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Sep 28, 2007 08:32 AM

Dining recs for Deerfield/Highland Park

We will be visiting in this area in 2 weeks and would like to find a nice dinner for about $25/30pp (before wine). When we lived in this area, there were some good restaurants but it's been a while ago. Our friends are not foodies, could care less about food, and we would like to find the restaurant to save ourselves from a bad meal. We can travel about 30-40 min from I-294 and Lake Cook Rd. for a locally owned restaurant that is conducive to conversation. Any suggestions? Thanks!

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  1. This discussion has a lot of recommendations in that area:

    8 Replies
    1. re: nsxtasy

      I recommend Osteria via Tramonto. While it's in Wheeling, it's only five or ten minutes from Lake Cook and 294. It a modern Italian place. The chef is Rick Tramonto, most famous for his high end Chicago place, Tru. It's large, but not terribly noisy.

      Osteria di Tramonto
      Westin Chicago North Shore
      601 N. Milwaukee Ave.
      Wheeling, IL 60090 847-777-6570

      1. re: nsxtasy

        Thanks nsxtasy, the brunch we are attending for our family event will be at Miramar in Highwood and we have been to quite a few places that are mentioned in this post. Haven't been to Froggy's in a long time, but not DH's kind of place (Mr. Big Eater). Osteria sounds interesting but I am leery of hotel restaurants. Any recs for steak, seafood or Italian? What is a hot, new Italian place in Highwood? Thanks!

        1. re: Diane in Bexley

          If I had to name the one place where the food will absolutely blow you away, it's Michael, in Winnetka. Contemporary American cuisine with a French accent. It's a bit more expensive than your stated budget. Read my complete report:

          Many hotel restaurants nowadays operate at arm's length from hotel banquet facilities, so that top chefs are given the independence to "do their own thing". So I wouldn't exclude either Tramonto place on that basis. (I haven't been to either). However, they may very well exceed your stated budget. (Do NOT go to Claim Jumper, next door. I went there a week ago and it was not particularly good.)

          For seafood, I really like Mitchell's Fish Market, in Glenview (much better than Bob Chinn's IMHO). Since you're in Ohio, I'm sure you already have an opinion on them, one way or the other.

          For steaks, the other topic mentions (and has links for) Carson's, Stoney River, Morton's, the Palm, Ruth's Chris, Wildfire, and Fleming's. I've been to all of these, but not all these particular locations. If I had to choose one, it would probably be Wildfire, or maybe Morton's. Again, though, a steakhouse might exceed your stated budget.

          The couple of places on the not-quite-as-expensive side that I would recommend (in addition to Miramar) are Prairie Grass Cafe and Cafe Central. See the other topic for links.

          1. re: nsxtasy

            Nsxtasy, thanks for the suggestions. DH wants to go to Carson's for old times sake, their green goddess salad dressing & ribs, it's right in the heart of Deerfield. I hate to go places on the weekend that won't take reservations. Michael's sounds excellent, but not the kind of place our friends would enjoy or appreciate. Will have to try to get the MIL to spring for it on another trip.
            Hopefully, Max & Benny's and What's Cooking are still good. Planning to visit for breakfast, as the hotel we are in doesn't have comp breakfast and I am the only one who needs it.
            DH actually says Mitchell's has the best steak and he can't eat fish because of an iodine allergy. Thanks!

            1. re: Diane in Bexley

              Well, Carson's is still there, and still has great ribs IMHO. The nice thing if you have to wait there is their complimentary chopped liver and cheese spread.

              For breakfast, I recommend Walker Brothers Original Pancake House in downtown Highland Park (they have half a dozen locations in the area). They'll be busy on weekend mornings, but it's worth the wait. Get their spectacular apple pancake, a big puffed-up wonder.

              1. re: nsxtasy

                Yes, my husband grew up in HP and we lived in Deerfield for 14 years. Been to Walker's Brother there, Glenview, near Lincoln Park, it's an institution. Looking for someplace closer to I-294 and Sanders Rd., as no one else eats breakfast (can you believe it!) and I don't want to be gone too long. We will drive into the city Friday morning of our stay and I want to go to either Ann Sather's (mouth watering cinnamon rolls!) or Lou Mitchell's (do they still hand out Milkdud's?) for a late morning brunch.

                1. re: Diane in Bexley

                  One place in that area (I-294/Sanders Road) that does an excellent Sunday brunch is Allgauer's. I don't know if you're looking for a huge buffet type of brunch, or even if you're looking specifically for a Sunday, but it's worth mentioning. Then again, you probably are already familiar with Allgauer's...

                  One other breakfast possibility off I-294 is the new Westin Chicago North Shore, just south of Lake-Cook on Milwaukee Avenue. Their restaurants are run by top chefs Rick Tramonto and Gale Gand, of Tru and the late Trio. The steakhouse (Tramonto's Steak and Seafood) isn't open for breakfast, but Osteria di Tramonto, their Italian restaurant, is, and so is Gale's Coffee Bar, which I believe is more of a casual coffeehouse type place; both feature Gale's desserts. I haven't been there, but if you're looking for someplace new in that area, it's worth a try.

                  For the day(s) you're going into the city, there are lots of places in the city that do a great breakfast - Flo, Wishbone, Kitsch'n, Orange, Bongo Room, etc. You'll find a long discussion with links at (P.S. IMHO the cinnamon rolls are far better at Fox & Obel - )

                  1. re: nsxtasy

                    We are going next weekend for 4 days icw family event. My MIL is giving a Sunday brunch at Miramar in Highwood. Do want to check out Fox & Obel's in the city, thanks for the link. In Columbus, we only have Whole Foods and TJ's. We have a sentimental link to Ann Sather's as that is where we went on our first date (when dinosaurs were young!). Will try to have lunch in the city at Perry's, understand it is now very "in". Ate there for years when I worked downtown. Used to be on first name basis with Perry, the owner.

