When Chef Joseph Calabres finished he education at the Culinary Institute of America, he left with a passion for cuisine of the classic French bistro. While he honed his knife skills and sous chefery in professional kitchens, he harbored the dream to start his own sidewalk eatery. He eventually realized his goal in the form of Café Touche. His menu highlights many of the same dishes enjoyed in bistros for the last hundred years, such as fresh boullaibaise, steak frites, and classic garlic buttered escargot served in a piping hot ceramic crock. The décor evokes the same ambience of a Parisian sidewalk as the kitchen’s aromas. Textured tin ceilings abut exposed brick walls, punctuated by the warm, glowing orbs of light cast from wall sconces. The extensive wine list completes the milieu with plenty of French vintages, stored in a cellar ideal for plotting protests.
The art of pastry baking is a careful ordeal. Each morning, long before the sun starts to shine on Lake Michigan, the team at Libanais Sweets is up making sure their specialties are crisp and flaky on the outside and soft and warm on the inside. They specialize in baked goods from around the world, including Eastern pastries such as baklava and European pastries ranging from éclairs to mille-feuille and tiramisu. In addition, the Libanais staff crafts specialties like chocolate lollipops, which are ideal for special events but can’t be used to bribe the rare bird that would prefer a broccoli pop.
The culinary artisans at Le Poulet Bistro craft crepes le poulet, beef bourguignon, and traditional French dishes in an elegant, rural French setting. Behind a white-brick façade, waiters carry dishes over dark hardwood floors and past burnt-umber walls spotted with French-themed art. Le Poulet’s European style of cooking lets meat continually baste itself through the cooking process, a feat of automation bettered only by barrels of self-linking monkeys. Sweet treats such as the crepes Mon Ami—thin French pancakes filled with fruit and vanilla whipped cream—cap off evenings alongside authentic Italian Lavazza coffee.
J N Michaels' voluminous menu of classic American diner fare provides myriad meal options to sate the cravings of every guest at any hour of the day. Whether the time of day is early morning or long after the sun begins snoring below the horizon, cooks sizzle breakfast skillets, assemble lunch sandwiches, and plate hefty dinner platters. They craft many of the dishes from scratch, and in the eatery's bakery, they whip up pies and pastries that join handcrafted, old-fashioned milkshakes to conquer sweet teeth's lingering postmeal demands. J N Michaels is devoted to enriching its community and frequently helps support nearby schools' and churches' fundraising efforts.
The chefs at Jilly’s Cafe meld French and American cooking traditions to create a menu of elegant fusion fare peppered with culinary surprises from around the world. A large specials menu rotates its options frequently, treating diners to plates piled with nourishment that might include duck, rack of lamb, and fresh seafood, and every Sunday, a selection of breakfast items scramble for the right to occupy the brunch menu. To celebrate specific holidays, Jilly's rolls out set menus designed with a theme in mind—guests can ensure a romantic night out by reserving a table on Valentine’s Day or visit on Easter to honor America's mascot, the Easter egg. The eatery’s long-winded wine list allows aficionados to sample new varietals while giving grapes a chance to see what their old friends are up to.