Dinner & a Show: Saturday 2/6 | Bleader

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James Blackshaw
  • James Blackshaw

Show: James Blackshaw A 12-string guitar can be an unwieldy thing, but in the right hands it's a peerless source of rich sonorities. Young Englishman James Blackshaw has such hands, and he puts them to good use on the splendid live album Waking Into Sleep (Kning), a solo performance recorded in Sweden in 2006: the stirring melodies of "Spiralling Skeleton Memorial" and "Sunshrine" billow into kaleidoscopic patterns of swirling tones.

10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $8, $5

Dinner: Big Star Unlike Paul Kahan's other ventures (Blackbird, Avec, the Publican), Big Star is a bar. But you may have to remind yourself of that, because it's got probably the tastiest Mexican menu of any bar in Chicago. Both food (by Justin Large, formerly of Avec) and drink (by Michael Rubel of Violet Hour) are pitched to a very agreeable price point, making the place a surefire, low-cost, high-value good time.

1531 N. Damen, 773-235-4039

Show: Colorlist On their second studio album, A Square White Lie (482 Music), saxophonist Charles Gorczynski and percussionist Charles Rumback, aka Colorlist, have refined their spellbinding meditations, sanding away the rough edges of the performances to reveal something even more seductive.

10 PM, Heaven Gallery, 1550 N. Milwaukee, second floor, $10 suggested donation.

Dinner: Taxim 29-year-old former caterer David Schneider has raised the bar for what passes as serious, interesting regional Greek food in a dramatic scrubbing of the late Wicker Park dive Big Horse Lounge. The brass lanterns in this Byzantine lounge (dimly) expose some of some of the freshest yet oldest ideas in village cuisine: humble, seasonal ingredients in simple, wonderful dishes like fresh-shelled favas with yogurt and lamb confit, a recipe from a mountain region where the traditional use of animal fat reflected a scarcity of olive oil. One of the best new Chicago restaurants of 2008.

1558 N. Milwaukee Ave., 773-252-1558

Movies: Fish Tank British filmmaker Andrea Arnold made her feature debut with Red Road (2006), an eerie, low-budget suspense story about a woman stalking, seducing, and finally exacting her revenge against the man who ruined her life. This excellent follow-up, set against a similar landscape of shabby council estates, unfolds as a conventional coming-of-age story, yet Arnold hasn’t altered her persuasively jaundiced view of men, who seem as pitifully helpless against their horndog urges as the women foolish enough to care for them.

5pm, 7:20pm, 9:40pm, Music Box, 3733 N. Southport Ave., 773-871-6604

Dinner: Julius Meinl A classy place for those of moderate means, this is the first American outpost for Viennese coffee purveyor Julius Meinl. The coffee is made from beans roasted in Austria; strong but not acidic, it's superb. The menu's tasty cafe fare.

3601 N. Southport Ave., 773-868-1857

Show: Blackmail This daffy, convoluted, modestly budgeted video, is nominally patterned after Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing; writer-director Hurt McDermott (Nightingale in a Music Box) extracts a ton of fun from a great cast, sharp editing, and a witty, offbeat script.

8pm, Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State St., 312-846-2600

Dinner: Carson's Restaurant "With the smiley-face yellow of its logo, mansard roof, and funky stucco exterior, Carson’s would make a good setting for an episode of That 70s Show. But let’s face it, you don’t go to Carson’s for the decor. You go for the meat, and they got it, baby, along with some surprisingly good seafood (notably, the shrimp de jonghe and tasty crab cakes)," writes David Hammond.

612 N. Wells, 312-280-9200

Performing Arts

Show: Koosil-ja/DanceKumiko Japan-born choreographer Koosil-ja studied with Merce Cunningham when she moved to New York in 1981, and his influence is written all over the piece her company is performing for its Chicago debut.

8pm, Dance Center of Columbia College, 1306 S. Michigan Ave., 312-369-6600

Dinner: Little Branch Cafe Tucked into the ground floor of a gleaming South Loop high-rise, this casually modern spot run by fashion designer Soo Choi and her sister Sang offers well-designed food, smoky espresso drinks with Metropolis coffee, Palazollo’s artisanal gelato and sorbetto, smoothies, and a full bar.

1251 S. Prairie Ave., 312-360-0101

Show: Mary's Wedding It's impossible to overpraise Mark Ulrich's perfect Rivendell Theatre Ensemble production of a captivating script. Stephen Massicotte's powerfully poetic play employs the strategic repetition of certain phrases in different contexts to create a 90-minute meditation on love's value and war's cost.

4pm, 8:30pm, Raven Theatre, 6157 N. Clark St., 773-338-2177

Dinner: Indie Cafe serves Thai and Japanese food way above average in terms of quality, presentation, and value. Arun Sampanthavivat might want to take note of this place, as the food here comes closer to his exquisite cuisine than anything else in town, and at a fraction of his prices. Indie Cafe is BYO.

5951 N. Broadway, 773-561-5577


Show: Bike Winter Swap Meet and Urban Bicycle Expo Bike Winter, the Active Transportation Alliance, Big Shoulders Realty, and the UIC College of Cycling present this event featuring discussions about urban and year-round cycling, cycling gear vendors, and more.

11 AM-6 PM (after-party from 6-9 PM), Jaks Tap, 901 W. Jackson Blvd., 312-666-1700, $5 suggested donation

Dinner: The Publican Brasserie-style gastropub focusing on snout-to-tail cooking, oysters, and beer from the dream team of chef Paul Kahan, sommelier Eduard Seitan, and restaurateurs Donnie Madia and Terry Alexander (the first three are the brain trust driving Blackbird and Avec, the latter two the scenemakers behind Sonotheque and the Violet Hour).

837 W. Fulton St., 312-733-9555