Sunday, March 29, 2009

Wine bar in the 'burbs -- Flight 112, Elmhurst

So I turn 28 today. And since it's Sunday, the celebration was last night. I wanted something chill, someplace to gather friends new and old, and Flight 112 Wine Bar fit the bill.

Located at 112 W. Park Ave. in downtown Elmhurst -- across the street from the Metra station -- the space is interesting; the wine bar is deep and not too wide, but it's attached to an art gallery with a salon and I think a chiropractor also sharing the space. So you can wander in and look at the art, and there is also a lot of neat art hanging on the walls.

We spent the evening in the back room of Flight 112, a comfortable loungey area with couches and pillows and small tables to set your drinks/food down on.

There were 7 of us and everyone had a great time. The waitress (?) who helped us all evening kept our water glasses refilled, kept track of our constant orders without a notepad, and even kept our bills all separate without a problem. The wines I tried were delicious and she was helpful with recommendations and advice.

The wines vary hugely from bold, dry reds to sweet whites, plus sparkling and dessert wines. A lot of the wines are organic or "biodynamic" (google it if you are bored); wine flights are also available. They also have an extensive beer list.

They also have a smallish selection of food mostly of the sharing variety, including cheese platters, cold meats, flatbreads, panini and a few desserts. I ordered one of the planks (3 cheeses, 3 meats plus bread and fruit) and everything was delicious. People in our group also ordered panini and flatbread, and they looked and smelled great.

I already loved downtown Elmhurst, and this was a fantastic spot to have a celebratory night out. The prices are reasonable, there's a huge variety of wines and beer, and it's overall just a great space and concept. I had a great time, and I can highly recommend Flight 112 for a great night out.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Great food, local brews - Harrison's, Orland Park

This past Saturday my husband and I were treated to a great dinner out with my in-laws at a great Orland Park spot. Harrison's Restaurant and Brewery (15845 S La Grange Rd in Orland Park) is a brewpub with a diverse menu. Neither of us are beer drinkers, actually, so I can't vouch for the beer -- but there are dozens of reviews all over the web that can.

The food, however, I can vouch for. I'd been there a couple times before in years past, and had a few different sandwiches and wraps.

This time, we started -- as we so frequently do -- with nachos. The Brewhouse Nachos at Harrison's are a sight to behold. A huge pile of warm tortilla chips slathered with cheese, beans, pico de gallo and jalapenos (plus sour cream and guac, and optional chicken or beef), these are some of the tastiest nachos I've had -- and we eat a lot of nachos. I'm not sure what makes them special, but they are a medley of deliciousness.

I continued with the Mexican theme and opted for blackened fish tacos. I'm not sure what kind of fish it was, but it was a mild whitefish that was cooked perfectly, in layered soft corn tortillas filled with lettuce, cheese, pico de gallo and guacamole, with salsa on the side and hearty portions of well-seasoned black beans and spicy Mexican rice. I only managed two (of three) tacos and some of the rice and beans before I had to call it a night.

My husband had ribs, which came with potato (fries for him) and a side of grilled veggies (zucchini, cauliflower and carrot). I sampled the zucchini, which was well-cooked and nicely seasoned; he assured me the fries were tasty, and that the ribs were cooked to tender perfection.

I did not sample my in-laws' food, but I can report that the sandwiches they got looked and smelled delicious.

Harrison's also offers a full bar (and all that beer) and a variety of tempting desserts, but we were far too full to indulge this time.

When we get down to Orland Park, Harrison's is a great choice for a delicious meal out.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Great family-owned deli -- Mario's Deli, Addison

Friday we decided we wanted something a little more low-key for dinner, and having driven by Mario's multiple times -- and being told it was really good -- we decided some Italian deli food was just what we needed. So off we went to 1700 W Lake St. in Addison, just east of the intersection of Lake and Route 53/Rohlwing.

(There is a second Mario's Deli in Bensenville, at the corner of Green and Addison Sts. We've not been in there.)

The Addison Mario's is clean and simple, with large cases of homemade pasta, panini and other dishes, and a large bakery case full of tempting goodies ranging from napoleons to tiramisu to cookies and brownies.

