Lake Zurich/Barrington, IL - restaurants?
I accidentally posted this on the Kosher board, so I am re-posting here.
We will be in the Lake Zurich/Barrington area for a Friday-Sunday stay in January and are looking for Fri and Sat dinner and lunch recommendations.
We'd like a nice (but upscale casual) Italian place, maybe a good Steakhouse type, and something great for lunch.
I know this area is about 40 minutes (ish) from Chicago.
I fully agree with the praise for both D&J and Barrington Country Bistro. I've been going to both since they first opened and have had both lunch and dinner in each. The quality of the food is always wonderful and the service is so friendly.
Curious as to whether anyone has any sushi places in the LZ/Barrington area to recommend? Thanks!
>> Curious as to whether anyone has any sushi places in the LZ/Barrington area to recommend? Thanks!
PL8, the pan-Asian restaurant recommended above by m2violin, has numerous sushi offerings on their menu. It's in the same shopping center as Barrington Country Bistro. (Ambrosia, a European-style bakery, is also there, and is quite good.) I haven't been to PL8 so I can't provide any personal experience. www.pl8simplyasian.com
There is a new sushi restaurant that just opened on Rand Road called Sake Sushi and Grill at 884 S. Rand Road, LZ. I've been there twice now, and both times I was very impressed. Everything was very fresh, good variety, and great service. They also have a full menu of other items if someone doesn't like sushi. And this place is BYOB with no corkage fee (they do not sell beer or wine), so you can bring your own beer, wine, sake, etc.
I tried the Sake Sushi and Grill two times. The sushi is inexpensive compared to other places. The rice has a tendency to fall apart in the sushi. I would go back, though, because it is a good value. I thought that the sushi at Daruma Restaurant in Schaumburg was better. (I recommend the Chirashi Sushi). The restaurant also offers Japanese tapas-style appetizers in the menu. Here is the menu: http://www.facebook.com/DarumaRestaur...
As a Barringtonian for the past 19 years, I have some thoughts on what's been posted here.
First, D&J is the #1 restaurant in this area. Always pleasant, good service, and wonderful food. Their wine list is reasonable, and their prix fixe meals are always a value. Fish and seafood is good, and when they have special meals, like their cassoulet evenings, its well worth it.
I am surprised that noone has mentioned Julio's in Lake Zurich yet here. This is a very good - not exceptional - Latin restaurant that always offers very good Latin cuisine. We love it. Their Feijoda specials are very good.
If you're looking for cheap Mexican, there's a Tacos El Norte (local chain) branch in town that always offers a good burrito, taco, or enchilada. Recently, we've enjoyed their sopas - especially the seafood/mariscos soup. Full of seafood.
It seems like there's a debate regarding steakhouses... Stoney River is a small local chain that locates in malls/strips. I like locally owned, family run restaurants and would suggest trying Beelow's instead of Stoney River. Food is good, atmosphere and service good.
For Chinese, We've relied on Green Garden for years, but the arrival of Chef Bo at the Green Garden makes this a no-brainer. Excellent dishes, and there's a special Chinese menu that has some really authentic dishes you can't find elsewhere. I must say that Chef Bo's Green Garden has been "discovered" and they are drawing crowds larger than I've seen in the past. We waited for takeout the other night much longer than ever before...and the tables were full. Call ahead.
If you're craving a burger and willing to drive up the road (Rt. 14/Rand Road) to Wauconda, BULLDOG'S on Main Street, is well worth the trip. Amazing burgers with wonderful choices of toppings. Great fresh fries, and shakes, and even beer.
Barrington is experiencing a renaissance in restaurants...with a number of recent openings. If you're looking for casual but upscale Italian, I suggest looking at NEAR - which is hard to find, in an out of the way plaza downtown - next to the Post Office branch - which is local, fresh, and unique. Also, there's Ciao Baby, a little less upscale but Italian, popular and enjoyable.
A couple of places that have been mentioned here that I'd discount a bit - Barrington Country Bistro is nice, but compared to D&J, it doesn't hold a candle. PL8 is made for Barrington's wealthy white palates. PanAsian - it is, but high quality, it is not. And high priced, of course. And Chessie's remains - it may now be the 110 Cafe - for people who get a kick out of eating non-descript American foods in cabooses.
And I can't understand a recommendation of Cooper's Hawk. A cookie cutter "winery-restaurant" with little to claim as unique or special. There are lots of them around here. Nothing to go out of the way for.
Oh yeah, and the obligatory recommendation for Walker Brothers is in here. Walker Brothers is overpriced, overloved, and living on its reputation for dutch pancakes like the others in the chain. If you like standing in line and overpaying for scrambled eggs, go for it. But, if you're looking for a good breakfast at a reasonable price, I recommend the Canteen or Bread Basket in Barrington, or White Alps in Lake Zurich. A real local breakfast joint, not a fancy chain for breakfasts.
Ok, I hope that helps a bit.
>> I am surprised that noone has mentioned Julio's in Lake Zurich yet here.
I didn't mention it because I don't recommend it. I've been there. I thought it was simply dreadful, with awful food and indifferent service.
