The lengua burritos, Jarritos, and red and green sauces that smother enchiladas aren't the only authentic south-of-the-border touches at Changarro Cocina. Its drink list also brings some traditional flavor. The granite bar area, part of the new owner's renovations, hosts more than 70 different tequilas and margaritas made fresh without any mixers. Patrons sip these beverages while nibbling ceviche, huaraches, and tortas and cheering on soccer matches, baseball games, and ice-fishing tournaments broadcast on TVs throughout the restaurant.
Located on the second floor of the former Woman’s Club of Madison building, Samba Brazilian Grill bursts at the seams with history and a generous salad-bar buffet and rodizio-style meats, carved tableside. The meat selection changes regularly but often features a beef such as tenderloin with sake-soy marinade, porkables including the intricately flavored spicy linguiça pork sausage, delicious chicken snacks, and the baharat leg of lamb. A waiter brings the protein-heavy entrees to the table intact before slicing away right before your eyes, expertly dropping steaming pieces onto plates and tucking napkins into shirts. The salad bar stocks its surfaces with multiple salads, fresh vegetables, cheeses, olives, pickled savories, and plenty of mashed- and bean-centric sides. The eatery possesses a darkly lit interior with rich, dark woods throughout.
Stand facing one way in the parking lot of Niko’s Lodge and you’re in suburban Algonquin; turn the other way, and you’re in a mountain resort town. As diners pass under immense dark wood beams, they encounter a handsome pinewood bar, a roaring fireplace flanked by comfy furniture, and, drifting through it all, the fragrance of steak, rotisserie chicken, and pork ribs. Flavors tend toward hearty American favorites: barbecue, meatloaf, and decadent combinations such as a chicken-and-bacon mac and cheese, to name a few. Much of the fish is supplied by nearby rivers and lakes, and all the beef comes from upper-Midwestern Braveheart Black Angus cattle. If guests have saved some belly space, they can step outside to the fire pits to toast complimentary s’mores and destroy napkins on which they wrote embarrassing sonnets to pot roast.
At St. Charles Place Steak House, plates of USDA Choice steaks and upscale seafood complement white tablecloths, leopard-print chairs, and hardwood walls covered in vintage posters. Chefs round up clams, lobster, and crab for seaside starters, such as the signature oysters rockefeller, and toss fresh salads with both seafood and slices of grilled chicken breast or filet mignon. For entrees, half-pound tenderloin steak burgers and char-grilled racks of lamb offer savory alternatives to pasta plates such as Cajun fettuccini alfredo. Outside the dining room?s throwback decor, St. Charles Place Steak House also feeds crowds with banquets served amid a fresh, floral centerpiece that, through the magic of photosynthesis, converts the elegant crystal chandelier?s light into buttery dinner rolls.
Dan Beelow culls his Mundelein-raised cuts of beef and pork from his brother Duane's prized stock, ensuring that the meat that takes center stage at Beelow's Steakhouse's best USDA-graded quality. The succulent cuts of slow-roasted prime rib and steaks are aged a minimum of 45 days and fired over mesquite wood or a single match before joining fresh seafood and locally sourced produce atop white-cloth-covered tables. The passion for all things local extends to the bar, where mixologists assemble Snowshoe martinis with locally crafted Few white whiskey and regional musicians strum away until the late hours of Friday night.
Phil Gilardi, Jr. carries on his family’s legacy as the fourth generation to embrace the classic flavors and culinary techniques of the Old World. Joined by his uncle, Dan Sullivan, Phil packs his menu with the timeless recipes honed by his great-grandmother, Sophie, and his grandmother, Angie, as well as a few ideas of his own. Executive Chef Fabrizio Patano balances this blend of traditional and contemporary influences, crafting a lineup of Italian comfort foods with elevated touches.
Chef Patano and his team demonstrate their commitment to the menu’s Old World roots by importing prosciutto and parmigiano cheese for their entrees. At the same time, they highlight the inherent simplicity of Italian home cooking by hand-rolling their pastas and making fresh sauces in-house. This fusion of imported ingredients and homespun touches is readily apparent throughout the kitchen’s refined dishes, such as breaded veal cutlets with asparagus, lobster, and rich hollandaise sauce.
The casually elevated charm of the menu also influences the décor of Philly G’s, which sprawls across the floor plan and covered porch of a stately home. Textured walls lit by glowing sconces surround the tables draped with seafoam-green and white linens and flanked by high-backed chairs. On Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings, the lounge area hosts live entertainment for diners, regaling them with musical performances as opposed to staged readings of last week’s winning lottery numbers.