They offer homemade pasta, fresh-made deli sandwiches, panini, salads, etc. and a large assortment of baked goods. There are a number of tables to sit and enjoy your food at or you can take it to go. There's also a newly-opened wine bar next door called Bigby's Pour House, where you can apparently gather wine or beer to enjoy with your food. We didn't explore that option, but may have to go check Bigby's out at some point soon.

We went for the simple stuff: I had an Italian sub and my husband had an Italian panini. I didn't get to taste his panini because he ate it so fast! But my sub was delicious, with savory meat and cheese and chewy bread.

We took home two triple-chocolate brownies for later, and I can report that they were fudgy and sensational. We were eyeing the pasta pretty hard, and I can guarantee we'll be back to try more of their awesome-looking homemade Italian food. And those desserts. Mmmmm.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Long Grove Cafe -- a great group-dining experience

I ventured to Long Grove Cafe recently for a bridal shower, sitting in a special side room on the other side of the restaurant.

For such a simple name, it's not a boring place. (But if you've ever been to Long Grove, you know that you're in for a treat with most of the historic shops and cute eateries downtown.)

I was still pleasantly surprised by the atmosphere -- the place is tucked behind the main streets of downtown Long Grove and surrounded by a beautiful duck pond. It was very calm and serene, and fun to watch all the birds. There are also feeding containers near the front entrance, so that's a plus for us kids-at-heart (and actual youngsters).

The food and service are equally charming. The servers were fairly attentive to our party, without being overbearing.

We had two choices -- rosemary chicken or white fish -- for our dinner. Both were decidedly excellent by the group, but I especially enjoyed my chicken, which came with some of the tastiest Russet potatoes I've had in a long time. The hot fresh bread that was served with our salads was also delicious.

I'd definitely recommend this place for a small gathering, such as a bridal or baby shower. Those sort of places probably aren't too tough to find in the suburbs, but this is a top-notch option if you're looking for something different.

I'm sure the restaurant side is also a great choice for a nice, peaceful lunch or dinner. I plan to return to test that section out, and hopefully soon.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Laughing in the suburbs - Laugh Out Loud Improv Theater

So as mentioned in my previous post, my husband and I accompanied my mom and her companion to Schaumburg's Laugh Out Loud Improv Theater for a night of funny.

It's in the Streets of Woodfield shopping center, on Martingale Lane, located underneath the Brides by Demetrios store.

It's not a huge place - seats maybe ... 50? I'm not sure, I didn't count tables, but it's sort of a black-box style theater, with small tables each surrounded by four chairs that face the stage. There's a bar that serves beer, wine, mixed drinks, soft drinks and assorted munchies for fairly reasonable prices.

The great thing about improv is that it's never the same show twice, but the cast and show we saw were pretty funny. If you appreciate humor that thinks on its feet, and like shows such as "Whose Line is it, Anyway?" then you will probably like Laugh Out Loud. They play "games" of a sort, where there's a specific set-up and the audience provides lines for the cast to utter, or a location, or a relationship between characters, that sort of thing.

There's a 7:30 show that is billed as family-friendly (this is the one we went to) and a 9:30 show that is rated PG-13. The show lasted about an hour and 15 minutes, though I wasn't timing it exactly.

While this may not be a regular stop for us, I'm glad to know it exists -- and it's a great spot for a fun night out, especially if you have visitors in town!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Improv in the suburbs

I haven't actually been there yet, but I'm eying a weekend activity -- the Laugh Out Loud Improv Theater in Schaumburg. Located in the Streets of Woodfield shopping center, this looks like a fun way to spend an evening without hassling with Chicago traffic or Second City prices.

You see, my mom is planning to come this weekend (or possibly next, but that's a long story), and she seems to want to go out. Do something fun. She suggested a piano bar, of which there are a few around, but in my experience those can get rather ... bawdy and, depending on your mom, possibly not the sort of thing you want to sit through with a parent.

Improv on the other hand ... Laugh Out Loud promises a family-friendly show at 7:30 and a PG-13 variety at 9:30. Sounds right up the mom alley. Better yet, our phone book has coupons in it.

Has anyone who reads this been there? If so, please let me know your thoughts. I will of course report back if we end up going. :)