As the summer winds down and we gear up for a huge fall season (many food-oriented events and restaurant openings in Chicago and the North Shore), my mind turns to the upcoming Michelin Guide announcement in November, when we find out which restaurants are on and off the list, and how many stars they’ve been awarded. Of course, no one knows ahead of the announcement which restaurants have found favor, and which have lost it, but one thing is a virtual certainty: Given past history, some fabulous north-suburban restaurants will be ignored.
Case in point: George Trois at Restaurant Michael in Winnetka. The quality of the food that chef Michael Lachowicz is putting out Thursday through Sunday nights is stunningly presented and delectable. The service is flawless; the linens, the silverware, the glasses, the china — all of the finest quality. If this restaurant were located in the West Loop, or Lincoln Park, the coveted stars would shine brightly. So what, exactly, is the holdup? Apparently, the Michelin tasting panel is otherwise occupied and can’t be bothered to travel much outside downtown Chicago. That’s a shame, because Lachowicz and other deserving chefs (Nicole Pederson at Found, Brian Huston at Boltwood, Mark Grosz at Oceanique, among others) are being unjustly ignored. The Michelin Guide is a big selling point with out-of-town visitors, and a traffic-driver. Michelin stars mean money for a restaurant’s bottom line. It’s time for the Michelin reviewers to wake up and spread the love around. There’s great food happening all over the Chicago area.
Getting off my soapbox (although I do love it up there!), there are many recent and upcoming restaurants that you need to know about. On the North Shore in the past few months, we’ve already welcomed a slew of newcomers: Greek salads and spit-roasted meats at Avli Rotisserie (566 Chestnut St., Winnetka); burgers, poutine and killer cocktails at Whiskey Thief (616 Davis St., Evanston); sushi and more at Fish on Fire (1615 Milwaukee Ave., Glenview); modern diner food at fast-casual Cupitol (812 Grove St., Evanston); rustic Italian at Disotto (310 Green Bay Road, Highwood); fiery Nashville Hot fried chicken at Honey’s Hot Chicken (1791 St. Johns Ave., Highland Park); the best new outdoor patio around at Five & Dime/Taco Diablo/Lulu’s (1026 Davis St., Evanston); delicious organic baked goods at St. Roger Abbey Patisserie (1101 Central Ave., Wilmette); and steaks, comfort food and art at Marcus Lemonis’ MLG (181 E. Laurel Ave., Lake Forest).
North Shore restaurants on the near horizon include some big names. Terra & Vine (Evanston), a new Mediterranean restaurant concept from restaurateur (Boarding House, Seven Lions) and Master Sommelier Alpana Singh and chef Andrew Graves, will open in early fall in the old Bravo Italiano space next to Evanston’s Century Theatres. They’re already booking private parties for mid-October dates and beyond.
Also much anticipated is the late September opening of The Barn (located in the alley behind 1016 Church St., Evanston), brought to you by the same team as the über-successful Found Kitchen & Social House. A loving homage to owner Amy Morton’s late father, steakhouse czar Arnie Morton, The Barn — built in a former horse barn for the Borden Milk Company — will feature chef Nicole Pederson’s take on classic steakhouse food, including tableside service supervised by GM Stefen Bosworth. The restaurant will seat about 75.
Evanston is (figuratively) on fire with new restaurant openings. Look for NaKorn Thai, Asian Cajun Too, Viet NomNom and Yeero Revolution to pop up shortly, just in time for the Northwestern students to return to town.
Two must-attend foodie events are coming up this fall. Bon Appetit’s Chicago Gourmet in Millennium Park is a weekend-long extravaganza. From the Sept. 23 kickoff Hamburger Hop competition on the rooftop of the Harris Theater followed by the Late Night Gourmet at Underground, through two days of mind-blowing food, wine and other adult beverage samplings, lectures and cooking demos, this event shows off Chicago’s food community at its best. New this year: The Tao of Tacos with Rick Bayless!
You’ll have recovered your equilibrium by Friday, Oct. 21, just in time to attend the Meals on Wheels Chicago Celebrity Chef Ball at Morgan Manufacturing. You’ve got two options: The VIP Chef’s Table ($350 per person), which starts at 6 p.m. and includes a VIP Cocktail Reception followed by “an intimate dining experience,” seated in small groups each attended to by three celebrity chefs and a mixologist, who will present a six-course meal with specialty cocktail pairings. The VIP package also includes entry to the Chef’s Tasting Party ($200 per person) at 8:30 p.m., where dozens of celebrity chefs will provide tastings, premium cocktails, beer and wine. All proceeds from the event help fund Meals on Wheels, which promotes independence for disabled and elderly Chicagoans by delivering meals to the homebound.
Interesting fact: by 2045, for the first time in recorded history, seniors — the fastest growing segment of our population — will outnumber children. The strain on available resources will be considerable. For 27 years, Meals on Wheels Chicago has helped to fill these gaps, serving the needs of the city’s homebound seniors and those with disabilities, providing nutritious meals and human contact, allowing them to stay at home with dignity and maintain their independence. Meals on Wheels Chicago helps defeat food insecurity and develops a sense of community. Make It Better is proud to be a media sponsor of this gala.
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