseas this summer. Don’t be bummed! Instead, grab your passport and gear up for another adventure… of the culinary variety.
Take a culinary adventure with Kimpton Restaurants of Chicago and you may win a plateful of prizes.
At South Water Kitchen, chef Roger Waysok's bacon s'mores were such a hit at Baconfest Chicago this year that he added them to the dessert menu. And you would too if you were equipped with housemade bacon-infused marshmallows nestled atop bacon-infused graham cookies and drizzled with chocolate.
Bartender Dan Rook revamped the beer program to focus on local microbrews. “There is a lot of great beer being made here in Chicago and the Midwest,” notes Rook.
This August 2-4, 2013, concert-goers clad in neon tanks, Ray Ban shades and flower headbands can celebrate their favorite artists and a special promotion at South Water Kitchen – ½ priced pint drafts (Friday through Sunday in the Tavern only) for all restaurant guests wearing Lollapalooza wristbands!
This August 2-4, 2013, concert-goers can celebrate their favorite artists and a special promotion at South Water Kitchen – half-priced pint drafts (Friday through Sunday in the Tavern only) for all restaurant guests wearing Lollapalooza wristbands.
2013 Certificate of Excellence Award by TripAdvisor
- Businesses that maintain an overall rating of four or higher, out of a possible five, as reviewed by travelers on TripAdvisor, and have been listed on TripAdvisor for at least 12 months. Additional criteria include the volume of reviews received within the last 12 months
It’s definitely the kid in me, but every single time I hear “Fire & Ice” my mind immediately goes to trips to Florida as a child. There was a ride at Universal Studios Islands of Adventure known as The Dueling Dragons (now part of the Harry Potter section of the park) and you had a choice to ride the Fire Dragon or the Ice Dragon and it was a lot of fun. I’m an adult now and I have found something else to associate with “Fire & Ice” and it is sure to make my taste buds happy.
What are your favorite tequilas?
"Partida is my favorite high end tequila; I love sipping on the blanco. Corralejo is my favorite affordable tequila." — Sarah Mengoni (South Water Kitchen)
What's your favorite after work bar?
Join us for our five course Fire and Ice Dinner on Wednesday, July 17th. Chef Roger has prepared some amazing dishes paired with some fantastic wines.
Often when people are done with their workdays in the Loop, they speed home, making that area a virtual ghost town. However, South Water Kitchen (225 N. WaOften when people are done with their workdays in the Loop, they speed home, making that area a virtual ghost town. However, South Water Kitchen (225 N. Wabash Ave.; http://southwaterkitchen.com), overall, makes a compelling case for staying in that area just a little longer—or for out-of-town visitors to swing by and say hello.
At any bar, it's inevitable: some patrons will over-drink. And some will really over-drink. Cutting someone off is a difficult situation—what's the best way to handle it?
"Fortunately we don't have to deal with extremely intoxicated guests very often. When somebody does get to the point the way I handle it depends on the person, and the relationship we've developed. My first response is always to make sure they have plenty of water in front of them." — Sarah Mengoni (South Water Kitchen)
What's your guilty pleasure drink?
"Bud Light Lime. Hands down." — Sarah Mengoni (South Water Kitchen)
What liquor should more people know?
"Redbreast Irish whiskey. The 12 year is awesome and the price is within reach of the average consumer." — Sarah Mengoni (South Water Kitchen)
Chicken salad might be more often spotted at delis or picnics, but South Water Kitchen serves it up in slider form. They come with dried cranberries, sage and walnuts.
Baconskin krispie treats (The Bristol), bacon s'mores (South Water Kitchen) and bacon and egg ice cream cones (ZED451) were just a few of the standouts.
What three bottles can't you part with?
"Journeyman Bilberry Black Hearts gin, Campari, Dolin sweet vermouth. Ask me again tomorrow, I'm sure my answer will change." — Sarah Mengoni (South Water Kitchen)
"Loop professionals have a fresh option for after-work cocktails or casual client meetings at South Water Kitchen in the Hotel Monaco Chicago. The restaurant's 26-seat front-room bar and lounge—called “the tavern”—reopened in January after a few weeks of renovation"
Finally, a host introduces the featured act, Roger Waysok, who strides forward and, after a burst of applause, begins his performance... creating a barley, feta, and tomato salad with fresh mint. "All the fresh ingredients in here, I am passionate about," says Mr. Waysok, the executive chef of Chicago's South Water Kitchen restaurant, his knife poised over a red onion. The chef series that runs from May to October at the botanical garden here draws hundreds of people each week. But it could be a demonstration held in almost any venue in America. In a land of fads and social movements, from fitness to feminism, now comes a new one-food.
Who eats: Mix of business people, tourists and hotel guests (restaurant is connected to Hotel Monaco), giving South Water Kitchen a democratic feel. Why eat: Modern, casual atmosphere makes it appropriate for a working lunch with colleagues or business partners; diverse menu, including oversize sandwiches, means there's something for all, with few dishes more than $20. Ambience: Unobtrusively stylish; wood tones keep the dining room from feeling too sleek. Bar area with pizza oven is an appropriate after-work gathering spot. Sidewalk dining on Wabash is an option.
What can we say? Chicagoans love their al fresco dining. When the weather warms up, restaurants swing open their doors and diners demand an outdoor seat. From Wicker Park to downtown, our concierge contributor Robert Brooks scouted out some of the best outdoor dining spots to check out� South Water Kitchen: This hip American restaurant adjacent to the Hotel Monaco provides an opportunity to dine on comfort food with stunning views of Marina Towers and the Chicago River. It's also one of my favorite spots for brunch.