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Best Evanston-based arts advocate

Culture & Nightlife, Evanston No Comments »

Lisa Corrin, director of the Block Museum

In the two years since Lisa Corrin was appointed the new director of the Block Museum on Northwestern’s campus, she has already raised the institution’s profile with major exhibitions of artists like Terry Adkins and the current survey of Wangechi Mutu. She’s overseen a smartly designed facelift to the Block’s first floor that seeks to make the museum an inviting space for its audiences and the university’s student population. Her passion is palpable in every project she oversees and conversation she strikes up.

40 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston, 847.491.4000,

Best of Chicago 2014

Best reason to believe Northwestern is for real

Evanston, Sports & Recreation No Comments »

The offense
A caveat: This is “for real” by Northwestern’s admittedly lax definitions; no one presumes them to ascend to the throne of the nation, the Big Ten, or even their division. That being said, playing Ohio State close, then getting slaughtered in Camp Randall, should not be taken as the end of the season for Wildcats fans. Fitz and the boys had a bowl win last year, and they will not be sated with just one. Watch the ‘Cats platoon attack at its best, a multi-headed hydra devouring yards, and the thirst is obvious.

Best of Chicago 2013

Best cafe with a deceptively Russian name

Evanston, Food & Drink No Comments »

Brothers K
Alas, it has nothing to do with Dostoyevsky: “Brothers K” deciphers as “Brothers Kim,” and is named after its owners, not Dostoyevsky’s famous novel “The Brothers Karamazov.” Nevertheless, the place attracts the hip Russian population of Evanston and Chicago, who, after realizing the deceptiveness of the cafe’s name, still become regular customers for its excellent coffee, delicious pies, free unlimited wi-fi and artsy ambiance.

500 Main Street, Evanston, (847)328-7940,

Best of Chicago 2012

Best Russian literature class

Culture & Nightlife, Evanston No Comments »

Gary Saul Morson’s Introduction to Russian Literature class on Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky at Northwestern University
His annual class attracts 500-600 undergrads, and is famous throughout the country. Professor Morson is not only a distinguished scholar; he is a performer and one-man theater, who manages to talk about “War and Peace” in a way that thoroughly captivates the minds of the American youth. The students’ general attitude toward Morson could be described in brief by a quotation from “Morson is a God.”

Northwestern University, Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures , 633 Clark, Evanston, (312)503-8649,

Best of Chicago 2012

Best Big Ten fans in Chicago

Audience Choice, Evanston, Sports & Recreation No Comments »

Hey, where are all the Wildcats bars in Wrigleyville? Exactly. Though the Big Ten Conference prides itself on its fusion of academic excellence with athletic accomplishment, too often alums of the various schools leave their brains behind when it comes time to gather with the tribe and cheer for the alma mater on the gridiron or the hardcourt. Northwestern, which is the smallest school in the Big Ten and the only private university left (crosstown rival University of Chicago dropped out of the conference it co-founded in 1946), not only sets itself apart academically, but also in its fans’ understanding of the proper role of sports in life. That’s not to say they don’t support their team—take in a football game at Ryan Field to watch the 7-2 Big ‘Cats and you’ll swim in a sea of purple and an appropriate level of spirited collegiate cheering—but they do so with a level of comportment that their rivals would do well to emulate.

Audience choice: Northwestern

Best of Chicago 2012

Best use of Speculoos

Evanston, Food & Drink No Comments »

Edzo’s Burger Shop
While everybody else can square off over the merits of peanut butter versus Nutella, we’ll be on the sidelines downing a Speculoos milkshake from the king of Evanston burger joints, Edzo’s. The off-the-menu item isn’t a new edition, but until the Belgian cookie spread, traditionally a winter holiday snack, becomes a household name in America and its grocery stores—or until the new Edzo’s location brings it to Lincoln Park—we’ll gladly take the liquid form where we can get it.

