New American Cuisine | Hyperlocal Ingredients | House-Canned Goods | Smart-Casual Dress Code
Where to Sit: If possible, grab the table right in front of the fireplace, which adds to the coziness of the welcoming, yet elegant digs.
While You're Waiting
Chef Paul Virant's claim to fame is his knack for pickling and canning, which he wrote about in his cookbook, The Preservation Kitchen. Honor his passion by replacing your usual cufflinks with full-sized Mason jars.
Reservations are recommended.
While You're in the Neighborhood
Before: Take a page out of the chef’s book and go on the hunt for fresh, local ingredients at the Western Springs Fruit Store (925 Burlington Avenue).
After: Catch a show at the Theatre of Western Springs (4384 Hampton Avenue), which hosts local plays and national acts, including the celebrated Beatle’s cover band, American English.
With its dark-wood storefront facing old-fashioned street lamps and the upstanding lines of the brick train station across the street, Chequers falls right into line with the village feel of downtown LaGrange. Once inside, however, it's clear that the village the pub means to evoke is somewhere deep within England: beer-battered fish and chips sizzle from the kitchen, Newcastle foams from the taps, and in back stands a red phone booth rumored to have birthed Dr. Who, Queen Elizabeth, and Winston Churchill on the same cold, gray day. On chilly nights, fireplaces burn in both the dining room and the English garden, where up to 50 carousers can gather around the 50-inch plasma TV.
Somewhere between Chicago and Italy, you’ll find Little Joe’s, a modest lunch spot that has served sizzling red hots and homemade Italian beef sandwiches since 1969. The menu may be simple, but all of the staples are there—including charbroiled Italian sausage and homemade meatballs in red sauce. A perennial favorite, the hot dog comes in the style Chicago is famous for: topped with onions, relish, mustard, and pickles.
In the kitchens of Blueberry Hill's five suburban outposts, cooks forgo lazy morning lounging to pull together homey assortments of timeless brunch fare. Pancakes infused with fruit or sweets are made from scratch, much like hand-knitted socks or hand-painted report cards. French-toast slices get stuffed with apple and cream cheese, smothered in fruit, or rolled in Cap'n Crunch. Fresh meats and veggies take cover under eggs in savory skillets, and a selection of sandwiches quells cravings in handheld form.
Meals at Thipi Thai are all about indulging the senses. Its assortment of classic Thai comfort foods deftly balance sour, sweet, and salty flavors, while intensely aromatic ingredients such as curry paste and basil tickle noses. After warming starters such as traditional tom kha kai soup, diners move onto entrees of fried rice tossed with shrimp and calamari, or duck in red curry sauce. These dishes can run the gamut from mild to intensely spiced, but guests always have final say as to how much heat their taste buds can handle.
The restaurant's sensory atmosphere extends beyond the menu. Take the eye-catching dining room, for instance?its crimson walls are adorned with gilt-framed artwork, while saffron archways frame the umbrellas that dangle upside-down from the ceiling like chandeliers.
Founded in 1962, Saban's Place stands as a nostalgic throwback to old fashioned, family-run supper clubs. Chefs fire tried-and-true steak and seafood dishes such as broiled fillet, new york strip, and sautéed walleye flanked by hot rolls and a choice of potato. Dinners also entitle patrons to cruise the salad bar, where house-made dressings stand ready to be drizzled onto crunchy bites of lettuce or a discriminating toddler's pacifier. Chefs conclude meals on a sweet note with freshly made desserts.