The Butcher & Larder (1026 N. Milwaukee, 773-687-8280), Rob Levitt's Noble Square butcher shop, opened on Sunday. "Opening the day before a major holiday was both a good idea and a bad idea," Levitt said on Martin Luther King Day. "We were really busy today, and now we're out of everything. Well, not everything, but a lot. We sold a lot of strange stuff too, so that's good." Wrote one customer on Facebook, "I came in yesterday knowing little about hog jowls. A few minute conversation w/ the friendly neighborhood butcher and a bunch of internet research later . . . i'm getting ready to cure that slab up and make guanciale." Another customer went for the pig's feet. The shop planned to start serving sandwiches on Wednesday.
Twenty years ago restaurateur Mel Markon was ahead of his time, opening Dixie Que, described by the Reader as "a high-concept Memphis-style barbecue." That venture closed in 1996, but now he's back in the biz, opening not a barbecue joint but what he calls "an Italian fun pub" in West Town. Bia for Mia (1147 W. Grand, 312-226-0312), he says, will have reasonably priced pastas, pizza, and entrees, "a fun pub sushi section," 48 wines by the bottle, 18 by the glass, and ten craft beers. It's slated for an early February opening.
Public House (400 N. State, 312-265-1240), a new bar from the people behind Bull & Bear, opened last week in River North, offering 25 beers on tap, 80 in bottles, and ten booths equipped with tableside taps featuring two beers and a spirit—the options are Jameson, Maker's Mark, Absolut, Bacardi, or Patrón. Goose Island will be providing a custom-made Public House brew each month; January's is an IPA. Samantha Ronson DJ'd there over the weekend, and Jenn Sterger, the unfortunate whose claim to fame comes via the sexts of Brett Favre, is booked to make a special guest appearance on March 17. Lunch begins Thursday, and brunch is in the works; Mindy Segal of Hot Chocolate created the dessert menu.
Phillip Foss has enlisted Dave Wojtonik of the Simple Sandwich food truck to man a second Meatyballs Mobile over the winter. Their locations, mostly downtown, are available via Twitter (@FossFoodTrucks) or at the Meatyballs Mobile website. Delivery is also available; call 312-315-6127.
Brian Enyart, the 33-year-old chef de cuisine at Topolobampo (featured in this week's Key Ingredient challenge), announced last week that he'd be leaving the restaurant in April after 14 years. He hasn't settled on anything definite yet: "My main focus right now is staying in Chicago and I'm starting to look around for consulting work to plan my next step," he said via e-mail.
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