Need recommendation for 50th birthday somewhere on the North Shore
Celebrating hubby's 50th birthday in April and I need to find a restaurant on the North Shore -- group will consist of kids ages 9 and 11, a 95 year old grandmother and various other ages in between. I don't want anything too fancy (actually I would but the rest of the family will not like that) and it needs to have easy and parking because of the 95 year old grandmother.
I thought about Di Pescara at Northbrook but haven't come up with anything beyond that (hubby is from Chicago but we do not live there although we do visit every 3 months or so).
Suggestions are welcome.
2124 Northbrook Ct, Northbrook, IL 60062
Two of my favorite restaurants are on the North Shore. Both are places where the food is terrific while the atmosphere, while elegant, is also decidedly casual.
If I had to name the best half dozen meals I've had in the Chicago area in the past five years, at least three of them have been at Michael. The food is wonderful. Tip: If you're going on a Friday evening, get on their e-mail list, as they usually have a special entree in limited quantities on Fridays and you can reserve one if it sounds good to you.
The atmosphere is casual elegant. They have their own small parking lot right outside the restaurant entrance, which is not so easy to spot because it doesn't face Green Bay Road and there's only a small sign visible from Green Bay. If the lot is full, then just pull up to the door, let granny out, and then go park on Green Bay.
2. Inovasi, in Lake Bluff
Restaurant website: www.inovasi.us
Chowhound discussion with detailed reports on meals:
Inovasi in Lake Bluff (North Suburbs) - TERRIFIC! - http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/687962
This is another place with terrific food. The atmosphere is casual bistro. (For example, blue jeans are quite acceptable here, whereas at Michael they may be a bit too casual.) They don't have dedicated parking, but it's in the central business district of Lake Bluff and on-street parking on both sides of the restaurant is usually pretty easy to find; I've been there several times and never parked more than a few doors away. Again, though, you can always pull up, let granny out, and then go park.
Both of these restaurants can fill up, especially on weekends, so I recommend making reservations several weeks in advance if you can. Both are on Opentable.com Also, if any of your group are coming from the city, both restaurants are about a block from a station on the Metra commuter rail serving the North Shore (the Indian Hill station for Michael, the Lake Bluff station for Inovasi).
We prefer Francescas North to DiPescara in Northbrook for Italian. (Mia Francesca has other chicagoland locations which are also quite good). They are family and group friendly, the menu is excellent and varied. Their carpaccio is the best I have eaten in the Chicago area.
Prairie Grass Cafe is another good choice, with menu options that appeal to multiple generations and price levels. They bridge the gap between "casual nice" and fine dining better than most, and focus their menu on local, sustainable farming.
If you're looking specifically for Italian, I recommend Campagnola in Evanston. It's just excellent, with great food, great service, etc. The atmosphere is bistro-ish and it's not excessively loud. There is on-street parking and you can pull up, let granny and others out, and then go park the car.
I've been to Di Pescara and I wasn't overwhelmed. It was okay, not particularly great, not dreadful either.
I agree with rjka that Prairie Grass Cafe can be very noisy, which may be problematic, particularly for the 95-year-old grandmother.
I second Evanston's Campagnola: the food is excellent and the ambiance is quiet and comfortable. However I am always surprised at how much I like the Francesca chain when I am there. They've actually managed to expand without sacrificing quality.
815 Chicago Ave, Evanston, IL 60202
We've eaten at Campagnola and Francesca's North. I wasn't looking necessarily for Italian.
Michael and Inovasi look lovely and would be fine for the 2 of us but not the rest of the family (we are the foodies).
Prairie Grass Cafe is a nice option (I actually looked at it right after I posted my question) so this one might be the winner.
Thanks for suggestions.
A few more options: close to Northbrook is Mitchell’s Fish Market. Among the better options for seafood in the area.We also enjoyed Phoenicia Cuisine in Highland Park for family style Middle Eastern. The best lamb dishes are not on the menu but quite good.
I agree with the comments on Prairie Grass (noise level) and Campagnola (enjoyable). Many fine options in Evanston
Mitchell's Fish Market - Glenview
2601 Navy Boulevard, Glenview, IL 60026
1910 1st St, Highland Park, IL 60035