Bunch of one-namers, these are. Okay, sort of a lie; Stages is actually Stages Family Restaurant. Chuck Sudo attested to the charm of the Bridgeport diner’s open face hot turkey sandwich, which we can confidently report to cost $6.75 and include mashed potatoes and a bowl of soup.
Shochu is a somewhat bigger story, as the New American/Asian small plate lounge in Lakeview opens TO-NITE. It’s run by the Deleece people and is the first Chicago establishment to get on the shochu bandwagon. Shochu is a recently popularized 50-proof Japanese alcoholic beverage that’s “cool” right now in America. Small plate lounges are also a recently popularized 50-proof Japanese alcoholic beverage that’s “cool” right now in America. Um, anyway, here you’ll find a handful of Thai curries, some upscale izakaya-style tapas, raw fish in various preparations, and skewers of meat (yakitori) served with any number of fusion-y sauces (blueberry teriyaki! Miso lychee aoili! White soy Dijon vinaigrette! And so forth)
Speaking of skewers, Skewerz! The name doesn’t indicate this, but it’s a Hawaiian fast food restaurant, opening “hopefully next week” in Wicker Park. Proteins available on a stick include: chilied chicken (with a red & black pepper marinade; four for $7), lemongrass tuna (with a lemongrass emulsion, three for $9), and flank steak (grilled with five spices; four for $8). Each of the aformentioned come with a rice (e.g. jasmine or brown) and a condiment (red curry peanut sauce sounds exciting). They’ll be open until 3am on weekend nights, which sounds like the right time for this kind of food.
Finally, everyone else in the world may have known that the Butcher’s Dog on Clark and Harrison closed a year ago, but we only found out yesterday that it’s been replaced by Villains Bar & Grill. The menu offers nothing you haven’t seen before (buffalo calamari for $9, mushroom swiss portobello burger for $10), but vodka drinks are only $3 on Terrible Tuesdays, an appellation we wholeheartedly agree with.
[Photo: grilled lamb chop with mandarin mint salad and white soy dijon vinaigrette at Shochu]