(If you want to check out decent Latin fusion cuisine without going into the city, try Libertad in Skokie.)
>> Barrington Country Bistro is nice, but compared to D&J, it doesn't hold a candle.
I've been to both several times, and I'd say you've got that backwards. D&J is nice, but compared to Barrington Country Bistro, it doesn't hold a candle. Both are good, but BCB is better, with better food, and a more upscale atmosphere.
>> And I can't understand a recommendation of Cooper's Hawk. A cookie cutter "winery-restaurant" with little to claim as unique or special. There are lots of them around here.
Absolutely not true. It's the only winery-restaurant in the Chicago area.
What Coopers Hawk has - and no other place in the area has - is a wine tasting room with free tastings, combined with delicious well-prepared food, and a wine list that's a huge bargain compared with just about any other place in the area. Sure, it has downsides - it's noisy, and don't plan on walking in on a weekend without a reservation - but it's very very good at what it does.
>> Oh yeah, and the obligatory recommendation for Walker Brothers is in here.
Wow, I couldn't disagree more. Walker Brothers has THE BEST BREAKFAST FOOD in the Chicago suburbs by far, amazingly delicious items you can't find elsewhere, like their awesome apple pancake, their outstanding omelets, and lots of other items. The prices are comparable to other nice breakfast specialty places, but the quality is far superior. If you prefer scrambled eggs, sure you can find them cheaper elsewhere at "hole in the wall" places, and even McDonald's. But no other place has their incredible cinnamony puffed-up apple pancake (imitators exist, but they are inferior), or their spinach crepes, or their other delicious foods. That's why they have lines out the door on weekends. It's my number one "don't miss" stop when friends and relatives visit from out of town, and they all love it. With good reason - a true Chicago-area classic, and after all these years, still as great as ever!
Another local restaurant that is very popular is Baccus Nibbles. It just relocated from Kildeer to Lake Zurich at the corner of Rand and Hwy 22. Lots of locals go here, and it gets very crowded on the weekends, so call ahead for reservations. Service tends to be slow, but the food is great.
I've eaten at the new Nibbles twice since it's recent opening. It's a very attractive space with reasonably priced wines. However, in my opinion, the food it terrible. No care or attention taken. Boring, bland and unimaginative are words that easily describe the menu. My suggestion is go for a drink and maybe escargot or mussels for an appetizer and eat somewhere else.
For a steakhouse place, I second the recommendation of Stoney River. The coffee-cured filet mignon is really good.
For lunch, I also recommend D&J Bistro (which is in Lake Zurich). The food is consistently great. I have been to this restaurant around 10 times (for both lunch and dinner). You can order ala carte' or go with their lunch prix fixe specials: http://www.dj-bistro.com/lunchspecial....
There is a great local steakhouse called Beelows in Lake Zurich. It is run by two brothers from the area. Great atmosphere, excellent steaks, about the same price as Stoney River but better steaks, and local instead of a chain. It is located about a mile north of Stoney River on Rand.
I had dinner at Beelow's last night. I liked it a lot!
We started with appetizers, including excellent steamed mussels and excellent fried calamari. The calamari was particularly noteworthy, because it can be so sensitive to proper cooking times; in this case, it was cooked to perfection, very tender and not at all chewy. Great dish.
The bread basket consisted of very good pretzel rolls and little, wickedly delicious mini corn muffins (the kind with kernels of corn in them). I'm a sucker for good bread service, and I loved those muffins!
Entrees come with complimentary salad (including the excellent wedge salad I had) and choice of potato.
For mains, I asked about the market price for Alaskan king crab legs. They were serving a 1.5-pound portion for $46.95 IIRC, which is actually a very good quantity and price (the price of king crab legs has skyrocketed in the past year or two), so I got those and they were excellent. I also tried a companion's prime rib and it too was excellent. (They age their prime rib 45 days, and their steaks 35 days.)
We were all too full for dessert, even though they had a nice assortment.
The service was friendly and efficient. The room was your typical upscale steakhouse, with dark wood-paneled walls IIRC. The place was almost full but the noise level was moderate, even with a fair number of families with children in the room.
One other thing worth noting is that Beelow's offers a very good value for the money. In addition to their steaks, which range in price from a $20 London broil through filets for $28-33 to a 35-oz rib eye for $46.95, the menu includes a variety of other items including an assortment of burgers for $11-14.
On their website, they note that they have operated a family farm in Lake County since the 1920's. The restaurant has been open for about two years.
This is a place where it's all about the execution, not the inspiration. You probably won't see a single dish you haven't seen in dozens of places before. But everything was cooked extremely well and turned out delicious.
By way of comparison; I wouldn't say it's better OR worse than Stoney River. Stoney River has some dishes that are a bit more unusual, like their coffee-cured filet or a Thai-inspired Chilean sea bass I've had there. I love the rolls they use for the bread service at Stoney River so they are both excellent in that regard. And Stoney River has an e-mail club that keeps sending me $20 coupons. (I joined the Beelow's list but haven't received any coupons yet.) I like both of these steakhouses a lot; they're both good choices, and I look forward to returning to both of them in the future!
I grew up in Barrington and still visit the area once a year or so.
