Steven Sampang, general manager of Homestead, not only keeps the West Town restaurant running smoothly, he also oversees the eatery’s onsite, 1,000-square-foot vegetable and flower patch and two vertical gardens — as well as their farm in Benton Harbor, Mich. “We want people to feel they’re in an urban garden, with smells and sights making for a peaceful, natural dining environment,” he says.
When a favorite eatery goes out of business, its devoted diners are normally forced to mourn and move on. Which makes Centro an outlier. The fashionable Italian hotspot, formerly located on Wells Street, was a Chicago dining staple from 1991-2001. But when their lease was up, owners the Rosebud Group didn’t re-sign it. Now, after 12 years, Centro fans can rejoice in a one-in-a-million miracle: The restaurant has come back to life in River North, in something not far from its original form.
‘Bouchon means cork,” says chef Jean-Claude Poilevey, who has helmed the kitchen at Le Bouchon since its opening in 1993. It’s an appropriate appellation — according to Poilevey, in France, diners pack tightly into these customarily small restaurants like a cork into a wine bottle. At Le Bouchon, Chicago diners follow suit, tucking into the intimate French restaurant, which dishes up elegant yet simple Lyonnaise items, such as French onion soup ($8), steak au poivre ($24) and bouillabaisse ($23).
For Chicagoans, Ravinia is synonymous with summer. Established as an amusement park in 1904, the spot became the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s summer residence in 1936. Now, more than 100 years after its original incarnation, the outdoor concert venue is known as much for its A-list acts — this year’s include the Indigo Girls and Tony Bennett — as it is for its lively lawn scene and myriad dining options.
To help those affected by the devastating tornado that recently hit Oklahoma, Sprinkles is whipping up cupcakes for a cause. On May 22, Chicagoans can satisfy both their sweet tooth and philanthropic duty by purchasing Red Cross Red Velvet cupcakes with 100 percent of the proceeds donated to the Red Cross’ Oklahoma chapters to help with tornado relief efforts. 50 E. Walton, (312) 573-1600; Sprinkles.com
It would be easy for a chef to rest on his laurels after winning a coveted Michelin star. But not Shin Thompson. After receiving the award at his Logan Square spot Bonsoiree, he shuttered the restaurant, changed the concept and reopened as the Alpine-inspired Table, Donkey and Stick. He followed that by teaming with Ryan O’Donnell (Gemini Bistro, Rustic House) to open Kabocha, Chicago’s first Japanese Brasserie.