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Possession Is 9/10ths of Which Law?

By Chuck Sudo in Food on Jan 18, 2007 5:22PM

2007_01_otis_cow.jpgTribune food critic Phil Vettel enlisted the help of some fellow Trib staffers last week in another of those "What if?" columns; this time Vettel managed not to mistake two separate chefs with the same surname as brothers on a lost weekend in Vegas. The mission of the article was to test the newly enacted "cork-and-carry" law, an amendment to the State Liquor Control Act that allows restaurants to let customers leave with unfinished bottles of wine, permitted that the wine was a part of their dinner, placed in a sealable plastic bag, and with a dated receipt attached.

Tribune staffers went to five restaurants to test the law, and found a couple restaurants a little gun-shy to follow it, citing the city's stricter open container statute, fearing that Chicago's Spartan-like power of home rule would trump the rest of Illinois' Troy in this particular mud show. Local restaurants are being advised by the Illinois Restaurant Association not to allow the wine carryouts until an amendment introduced last week by 44th Ward Alderman Tom "Sticky Buns" Tunney is passed by the full City Council. The measure will amend Chicago's open container law to better reflect the State's amendment. However, that won't happen until the 109th Congress City Council reconvenes on February 7. For now, local restaurants and wine shops are waiting until the law passes before stocking up on wine doggy bags.

In the meantime, there are a couple of restaurants that are siding with the state law, albeit very loosely, so go at your own peril. Lakeview/Wrigleyville mainstay Thai Classic placed a Tribune staffer's re-corked wine in a brown bag and sent him or her along his or her merry way. But it's Wrigleyville. An open bottle of wine in a brown paper bag wouldn't really stand out among all the plastic cups of beer you see people walking with on Clark Street. North Center-based Feed the Beast was also outed by Vettel and his band of merry pranksters. According to Vettel, they just placed the cork back in the wine and let his operative walk out of the restaurant, no questions asked, no concerns raised.

We know where we're going for dinner tomorrow night.