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Prairie Grass Cafe
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  • Post #31 - July 24th, 2008, 3:38 pm
    Post #31 - July 24th, 2008, 3:38 pm Post #31 - July 24th, 2008, 3:38 pm
    Hi all, yes the artichokes were local - Nichols Farm and Orchard purchased that Saturday at Evanson Market.
    Dan
    Manager PGC
    Dan
  • Post #32 - July 24th, 2008, 3:59 pm
    Post #32 - July 24th, 2008, 3:59 pm Post #32 - July 24th, 2008, 3:59 pm
    Welcome Dan. Thanks for posting.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #33 - July 24th, 2008, 4:15 pm
    Post #33 - July 24th, 2008, 4:15 pm Post #33 - July 24th, 2008, 4:15 pm
    Nordicnectar wrote:Hi all, yes the artichokes were local - Nichols Farm and Orchard purchased that Saturday at Evanson Market.
    Dan
    Manager PGC


    Thanks. That's what I suspected. Got some for the family today at the Nichol's stand at Eli's.
    Think Yiddish, Dress British - Advice of Evil Ronnie to me.
  • Post #34 - September 12th, 2008, 9:45 pm
    Post #34 - September 12th, 2008, 9:45 pm Post #34 - September 12th, 2008, 9:45 pm
    gastro gnome wrote:I found the sausages fine but nothing noteworthy (although I don't remember an ancho sausage). I've never felt compelled to return and a subsequent visit by family was similarly uninspiring.

    gastro gnome wrote:I would definitely come back here for brunch. After some of Ronnie's pictures, I would be willing to give dinner another shot.

    G Wiv wrote:I am just beginning to appreciate Prairie Grass Cafe, the subtleties of which take a few visits to realize.

    I have to agree with Gary. As quoted above, my first visit didn't really strike a chord with me beyond the bread. Ronnie was convincing in his pictures and his words and I have enjoyed each subsequent taste of their food. I also think my appreciation has grown over the last year for fresh food that tastes like itself. The exotic spicing of Thailand has its place. But there is a place in my heart and my stomach for local, well-executed just plain good food.

    That, I am beginning to discover, is what Prairie Grass is all about.

    One of my more memorable bites at the Green City Market barbecue was their accompanying potatoes which had just the right texture to go along with an I'm-no-foil-to-sausage buttery flavor.

    Last Saturday, my mom and I enjoyed a Saturday night meal. We started with a tomato salad with balsamic reduction and shaved, aged cheddar. A dish which starts with these good ingredients seems to be headed towards success and it was well-executed and presented. A great starter.

    My main was the handcrafted lamb sausage with grilled vegetables, balsamic reduction and goat cheese. I wasn't necessarily seeking out more sausage and balsamic reduction, but I was sure glad I got it. The sausage was lamby and tasty with a nice snap. The vegetables actually seemed to be grilled rather than broiled which is what passes for 'grilled' at many a place these days. Nothing against broiling, but these were delicious and I appreciate the grill marks.

    Again, a fine meal, simply but well done. I look forward to more in the future and I thank the contributors of this thread for convincing me to give PGC another try.
    Last edited by gastro gnome on September 16th, 2008, 3:49 pm, edited 2 times in total.
  • Post #35 - September 12th, 2008, 10:27 pm
    Post #35 - September 12th, 2008, 10:27 pm Post #35 - September 12th, 2008, 10:27 pm
    gg,

    I was at Prairie Grass Cafe for dinner on Friday night and pretty much had the dinner you describe above. I really enjoyed it and because the "Localvore Challenge" is going on right now, the focus was -- even more so than usual -- on showcasing the excellent, seasonal ingredients, which were deftly handled.

    The tomato salad, which incorporated about 6 types of locally-grown heirloom tomatoes, Avondale Cheddar cheese and basil grown at the restaurant was a delicious and seasonally-perfect composition. I'm going to miss tomato season (as it is soon to pass) and I've become spoiled by the heirloom varieties I've been served at PGC over the past few weeks.