Edzo’s Burger Shop, 1571 Sherman, Evanston, (847)864-3396,

Best of Chicago 2012

Best Earth Day celebration

Evanston, Food & Drink No Comments »

Bistro Bordeaux

They love to celebrate at Bistro Bordeaux in Evanston. Owner Pascal Berthoumieux, a Bordeaux native, demonstrates how to open  Champagne with a knife and wine without a corkscrew through videos uploaded to YouTube. And they have lots to celebrate. Earlier this year, L20 vet Johnny Besch came to helm the kitchen as executive chef from his last, sunnier post working under famed chef Alain Ducasse at MiX on the Beach in Vieques Island, Puerto Rico. The restaurant regularly finds other reasons to raise a glass, including on Earth Day, when they host an annual sword-tap-on-the-shoulder of all things green. A “wild spring bounty” menu this past April 22 featured chilled watercress soup, ramps and peas. While Besch may change up his Earth Day 2012 menu, the unique ambiance on which Berthoumieux perennially insists will be repeated. For Earth Day dinner, unnatural light is turned off completely in the dining room and hundreds of small glass balls are hung from the ceiling with fishing line. Because the lines can not be easily seen, the balls appear to be floating in air. Each “floating” ball seems to be holding its own tea light, like Earth Day vigil attendees, each one clutching a candle. “It looks like a room full of floating orbs of light,” Pascal says proudly.

Bistro Bordeaux
618 Church, Evanston

Best of Chicago 2011

Best grilling rub recipe

Evanston, Food & Drink, Old Town No Comments »

Izzy Kaplan’s Rub

Four parts sweet Hungarian paprika, two parts salt and one part garlic. That’s the recipe for one of the simplest, tastiest rubs for grilling meat, Izzy Kaplan’s Rub. Isidor “Izzy” Kaplan and his wife, both Holocaust survivors, migrated eventually to the Catskill Mountains from Eastern Europe after WWII. Kaplan, who had been a butcher before the war, set up a business as a meat vendor, flavoring meat with his colorful, tasty rub while grilling it to sell to tourists. His recipe was given new legs when his daughter, Evanston resident Esther Kaplan, revived it by contributing it to the expansive collection of recipes on The Spice House website. She tweaks the recipe when she uses it today. “Of the four parts paprika my father used, I now use three parts Hungarian sweet paprika and one part spicy paprika,” Kaplan says.

The Spice House
1512 North Wells
1941 Central Street, Evanston

Best of Chicago 2011

Best place to buy new magazines

Audience Choice, Evanston, Goods & Services 1 Comment »

Chicago-Main Newsstand

If you’re just looking to snag your Wall Street Journal, do not pass go at the Chicago-Main Newsstand, the Evanston shop that is the Boardwalk of print publications. Sure you can find WSJ and your local dailies, but you can also find Rifle Firepower magazine, Royalty Monthly and Jane Austen Knits among the hot-off-the-press racks bursting with more than 5,000 international titles. A quick jaunt on the Purple Line over to Dempster and you’re at the magazine museum; just make sure to pack a lunch—we guarantee you’ll be there awhile.

Chicago-Main Newsstand
860 Chicago, Evanston

Audience choice:
1854 West North

Best of Chicago 2011

Best art exhibit in the last year or so held in the suburbs

Culture & Nightlife, Evanston No Comments »

“Leon Golub: Live & Die Like a Lion?” at the Block Museum of Art

Though Leon Golub, who died in 2004, lived and worked outside of Chicago for most of his life, he is often claimed as a Chicago artist, having been born and educated here, and involved with the Monster Roster. So it was fitting that this survey of late works, organized by The Drawing Center, made its way to Chicago. The exhibition presented Golub’s departure from large-scale paintings to intimately small but still brazen in their subject matter. The Block complemented the traveling show with prints from Golub’s long career.

Northwestern University
40 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston

Best of Chicago 2010