food and beverage underground

12.07.08 - FOODWISE - Chicago

by Chef J.Hugh
(Lake Shore Drive !)

Photo by Chef J !

Photo by Chef J !

12.07.08 - FOODWISE - Chicago

- Sweet-Home Chicago.

CUPCAKES are all the rage in the windy city. Seems as if every trendy or artsy Chicago neighborhood now sports at least one micro-bakery; specializing in cupcakes. Just Cupcakes. No cookies. No Pies. No breads. Some don't even offer a beverage to go with the tasty little treats. Just cupcakes! Perhaps the trend setter bakery in this sweet niche is also named CUPCAKES bakery 613 W. Briar, Chicago, (773) 525-0817.
This place was the first and is still the best. Serving over 60 varieties it is every child's dream. * no matter how old you are! Remember your first cup cake?

CANDYBAR; located 1335 Fulton Street at Divisadero -, is San Francisco's first dessert lounge. It's a sleek, contemporary space dedicated to soothing guests with comforting savories, sweets and drinks fit for grown-ups. Could this be the first look at the next big thing in foodie fun? Maybe?

However CHICAGO has been there and done that. Five years ago in the windy city, very trendy hot spot named SUGAR opened. Chef J was a regular. It was a sleek, contemporary space dedicated to soothing guests with comforting savories, sweets and drinks fit for grown-ups. Sounds familiar? The night spot had a fast rise to fame and closed a few years later. Though it was very popular with the glitterati girls and the entourage boys who chase them, it did not make any money. The place was a big favorite with women. It turns out that, at least in Chicago, ladies don't drink as much as men do. Here's a Shocking Revelation. After a few over the top desserts, most guys weren't interested in knocking back five or six cocktails. That's how a night club makes it profit margin. on drinks Of course the Starlet's and Cougars are always eager to "share" a $300 bottle of bubbly, so long as someone else is paying. But when can I buy you a drink?? means spending half a grand, the entourage thinks twice about making a dessert lounge its regular hang out. So did the concept die? Not exactly?

Pops for Champagne (312) 266-7677; is located at 601 N. State Street, Chicago. Just a block or so off the Magnificent Mile and a short walk from the Hard Rock Café you'll find a hot little joint serving up cool jazz. They also specialize in Champagne and tiny plates of yummy foods. Desserts are a big part of the menu, but a cheese and fruit plate or some hot "apps" can also be had. They even have a few more serious menu items. It's not quite as uber-hip as sugar was. But is seems to be a better business model. Buy that we mean it's still in business! Small Plates, Bar/Lounge. Dinner: seven days. Open late: Every night till 2. After that stagger over to the J Bar. You'll be glad you did! - Chef J

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