Local artwork garnishes the walls inside Park Avenue Wine Bar & Merchant as tastefully as the international vintages decorating the wine list. Under the guidance of three resident sommeliers, the staff carefully curates a collection of more than 70 wines by the bottle and glass, sourced from locales such as New Zealand, Argentina, France, and California. They summon their vast viticultural knowledge and ability to speak with grapes to help patrons complement the flavors of executive chef Ted Stay's elegant cuisine. Blending traditional European cooking techniques with contemporary methods, Ted whips up small plates, flatbreads, steaks, and seafood with a locally sourced arsenal of seasonal, sustainable ingredients.
Towering wine racks flank a curved bar, and glowing swaths of blue and purple light line exposed-brick walls inside the renovated historic building. The lights also illuminate the immense stash of wine bottles, craft beers, and top-notch liquors—all available for take-home purposes as well as sipping onsite. Park Avenue Wine Bar & Merchant also frequently hosts events, including live music and tastings.
In the heart of Wauconda on the shoreline of Bangs Lake, Docks Bar & Grill offers up sweeping water views along with traditional American grill fare. The menu features Docks’ classic homemade crab cakes garnished with mango-chili sauce, the 10-ounce smoked-bacon-brie burger, and Docks Famous barbecue baby back ribs. To keep up a convivial atmosphere, Docks hosts crowd-drawing events nearly every night, including Monday night football and live music on the weekends. While taking in the laid-back but chic decor, which features black leather booths, dark wood furnishings, and intimate lighting, guests can also enjoy drink specials that change daily. For gatherings or private parties, Docks' has a banquet room that overlooks Bangs lake.
Up to 1,200 fans can dance and sway to the legendary sounds at Durty Nellie's. Planted across the street from the Palatine Metra station, the venue is easily accessible by public transit or private piggyback, the better to explore a 30-tap, 120-bottle beer list full of potions from Three Floyds and Goose Island as well as from France and Germany.
Visitors to Bauer's Brauhaus, located in Palatine, Illinois, may feel as though they've stepped in from the streets of Munich. Eight taps bear names such as Spaten, Radeberger, and Weihenstephaner. Waitresses clad in custom-designed lederhosen ferry dishes between tables. And a hand-carved bar stretches 30 feet along one wall.
Owners Jason, Judy, Bob, and Gene Bauer drew from their German-American heritage to inspire their brew house's ambiance, decor, and menu. Chef Jason relies on time-tested family recipes to prepare German-American dishes—deep-fried pickles, hamburgers, and Wisconsin cheese curds—as well as German food such as beef rouladen, sauerbraten, and bratwurst crafted in-house. These dishes pair with wines hailing from both countries and a range of Old- and New-World beers that may arrive in standard pints, traditional boot-shaped steins, or a hollow bust of Ludwig van Beethoven.
Everybody has personal drink specifications—a little more whiskey here, a little less beer there. That's why seven booths at House of Music Entertainment are outfitted with table taps, where diners pour their own brews and spirits. Of course, guests can defer pouring duties to bartenders, who supply drafts, bottles, and cans from an extensive beer selection that includes microbrews, such as Founders alongside beloved classics.
The libations complement House of Music Entertainment's version of American bar food, which includes unorthodox options such as chimichangas filled with Philly cheesesteak or chicken cordon bleu fixings. For night owls, a late-night menu serves bar staples, such as fried zucchini and jalapeno poppers, from 10 p.m. until 1 a.m.
Those late night snacks keep patrons nourished as they watch the latest football matches, baseball games, and referee hugging competitions on the bar's 80 plasma televisions. Inside House of Music Entertainment's 15,000-square-foot theater, concertgoers take in a show by musicians such as Naughty by Nature and Carly Rae Jepsen, both of which recently graced the 28-by-30-foot stage. They've built up an extensive media gallery inclusive of not only national acts but also the local bands and DJs their theater showcases. During the summer season, patrons can also enjoy the al fresco scene on the bar's patio.
The chefs at Pavilion Restaurant's two locations elegantly blend and fuse flavors from European and American cuisines into gourmet entrées. Drawing from the French, the chefs sear foie gras a la Versailles appetizers, presenting each rich morsel on a crisp pear slice dressed with signature sauce and a witty description from the previous night's salon. The marinade of soy sauce, teriyaki, orange juice, and fresh thyme on the Asian skirt steak expands the scope of the menu to Eastern territories. The chefs focus on Italian tradition as they crown the seafood linguine with fresh shrimp, scallops, and alfredo sauce. Stationed at the bar, bartenders fill glasses with a selection of international wines, beers, and expatriate cocktails.
Patrons can relax and unwind their ears after a long week with live jazz music at the Northbrook location as they split butter crepes with red caviar from the late-night menu.
Beneath the glow of 12 high-definition plasma televisions, riotous sports fans toast to their teams by clinking glasses and smushing burgers together at First Place Sports Bar & Grill. Between sips of cold beer and bites of handheld eats including sandwiches, nachos, and ribs, bar-goers throw wild shots at three dart boards and play 52-ball pickup around the pool table. Numerous video games, such as 2010 Golden Tee Live, Silver Strike, and Big Buck Hunter, jingle in anticipation of a feeding of quarters, while a jukebox offers a custom soundtrack to sporting revelry.