    The lamb sausages, made with Mint Creek Lamb, were quite tasty, with a satisfying definition. As you posted, the grilled veggies that accompanied it were nicely browned and carefully prepared, and the Capriole Farms goat cheese was a perfect accent for the dish.

    My wife ordered the Roasted Garlic Jenher Farm Chicken with Nichols Farm Green Beans and Sauteed Potatoes. It was, in a word, awesome. The chicken had a remarkably rich flavor, its skin was wonderfully crispy and the flesh was ultra-moist -- even the white meat. I loved the roasted garlic, too, and enjoyed a couple of the sweet and aromatic cloves (which I negotiated away from my wife) as a side dish.

    For dessert, we split a crumble made with local raspberries and blueberries that was topped with house-made vanilla ice cream. It was steaming hot, and the tart berries, which possessed just the right amount of sweetness, were countered perfectly by the velvety vanilla ice cream.

    All the dishes I describe above were part of the special "Localvore Challenge" menu and while they were quite special, they didn't represent that great of a departure from PGC's normal offerings. Their food is always genuine, not overdone but hardly bland or minimalist, either. The ingredients are expertly handled but not obscured or overmanipulated. I can always count on having several wholesome choices when I visit PGC, which is also something I truly appreciate.

    I'm glad to hear that it's growing on you. It's definitely that kind of place. Chefs Stegner and Bumbaris are amazingly talented but they let the ingredients star at Prairie Grass Cafe. They are so consistently excellent, they actually distinguish the place more than the folks who prepare them. So much of successful cooking is actually shopping. For me, PGC bears this out day after day.

    =R=
    Gardening is a bloodsport --Meghan Kleeman

    Why don't you take these profiteroles and put them up your shi'-ta-holes? --Jemaine & Bret

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #36 - September 12th, 2008, 10:42 pm
    Post #36 - September 12th, 2008, 10:42 pm Post #36 - September 12th, 2008, 10:42 pm
    ronnie_suburban wrote:For dessert, we split a crumble made with local raspberries and blueberries that was topped with house-made vanilla ice cream. It was steaming hot, and the tart berries, which possessed just the right amount of sweetness, were countered perfectly by the velvety vanilla ice cream.


    A very similar item was the only dessert they were out of at 9:30 last Saturday.

    Given my fondness for berries, the greater cobbler family and the food I had sampled up to that point, I am sure I would have enjoyed this too.
  • Post #37 - October 8th, 2008, 8:23 am
    Post #37 - October 8th, 2008, 8:23 am Post #37 - October 8th, 2008, 8:23 am
    Sorry if this has been mentioned before, but for those of you who were despairing of getting in for brunch: Open Table shows them as booked on Saturdays, but the reality is that they don't take reservations. I called the restaurant, they said Saturday is their slowest day and there should be no problem getting a table. (We're heading up for brunch this Saturday, sometime after 10:30...)
  • Post #38 - October 8th, 2008, 11:49 am
    Post #38 - October 8th, 2008, 11:49 am Post #38 - October 8th, 2008, 11:49 am
    They took my reservation for Sunday brunch a couple weekends ago - although at 1 pm they weren't that busy, and I'm sure a walk-in would be fine.
  • Post #39 - October 10th, 2008, 3:13 pm
    Post #39 - October 10th, 2008, 3:13 pm Post #39 - October 10th, 2008, 3:13 pm
    I've been there once before for an Alice Water's Event.

    The food was made by Prairie Grass chefs but they were Alice Water's recipes. Still very good though. I hear good things about this place.
    Hillary
    http://chewonthatblog.com <--A Chicago Food Blog!
  • Post #40 - October 10th, 2008, 6:51 pm
    Post #40 - October 10th, 2008, 6:51 pm Post #40 - October 10th, 2008, 6:51 pm
    Mhays wrote:Sorry if this has been mentioned before, but for those of you who were despairing of getting in for brunch: Open Table shows them as booked on Saturdays, but the reality is that they don't take reservations. I called the restaurant, they said Saturday is their slowest day and there should be no problem getting a table. (We're heading up for brunch this Saturday, sometime after 10:30...)

