Category: Food


Chef Roble

Celebrity Chef Roble Ali always have something brewing in the kitchen and Bravo has documented it for two seasons. Since 2011 his life has been chronicled on television running a high end catering company and dealing with a variety of situations.

Born in Poughkeepsie, New York, Roble attended the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. He then worked as the youngest sous chef ever in Abigail Kirsch, a catering company in New York.

He has cooked for artists such as Michael Jackson, Russell Simmons, and Faith Evans among many others.

Nunn on the Run dished with him at brunch at Sawtooth in the West Loop of Chicago about his gay A-list friends Art Smith, and Andy Cohen as well as his Bravo celebrity life.

Jerry Nunn: Hi, Roble. Thanks for the tweet this morning. You are a New Yorker?

Roble Ali: I am but I bounced around a lot. I from Poughkeepsie, which is an hour north of New York City. If I added up all of my time then I spent most of my time in Brooklyn. I lived in Greenville, Mississippi for a year and a half.

I lived in Houston, Texas for five or six years .I lived in Greenville, Mississippi for a year and a half when I was a little kid. I did the South then I came back to the North.
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Vapiano

Taking over the historic Carson Pirie Scott space on 44 S. Wabash Vapiano made a big splash with its grand opening recently. This is the second location for this Mediterranean hotspot in Chicago. The other one in Lincoln Park is already a hit on 2577 N. Clark Street.

Red is the signature color and it makes this place really pop. Underneath a dreary train track this seems like an unusual spot but the convenience for lunches downtown makes up for it. There’s a patio to enjoy and the modern light wood indoors keep things bright and clean.

One thing that is hip and modern is the use of a chip card where diners scan and purchase items on th

eir own time frame then check out at the end of their experience with no pressure to rush out.

The staff is friendly so feel free to talk directly to the chefs. They stir up dishes like sausage e verdure or pasta with sausage and spinach. Keep things simple like the marguerita pizza or go for more with the smoked gouda chicken barbeque pizza.

To wash things down you can never go wrong with a malbec and their Santa Julia Reserva is rich and full bodied from Argentina of course.

After relaxing in the afternoon finish things off with a death by chocolate dessert always great with a red wine.

With more than 120 locations Vapiano is taking over the world these days and we see why!

Visit www.vapianointernational.com for details and more information.

Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar continues to be at the top of their game running specials and providing excellent cuisine. There are two locations in Illinois one in Lincolnshire and one in Chicago. Downtowners hit the one on 25 E Ohio Street and with good reason. With one of the best happy hours in the city, this is the perfect spot to grab a quick $6 martini and woof down an appetizer such as the sweet chile calamari in the bar area until 7:00 p.m. The prime burger is a steal for the price seven nights a week. I’m glad to see the pomegranate martini is back in rotation but when is the margarita martini coming back? This heavy hitter said “adios” too soon!

With the seasons changing this will be the last chance to try the summer special menu with prix fixe price available at 40.95 per guest until August 31. There is a filet mignon and salmon duo along with a starter of chili lime prawns to give surf and turf a whole new meaning. Sip the last of summer for the Caribbean rum punch made with Mount Gay rum.

For Sundays bring in friends for $29.95 as each guest is treated to three salad options, prime rib second course featuring three different sauces, and a dessert choice. Plan on taking some home and finishing it the next day.  

The wine list with 100 choices available by the glass can be overwhelming but their are flights to sample and a computer system right at your table to help pair things down to accompany your meal.

The open friendly flame broiled kitchen and dark wood ambiance make guests feel welcome and right at home. Take some time off from shopping on Michigan Avenue or relax after work at this hotspot in the heart of downtown.

Call (312) 329-9463 or visit www.flemingsteakhouse.com to make a reservation today.

DAVIDsTEA Kiki

With over 106 across the United States and Canada, DAVIDsTEA is the place to be for gourmet refreshments. There are over 150 types of tea to choose from with exotic infusions from all over the world.

While there are many traditional straight teas it can be more fun think outside of the box and try something new.


I spoke with co-founder David Segal about the company stating they have a tea of the month along with seasonal collections. “It is a never ending journey. One week you might like something spicy then the next maybe a dessert tea. We have citrus and chocolate teas. We are always bringing in spices from all over the world. We have a passion for it and we love showing people how much steep tea can be!”o think outside of the box and blend it up. There are plenty of tips the staff, called tea guides, can offer such as watch your steep time (about 3 to 5 minutes) and water temperature is important (boiling water can burn up the leaves).

