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Jun 13, 2010 06:50 AM

Grayslake to downtown Chicago - stop for dinner.

My wife and I have meetings in Grayslake and Gurnee on Thursday. We will be driving back to our hotel in the loop around 6 pm . Any suggestions on where to stop on our way back for dinner where having a car may be an advantage instead of having to cab it from our hotel during the week. Open to anything - no restrictions on cost or cusine type. I guess I was thinking of the outer suburbs so that parking wouldn't be an issue. I saw Inovasi in Lake Bluff mentioned in another post - looks interesting and isn't that far ourt of the way. I 've been reading wonderful reviews about North Pond - it looks to be on our way back to the hotel - would we need a reservation? I was a chef in NYC for a number of years and am interested in just solid cooking. We will be dressed in business casual. Thanks for your help.

North Pond
2610 North Cannon Drive, Chicago, IL 60614

Inovasi Restaurant
28 E. Center Ave, Lake Bluff, IL 60044

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  1. Among other things, eating dinner in the North Shore suburbs is a great way to avoid commuter-hour traffic heading back to the city. And some of the very best meals I've had in recent years have been in restaurants in the suburbs. Here are two that are in the northern suburbs, on your way back downtown:

    Inovasi (Lake Bluff) -

    Michael (Winnetka) -

    (I know the latter report is somewhat dated, but I've eaten there numerous times since then and the quality has been consistently outstanding.)

    There are other excellent restaurants in the northern suburbs, but I would consider these the two very best, along with Carlos, which is the only suburban restaurant where business casual is not appropriate. Speaking of which, there aren't many restaurants in the city where business casual isn't appropriate, either; they're easy to name: Alinea, Everest, Charlie Trotter's, Avenues, TRU, NoMI, Spiaggia, Les Nomades, L2O, and maybe Sixteen. Outside of those and Carlos, business casual is acceptable anywhere.

    North Pond is in Lincoln Park, in the city; like most city restaurants, they have a valet parking stand (you still have to walk from there into the park to the restaurant); you can try looking for street parking in the park, but finding it can be iffy.

    Oh, and just to toss out some additional places in the northern suburbs, that I'd also recommend (although I'd still put Inovasi and Michael at the top of the list):

    Gabriel's (Italian/French, Highwood) -
    Froggy's (French, Highwood) - www.frenchrestaurantschicagocatering....
    Cafe Central (French bistro, Highland Park) -
    Oceanique (chef-driven seafood, Evanston) -
    Chef's Station (contemporary American, Evanston) -
    Campagnola (Italian, Evanston) -
    Bistro Bordeaux (French bistro, Evanston) -

    I recommend making a reservation at any of these places. In particular, I know that Inovasi and North Pond can book up, even during the week. All of these places accept reservations, and all except Froggy's, Cafe Central, and Campagnola do so on Looking on for a table for two for this Thursday, there are openings for all of these except North Pond, which shows as completely booked (sometimes places hold a few tables so it may be worth phoning them).

    1. I agree with nsxtasy as to the best. I'd also add Sakezake in Grayslake if you want sushi, Bank Lane Bistro in Lake Forest, the Grille on Laurel in Lake Forest, and Sage Grille in Highwood for gourmet American.

      Sage Grille
      260 green Bay Rd, Highwood, IL 60040

      1227 N Il Route 83, Grayslake, IL 60030

      Bank Lane Bistro
      655 Forest Ave, Lake Forest, IL 60045