    It's probably worth pointing out that this is true as it pertains to breakfast or brunch. Generally speaking, walking in for one of these meals is a no brainer, although they do close for private parties a couple of times a year (so it's always best to check first). That said, Saturday nights are very busy and I don't recommend walking in at that time because it could result in a fairly long wait.

    Hillary, considering your sig line says that you live in Northbrook, you couldn't be any closer! ;)

    =R=
    Gardening is a bloodsport --Meghan Kleeman

    Why don't you take these profiteroles and put them up your shi'-ta-holes? --Jemaine & Bret

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #41 - October 12th, 2008, 12:42 am
    Post #41 - October 12th, 2008, 12:42 am Post #41 - October 12th, 2008, 12:42 am
    I made my first visit to Prairie Grass Cafe Saturday afternoon, for brunch. Three of us arrived at 1:30 p.m. and all but 3 tables were empty. The restaurant closes at 2 p.m. on Saturday afternoon so I didn't expect many people there given the hour of our arrival. It was a nice brunch, but a bit pricy and I was surprised with the emphasis on Mexican touches to some of the dishes. I opted for the house special eggs benedict: egg over bacon bits and topped with a sun dried tomato hollandaise sauce. My companions shared a Belgian waffle with berries and a raspberry sauce. The two dishes, two cups of coffee and one small glass of house chardonnay cost $38. None of the food was special or worth going out of our way for - but it was a nice day and I'd rented a car for the weekend and we had nothing better to do.
  • Post #42 - October 12th, 2008, 9:22 am
    Post #42 - October 12th, 2008, 9:22 am Post #42 - October 12th, 2008, 9:22 am
    I was here once for dinner a couple of years ago not long after having moved to the area and I have to say it din't make much of an impression on me at all. Nothing was bad, but there was nothing that would have led me to recommend it as a "must go" restaurant.
  • Post #43 - October 12th, 2008, 9:53 am
    Post #43 - October 12th, 2008, 9:53 am Post #43 - October 12th, 2008, 9:53 am
    Bill wrote:I made my first visit to Prairie Grass Cafe Saturday afternoon, for brunch. Three of us arrived at 1:30 p.m. and all but 3 tables were empty. The restaurant closes at 2 p.m. on Saturday afternoon so I didn't expect many people there given the hour of our arrival. It was a nice brunch, but a bit pricy and I was surprised with the emphasis on Mexican touches to some of the dishes. I opted for the house special eggs benedict: egg over bacon bits and topped with a sun dried tomato hollandaise sauce. My companions shared a Belgian waffle with berries and a raspberry sauce. The two dishes, two cups of coffee and one small glass of house chardonnay cost $38. None of the food was special or worth going out of our way for - but it was a nice day and I'd rented a car for the weekend and we had nothing better to do.

    I'm sorry, Bill, that you didn't enjoy your experience more.

    My opinion of the Signature Benedict couldn't differ more from yours. I love the dish and find it remarkably distinctive. That roasted tomato hollandaise (made from fresh tomatoes, not sun-dried) is one of the finest sauces I've tasted. I love the applewood bacon and sauteed spinach in combination with the perfectly poached eggs. The dish is delicious and there's just nowhere else in town where it can be had. I also find the $10.50 price to be quite reasonable for a benedict, as I can't recall ever having a decent version much below that price point.

    I also love the coffee they serve at PGC. Perhaps it's a bit pricier than you could get elsewhere but it is a great blend from Intelligentsia, which, IMO, is worth the premium.

    =R=
    Gardening is a bloodsport --Meghan Kleeman

    Why don't you take these profiteroles and put them up your shi'-ta-holes? --Jemaine & Bret

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #44 - October 12th, 2008, 11:51 am
    Post #44 - October 12th, 2008, 11:51 am Post #44 - October 12th, 2008, 11:51 am
    rickster wrote:I was here once for dinner a couple of years ago not long after having moved to the area and I have to say it din't make much of an impression on me at all. Nothing was bad, but there was nothing that would have led me to recommend it as a "must go" restaurant.

