Thomas Connors

May 3, 2021

Inside Hook

Chicago suburbs fine dining destination

Can the Chicago Suburbs Become a Fine Dining Destination Once Again? Chefs from Winnetka to St. Charles discuss the challenges and of business beyond the big city.

There was a time when fine dining in the ‘burbs meant red sauce Italian places or steakhouses where the ribeye came one way: well-done. While the renowned Jean Banchet launched Le Francais in Wheeling in 1973, quality white-tablecloth dining (and its successors, the bistro and gastropub) were slow to make inroads beyond the city. It wasn’t until 1981 that chef Robert Burcenski and business partner J. Thomas Alves opened the much-lauded Tallgrass in Lockport.

Things picked up with the new millennium. Paul Virant launched his elegant, seasonally driven Vie in tony Western Springs in 2004; several years later, diners in blue-collar Berwyn were enjoying guinea-hen sausage with oil cured olives and tagliatelle with shrimp and scallops over a sweet pea sauce at Autre Monde. And while not every chef is tossing his toque into the ring, the suburbs nonetheless exert an appealing challenge. Chris and Megan Curren are set to debut The Graceful Ordinary in St. Charles this spring. Come summer, brasserie fans will be enjoying steak frites and more at Ryan O’Donnell’s Pomeroy in Winnetka.

Photo credit: Neil Burger