An upscale Italian restaurant is Francesca's Famiglia, at 100 East Station Street (one block south of Main Street). It's part of the Chicagoland Francesca chain, and they always serve good food. http://www.miafrancesca.com/static.asp?path=3115,3263
One restaurant that my mother (and other Barrington residents) rave about is Barrington Country Bistro-good French fare. They serve lunch on Saturdays-closed Sunday. Located in the Foundry Center on Northwest Highway (U.S. 14) at Hart Road, 718 W. Northwest Highway. http://www.barringtonbistro.com/index.html
Although you didn't mention Asian restaurants, I had a delightful meal at PL8. Inventive Pan-Asian dishes at a reasonable price and excellent service. They're open for lunch on Saturday, dinner only on sunday. Also at the Foundry Center, 736 W. Northwest Highway. http://pl8simplyasian.com/welcome.html
Three places that I consider "Quintessential Barrington" and that serve good, non-pretentious food:
The Canteen, 214 South Hough Street (Illinois 59), near Hough Street School. Diner food with some international touches. This place has been open as long as I remember-I used to pass it walking to school in the 1960's. http://www.canteenrestaurant.com/
Chessie's Restaurant is located at The Icehouse Mall, 200 Applebee Street. The restaurant itself is housed in the former Barrington train depot-when the new depot was built, the old depot was moved to its current location. Menu includes sandwiches, salads, pastas, steaks and accompaniments. http://chessies-restaurant.com/ (If you have time, poke around the lovely shops at the Icehouse Mall. This small mall is housed in the former Jefferson Ice Company.
Finally, for the best sandwiches anywhere, you have to try Boloney's at 114 West Main Street-one of the storefronts in The Catlow building. In fact, they set up some tables in the lobby of The Catlow for lunch. A large array of specialty sandwiches, plus the standards. Closed Sundays. http://www.boloneys.com/Boloneys/Home.html
Although you asked about food, I have to put in a plug for The Catlow. You won't find a more charming theater anywhere. Ticket prices are less than the suburban multiplex theaters, and the surrounds are truly one-of-a-kind. Boloney's sandwiches can be ordered at the concession stand on your way into the auditorium, and they will bring it to your seat before the show begins! Yes-dinner and a movie! They also make their own caramel and cheese popcorn, and the concessions are much less expensive than the corporate theaters. Those of us who grew up in Barrington have many fond memories of this remarkable theater-try to take in a movie for a cinema experience you won't forget! 116 West Main Street, http://www.thecatlow.com/
Enjoy Barrington-and say "hello" to my beloved hometown for me!
First of all, you'll want to check hours on places for lunch, especially for Saturday, when many places are closed for lunch.
Although I don't live in this particular area, I regularly get together there with friends for whom this is a central area for us to meet.
There are two excellent French bistros in that area, that would be perfect for lunch or dinner: D&J Bistro in Lake Zurich ( www.dj-bistro.com ) and Barrington Country Bistro ( www.barringtoncountrybistro.com ). I've been to both for lunch as well as dinner and enjoyed them.
Another excellent place for lunch and dinner is Coopers Hawk, which is a winery and restaurant. The winery itself is in southwest suburban Orland Park. They have a restaurant location in South Barrington; depending on exactly where you're located, that may (or may not) be closer than their restaurant locations in Wheeling and in Arlington Heights. All of their restaurant locations have tasting rooms where you can try (and buy) any of their wines, many of which are excellent. The food is contemporary American with global influences - nothing earthshatteringly unusual, but well-prepared and tasty. It's a particularly good place for those who enjoy wine with their meals, as the markups on their wine list are unusually low (around 40 percent versus the typical 150-200 percent at most restaurants). Beware, they get VERY busy on weekends for dinner; they do accept reservations over the phone. www.coopershawkwinery.com
For lunch, you might consider Walker Brothers, which has a location in Lake Zurich. Walker Brothers is a breakfast-focused restaurant on steroids, with an extremely high level of quality and unusual decor. Because the level of quality is so high, it's the only franchisee of the Original Pancake House allowed to put its own name on the restaurants. They are well-known throughout the Chicago area. Their specialty is a huge, puffed-up cinnamony apple pancake, and the similar German pancake (no apples or cinnamon). Their omelets are also outstanding. www.walkerbrosoph.com
If you're interested in trying our delicious local specialty of deep-dish pizza, Lou Malnati's has a location in Lake Zurich that's carry-out and delivery only. If you prefer to dine in, you would need to go to their location in Buffalo Grove (in which case you may want to consider phoning ahead with your pizza order so they have it ready for you, so you don't have to wait 30-45 minutes while seated for your pizza to bake). www.loumalnatis.com
When we go to a steakhouse, it's usually to Stoney River, in nearby Deer Park. I know it's a national chain, but it's consistently good, for their steak as well as non-steak options. I've particularly enjoyed their coffee-cured filet mignon and their Chilean sea bass. www.stoneyriver.com
I haven't been to any Italian restaurants in that area, but the Chicago-area Mia Francesca chain is a reliable place for quality upscale casual Italian. They have a location called Francesca's Famiglia in Barrington. www.miafrancesca.com