Dining out: Olive Garden goes lighter with Tastes of Mediterranean menu
With the start of the new year, Olive Garden is offering a Tastes of the Mediterranean menu featuring dishes for less than 600 calories. For a lighter lunch, try the new shrimp scampi mini pasta bowl (shrimp sautéed in a garlic sauce with asparagus, tomatoes and angel hair pasta for 510 calories), chicken piccata (530 calories), chicken margherita (570 calories), salmon piccata (580 calories) and chicken giardino (600 calories). Before 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, these dishes start at $6.99. They're also available on the dinner menu. Olive Garden has locations throughout the suburbs. olivegarden.com/menu-listing/tastes-of-the-mediterranean.
Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar is making its official entrance into the Illinois market with its grand opening at 10:45 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 9, in Vernon Hills' Mellody Farm shopping center. The Rocky Mountain Wyoming-inspired eatery features housemade dishes such as crispy deviled eggs and roasted winter vegetables, entrees like spaghetti squash and beetballs, bone-in apple-sage pork chops and barbecue bison meatloaf, and desserts including a seven-layer chocolate cake and apple-huckleberry open-faced pie. Sip on handcrafted cocktails like the new Meyer Lemon Margarita made with small-batch Lunazul tequila and exclusive beers such as the Huckleberry Haze IPA. Also of note: the daily happy hour, late-night offerings and LD Beer Club. And, true to its name, Lazy Dog offers a dog-friendly patio with a special menu featuring grilled meats and brown rice for Fido. Hours are 11 a.m. to midnight Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to midnight Saturday and Sunday. Weekend brunch is from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar is located at 1115 N. Milwaukee Ave., Vernon Hills, (847) 780-7977 or lazydogrestaurants.com/locations/vernon-hills.
The Art of Pasta
Want to learn some new cooking skills? Massimo Salatino, chef at Francesca's, will be leading The Art of Pasta pasta-making classes at suburban Francesca's throughout January. Try your hand at making pasta the Italian way from scratch at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 9, at Francesca's North in Northbrook; at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 15, at Francesca's by the River in St. Charles; at 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 17, at Francesca's at the Promenade in Bolingbrook; and at 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 31, at Francesca's Tavola in Arlington Heights. It's $75 per person, including nonalcoholic beverages. For details, see miafrancesca.com/events/profile/the-art-of-pasta.
White Castle is going for comfort this winter with its new Sloppy Joe Sliders, which are 99 cents through Feb. 24 (or while supplies last). And the Mac and Cheese Nibblers (cheddar cheese and macaroni coated with a crispy cheddar batter) are now back on the menu, too. If you crave both, consider the Cheesy Mac and Joe combo (two small Mac and Cheese Nibblers with a mix of Sloppy Joe Sliders and Cheese Sliders) for $7.99. If you order on the mobile app, you can get a Super Sack of 20 Original Sliders for $10. White Castle has locations across the suburbs. whitecastle.com/.
Temper your taste buds for Wildfire Oak Brook's four-course Infused Spirit Dinner at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 14. It's $85, which includes a menu of caviar blini (crème fraîche and salmon caviar) and savory sausage pierogi (Fuji apple) with a house-infused vodka cocktail, butter poached lobster tail (saffron fennel broth and crispy pancetta) and a house-infused gin cocktail, carne asada (marinated skirt steak, queso fresco, guacamole and Mexican rice) with a house-infused tequila cocktail, and, for a sweet treat, maple pecan bread pudding (pecan brittle and maple whipped cream) with a house-infused whiskey cocktail. Tax and gratuity is not included. Reservations are required. Wildfire is at 232 Oakbrook Center, Oak Brook, (630) 586-9000 or wildfirerestaurant.com/events/infused-liquor-dinner-2/.
Pints for Pasta
January is National Blood Donor Month. What does this have to do with you dining out? In January, when you donate blood at any Heartland Blood Center location, you will receive a coupon good for one free entree with the purchase of a Coca-Cola Freestyle product at Noodles & Company. Donors of all blood types are needed, especially O negative. Schedule an appointment to donate at (800) 7TO-GIVE or ht.heartlandbc.org/donor/auth/signin. Noodles & Company has locations throughout the suburbs. noodles.com/.
Cream of the crop
Gayot, which has served as a guide to restaurants, hotels, travel destinations and more for 45 years, recently named Western Springs restaurant Vie and Winnetka restaurant George Trois to its annual list of Top 40 Restaurants in the U.S. Vie, helmed by chef Paul Virant, and George Trois, headed by chef Michael Lachowicz, join esteemed Chicago restaurants Alinea and Everest on the list. "We are truly honored to again be included as one of Gayot's Top 40 restaurants, among some of the most excellent Chicago company," Virant says. Vie is at 4471 Lawn Ave., Western Springs, (708) 246-2082, vierestaurant.com or paulvirant.com. George Trois is located at 64 Green Bay Road, Winnetka, (847) 562-6105 or georgetrois.com/.
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