                    Gale is from Deerfield and I met her years ago and took a pastry/baking class from her. She is very much fun, wonder why she didn't make it big on the Food Network (not enough Rachael Ray??). Rick still has family in Deerfield too. One of my kids went to school with a nephew. Will have to check it out if we have time. Thanks for the recs!

      2. Check out Bluegrass, across from the Highland Park police station.

        3 Replies
        1. re: RMA1

          RMA1, Did this used to be a Chinese restaurant in the 1990's? The building looks familiar but I can't remember the name of the resto.

          1. re: Diane in Bexley

            That's correct, but I can't remember the name either.

            1. re: RMA1

              It was Yu Lin's Dumpling House.

        2. Having lived in Highland Park for over 30 years and having eaten at virtually every place mentioned and often I have another suggestion for you for breakfast. If you don't want to go to downtown Highland Park for Walker Bros. there are 2 alternatives. Just down the road on Lake Cook and across the street from Home Depot is Eggshell Cafe, a wonderful copy of Walker Bros. In addition to apple pancakes, they have a baked cherry and a baked cherry/banana pancake that are sensational. Their omelettes are great as well. Also in Banncokburn, North on Waukegan Road, is Eggsperience, a full menu breakfast place in the shopping center south and east of Waukegan Road and 22 (Half Day Road)
          Some of the suggestions for you exceed your limit of $25 -30 per person, especially Michaels in Winnetka, which is outstanding but much more expensive. I always recommend Francesca's Hole in the Wall for great Italian but beware - Frank only accepts cash. His adjoining restaurant, Next Door, is also excellent. Prairie Grass on Skokie Highway has been recommended and it is also very excellent.

          If you want to venture into downtown Highland Park, Central Cafe on Central by the Highland Park theater is excellent. It is owned by Carlos and Debbie Nieto of the famous Carlos restaurant in Highwood.

          Downtown HP also has an excellent Rosebud, however, it does get too noisy for my taste so we usually eat there in the summer when we can dine outdoors.

          Carson's on Waukegan underwent a substantial renovation recently so the interior is now up to date and the food is excellent. Down the road to the South is Stoney River which has already been mentioned. It used to be difficult to get in without a long wait however with J. Alexander having opened up down the road on Lake Cook and a Morton's having opened on Skokie it has become easier to get a table and the food is excellent and a fine meal can be had for $30 to $40.00 per person.

          Another excellent restaurant in the area is the Blue Grass by the Highland Park police station and near Craftwood hardware.

          There are also several fine Mexican and Japanese restaurants in the area if those cuisines interest you. In any event you won't have any problems finding excellent food in this area.

          5 Replies
          1. re: dlpens

            dlpens, you mention Eggshell Cafe (where I have never been) and their baked cherry and baked cherry/banana pancakes. Could you describe these pancakes a bit? I'm just wondering whether they are the same style as Walker Brothers apple pancake, i.e. a big puffed up concoction with a lot of cinnamon, or something different. Either way, they sound great!

            1. re: nsxtasy

              You are correct in that the baked cherry and banana/cherry pancakes are large puffed up pancakes in the order of the Walker Bros. apple. I like these 2 pancakes better as they are not as sweet as the apple pancake and have less cinnamon. Eggshell Cafe also has a take out policy and I often order these to go and bring them home for breakfast where they are very well received by my family, to say the least. These pancakes are worth a trip in my opinion. Don

            2. re: dlpens

              The Country Kitchen across from the HP Theatre is also a nice little place for breakfast.

              1. re: RMA1

                Besides Walker Brothers, my two favorite spots for breakfast are Kevin's in Deerfield (used to be Cherry Pit) and Buon Giorno in Winnetka. I'd also agree with other recs on Michael - blew us away, but a little high for your budget. Froggy's is always a great value. One of the best burgers in Chicagoland is at Norton's in downtown Highland Park. Ribs (pork - skip the beef ribs) at Claim Jumper are terrific.

                1. re: bsnprf

                  BSNPRF, sad to hear Cherry Pit is no longer. Used to love going in there with my kids. Could always count on great grilled cheese and soup. May give Kevin a try. Meeting a friend for early breakfast next Friday, may stop at Walker Bros. on Milwaukee near Half Day, assuming that still exists. Miss the great apple pancakes, although that's not really on my diet.

            3. Just to report back in from our weekend in the Northern suburbs: we met our friends for dinner at Demetri's in Deerfield/Northbrook on Lake Cook where the old Ed Debevic's used to be. Food was very good, husband had gyro platter for $9.95 which was huge, DD had Greek Chicken and I had shrimp. Meal for 3 with tax & tip was $50, very reasonable with nice atmosphere. Lots of flaming saganaki appetizers around us. We had breakfast at Max & Bennys and Original Pancake House. Max & Bennys was great value at $4.99 each for eggs, bacon, fruit and bagel. OPH was huge disappointment! Perhaps we caught them at a bad moment but the breakfast was double the price and 1/2 as good. DH had big apple pancake and was so bad he couldn't finish it. Bacon was burnt and coffee was horrible. Lunch in the city at Super Dawg didn't disappoint. Lunch at Zodiac Room (Neiman Marcus - Northbrook Court) was bit of disappointmnet - popovers tasted re-heated. I guess the old adage is true, you can't go home again! We planned a retro weekend visiting places we had frequented when we used to live there and things have obviously changed. Thanks for all the recs! We have passed them on to friends and family.