Why just go out to dinner anymore when restaurants are introducing innovative new menus, presenting A-list events and inviting diners on culinary journeys? Here are the dining destinations you'll want to put on your calendar for the week ahead.
At the always adventurous Latin fusion restaurant Carnivale in River West, executive chef Mark Mendez is rolling out a special farm-to-table menu from Monday, May 18 through Sunday, May 24. Mendez has partnered with Nichols Farm in Marengo, IL and Blue Marble Family Farm in Barneveld, WI to bring diners fresh seasonal ingredients from the Midwest. May's menu will star white gazpacho with Marcona almonds, Blue Marble yogurt, garlic, grapes and extra virgin olive oil ($7); and a salad of Nichols Farms asparagus, Jonah crab and green garlic-jalapeno dressing ($12). Carnivale will continue its farm-to-table series one week each month from June through September.
In honor of the Cannes Film Festival, River North's own piece of France, Brasserie Jo, will present a history of Chicago film dinner on Tuesday, May 19. The "Hollywood on Lake Michigan" event will feature film historian Arnie Bernstein, who will recount Chicago's days as a pioneer in the silent film industry through film clips and personal anecdotes. Chef Jean Joho will create a three-course dinner for the occasion, including frisee salade Lyonnaise, Atlantic salmon with asparagus, and chocolate mousse for dessert. The event begins at 7PM and costs $39 to attend. Reservations are required; call 312-595-0800.
You still might not be able to visit Cuba (although that may change if Orbitz has anything to say about it), but you can celebrate Cuban Independence Day on Wednesday, May 20 with a special dinner at River North's Nacional 27. The four-course party meal will offer tables of four or more a sharing menu served family style. The dinner will feature such staples as smoked chicken empanadas, boniato-and-sweet plantain croquetas, seafood paella and a roasted suckling pig. The Latin restaurant's array of mojitos -- Cuba's unofficial national cocktail -- will be half-price for the evening. The dinner will be served from 5-9:30PM and costs $36.95 per person.