Upon a marbled wall, a Japanese triptych mural tells the story of a gargantuan fish licked by cerulean waves and a tiny boat tossed about in its wake. Even though this vibrant piece reflects a chaotic scene, the sushi bar where the owner and head chef crafts creative rolls and maki is anything but—he’s a seasoned artist with more than 15 years' experience slicing, dicing, and coiling. He carefully furls Alaskan king crab, shrimp tempura, and sweet chili sauce and creates tantalizing nigiri and sashimi with freshly carved squid and freshwater eel. Bartenders, meanwhile, pour wines and sakes to complement the chef's mouthwatering Japanese cuisine.
Sunlight pours through ground-to-ceiling windows, streaming across hardwood floors and dark wooden tables that friendly servers speckle with dishes of aromatic steak teriyaki and tempura udon soup. Diners can enjoy these exotic feasts amid the contemporary yet casual dining room’s traditional folding screens and bamboo accents or, when the extraterrestrial overlords who control the weather permit it, outside on the patio.
Phoenicia's family history is written in fresh lemon juice, extra-virgin olive oil, and a careful blend of herbs and spices. Top signature red snapper, served whole, is just one of the family recipes they recreate within Phoenicia Mediterranean Restaurant's kitchen. Using techniques and flavors passed down from generation to generation, Phoenicia Mediterranean Restaurant brings plates of the Mediterranean to Highland Park. In addition to fresh seafood served daily, they specialize in kosher lamb dishes. For more than 24 hours, high-quality beef, lamb, and chicken shawarma slowly marinates in a blend of 20 herbs and spices. All that's missing is a glass of wine and an order of stuffed grape leaves.
The chefs at The Grill take great pride in crafting their burgers and classic American meals. They top beef, turkey, and veggie patties with toppings from fiery jalapeños to crispy bacon to flavorful provolone cheese, and leave out the trans-fats and MSG. They also simmer pork in tangy barbecue sauce and stir up fresh batches of homemade soup and chili. To accommodate wee ones, they sling kid-friendly nibbles including chicken fingers and grilled cheese. Once dessert time rolls around, diners can make their own s’mores at their tables, imagining that they are seated round a blazing campfire or a smoldering pile of their least-flattering photographs.
The enticing aroma of the chefs’ handiworks wafts out into the warm dining room, where diners cheers to hearty meals over specialty martinis and draft beers. Games of checkers and chess step up to entertain between bites, and five flat-screen TVs make sure guests won’t miss the big game.
The Irish words inscribed above the main door of Bridie McKenna's––"slán abhaile"––mean "safe home," a phrase brought to life by the restaurant and pub's welcoming servers and friendly bartenders. The kitchen sends out traditional comfort foods starting with the hearty all-day Irish breakfast comprised of bacon rashers, baked beans, black and white puddings, and sautéed mushrooms. Irish classics such as corned-beef sandwiches, shepherd's pie, and lamb stew also extinguish appetites alongside 21 beers on tap and an array of single-malt scotches. The strains of Irish or contemporary live music can be heard near the open fireplace several evenings a week and karaoke enthusiasts come to show off their best microphone juggling techniques every Friday.
Benjamin Brasserie’s sleek, elegant dining room is staggering, hosting dark tables basking in the warm glow of chandeliers, which reflect off opulent mirrors. Beneath high ceilings, guests slide onto plush seats in the main dining room, or snuggle into private animal-print booths on the mezzanine, serenaded by a combination of blues, jazz, and alternative music, which compliments the restaurant's urban stylized decor. Professional servers adorn tabletops with seasonal plates piled with fresh, local produce and meats from Midwest farms. Local whitefish, bacon from Jones Farm, and greenhouse tomatoes comprise executive chef Benjamin Brittsan’s innovative meals, which are artfully plated to stun both eyes and taste buds.
The concept of comfort food typically conjures up images of a family sitting at a kitchen table, passing around steaming casserole dishes filled with something cheesy, creamy, or meaty. But that's not the case at City Park Grill. Though chefs sling feel-good edibles such as meatloaf, roast chicken, and warm apple crisp, the food is plated on modern, rectangular wares and served in a dining room where black-and-white photographs stud an exposed brick wall. An old-fashioned ethos wins out in the kitchen, however, as chefs insist on preparing all soups, sauces, and desserts from scratch daily. Drinks from the full-service bar make the perfect complement to a day of game-watching on one of five big-screen TVs.