Last night I had a SUPERB dinner at Michael in Winnetka. OUTSTANDING.
First, I should qualify what I mean by these superlative terms. I've dined at many of the most highly regarded restaurants in the Chicago area and elsewhere. They are almost always GOOD, with tasty food and attentive service. For me, the difference between GOOD and GREAT is, at a great restaurant, every single dish, every single bite, is an absolute delight, so delicious that it makes you roll your eyes and swoon. There are very, very few places that I would consider GREAT. Based on my dinner last night, Michael was definitely among them. It is not an exaggeration to say that this was one of the very best dinners in my entire life.
Two of us arrived first, and the other two in our party got slightly lost; the wait staff could not have been more gracious, notifying us when our guests had called to get directions. (The visibility of the restaurant from Green Bay Road is somewhat limited, since there is no sign and the entrance faces the parking lot, not the street.) The dining room has an atmosphere of casual, relaxed elegance, which carried through our entire meal. This made the entire experience that much more special! As noted in the Metromix listing, business casual attire was entirely appropriate (fewer than twenty percent of the men wore jackets and ties, although one would not feel out of place thus attired). Our waiter was joking with us when he brought one or two of the items. Michael himself came by all the tables and knew exactly what we had ordered. The entire atmosphere was one of celebration, but without any pretension or stuffiness.
Again, the food was HEAVENLY! Every bite of every dish was simply divine. The descriptions on their menu sound good, but so do those at many restaurants; if you think of how good each dish could possibly be, if it were exceptional, that's how good everything was. Here's what we had last night:
Mini cream puffs (pate a choux) filled with gruyere cheese
A medallion of seared foie gras over foie gras and mushroom strudel
A duo of warm crab gateau and orange dusted scallop with a sweet curry cream
A rosette of house cured smoked salmon on a warm potato cake with whipped chive, citrus crème fraiche
Truffled potato "cappuccino" (soup)
Duo of grilled filets of salmon and wild escolar with morels in cream sauce
Duo of braised short ribs and sauteed tenderloin of beef "Grand Mere" with potato gratin
Duo of Moroccan braised leg and grilled rib chops with toasted Fregola di Sardinia (cous cous)
Filet of Japanese black cod in a fine brioche and thyme crust with heirloom tomato "Béarnaise"
Creamy mashed potatos for all
Duo of petit fallen chocolate soufflé "Les Deux Gros" and hot chocolate "Michael" with cookies (one each of biscotti, shortbread, and pfefferneuse)
Apple upside down tart with caramel and nutmeg ice cream
Classic vanilla bean crème brulee.
Maple Mascarpone cheesecake with maple caramel and Linzer shortbread
vanilla creme brulee
When our waiter overheard that one member of our party was celebrating her birthday, he brought a plate of truffles with a birthday candle in one of them (without any prompting on our part).
The dinner was also surprisingly reasonable in price, considering the quality of the food. Appetizers were $9-15, entrees were $26-29, and desserts were $8-9. With modest beverages, our total came to $70 per person including tax and tip.
Proprietor: Michael G. Lachowicz
64 GREEN BAY RD.
Tuesday-Thursday - 5;30-10:30pm
Friday-Saturday - 5:30-11:30pm
Sunday - 4:30-9:00pm
(also open for lunch three days a week during December)