    Based on a dinner a couple of years ago and a lunch earlier this year, I feel exactly the same way about PGC. Both times, I finished my meal reasonably content but with absolutely no feeling that I would really like to return again soon.

    nsxtasy wrote:That's the difference between Saturday brunch and Sunday brunch. Places that are well known for their brunch are often packed on Sundays. The few places that offer brunch on Saturday - which, in addition to Prairie Grass Cafe, include Frontera Grill (Saturday only), Lula (Saturday and Sunday), and Sola (Saturday and Sunday) - generally don't experience long waits on Saturdays.

    Incidentally, two additional places that offer brunch on Saturdays (aside from all the places that offer the same breakfast on Saturday that they do all week long) are David Burke's Primehouse (for their American dim sum brunch) and NoMI. Both serve brunch on Sundays too.
  • Post #45 - October 12th, 2008, 6:16 pm
    Post #45 - October 12th, 2008, 6:16 pm Post #45 - October 12th, 2008, 6:16 pm
    ronnie-suburban, you're right about the prices.

    I don't think the room - and it's a large room - shows well in the daylight, and it's flaws and worn parts stand out (such as our worn-top/bare-top table, and windows that need washing) and unless the room gets very busy for brunch I sense one gets the feeling of being in an almost-empty barn. Once the sun goes down and the lights ar turned on, and linens are applied to the tables (I hope they are, given the seemingly poor condition of table tops) I'm assuming from the comments of others that dinner offers a better experience for most. The breakfast/brunch menu is large and there seems to be something for everyone - but I left with the feeling I'd just eaten at a place simply a single step-up from, say, What's Cooking? restaurant. It was okay for a change of pace, but not really worth it to me to go out of my way to visit once again for brunch. Dinner? I'd like to give it a try.

    Thanks.
  • Post #46 - October 12th, 2008, 7:49 pm
    Post #46 - October 12th, 2008, 7:49 pm Post #46 - October 12th, 2008, 7:49 pm
    Bill wrote: but I left with the feeling I'd just eaten at a place simply a single step-up from, say, What's Cooking? restaurant.

    Bill,

    I get that you were not blow away by PG, but single step-up from What' Cooking, we must be talking about a different Prairie Grass. And yes, I've been to both multiple times.

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #47 - October 12th, 2008, 9:53 pm
    Post #47 - October 12th, 2008, 9:53 pm Post #47 - October 12th, 2008, 9:53 pm
    G Wiv wrote:
    Bill wrote: but I left with the feeling I'd just eaten at a place simply a single step-up from, say, What's Cooking? restaurant.

    Bill,

    I get that you were not blow away by PG, but single step-up from What' Cooking, we must be talking about a different Prairie Grass. And yes, I've been to both multiple times.

    Enjoy,
    Gary

    I drive past What's Cooking every single time I dine at Prairie Grass Cafe and I do so happily and with intent. In my experience, What's Cooking is nothing more than a middle-of-the-road foodservice joint -- a greasy spoon. It's not bad for what it is but there's nothing at all distinctive or special about it. I can think of several places that serve what they serve, many of which do it far better. If I want a chef's salad at 11 pm, it scratches the itch just fine, as long as I don't mind iceberg lettuce, white-fleshed tomatoes, croutons out of a box and dressing off the Sysco truck.

    But Prairie Grass Cafe aims so much higher. So much of their food is made completely from scratch or by-hand, it's hard to believe that it could even be mentioned in the same breath (or post) as a place like What's Cooking. While one may not appreciate the plates that are served at PGC, in my experience a great deal more care, thought and quality goes into those plates than anything that's served at What's Cooking. PGC is distinguished not only by the high-quality ingredients they use -- which shine obviously on the plate -- but also by the skill of its chefs and the menus they create.

