If humankind never learned to play with its food, it would never have learned to play with its ingredients, and the world would be one bereft bowl of gruel. Taste the fruits of culinary creativity with today's Groupon: for $25, you get $60 worth of upscale cuisine and fine wines at The Leopard Restaurant at the Bertram Inn and Conference Center in Aurora. The Leopard Restaurant received an AAA/CAA Four Diamond Award for eight years running.
The Leopard Restaurant's chef, Zach Conover, describes the menu as “eclectic”; it's a diverse collection of flavors from America, France, and Japan. Introduce your appetite to razor clams served with foie gras butter sauce ($14) or rich French onion soup topped with cave-aged smoked Gruyere and sourdough croutons ($10). Then let your hunger parley late into the night with entrees such as tagine-roasted rack of lamb ($35) and coq au vin (braised young hen with wild mushrooms and fingerling potatoes, $24). The bouillabaisse ($32), a traditional Provençal stew, is both multi-aquatical (with razor clams, lobster tail, shrimp, and salmon) and multinational (with udon noodles). To accommodate the freshest seasonal fare, the menu often changes.
Dim lighting, cozy wooden booths, and sensuous leopard-print carpeting foster a romantic dining atmosphere full of intrigue and indulgence at The Leopard Restaurant. A cavernous cellar containing more than 3,000 bottles of more than 250 wine varieties lubricates that vibe. A 2005 Bex Riesling ($6.50) and a 2005 Beringer chardonnay ($7) are available by the glass, and featured pours, such as the 2003 Marlstone Clos du Bois ($18), are tailored to tantalizing taste buds. The 12-page wine list also features half bottles ($16–$90) and an enormous selection of un-uncorked bottles from nearly every wine-producing country in the solar system.
The dress code at The Leopard Restaurant is business casual. No jeans or gym shoes are allowed.
Of the 28,000 restaurants in the United States, Canada, and Mexico that earn AAA ratings, only 2.7% make the Four Diamond list—The Leopard is one of these lauded eateries. Chef Zach Conover calls his menu “eclectic,” and the way he mixes American, French, and Japanese flavors corroborates his assertion.
Vidalia onions add a more earthy sweetness to the peach jam that bedecks a Kobe short-rib appetizer, while hazelnuts, shallots, and butter enhance the richness of escargot. Entrees uphold the elegance that first courses establish with white-chocolate-glazed king salmon, Delmonico steak topped with blue cheese, and veal-stuffed rabbit.
The ambience is decidedly upscale, staying true to the restaurant's title with splashes of Leopard print throughout. No seats in the house are more interactive than the dozen chairs that surround chef’s table, where groups of 8–12 can watch as the chef prepares an original five- or seven-course lunch or dinner. The dress code is business casual, meaning that jeans shouldn't be worn unless they are lined with pending grant proposals.