Hawthorne's Backyard's culinary architects animate the American fare, such as burgers, ribs, and roasts, depicted on the menu. An appetizer of loaded chili cheese fries, which swim in green onions and sour cream ($5.99), can prep palates for an appointment with a hearty entree. Momma's pot-roast sandwich, a pulled-pork tenderloin cooked in homemade barbecue sauce and set inside a hoagie bun, frolics across taste-bud territory ($8.50), and the backyard double cheeseburger dually satiates meat and dairy yearnings ($10.50). A full slab of signature baby-back ribs comes to tables drenched in barbecue sauce and, like a subpoena from a grandmother, is served with cinnamon apples and sweet-potato fries ($18.99).
Along with their music-inspired décor featuring murals of guitar player Jimi Hendrix and other rock legends, EvenFlow Music & Spirits brings in live jazz, rock, and blues bands to their full-sized stage. To fuel their patrons, the chefs cook a menu of upscale American fare—which has included dressing up grilled cheese sandwiches with short ribs and brioche bread and seared diver scallops with watermelon salsa.
Beneath the night sky's smattering of stars, Cascade Drive-In projects double features of the latest first-run films. Customers tune car radios to 88.5 FM or attach celebrity impersonators to their car windows to hear audio synchronized to the narratives unfurling onscreen. Throughout the evening, moviegoers can chow down on Cascade Drive-in's concessions or dump their own charcoal into the theater's onsite grill to simmer feasts for friends gathered in the picnic area.
Studio 3 Productions documents and enhances weddings with an arsenal of services that includes photography, videography, DJing, and lighting. A team of photographers and videographers carefully documents each wedding-day tradition, from the exchange of rings to the firing of the flower girl out of a cannon, producing keepsakes that range from simple scrapbooks to high-tech films replete with montages and other special effects. Meanwhile, the company’s LED lighting can add pizzazz to receptions, with curious customers able to view a small-scale simulation in advance at the studio.
Alternatively, portrait sessions at Studio 3’s studio or on location capture authentic flashes of subjects’ personalities as they pose solo, with loved ones, or with pets. After shoots, the studio’s framing services accent prints, equipping subjects with a high-quality wall decoration to replace their collection of unpaid parking tickets.
Fresh off a stint within the high-pressure confines of Gordon Ramsey's Hell's Kitchen, chef Patrick Cassata came back to his first love: The Bank Restaurant, which he helped found in 2007. Drawing ingredients from local farms including Triple S Farms Illinois Beef and Piper City's T&J Free Range Poultry, he now crafts a new menu filled with specialties ranging from center-cut pork chops to thick burgers bracketed by soft brioche buns. Steaks arrive unadorned or tenderly rubbed with the restaurant's precise blend of spices, and seafood including Hawaiian style arctic char and Dungeness crab fritters play well with their respective glazes and dipping sauces.
While the kitchen fills with culinary innovation that earned the restaurant the 2012 and 2013 Gamon Award for Restaurant of the Year, the dining room and surroundings exude vibes of timeless history. Built in 1875 to house the Gary Wheaton Bank, the building counts among its roster of notable visitors people such as football great Red Grange, journalism tycoon Colonel Robert R. McCormick, and the pink hippo from Hungry, Hungry Hippos.
Owned by the Irish-pub experts behind The Kerry Piper and Tommy Nevin's, Muldoon's flaunts a deep-rooted pub pedigree. It doesn't need its restaurant brethren to prove that, though—the menu speaks for itself. Above the pub's weathered-wood floorboards that reflect the glow of stained-glass light fixtures, a parade of steaming plates brings forth such classics as shepherd's pie, corned beef and cabbage, and Harp-beer-battered fish ‘n’ chips. There are more unusual flavors to taste, as well. Take Muldoon's signature burgers, for instance, which are made from half-pound Angus beef patties that chefs pile with blue cheese and fried onions, smother in guacamole and grilled mushrooms, or stuff with oozing morsels of cheddar cheese and jalapeños. Meanwhile, sirloin, new york strip, and prime rib steaks—each aged 21 days and char-grilled to order—show the pub's upscale side, while the full bar's bounty of imported and domestic beers settles bets between physicists on how many black holes a pint of Guinness contains.
At Bulldog Ale House, frothy suds and robust spirits flow from an expansive full-service bar to complement a hearty menu of all-American pub grub. Crisp tortilla chips plunge into pots of scratch-made queso, priming palates for hearty feasts alongside other meal starters such as the supergrandeplatter, a shareable plate piled high with boneless wings, mini corn dogs, and fried favorites such as mozzarella sticks and onion rings. Like a toddler's temperament, spicy buffalo wings offer diners mild to atomic eruptions according to their tolerance, and the pub's eight signature sauces, including Cajun and lemon-pepper, also await to dress hand-breaded chicken tenders and dry beards.