Show: Chicago Symphony Orchestra Tonight the Chicago Symphony Orchestra begins its monthlong celebration of Pierre Boulez's 85th birthday, which arrives on March 26. For this series of four concerts he'll begin with Ravel's lovely Le Tombeau de Couperin, an homage to the Baroque French suite, performed here in the four-movement orchestral version from 1919. The program closes with a concert version of Bartok's only opera, the dark one-act Bluebeard's Castle, sung by mezzo-soprano Michelle DeYoung and bass-baritone Falk Struckmann.
8 PM, Orchestra Hall, Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan, 312-294-3000, $18-$199.
Dinner: The Gage The extensive drinks list features specialty and vintage cocktails like the Champagne Charlie (champagne and Grand Marnier with a sugar cube soaked in blood orange bitters). The one-page menu has surprising breadth without seeming scattershot: there are half a dozen steaks and burgers alongside more unusual offerings like roast saddle of elk and caramelized lobster with lemon quinoa.
24 S. Michigan, 312-372-4243
Show: The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus What a troublesome filmmaker we have in Terry Gilliam: his vision is unique, yet the same feverish imagination that makes his movies so engrossing threatens constantly to mushroom out of control.
Dinner: If you're going to...
River East 21, 322 E. Illinois
The Atrium Wine Bar Fox & Obel's newest addition, this wine bar offers a relatively upscale atmosphere at less-than-upscale prices. A modest selection of appetizers, entrees, and desserts—less than 20 in all—is joined on the menu by a couple dozen wines by the glass and half glass and several more by the bottle (at the store's retail price).
401 E. Illinois, 312-379-0132
Music Box, 3733 N. Southport, 773-871-6604, midnight:
Fianco is one of those low-key neighborhood Italian joints that often fly under the foodie radar. With its photo-lined exposed-brick walls, butcher-paper-covered tables, and high exposed-beam ceiling, the spacious storefront feels like a throwback.
3440 N. Southport, 773-327-6400
Show: Minna Trap Door Theatre's American premiere of this 1993 play by British writer Howard Barker is a hallucinatory parade of images on the theme that human beings are rational, intelligent creatures prone to irrational, brutish behavior.
8pm, Trap Door Theatre, 1655 W. Cortland, 773-384-0494
Dinner: Podhalanka Polksa Restauracja "It isn’t just the knickknacks and portraits of the pope in this former tavern, a remnant of Division Street's days as the great 'Polish Broadway,' that remind me of my grandmother," writes Mike Sula. "I’ll be damned if I don’t sense her presence in the pungent whiff of cabbage that floats from the kitchen or the gentle tang of fermented rye flour in the zurek."
1549 W. Division, 773-486-6655
Show: Deck The Hall The Chicago Writers Association sponsors a benefit for the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame. Local novelists Don De Grazia, Bayo Ojikutu, and Marcus Sakey will read from the works of HOF-nominated authors, and there will be a silent auction of collectible Chicago books.
6:30-9:30 p.m., Sheffield's, 3258 N. Sheffield, $35, $30 in advance includes refreshments
Dinner: Bolat African Cuisine Nigerian-Ghanaian eatery serving a range of soups and stews with traditional starchy sides like fufu; the kitchen stays open till 11.
3346 N. Clark, 773-665-1100