For Chef Rob, cooking fine cuisine is a family affair. He learned his skills at the knee of his Sicilian grandmother, who taught him everything he knows about how to run a kitchen. Today, he still hones his recipes in a similar setting, cooking furiously as his wife and daughter stand ready to dutifully taste his creations. After finishing his at-home experiments with the daily haul from the local market, he heads to Wilmette Chop House to begin preparing food for that night?s hungry customers.
During the dinner rush, Rob welcomes many of the same faces that he laughed and joked with at the market that morning. He oversees a grill filled with filet mignon, lobster tails, and his signature double-cut bone-in smoked pork chops. These delicious proteins come out hot on the heels of fresh-baked bread, acquired from Heavenly Hearth Bakery just around the corner. To wash down Chef Rob?s creations, bartenders mix up the restaurant?s signature cocktail?the Thin Mintini. In addition to describing the drink's refreshing taste, the beverage?s name also hints at the building?s history; the venue once served as the original bakery for the Girl Scouts of the USA.
Not content to cater only to two of the five senses, Rob also retains the services of professional musicians at his piano bar on most evenings, who wow audiences and reviewers with their skill at the keys and with catching food tossed at their mouths.
Menus at Allgauer's may vary slightly by location, but each Hilton-anchored outpost of American dining serves high-end steaks and seafood. Mid-day appetites can be quelled with lunch offerings such as a starter of baked artichoke bruschetta ($8) and a hearty grilled rib-eye steak sandwich ($13). To dine during dinner, arrive in sundown-style and begin with an appetizing opener such as the mushroom pot pie with sherry wine and walnut blue cheese ($7). Sample the meatiest of meals, the grilled beef tenderloin medallions ($22–$33), or take a bathypelagic trip to fullness with sautéed shrimp and sea scallops ($17–$27). Entrees are served with a choice of the soup du jour or a house salad.
"Who cooked that hamburger?" That demand came from Arnie Morton as he burst into the Playboy Club's kitchen in Montreal. Klaus Fristch was the culprit, and to his relief, Arnie declared it the best he'd ever tasted. From that moment on, the pair formed a lasting partnership that resulted in several restaurants —including Morton's The Steakhouse, which opened as a basement spot on Chicago's State Street in 1978. While Morton's The Steakhouse has grown to include over 69 locations, they all remain true to the founders’ original tenets: “Quality. Consistency. Genuine Hospitality.” They use only USDA prime-aged beef—the top USDA ranking and a slim percentage of all meat—which they age for 23–28 days. To menu also accommodates lighter tastes with fresh seafood offerings, such as baked whole Maine lobsters and oysters in the half shell. This attention to detail and a business-casual ambiance has earned the chain several awards and press mentions throughout the years.
With live jazz music, USDA Prime steaks aged at least 21 days, and the freshest of seafood, Pete Miller's Seafood & Prime Steak is a living tribute to the colorful life of Harold “Pete” Miller. Miller grew up an avid hunter, studied History in college, and earned a Purple Heart as a marine in WWII. He even spent time slinging hats, before eventually settling on becoming a music salesman—a profession that would ignite his love of jazz and lead him to the rhythm-rich city of Chicago. Once settled, he discovered the Davis Street Fishmarket in Evanston where he became a regular, albeit outspoken, patron. He incessantly offered recommendations and recipe suggestions, eventually inciting the chef to hand him an apron and shout, “Do it yourself if you think you know so much!” Miller accepted the challenge and kicked off his culinary career with his usual flair and spontaneity.
Today, the pair of restaurants proudly carrying his name keep his legacy alive, hosting live jazz almost every night of the week, just like he would have wanted. In addition to the regular dinner menu, which features the likes of whole steamed lobsters and bone-in fillets, there’s also a bar menu that boasts more casual eats, such as burgers and sandwiches dressed in khaki slacks. The Wheeling location’s 250-seat patio features a granite bar with room for 50 people, as well as three huge fireplaces.
Crystal chandeliers glint over Caf? la Cave's main lobby, beckoning diners into opulent ballrooms, spacious banquet rooms, and the cavern room itself. Inside the restaurant?s rock-lined walls, rippling lighting, and singing stalagmites, chefs carve and cook many entrees tableside, including the tenderloin medallions of steak Diane saut?ed with garlic, shallots, and cognac. Cocktails from the full bar and a carefully selected wine list pair with entrees as smoothly as creamy sides of garlic mashed potatoes pair with wild-mushroom mac 'n' cheese.
Featured on one of Gayot’s Top 10 of 2012 lists, the seafood at Hugo's Frog Bar & Fish House "could not be fresher or better cooked." In addition to steaks and chops from its sister restaurant, Gibson’s, Hugo’s menu showcases a spread of classically prepared familiars including oysters on the half shell, pan-seared scallops, and giant lobster tails joined by drawn butter. But the eatery’s signature dish is a different kind of aquatic creature: frog legs arrive at tables sautéed and soaked in garlic butter. Maritime decor complements the nautical morsels, from nostalgic photographs of lighthouses to miniature models of ships to barnacles on the eyebrows of every server.