In 1961, Bob Terese and Corinne Owen opened a small pet shop in downtown Chicago. Part of their mission: to employ workers with developmental disabilities so they can lead productive and fulfilling lives. That little pet shop has since relocated and expanded into a 70-acre campus called Lambs Farm, which has a variety of residential and vocational programs that continue to help those in need. Nearly 250 individuals live here today in group homes and individual apartments; they have access to employment opportunities and a number of recreational services, such as camping and hobby clubs. In addition to the expansive pet shop, the campus also has a farmyard, a bakery, and assorted shops that sell goods handcrafted by Lambs Farm residents.
Miramar Bistro pleases patrons with a high-concept menu that straddles French, Cuban, and American sensibilities. Dive in with herb-marinated olives ($6.50) or an artichoke terrine ($9.95), or opt to start with a crab, scallop, and lobster cake ($14.50), the preferred cake of birthday parties all over Atlantis. Sandwiches include Cuban ham and cheese ($9.50) and pressed chicken pesto ($8.75), as well as croque monsieur ($8.95) and croque madame ($9.95), often called the Mork and Mindy of cuisine. Steak au poivre ($25.95) is the stuff meaty dreams are made of, while a duo of short ribs and rack of lamb ($32) means cowboys and shepherds can finally break bread without also breaking into a blistering freestyle rap battle. A lunch menu is available to quell daytime appetite insurrections, and a Sunday brunch buffet helps pack maximum pleasure into precious weekend hours.
Carlos and Debbie Nieto?the proprietors of the once-famed Carlos' restaurant and its successor, Nieto's?took inspiration from the bistros of Paris when they opened Cafe Central in 1995. Today, Adam Nieto and his dedicated team craft a variety of contemporary, French-inspired food. Salads feature poached chicken or traditional ni?oise toppings, and roast duckling comes drizzled with peach sauce. They also offer risotto that changes weekly along with their long standing grass fed beef cheeseburger.
The dining room also cultivates an ambiance based on the City of Light. Black-clothed tables topped with natural butcher paper reminiscent of a quaint caf? play host to dishes of country pat? and center cuts of Black Angus filet mignon. Colorful artwork accentuates the butter-yellow walls. A classic black-and-white checkered floor makes the whole place pop, and requires you to checkmate your waiter before they will offer you dessert.
For more than 50 years, Michael’s Restaurants have been sating foodies with a tantalizing menu of hand-cut, Prime Angus beef aged for at least 30 days and fresh aquatic fare. Diners can start a culinary journey through the Deep South with fried green tomatoes topped with lump blue crab in lemon-herb cream ($12). A 13-oounce bone-in filet ($37) satisfies the primal urge to gnaw, and the 24-ounce porterhouse, which combines a tender filet mignon and New York strip ($39), is suitable for sharing or consuming solo to impress a werewolf paramour. Guests can unite the immortal lovers surf 'n' turf by adding a Maine lobster tail ($16) or three grilled scallops ($6) to any steak. Wood-fire-grilled salmon over wild rice ($18) or grilled-chicken caesar salad ($12) appease lighter nibblers, and nonmeat eaters may savor the fettuccine alfredo ($12) or combine pan-seared pecan green beans ($4) with a wood-fire-grilled vegetable kabob ($4) to create a diverse epicurean garden.
Bluette Café's menu is brimming with traditional French favorites, such as salade nicoise ($17), croquet monsieur ($12), and steak frites ($26), along with more fusiony foods such as root vegetable curry ($14) and salmon burgers topped with horseradish pate, cucumber, and salmon roe and served on a pretzel roll ($14). Savor plates of duck leg confit with heirloom bean and sausage cassoulet ($19) while comparing Bluette Café's chic décor to that of its Lincoln Park sister restaurant, sweets & savories, but avoid favoritism, which might instigate a food fight.
Oceanique's culinary history sparkles with the brilliance of a reef. The restaurant, after all, celebrated 25 years of fine dining history in February 2014 after gifting itself an interior renovation in July 2013. Now the space boasts cream walls, rectangular tables, and modern light fixtures to juxtapose the classic French cuisine that gave the restaurant its swagger. While the ambiance may have changed, Chef Mark Grosz still peppers his menu with the evidence of a culinary education acquired in France and under Jean Banchet at Le Francais. The eclectic dishes, which change daily, might pair butternut squash with salmon or drizzle rhubarb-mango chutney on foie gras. Beyond the signature seasonal fish dishes, they can devote full plate space to organic, ultrafresh produce, such as butternut squash and fiddleheads.
Even with its complex array of ingredients and tastes, the menu strives to remain approachable. Time Out Chicago writes that "while the multi-ingredient preparations border on overwhelming, Grosz somehow manages to balance flavors while completely flipping off subtlety." What results is a laid-back dining atmosphere lubricated by a choice of more than 800 wines and several vintage seawaters.