The Commoner opening in January
The Commoner, the restaurant inside Kimpton’s new Hotel Monaco in Downtown, will open on January 20. It will seat 120 guests and includes a 15-seat bar.

In addition to a large selection of drafts and bottles, the Commoner will feature an array of local beers and spirits to complement a menu which includes wood-fired pizza among other modern American bar fare.

Chocolate pop up in Shadyside
Jacques Torres Chocolate, a seasonal chocolate shop, is open at 813 Copeland Street in the heart of the Walnut Street business district. A pop-up version of similar chocolate boutiques in New York City, the Pittsburgh installation is the work of Lissa Guttman, who recently returned to Pittsburgh after a decade spent in New York. Jacques Torres Chocolate will remain open on Copeland Street through Easter.

Asiatique open
After several delays, Asiatique finally opened for business in Bakery Square last Friday. Word on the street is that the fresh rolls are outstanding, but that’s to be expected from the folks who used to serve them up at the Green Mango in Regent Square.

Have you had a chance to eat here yet? We’re eager to hear what you think.

New Year’s Eve at the Independent
Still looking for something to do on New Year’s Eve? Squirrel Hill’s Independent Brewing Company is hosting Hot Tub Mime Machine—a party which aims to throw the celebration back to the 1987-88 changeover.

A menu of heavy hors d’oeuvres, late-night sandwiches and Totino’s pizza rolls will headline the event, and Independent cocktologist Adam Henry is mixing up a house punch especially for the occasion. Tickets are $50 and available at the bar.

Free stuff!
Need a last-minute holiday gift? Hitchhiker Brewing in Mt. Lebanon is offering customers a free pint glass when they stop into the taproom to fill growlers on both Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. We strongly recommend trying out their kolsch—it’s light, accessible and goes well with just about anything.

More holiday beer
If you’re looking for a fine winter beer, Eat/Drink heartily recommends checking out Roundabout Brewery‘s New Zealand Summer Winter Warmer. It’s a malt-foward concoction made with New Zealand hops and brown sugar, and is a nice treat for hopheads and malt fans alike. The Brew Gentlemen‘s new Mexican Coffee stout is sweet and spicy, and can easily go with any robust holiday meal. Even breakfast. East End‘s Snow Melt winter ale remains a perennial favorite of ours, too.

Jewish Christmas tips
If you’re anything like me, you mark Christmas with the traditional combination of Chinese food and a trip to the cinema.

We’re particularly eager to check out Chris Rock’s new film, Top Five, the Stephen Hawking biopic Theory of Everything and the Benedict Cumberbatch thriller Imitation Game. If you haven’t seen Birdman, starring local hero Michael Keaton, Eat/Drink heartily encourages you to make that your top priority.

As for the Chinese food, the authentic Szechuan menu at How Lee in Squirrel Hill is our absolute favorite, but the dim sum at Jimmy Wan’s and Everyday Noodles equally demand your attention.