Moto will close and end an era on Valentine’s Day. Here’s the announcement; here’s Fooditor’s take on it, and also check out the one from Anthony Todd (who actually ate there many more times than I ever did).


The 2015 Jean Banchet Awards were handed out last week at a ceremony separate, for the first time, from the Grand Chefs’ Gala ball benefiting the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation which has been their usual home. It was a lively, funny show (disclosure: I was briefly a presenter) and well worth attending for fans of inside restaurant baseball, anyway. And the awards captured a nice swath of our inventive and interesting scene, not just the fancy-pants places, with awards such as Fat Rice winning Best Restaurant, Billy Sunday beating more expensive places for best service, Sandro Holl of Floriole won Best Pastry Chef, and Liz Mendez of the sherry-focused list at Vera winning Best Sommelier. Here’s the full list.


You could say that Steppenwolf Theater and Boka Group/B Hospitality’s Balena are already collaborators in a sense, in that they draw traffic for dinner and theater, but they’ll make it more official with a new Chris Pandel-overseen daytime cafe/nighttime bar in Steppenwolf’s building at 1700 N. Halsted. (Tribune)


Iliana Regan’s Bunny microbakery opened on Friday at 2828 N. Broadway; the Trib has pics. Also widely reported: Loba, in the Bad Wolf space in Roscoe Village (actually technically West Lakeview but everyone in Roscoe Village thinks of it as Roscoe Village), opened with “Kyoto-style coffee” and pastries. And in news absolutely no one noticed but me, who bought the one apple fritter they made on Saturday, Donut Delight has opened at 1750 N. California. Don’t go today, they’re closed till Tuesday, but it’s a damn good fritter.


Rick Gresh is out at the Virgin Hotel Chicago, after concepting Miss Ricky’s and the other restaurants in the hotel. Gresh made his name turning the unprepossessing David Burke’s Primehouse into a top steak destination here, but the Virgin’s expected hipness hotness seems to have been stolen by the restaurants in the Chicago Athletic Association instead, so we’ll see what happens next. (Eater)


Eater congratulated Paul Kahan on opening a new “healthy fast food” restaurant in Lakeview in the old Muskie’s space (which is, indeed, under construction). Paul Kahan (or somebody at Big Star) responded, saying on Twitter: “Whoa there, no new concept. We’re just helping out a friend!” Crain’s has the real details.


Michael Nagrant gives three !!!s to Spotted Monkey, from the owner of Saucy Porka (if you’re in the Loop, you probably know that  place), for its Asian-Latin-whatever dishes like “phozole ($4.70 for half, $8.75 large), a mashup of Vietnamese pho and Mexican pozole, exploded with notes of cinnamon, clove and spicy red chili. It could have used a touch more salt, and while this is a personal preference, it only had noodles, not the satisfying chewy bits of hominy you find in a good pozole.” (Redeye)


More praise for Oyster Bah and its chef Peter Balodimas from Amy Cavanagh in Time Out: “Cleanly shucked oysters, teeming with liquor, pop with a drop of tangy stout granita, while plump chilled shrimp come with or without a sprinkle of Old Bay seasoning. On the cooked side, a pair of hearty New England stuffies pack chopped clams and chorizo into quahog shells—it’s a classic dish I love but never see around Chicago.”


Congrats to two contributors to Eater: Ashok Selvam is now Senior Editor of news*, and Sarah Freeman, who was way underused by Zagat Chicago, will have the more interesting job of Contributing Editor (which seems to mean more feature-y stuff like this Blanchard piece). There are, actually, a number of open positions in food writing in Chicago at the moment, including at the Tribune and, one assumes, replacing Amy Cavanagh at Time Out, so it’ll be interesting to see who they find to fill them.

* Fooditor, upon reflection, apologizes for an earlier snarkier characterization.