Ivy's executive chef Brian Goewey has assembled a menu of sophisticated cuisine made from fresh, premium ingredients. Start the gastro-revelry with the creamy greenery of spinach-and-artichoke dip, which comes paired with parmesan crisps ($10.25), or kick things off with calamari partnered with garlic butter and a blend of hot peppers ($10.50). A quartet of pastas, including butternut squash ravioli ($15.95), assists in quelling boot-shaped cravings, while steakhouse burgers ($11.50) help protein addicts get the meat monkey off their backs without risking fork-related injury. Double-hoisin pork-chops ($21.50), Kona-coffee-encrusted sirloin ($23.50), and gorgonzola lamb-chops ($27.95) all add to the mouth-powered flavor symphony. A lunch menu is also available, enlisting an expanded selection of sandwiches to keep chewing muscles from atrophying during daylight.
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.
Historic Downtown Wheaton embraces many of the boutique gift stores, chic spas, and diverse culinary offerings that populate the historical storefronts of the western suburb’s walkable central shopping district. Before embarking on a day of checking off gift lists or simply sightseeing, slip under the colorful awnings at Front and Hale Streets to sneak a breakfast bite at the Egg Harbor Café, where The Handler sandwich tucks egg, bacon, and cheese onto a gourmet pretzel roll ($8.95). Eco-friendly gift shop It’s Our Earth's “buy recycled” philosophy unfolds space for ample creativity in the form of Snack Journals ($7 each)—fun notebooks reimagined from SpongeBob and Spiderman snack boxes that make the dog eating one's homework a slightly likelier excuse.
Serene Teaz’s herbal outfitters dress up waiting cups in international teas, rooibos, infusions, and matés. Toast sunrise over a breakfast campfire with a mug of smoky lapsang souchong black tea ($10 for 4 oz.) or train crosshairs at midafternoon fatigue with a restorative shot of gunpowder green tea ($10.50 for 4 oz.). Steeped like tea, South African rooibos transforms into a drinkable dessert when paired with fruit or chocolate. One of Serene Teaz’s most popular rooibos brew, Sweet Sin ($10 for 4 oz.) sifts together vanilla, rose petals, and freeze-dried raspberries to elicit a decadent aroma capable of transporting drinkers toward serene moments or back to their days as a chocolate-rabbit breeder. Herbal infusions dance across nose buds with scents blended from fruits, herbs, and flowers such as hibiscus ($10 for 4 oz.) and peppermint ($9 for 4 oz.).
Wok 'n Fire—named Best Asian Restaurant by West Suburban Living—tantalizes taste buds with a menu bursting with flavors from Chinese, Japanese, Thai, and other Asian cuisines. In their specialties, chefs sear seafood, steak, and chicken with complex flavors in the wok. They craft sashimi and specialty maki rolls, as well as twirling together noodle dishes that range from japanese udon to thai curry noodles and the cantonese noodles used in ancient tugs of war between provinces. Ginger ale and flavored lemonades, both crafted in-house, hydrate throats between bites.
Decor varies across the Asian bistro's locations throughout the western suburbs, but all share dramatic lighting, sleek hardwood floors, and smooth wooden seating that all obey one gravitational constant. Sophisticated accents pervade each location, such as dangling lights that recall bells, sinuous golden dragons undulating across a wall, and partitions that mimic an abacus or twined branches.
Vintage wooden beams vault over eaters at Sushi Mono, where seasoned chefs fold contemporary twists into traditional nigiri, sashimi, and sushi. The menu's Mono Double signature roll aids bonding between baked shrimp and snow crab ($16) while fueling the efforts of the GlobalGiving Foundation by donating $1 per roll. Tekka don entrees summon 12 pieces of either tuna or yellowtail sashimi to a bed of sushi rice ($24). Fiery salmon and octopus aid the Mini Godzilla special roll ($13) in its quest to stomp out hunger and knock over toothpick towers. In the evening, the eatery comes to life with lights casting a rainbow glow over the crimson walls and Asian-inspired screens and spotlights subtly illuminating cozy booths or singling out operatically trained servers for solos.