Hailed by Chicago magazine as one of 2009's best new restaurants, Glen Prairie has solidified its commitment to Midwestern flavor during the ensuing years, with a kitchen that transmutes organic, gluten-free or family-farmed ingredients into platefuls of contemporary American cuisine. Buns cradling certified Black Angus burgers or Dietzler Farms all-natural patties materialize atop sleek tables in puffs of purple smoke as diners lounge beneath the incandescent light of the sage-toned dining room. The hip setting belies the restaurant’s homey flavors, as elements of comfort food infuse dishes such as the mac ‘n‘ locally farmed cheese, which accompanies chervil-crusted pike or arrives solo as part of the vegetarian selection.
Eco-friendly wines share the fruits of sustainable vineyards. And a choice of regular or mini desserts punctuates meals with perfectly portioned chocolate-chip-cookie sundaes, smothered in gelato and smoked sea-salted caramel. A brunch menu greets the morning with more healthy spreads, featuring frittatas, benedicts, and omelets made from cage-free eggs, trans-fat-free oils, and vegetables that got perfect scores on their ACTs.
Alfie's Inn takes its name from the 1966 film in which Michael Caine plays a carefree playboy. In contrast to this flippant character, the chefs at Alfie?s Inn work with military precision, particularly when it comes to their signature burger. After whipping up a top-secret in-house seasoning, they grind burger meat and treat it for precisely one minute and 10 seconds?any longer and patties become mushy; any shorter and they toughen. Fried and mounded with grilled onions or blue-cheese crumbles, the end result is an epic burger that has earned praise on WGN?s Chicago?s Best.
Though known for its burger, the eatery also boasts impressively sized portions of baby back ribs, new york strip steaks, and surf ?n? turf dishes. Diners feast on meals amid the restaurant?s medieval decor, complete with suits of armor and a roaring indoor fireplace. Kids also walk away bearing trinkets including balloons, lollipops, and a little Magna Carta that emancipates them from their parents.
Before touching down on the dining-room tables, plates greet diners with the wafting aromas of authentic Chinese-style veggies, spices, and sauces. Equally adept at sautéing tofu, shredding pork, and crisping duck, the cooks can accessorize their entrees' savory flavors with spoonfuls of sweet 'n' sour plum sauce or fiery scoops of hot-chili paste, which burns as intensely as a bonfire full of matchbooks. For added doses of transpacific flavor, they can also stir in traditional Chinese ingredients such as water chestnuts and stir-fried string beans.
Sculpted around many lakes, The Village Links of Glen Ellyn's 18-hole championship course and 9-hole course fill 170 acres with a verdant landscape of challenging golf. Originally built in 1967 and renovated in 2004, the championship course has played host to 40 USGA and PGA Tour qualifying tournaments, including those for the 2012 U.S. Open and 2008 U.S. Amateur.
Sixteen waterways meander through the grounds, directly entering play on all but three holes, where they enter play indirectly by threatening to take down golf shots with troupes of flying fish. On the par 4 10th hole, players must hit a difficult tee shot onto an S-shaped fairway that weaves between two large lakes. The 18th hole, also a par 4, features a treasure trove of sunken golf balls and golf carts lurking in three lakes that surround the fairway and in one that lies right in the middle. Once safely on the greens, players putt over fast A-4 bentgrass surfaces, a key addition from the 2004 renovation.
18-Hole Course at a Glance: * Par 72 * Total length of 7,208 yards from the back tees * Course rating of 74.9 from the back tees * Course slope of 138 from the back tees * Five sets of tees per hole * Scorecard
9-Hole Course at a Glance: * Par 36 * Total length of 3,303 yards from the back tees * Course rating of 35.7 from the back tees * Course slope of 129 from the back tees * Three sets of tees per hole * Scorecard
Asian Pearl's chefs practice their craft with multitasking; in order to execute the bistro's extensive menu, they must be familiar with the tenets of Thai, Chinese, and Japanese cuisine. Rice noodles and fragrant curries occupy the Thai sphere of the kitchen, while woks toss Chinese favorites including sesame chicken and five-spice duck. Japanese influence appears both in tempura plates and in signature maki rolls, such as the Sky roll that tops shrimp tempura with masago, kanikama, and crunch. Asian Pearl also blends flavors in seafood or grill dishes, such as Tiger's Tears—marinated beef draped in a sauce they claim is "spicy enough to make a tiger cry," something that was said of Judy Garland.
A gentle bath of neon blue light descends over diners inside Asian Pearl's modernist dining room, punctuated by white tablecloths and mural silhouettes of golden trees. Neatly folded napkin peaks greet patrons as they sit down at the sushi bar, forming a crimson vanguard between the wood-and-silver chairs and the chefs' busy hands behind the glass. Around the perimeter of the dining room, thin hanging lamps cast a contrasting red and white light from behind scrawls of Chinese characters.
Skuddlebutts Pizza, which opened in 1939 as a small tavern specializing in baked ham sandwiches, outgrew two locations over the decades and vastly expanded its menu to include an array of comfort fare. Diners begin to slow clap when the cooking staff performs piping-hot pizza preparation, hearty sandwich layering, and crisp salad tosses with fresh, homemade dressing. Polite and timely waiters parade thin-crust and Chicago pan-style pies into the dining room two at a time, as each pizza is sold on a two-for-one basis, and juggle an assortment of sandwiches and half-pound burgers. Skuddlebutts' catering menu makes gatherings of 10–30 friends and family members simpler with a selection of salads, sides, and entrees.