If Joe Baldwin has his way, a mobile garden will be riding the CTA tracks this spring. A 35-year-old artist who developed the concept in the fall of 2008 as part of his MFA from UIC, Baldwin has secured the go-ahead from the city and is now seeking a corporate partner. The estimated cost of the project is $320,000; the USDA, Harvest Moon, and Midwest Groundcovers have pledged to donate plants. So far Baldwin's been fund-raising through his nonprofit, noisivelvet, and with the help of friends—Mobile Garden has 1,150 on Facebook. It's part public art installation, part urban stewardship program with a strong educational aspect. Baldwin plans to offer an after-school gardening program involving kids "all over the city."
The windows are papered over at the Dragonlady Lounge, the Avondale bar where proprietor Sue Chong has found success with her Thursday night all-you-can-eat vegan buffet. But never fear, vegetarians: manager Robert Castillo tells me they're just remodeling the place "to brighten things up a bit." The vegan buffet will return January 6, and Chong will also be expanding her everyday menu, offering a beef "Dragonlady burger" in addition to her veggie burger made with tofu, tempeh, oatmeal, and kimchi and topped with avocado.
Mado, on the other hand, remains shuttered after the departure of chef Brandon Baltzley hard on the heels of the November walkout of >Rob and Allie Levitt. And restaurateur David Richards (Sweets & Savories, the new Bluette) says it will stay that way: "Mado 3.0 would just be stupid at this point." Richards hasn't made up his mind about the space yet. He's been fielding some inquiries, but says that "Sometimes the best decision is not to make a decision," and plans to bide his time till after the holidays, though he added that "If the offer is right and someone wants to buy the place, I would consider it." At press time Levitt was still awaiting inspection of his new Noble Square shop Butcher & Larder.
Wasabi (2539 N. Milwaukee, 773-227-8180, wasabichicago.com), a new Japanese spot in Logan Square, has an unusual BYO policy: diners are allowed to bring only sake, beer, or wine, with a limit of a bottle or six-pack per every two people. Weekend brunch there begins January 8.
As Mike Sula reported on our blog the Food Chain this week, Tamalli Space Charros, the world's only stridentist food truck, passed its inspection and is shooting to hit the streets by the end of January. Performance artist Aztlan Cardinal says that while the consulting chef is Raul Arreola (formerly of Mixteco Grill and now at Scott Harris's new Saint Charles restaurant Fat Rosie's Taco & Tequila Bar), the identity of the chef on board is a secret—that's why he'll wear a lucha libre mask.
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