    =R=
    Gardening is a bloodsport --Meghan Kleeman

    Why don't you take these profiteroles and put them up your shi'-ta-holes? --Jemaine & Bret

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #48 - October 13th, 2008, 9:01 am
    Post #48 - October 13th, 2008, 9:01 am Post #48 - October 13th, 2008, 9:01 am
    We had a standard-fare ("middle of the road") Belgian waffle and a nice (i.e., "good") eggs benedict for brunch - not a multi-course dinner or a meal warranting a standing ovation. Relax. Obviously, you're infatuated with the place. Congratulations. That doesn't mean, however, that everyone else has to follow lock-step in support - and I'm not the first to offer the suggestion that Prairie Grass Cafe was nothing special. Thanks for the feedback.
  • Post #49 - October 13th, 2008, 9:49 am
    Post #49 - October 13th, 2008, 9:49 am Post #49 - October 13th, 2008, 9:49 am
    Bill wrote:We had a standard-fare ("middle of the road") Belgian waffle and a nice (i.e., "good") eggs benedict for brunch - not a multi-course dinner or a meal warranting a standing ovation. Relax. Ovbiously, you're infatuated with the place. Congratulations. That doesn't mean, however, that everyone else has to follow lock-step in support - and I'm not the first to offer the suggestion that Prairie Grass Cafe was nothing special. Thanks for the feedback.

    Yeah, sorry for the filibustering, Bill. :oops:

    I do feel very passionately about PGC and sometimes it's hard to hold back.

    Thanks,

    =R=
    Gardening is a bloodsport --Meghan Kleeman

    Why don't you take these profiteroles and put them up your shi'-ta-holes? --Jemaine & Bret

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #50 - October 13th, 2008, 1:20 pm
    Post #50 - October 13th, 2008, 1:20 pm Post #50 - October 13th, 2008, 1:20 pm
    Bill wrote:We had a standard-fare ("middle of the road") Belgian waffle and a nice (i.e., "good") eggs benedict for brunch - not a multi-course dinner or a meal warranting a standing ovation.

    In all fairness, a fairly conventional breakfast is really nowhere near a complete sampling from which to base an opinion on PGC (or any non-breakfast-type restaurant). Lunch comes closer, and dinner provides much more insight.

    Bill wrote:Relax. Obviously, you're infatuated with the place. Congratulations. That doesn't mean, however, that everyone else has to follow lock-step in support - and I'm not the first to offer the suggestion that Prairie Grass Cafe was nothing special.

    Nor the last. :wink:
  • Post #51 - October 15th, 2008, 11:26 am
    Post #51 - October 15th, 2008, 11:26 am Post #51 - October 15th, 2008, 11:26 am
    ronnie_suburban wrote: Hillary, considering your sig line says that you live in Northbrook, you couldn't be any closer! ;)

    =R=


    This is true...guess I should get my butt over there! :)
    Hillary
    http://chewonthatblog.com <--A Chicago Food Blog!
  • Post #52 - October 19th, 2008, 8:52 am
    Post #52 - October 19th, 2008, 8:52 am Post #52 - October 19th, 2008, 8:52 am
    Just another data point for PGC.

    I went there yesterday for breakfast after hearing about the wonderful egg benedict that they offer. Even though I arrived 10 minutes before they open, I was graciously invited in and seated in a cozy booth. The room is much bigger than I expected, with an nice rustic feel.

    I ordered some orange juice and the smoked salmon eggs benedict. The OJ was fantastic, freshly squeezed, but a little steep at $4 for a small glass. The SS eggs benedict were probably not the best choice. I was torn between ordering the smoked salmon/bagel plate and getting eggs benedict and I decided to compromise and get them both together. Overall, I thought the dish was about average. The english muffin was huge and the poached eggs were perfectly cooked. But the smoked salmon was just ok and the hollandaise sauce was absolutely nothing special. The potatoes had an excellent texture (crispy outside and fluffy inside) but were a bit bland.

    Like other posters, I was a bit disappointed in my a breakfast. Although it was good, I had much higher expectations. Because I live in the city, I probably won't return for breakfast. I am uncommitted about returning for a later meal - mostly because it is a bit farther that I would normally go.

    As for eggs benedict, I'll stick with my other favorite spots.
  • Post #53 - October 19th, 2008, 8:57 am
    Post #53 - October 19th, 2008, 8:57 am Post #53 - October 19th, 2008, 8:57 am
    veeral wrote:As for eggs benedict, I'll stick with my other favorite spots.


