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.
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.
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.
Max's Deli's menu offers ample servings of traditional New York deli fare. Start off with a classic whitefish salad sandwich ($7.95 half/$10.75 whole) or satisfy Yiddish yearnings with a homey chicken soup ($3.95) with matzo balls, kreplach, or noodles. Max's Deli serves marble rye in its proper form: hugging a heap of succulent, steaming corn beef ($10.95) or a slew of other meats. Evoke tender memories and a more tender reality of roasted beef brisket served with crispy potato pancakes and vegetables ($14.95), or brave the formidable all-day breakfast menu. For dine-in, Max's deli offers its welcoming interior, which has high ceilings, tiled pillars, and a casual attitude, but you can also get this Groupon to go and enjoy it in the comforts of your own armchair or aircraft hangar.
Chef Joseph's family history is written in fresh lemon juice, extra-virgin olive oil, and a careful blend of herbs and spices. Those culinary accents top Chef Joseph's signature red snapper, and that fish—served whole—is just one of the family recipes he recreates within Phoenicia Mediterranean Restaurant's kitchen. Using techniques and flavors passed down from generation to generation, Chef Joseph brings plates of the Mediterranean to Highland Park. In addition to fresh seafood served daily, he specializes in kosher lamb dishes. He also takes more than 24 hours to slowly marinate high-quality beef, lamb, and chicken shawarma in a blend of 20 herbs and spices. All that's missing is a glass of wine and an order of stuffed grape leaves.