It's the holidays, and I'll once again be coming home to the south 'burbs (Thornton). Mom likes it when I come home, because we sometimes go places that she would not go in my absence. For example, she enjoys the Bennett Curtis House in the town of Grant Park (south of Beecher), White Fence Farm in Lemont, and the Strongbow Inn in Valpo, and she was really fond of Phil Smidt's before they closed.
As you might guess from those examples, I'm not looking for cutting edge molecular gastronomy - she's got more of a "stick to the basics, done well" kind of a palate. Even so, I think she'd enjoy someplace like Tallgrass in Lockport, based on the reports I've heard of it (not been, myself). The key is that there be enough "familiar" things on the menu so that she's not left totally adrift. We want to avoid the "Honey, I don't know what any of these dishes on the menu are!" moments, which cause her anxiety.
Any suggestions for other "nice drive, followed by nice meal" type places I might take her to? I'd like to stick to the south suburbs and NW Indiana - she gets a bit overwhelmed by the city (though she was willing to head that way for Smidt's!). And of course, good quality coupled with good value is always a Chowhound plus!
Thanks in advance!