    Which are? (The reason I ask is because I find PGC's benedicts to be among the top two in the city and I'd like to know where you go that causes you to rate them average. I'd like to follow in your footsteps.)
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #54 - October 19th, 2008, 9:02 am
    Post #54 - October 19th, 2008, 9:02 am Post #54 - October 19th, 2008, 9:02 am
    Sorry, I should have linked the thread. Though it is old, I still stand by the top two (and I've tried most of the other places listed in that thread.)

    http://www.lthforum.com/bb/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=6900
  • Post #55 - October 19th, 2008, 9:32 am
    Post #55 - October 19th, 2008, 9:32 am Post #55 - October 19th, 2008, 9:32 am
    veeral wrote:Sorry, I should have linked the thread. Though it is old, I still stand by the top two (and I've tried most of the other places listed in that thread.)

    http://www.lthforum.com/bb/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=6900


    I'll have to give Toast a try one of these days. As for Wishbone, though I am a big fan of a lot of their food, I have found their poached eggs consistently over-cooked over the years. My office used to be located directly across the street from them and, believe me, I've had more than enough breakfasts there to come to that conclusion.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #56 - November 12th, 2008, 12:46 pm
    Post #56 - November 12th, 2008, 12:46 pm Post #56 - November 12th, 2008, 12:46 pm
    It's taken me a few days to post about my lovely dinner at Prairie Grass Cafe on Monday, so without further ado:

    First, a caveat: I'm a city girl through and through, and it was by a complete fluke that I ended up in Northbrook this past Monday. But after seeing Sarah Stegner and George Bumbaris so graciously receive their GNR award last week, I took advantage of an opportunity to head to their deserving spot.

    I'd be lying if I said I didn't wish the restaurant were nestled in a downtown enclave, with greater public-transit friendliness for people, like me, who'd gladly make the trip on Metra, but probably wouldn't brave the Chicago highway system at rush hour for even a dinner as enjoyable as this one.

    All that said, I was glad to have made the trek on Monday. I so appreciated the welcoming staff and the fact that Sarah had such a strong *presence* in the restaurant. I had a little time to chat with her while waiting for my friend to arrive, and she was truly, sincerely grateful for her GNR. It's rare to find such humility in chefs/restaurant owners, and lth should be proud to have recognized that kind of character, on top of her clear kitchen skills.

    My friend and I were comped a nice lamb springroll appetizer and two gorgeous desserts (including a pumpkin pie made with local pumpkin that I'm still thinking about). This went far above and beyond generosity and made the meal especially memorable.

    The real stars, though, were the entrees. I had the crispy chicken over braised greens with a honey-glazed sweet potato. My friend had the skirt steak. We both found the meat to be cooked to perfection. A gorgeous seared skin helped my chicken to stay moist and tender, and it combined beautifully with the greens. My friend's steak was just to the rare side of medium rare: it barely needed a steak knife. Just wonderful! If I had any complaint, it might be that the potato preparations (a basic sweet-potato half in the skin in my case, and a slightly fussy twice-baked in my friend's) lacked the innovation of the rest of the menu. They were certainly tasty enough, but here while we're still in local potato season, I was craving something that rose to the occasion of the rest of the plate.

    All that said, it was a simply beautiful meal in a warm, welcoming spot that belies its commercial setting. I'd encourage anyone in the area to pop in. I guarantee you'll still be musing over the meal a few days later, like I am.
  • Post #57 - November 21st, 2008, 11:15 pm
    Post #57 - November 21st, 2008, 11:15 pm Post #57 - November 21st, 2008, 11:15 pm
    ronnie_suburban wrote:Homemade Pate' in a Crock with Apples and Port Wine Reduction
    --outstanding. The pate' was excellent and the apples and reduction made for perfect pairings.

    Entrees
    Un-traditional Shepherd's Pie with Butternut Squash, Parsnip and Potato Gratin over braised beef and Swiss Chard
    --I know this term is over-used but this dish was sublime. Absolutely amazing. It was delicious, comforting, simple and innovative. Wow!


    Unwittingly, my meal last night replicated some of Ronnie's previous dinner. Except the pate was served with a balsamic reduction instead.

