Though considered progressive by most, contemporary fare seems more traditional when compared with the empty plates favored in postmodernist cuisine. Keep from overanalyzing dinner with today's Groupon: for $20, you get $40 worth of contemporary cuisine during dinner at The Department in Joliet.
Inside The Department, a historical interior boasting lofty ceilings and exposed-brick walls offers a classic contrast to the eclectic menu of contemporary cuisine. Plates of succulent rotisserie chicken ($14) and slow-roasted prime rib ($19–$28) headline a roster of protein-rich entrees perfect for hearty appetites or freshly turned lycanthropes. Grilled salmon arrives dressed for dinner in a choice of creamy dill sauce or barbecue glaze, and fresh pastas ($14–$18.50) adorn themselves with appetizing accessories such as shrimp and portobello mushrooms or fresh vegetables and shaved asiago cheese. Compact dinner inside a bun by opting for one of The Department’s savory sandwiches, such as a rib-eye-steak sandwich ($11) served open-faced on a french roll. Or, indulge in a house specialty to relive Grandma's famous Sunday gravy-wrestling parties by flopping face first into a pot-roast dinner with all the fixings ($14). Today's Groupon is also valid for drinks, so meals can be paired with selections from The Department’s long list of specialty cocktails, beers, and wines.
The Department pays homage to its namesake local safety forces by decorating its 100-year-old headquarters with police and firefighter memorabilia. Fridays add a fun twist to the sleek, yet casual setting by hosting live music, facilitating after-dinner dancing, and chewing in waltz time.
Named in honor of local firefighters and police, The Department's restaurant and liquor lounge serve modern cuisine in a loft-style space outfitted with exposed-brick walls, gleaming wood floors, and an abundantly stocked bar. In preparation for the dinner rush, waiters flip crisp white cloths to hide tables’ risqué tattoos while chefs fire up the grill and stir marinades for gourmet steaks, pork loin, and seafood plates. House specialty dishes reflect the chef's meticulous attention to detail; the Cajun rib eye basks in a marinade for 48 hours, and the crab-stuffed tilapia offsets the rich seafood with a white-wine sauce. At lunch, a menu of gourmet sandwiches and burgers fosters casual meals. Fridays see live acoustic entertainment filling the air with quarter notes as bartenders work hard shaking potent cocktails and luring corks out of wine bottles with maraschino cherries. Those craving al fresco eats during warmer months may dine on The Department's tree-lined, second story balcony.