A friend in Chicago had first pointed out this spot a few years back; sending me a very good review published in either the Windy City Times or the Chicago Free Press, then two of many free weekly papers. Just the fact that one of the city’s main LGBT papers would publish a restaurant review from way out THERE, as some city friends would see it, was enough to warrant reading it. The review itself was enough to make me want to TRY it – but, stuff happens, you get busy, and plans get changed or forgotten.
Fast forward to last month. After months of emails and discussion at parties, two other couples and Rich and I had finally settled on a date to meet ‘out’ for dinner. Now, the only question was ‘where’? How cool was it, then, when the latest issue of ‘makeitbetter.net’ (is this name really better than North Shore Magazine? – I think not) arrived in our mail box with a not-too-shabby review? Asian offerings, steaks and even a burger, they looked to have something for every taste, so we all agreed to meet in Mundelein – woo hoo! Suburban hotel restaurants can be tricky; but armed with two pretty darned nice reviews spaced over several years, we felt pretty reasonably secure about our decision and were not disappointed. The bar is cool and the drinks menu varied – tho’ Rich and I stayed with the traditional Citron martini for me and G&T – OK not a tradition, but it was perfect with the weather we’ve been having – for Rich. Allie had a Corona and Wes a flight of mini-tinis as a sampler; finally settling on the appletini as his libation of choice for the evening; Barb was sticking with ice water and Bob opted to try the pinot – and all seemed happy with their choices.
Moving in to dinner, we found that we couldn’t really decide amongst the appetizers, so we just ordered a bunch to share – shitake mushroom potstickers, crispy pork wontons, black salt & Szechwan pepper calamari, and shrimp & lobster rolls. TASTY! The potstickers were not one of my favorites – but everyone else certainly enjoyed them, and the calamari and lobster rolls were wicked nice (high praise in certain areas of Boston)! Now; what to eat?
They had me at kimchi; the Yellow Mango Curry was just a courtesy detail. In truth, the curry was lovely, and the veggies well chosen and prepared EXCEPT for the whole ‘baby’ carrots that seemed to be straight from the bag. Still, I’d order this again.
Rich went for the Chicken Tikka Satays, Wes and Barb were REALLY pleased with their choice of the Macadamia Nut and Blue Cheese Crusted Filet (tho’ the star of that show ended up being the Tempura Maui Onions stacked on top of the Wasabi Mashed Potatoes). Bob LOVED his Togarashi Seared Ahi – and if you come here – try to wangle some way to have at least a bit of the black forbidden rice – you will not be sorry! Allie opted for the Teriyaki Angus Burger (on a brioche bun – how’s that for coincidence?) but wasn’t feeling the love for the pepper-jack cheese.
Throughout dinner, Wes stuck to his appletinis and Bob his pinot. I switched to my favorite malbec after spotting it on the wine list, and Rich to a pinot grigio. Allie and Barb stayed with Lake Michigan’s finest.
We repeated our sampler strategy for desert – ordering (clockwise from the lower right) the chocolate bread pudding with coconut and vanilla ice cream (an option Barb found appealing), banana cake with coconut (that wasn’t what they called it, but that’s all we can think of this morning), key lime pie and, my favorite choice of the evening – the ginger crème brûlée. I couldn’t QUITE taste the ginger, but didn’t really care, it was sooooooo good – that satisfying crust to break with your spoon, the creamy richness. mmmm.
Cappuccino was lovely, as was Bob’s espresso – tho’ it came in an almost disturbingly large serving.
All in all, a wonderful evening. AND – the service was pretty darned fantastic as well. The hostess and manager worked to settle us into a great corner spot; and our server was just incredible. Friendly, helpful and attentive without being overly so. I wish we’d gotten her name so I could tell you to ask to be at one of her tables.
Check it out when next you’re in or around Mundelein; Karma can be a very good thing!