[media id="103996" align="left"/]Friday | February 1
Chicago Restaurant Week, that thrifty reprise where diners can pick up the tab for $22 lunches and $33/$34 dinners, starts today and runs through February 10. With more than 250 restaurants participating citywide and in the neighboring suburbs, decision-making skills can become compromised (I suggest not booking before breakfast); here are a couple of suggestions. At Ceres’ Table—where, as the name suggests, your restaurant week harvest will be most bountiful—discount diners can construct a build-your-own prix fixe from any of the standard menu items, all New American with heavy Sicilian influence. First course can be an antipasto, cheese, starter, or salad, followed by a pasta or main course (including braised ossobuco and whitefish with lobster ravioli), and, of course, dessert. At Tavernita in River North, chef Ryan Poli serves the three-course customizable prix fixe of Spanish tapas with a complimentary taste of a kegged cocktail called the “one-thumbed gypsy” (Leblon Cachaça, red pepper and saffron syrup, lemon, Moroccan bitters). Ceres’: 4882 North Clark Street. Service starts at 5 p.m., $33. Tavernita: 151 West Erie Street. 5 p.m.–2 a.m., $33.
Off-Off’s winter revue is called “Decipher? I Barely Know Her!” and other Cryptology Jokes that Kill at Parties. Get it? This week the student improv and sketch group presents “The Salon des Refusés,” but, don’t worry, they’re neither rejecting you nor criticizing your French. Instead, they’re warmly inviting you to their first show of the season at University Church, in which they will be bringing back old sketches that didn’t make it to the stage the first time around. Go early and stay late for a preglow by Commedia dell’Arte, and an afterglow by Phinix Dance Crew. 5655 South University Avenue. Starts at 8:30, $4.
Saturday | February 2
Dave Eggers—author of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, Zeitoun, and You Shall Know Our Velocity, among others—will hold two book signings (at which he will, pointedly, not lecture or read) at Book Cellar in the morning and Unabridged Bookstore in the afternoon. The founder of McSweeney’s publishing house, who kicked off his career writing for Salon.com, will ink his latest novel, A Hologram for the King, one of the New York Times “10 Best Books of 2012.” Cellar: 4736 North Lincoln Avenue. 10 a.m.–12 p.m., free. Unabridged: 3521 North Broadway. Starts at 2 p.m., free.
The Hideout’s fundraiser in support of Mormon Movie, directed by Xan Aranda of Kartemquin Films, draws inspiration from Sydney Pollack’s 1969 film They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?, but there really aren’t many similarities between the two. Pollack’s film is about a depression-era dance competition that includes a deadly “human derby,” murder, and attempted suicide. They Shoot Indies, Don’t They? Dance Derby Fundraiser Spectacular is sponsored by Longman & Eagle, The Music Box Theatre, Black Dog Gelato, and other yuppie favorites. The four-round competition culminates in a “Final Three Throwdown” and the crowning of a grand prize winner, at which point the dance floor opens up to all and nobody gets hurt. (Unfortunately, nobody gets to dance with Jane Fonda from the ’60s, either). 1354 West Wabansia Avenue. Starts at 7 p.m., $10–$12.
Sunday | February 3
If only Kirk Douglas could have expressed his gladiatorial contempt of the Roman government through dance. It might have gone a little something like the University Ballet of Chicago’s winter show Spartacus, a blend of original and classical choreography. Aram Khachaturian’s ballet, which was first performed in Leningrad in 1956, tells the story, which Kubrick transformed into an hallmark of American cinema, of a Thracian king–turned–slave (that would be Spartacus), who leads an uprising against the Romans and is eventually betrayed by a concubine. 915 East 60th Street. Saturday 7:30 p.m., Sunday 2 p.m., $5–$12.