For you health conscious people try The Skinny or stop in for many of the summer teas like The Sunburned Sling. There is even the Pink Flamingo with grapefruit and orange in it. Sounds like one to sip by the beach!

Many teas are exclusive to the company so they are constantly looking for new ones. It is about having a complete loose leaf experience. Check out a wall of accessories that will bring things to a whole new level.

Their first store was in Toronto. What a treat to see DAVIDsTEA in the middle of the gayborhood on Church and Wellesley in Toronto with a big rainbow painted on the window during Pride. We support those who support us!

Free smells with some samplings are offered so stop by one of the convenient locations today. Locate one near you from the website at www.davidstea.com.

Koi

Located in the heart of Evanston at 624 Davis Street is Koi Fine Asian Cuisine and Lounge. Transformed from its humble beginnings into an upscale, spacious experience, guests are transported to another part of the world.

With a comfortable lounge to wait for a table, relaxing music, and lighting you almost picture a massage table awaiting around the corner. There is a full sushi and separate cocktail bar for patrons and now is the time to open the front patio doors to get a full breeze in the dining room.

Drinks are not to be missed from the lychee sangria to martinis for every range of taste. If that doesn’t wet your whistle then look for an upcoming sake fest in the middle of July.

This is Northern Chinese cuisine and the quality is excellent. Crab rangoon is always a safe starter. The orange chicken was the best to be had and the sauce is offered in beef and shrimp options also. The food is extensive covering many regions but the staff can guider diners through the experience and make things easier.

The sushi rolls should be added to the experience so check out the self titled versions such as the Koi Hirami or Koi Unagi. If you still have room finish things off with the caramel cake.

For parking they have valet and meter parking is fairly easy. When planning out a downtown Evanston excursion be sure and include Koi as part of the trip!

Call 847-866-6969 or visit www.koievanston.com and make a reservation today.

Combining sports and food can be a tricking thing indeed. Municipal Bar pulls it off quite well I am happy to report. Many times sports bars fall into the Wrigleyville trap where a game takes precedence over quality of food. The problem is the perception that beer guzzling sports fans don’t care about the taste of their food. Municipal takes it to a new level.

This is a great place to walk over from a corporate job and have a good meal. If you don’t mind the loudness of the bar that can be quickly overlooked by the eye candy that is there.

Located in River North at 216 W Ohio, “Jeff the Chef” has made a menu that is mouthwatering. The best tuna tartar that I’ve had in a long time and a lobster avocado salad to accompany it satisfied my seafood for a week.

Entrees include a 1/2 chicken, lamb shank, or pork chops as well as sandwiches such as a Koenigsberger burger with a fried egg on top.

For dessert don’t miss the ricotta donuts with raspberry, caramel, and chocolate sauce.

Best advice is to arrive early as things get crowded and loud.

Make a reservation today at www.municipalbar.com.

BBQ & Blockbusters

We are lucky to live in a city where good restaurants are in walking distance to movie theaters. One of my friend’s favorite places is Fat Willy’s Rib Shack on Western and Schubert with a huge cineplex for a movie after.

How lucky to find another spot with the same opportunity on the other side of the city. El’s Kitchen & Bar opened three years ago and is located at 1450 W Webster Avenue. BBQ and Rock ‘N’ Roll makes a good combo. Not only can you have good food but be entertained at the same time. With the weather changing this is the perfect time to enjoy the patio.

There are daily specials to enjoy including $2 tacos and $5 margaritas on Wednesdays but the deal of the century is for $50 one app, two entrees and one dessert plus two movie tickets to the Webster movie theater across the street. You can even add two drinks on for $60. Now that is a bargain.

While listening to a band on the weekends there is lots to devour. Start off with some spinach dip. The homemade chips are irresistible. If you can’t decide for an entree then try a combo like the brisket, ribs, and chicken that is smoked for 12 hours. For an encore the Ghirardeli chocolate brownie will stuff you to the gills.

With the convenience of entertainment, good food and atmosphere these hot spots have you covered! Visit www.elskitch.com for more details.

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