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.
Behind a red-brick storefront and striped awning, Viva Le Vine's vintners curate a collection of vintages both affordable and high end, pairing them with cheeses and other finger foods. Wooden racks hoist obsidian bottles of reds and whites, and the wine bar dispenses pours and sampling flights alongside microbrews, seasonal cocktails, and martinis. Cushy, black leather furniture and high-top tables dot the brightly lit interior and an upright piano stands against the wall for impromptu instrumental renditions of Gangsta's Paradise. A painting of colorful donkeys stares down enviously from rich burgundy walls at rich plates of succulent chocolates and naan covered in hearty toppings. The shop hosts live entertainment, numerous tastings, and trivia events throughout the year.
Inspired by the art-deco elegance of the 1940s, Olive Black Martini Lounge entertains guests with a refined roster of classic cocktails, specialty martinis, and soft lighting. Located less than two miles from the Wisconsin border, mixologists wield jiggers and shakers to conjure potions such as the Dark Secret and Pineapple Upside Cake. Selections of authentic tapas dishes settle stomachs after a few drinks, with bite-sized eats such as cajun bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin or seared shrimp served with fresh mango salsa. Meals end sweetly with such succulent desserts, including chocolate fondue.
Cab's Wine Bar Bistro brings global tastes to downtown Glen Ellyn. Husband-and-wife Chef Luis Ayllon and general manager Lisa Ayllon oversee a diverse menu, which draws on Luis's training in France while nodding to Spanish, Asian, and Cajun cuisine. His worldly experience adds a unique touch to dishes ranging from paella to cassoulet, a hearty, slow-cooked casserole that proves especially enjoyable during colder months or whenever you find yourself trapped in a meat locker. Chef Ayllon also specializes in wine pairings, and invites diners to complement their meals with selections from the bistro's wine list, or purchase a bottle to take home.
Whatever their current drink of choice may be, guests can find it at Flight 112 Wine House?but they shouldn't be surprised if they leave with a new favorite. The bar, restaurant, and boutique revels in the unexpected. When Time Out Chicago's 2010 list of Top 50 Bars reported that patrons "get crunk, cultured and coiffed all at the same place," it was in reference to the Thursday-night haircuts Flight offered at the time. The Daily Herald describes Flight 112 as an "outstanding wine bar equally attractive to beer lovers." It's this dual-focused identity that keeps regulars returning. Daily specials, such as Whiskey Wednesdays and ladies' nights, make average evenings special. A full menu of tapas, gourmet entrees, and artisan cheese makes the location an appetite-annihilating hangout and a great place for your pet fork to meet other, likeminded forks.
But Flight 112 is far more than a bar and restaurant. It's also a wine shop manned by sommeliers who love to share their passion with others. Its specialty here is organic wines, and the sustainable commitment that steers that specialty is also what guides the store's recycled bottles, corks, and packaging. (Flight 112's community awareness doesn't end there?it also helps many local organizations' fundraising efforts.) Monthly wine socials pair palates with five to six tastings, a couple full glasses, and a slew of new friends, and each wine-club member receives two bottles of wine each month. Flight 112's social, approachable atmosphere and full food and drink menu make it the chosen venue for many a birthday and bachelor party, too.
Determined to find out how his favorite pizzeria made its pies, 13-year-old Vince Bibattista didn't scour cookbooks or even ask the chefs. Instead, he got a job there, which jumpstarted a lifelong culinary passion that led him to various Chicago kitchens and the classrooms of Kendall Culinary College before landing him at executive chef position at Evanston’s Campagnola. At the critically lauded Union Pizzeria, Vincent combines his experience with a return to his roots as he tops his wood-fired pizzas with locally grown, organic ingredients such as lamb, potato, and capers. He supplements those pies with shareable hot plates such as shrimp and grits, as well as cold plates such as bruschetta crowned with white beans and roasted cherry tomatoes––a cold plate far more appealing than the salted snow served at other locally-focused restaurants. To round out his Italian-style feasts, Vincent also crafts a different main every day, including balsamic-braised short ribs and herb-roasted Amish chicken.