Dinner on the north shore for 8 adults
Looking for a restaurant where 4 couples can have a nice dinner while actually being able to have a conversation. Would like a place with a nice but not necessarily fancy vibe. All suggestions welcome--thanks!
I recommend Michael in Winnetka ( www.restaurantmichael.com ) and Inovasi in Lake Bluff ( www.inovasi.us ). Neither is overly noisy (which seems to be your major concern) and both have some of the very best food in the entire Chicago area. Furthermore, both are, as you describe, nice but not overly fancy; of the two, Inovasi is a bit more casual and less expensive. I encourage you to read the detailed reports on dinners at both restaurants posted in these two topics:
GREAT Dinner at Michael in Winnetka! - http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/351457
Inovasi in Lake Bluff (North Suburbs) - TERRIFIC! - http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/687962
I've eaten at Miramar numerous times, for lunch, dinner, and brunch. It's not notably quiet, although that can depend on the day of the week, but the decor (tiled floors and lots of hard surfaces) can make it pretty darn noisy. The food is okay but not fantastic or particularly memorable. I wind up going back primarily due to the location (their outdoor seating is very pleasant in the warmer months).
There are three other restaurants in the immediate vicinity that I would recommend instead. Carlos is a few doors down and is wonderful for French cuisine; however, it's expensive and dressy (the only restaurant in the Chicago suburbs where jackets are required for gentlemen). Gabriel's is just across the tracks and has excellent French-Italian cuisine although it too is rather pricy. (Gabriel also owns Miramar.) And next door to Gabriel's is Froggy's, the casual, moderately-priced French bistro. Froggy's and Carlos are the least noisy of these restaurants.
Miramar - definitely NO. I have eaten there a number of times and too often we cannot hold a civil conversation - the noise level is way too high. Froggy's - a definite yes. Wonderful restaurant in Highwood and much more suitable for 8 people. Sage Grill is across the street and offers fine food and live jazz on Thursday and Friday nights starting at 7:00. This would also be a great choice. But note - these are in Highwood. As nsxtasy pointed out Inovasi in Lake Bluff is outstanding as is Restauant Michael in WInnetka. Gabriel's is outstanding and one of my favorite restaurants - but it is very expensive as is Carlos. I would have recommended Stoney River in Deerfield but it just closed its doors as the landlord wants the space for a different direction - retail. J. Alexander's in Deerfield offers excellent food at reasonable cost, has a very nice atmosphere, is quiet and has numerous larger tables - I have eaten there twice this week and on Tuesday I was with 7 other guys and the ability to talk and hear was excellent. Good luck.
301 Waukegan Ave, Highwood, IL 60040
28 E. Center Ave, Lake Bluff, IL 60044