    I don't think I'm a pate guy. Or not usually. The vinegar reduction was a great pairing to cut through the richness of the pate. It was good with apples and the always wonderful Bennison's bread service.

    But the Shepherd's Pie (which I believe lacked chard) was just as good as Ronnie's description. The braised Tall Grass beef chunks were tender and flavorful. A perfect pot roasted type mouthfeel but with bright and lively flavors. And the mash of assorted root vegetables lent a more complex note than a typical potato topping. I ate past being full because I wasn't about to leave any.

    That's two straight PGC dinners that put a smile on my face. I look forward to a third sometime soon.
  • Post #58 - December 29th, 2008, 5:25 pm
    Post #58 - December 29th, 2008, 5:25 pm Post #58 - December 29th, 2008, 5:25 pm
    Friends of ours in Wilmette wanted to take us out last weekend, and they really wanted us to try Prairie Grass Café. After reading a little about it, I learned that the restaurant’s chef and owners are Sarah Stegner and George Bumbaris, both of whom came from The Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton in Chicago, where they received numerous accolades. Sarah’s husband, Rohit, also works at the restaurant as the general manager and wine director, making it seem like a close knit family. They try and keep a very seasonal and local menu, and more casual than what they had at the Ritz. I had never eaten at the Ritz, but when my friends suggested we eat at Prairie Grass, I didn’t think much other than that we would have a decent night out (full disclosure – our friends are neighbors and good acquaintances with Sarah and Rohit).

    My expectations were vastly exceeded, however, by the time we finished the meal. What is written down on the menu sounds good, although nothing exceptionally exciting to my palate, but the actual execution and taste were just amazing with every item. Appetizers included baked feta cheese with banana peppers and tomatoes, vegetarian spring rolls, shrimp spring rolls, and citrus marinated beets with Capriole Farms goat cheese, sliced pears and crushed hazelnuts (going out with friends of the chef allows certain benefits, mainly in that they threw in a few extra appetizers and desserts for us to try). The baked feta was very good when pared with the peppers and tomatoes, adding a nice acidic element to the creaminess of the warm cheese. It was the beets that I couldn’t stop eating, though. Although seemingly the same dish you could get in a hundred restaurants, the citrus marinating seemed to really add some zing to the beets, and they also provided a hearty handful to eat on the plate, as opposed to the usual forkful I seem to get at most places.

    Entrees included a moussaka with braised lamb, rich and comforting, which was just stupendous, and a Lake Superior white fish that was sautéed and simple, but prepared very well. Our desserts (once again we were comped a few extra dishes) were a “Muk Muk” cake – the usual Jon George molten chocolate cake – but made well, a crème brulee, also nothing special but still delicious, and a strawberry crepe with Grand Marnier, which was about the only thing I didn’t love. We also chose a Cotes du Rhone wine - Domaine la Millierre 2006, which has become my wife’s new favorite wine.

    If you are in the area and looking for a meal that will surely satisfy everyone in whatever group you are in, I think you would be hard pressed to find a better place than Prairie Grass Café. You can also feel good about supporting local farms as well. Perhaps it was the wine, or being with good friends, or even the extra dishes we got, but I left feeling like I had not had a more fulfilling and enjoyable meal in a long time. So I agree with Ronnie that Prairie Grass is a place you can just go to, relax, and consistently have a good meal.
    "My doctor told me to stop having intimate dinners for four. Unless there are three other people."

    -Orson Welles-
  • Post #59 - December 29th, 2008, 6:25 pm
    Post #59 - December 29th, 2008, 6:25 pm Post #59 - December 29th, 2008, 6:25 pm
    You know, I'm guessing that Prairie Grass would be the kind of place that could easily accomodate both foodies and picky seniors.
  • Post #60 - December 29th, 2008, 6:27 pm
    Post #60 - December 29th, 2008, 6:27 pm Post #60 - December 29th, 2008, 6:27 pm
    Mhays wrote:You know, I'm guessing that Prairie Grass would be the kind of place that could easily accomodate both foodies and picky seniors.

    Speaking from experience, that's exactly right.

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