Three years ago a couple of chefs and their pals started hosting communal meals. That's since grown into Tuesday Night Dinner (tuesdaynightdinner.tumblr.com), a "clandestine dining society" that meets regularly in a Lakeview loft. Every third Tuesday Derrick Phillips, a line cook at Lula Cafe, and Illinois Institute of Arts culinary management student Jeremy Leven throw a multicourse dinner for a group of 40 to 45 with a suggested donation of $10 to $15 per person; it's BYO. February's menu featured arancini battered in Half Acre beer and served with preserved artichoke puree and chile-lemon glaze; a salad of rosewater-compressed pineapple with frisee, chickpeas, and pickled carrots; seared polenta with a forest mushroom ragout and Meyer lemon aioli; and a chocolate truffle flight: green matcha and strawberry preserves, espresso and Half Acre blueberry coulis, and toasted coconut and fennel cream. TND "has always been our laboratory," says Leven.
Now the group's branching out into additional activities. Last week it hosted a vegan chili cookoff—no canned ingredients allowed—with seven or eight competitors and a crowd of about 40. (When I spoke to TND's Michael Palmer he was at work on a "White Lightning" chili with white beans, four kinds of chile, and a lime-cilantro-watercress garnish.) Next month it's teaming up with Organic Valley and Chefs Collaborative on an Earth Dinner with a date that at press time was still to be determined; you can e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for info or reservations. There's also talk of future first-Tuesday events such as a canning workshop and garden party.
Lure Izakaya Pub (2017 S. Wells, 312-225-8989, lurechicago.com) opened Friday in Chinatown Square at the corner of Wentworth and Archer. Chef Kee Chan, formerly of Mulan, has teamed up with the ever-peripatetic Eric Aubriot (formerly of Aubriot and Tournesol), a longtime friend of his. The extensive menu of small plates features yakitori and plenty of seafood, but also has a couple curveballs like German-style potato salad, potato croquettes, and lobster spaghetti with garlic-mascarpone sauce. For now it's BYO with a liquor license in the works, and while the restaurant is currently open for dinner only, they're planning to add lunch and brunch service. Every night is "theme night," meaning the servers dress in costume—as geishas or "Lolita girls," for example—and customers who join them get a 10 percent discount. There will also be live entertainment.