Whatever their current drink of choice may be, guests can find it at Flight 112 ?but they shouldn't be surprised if they leave with a new favorite. The bar and restaurant revels in the unexpected. When Time Out Chicago's 2010 list of Top 50 Bars reported that patrons "get crunk, cultured and coiffed all at the same place," it was in reference to the Thursday-night haircuts Flight offered at the time. The Daily Herald describes Flight 112 as an "outstanding wine bar equally attractive to beer lovers." It's this dual-focused identity that keeps regulars returning. Daily specials, such as Whiskey Wednesdays and ladies' nights, make average evenings special. A full menu of tapas, gourmet entrees, and artisan cheese makes the location an appetite-annihilating hangout and a great place for your pet fork to meet other, likeminded forks.
But Flight 112 is far more than a bar and restaurant. It's also a wine shop manned by sommeliers who love to share their passion with others. Its specialty here is organic wines, and the sustainable commitment that steers that specialty is also what guides the store's recycled bottles, corks, and packaging. (Flight 112's community awareness doesn't end there?it also helps many local organizations' fundraising efforts.) Flight 112's social and friendly atmosphere, paired with its full food and drink menu, make it a chosen venue for many birthday and bachelorette parties.
• For $15, you get $30 to use at the wine bar or toward bottles to take home. • For $32, you get an evening of wine and cheese for four, including four flights of wine (up to a $14.50 value each) and two sample platters of gourmet cheeses to share (an $8 value each; up to a $74 total value).
Organic and small-batch wines fill swirling glasses beneath the soaring ceilings of House Red Vinoteca. At a rustic, reclaimed-wood bar, discerning staff members subject new elixirs to tastings and credit checks, and the chef makes changes to a rotating menu of vino-enhancing fare made from scratch. Plates bearing crispy flatbreads and desserts inspired by international culinary traditions glide back and forth between duos chattering beneath exposed-brick walls. The warm sway of live jazz rolls across wine-tasting events and bottle-laden shelves, and patrons sipping through tasting flights from Croatia, Lebanon, Morocco, Serbia, and Slovenia add delicate treble notes with clinking glasses.
Owner Tom Kampschroeder, a wine professional with more than 29 years of experience, shares his grapey know-how with most any guest who walks through Salt Creek Wine Bar's doors. Sample wines-of-a-feather with the wine flight menu, or check out the beers and spirits menu. Wash down washes of tingly wash with Italian delights including artisan cheese flights, pizza, and seafood.
Hillgrove Wine Cellars and Bistro combines tastings of fine, international wines and craft brews with equally well-crafted appetizers. Danny Parrott curates the medley of food and drinks, relying on his sensitive palate developed over years in the restaurant industry to lead him to the finest flavors. His stock of wine bottles and beers blend with the seasons and are chosen based on his particular leanings. His menu, however, remains anchored in specific flavors meant to offset the dryness of a fine white or the rich tannins of a red.
Determined to find out how his favorite pizzeria made its pies, 13-year-old Vince Bibattista didn't scour cookbooks or even ask the chefs. Instead, he got a job there, which jumpstarted a lifelong culinary passion that led him to various Chicago kitchens and the classrooms of Kendall Culinary College before landing him at executive chef position at Evanston’s Campagnola. At the critically lauded Union Pizzeria, Vincent combines his experience with a return to his roots as he tops his wood-fired pizzas with locally grown, organic ingredients such as lamb, potato, and capers. He supplements those pies with shareable hot plates such as shrimp and grits, as well as cold plates such as bruschetta crowned with white beans and roasted cherry tomatoes––a cold plate far more appealing than the salted snow served at other locally-focused restaurants. To round out his Italian-style feasts, Vincent also crafts a different main every day, including balsamic-braised short ribs and herb-roasted Amish chicken.