I have something to share with you.
For 4 years I have followed the same routine. Fly into O’Hare, jump in a cab or take the train and head downtown. This trip was different. I was staying in Schaumburg and had appointments in Barrington and Oak Brook. The suburbs- hmmm…where the heck was I going to eat? I have a list of must try restaurants for downtown but the suburbs, no list for that. So I googled, and posted on Chowhound and came up with a plan. I was arriving early enough to eat lunch so I made a reservation at Grillhouse by David Burke, right near my hotel. Then I could head to Barrington for my meeting, go back to the hotel to do some work, have an early dinner at Chef Vince’s Zeal, and then finally get a full night of sleep. Lunch in Oak Brook the next day after my meeting and then back to O’Hare. The plan on day 1 went astray.
I ended up in Barrington for lunch – more on that later. Since I had no idea where to eat I pulled up yelp and opentable. Italian, good reviews- done. But I didn’t want to have a heavy lunch since I was going to try to rebook my originally planned lunch for dinner. So I deviated from my want of pasta and figured since I’m in Chicago area and I was wanting to try the cheesy beef egg rolls at Chef Vince’s Zeal, I’ll order a “mini me” – a small version of the restaurants italian beef sandwich with a side of sweet peppers and a salad. No au jus but the meat was moist and flavorful. The house dressing was just ok but overall, good meal with a server that was friendly and quick. The dinner specials looked interesting too so if ever in Barrington again at night, I would go back to check it out. After all, I do love a family owned italian restaurant.
Grillhouse by David Burke
I made it. Finally. I walked in at 8:15pm with a last minute reservation courtesy of opentable(love my points), and had a wonderful dinner. I started with the Caesar salad since the chili oil drizzle caught my attention and then I pulled a MD ordering technique…you choose for me(MD is a close girlfriend who is going through a phase where she lets the chef or server chose the entrée for her so she can be [pleasantly] surprised). What did they bring me? Even though David Burke is known for his steaks I requested no meat so they chose the Roasted Branzino for my entrée with tomato and zucchini chips. My server was fantastic and asked a bunch of questions before she put in my (or I should say her) order. Thank you to the two chowhounds that made this recommendation!
Wildberry Pancakes and Cafe
I woke up at 5:30 am this morning, not sure why. My meeting wasn’t till later in the morning but I could not sleep. So I showered and found a breakfast spot. And I decided to treat myself to a big plate of pancakes, the healthy part being the fresh blueberries, strawberries and blackberries on top. Delicious.
Mon Ami Gabi
I think I was at this restaurant in Vegas but it has been too many years for me to remember. But I had a craving for mussels and something rich on this rainy day. So I made sure that happened. I ordered two appetizers – the scallops gratinées with a fennel, onion and mushroom cream and the mussels marinière with a wonderful sauce that I almost finished with the warm bread they served before the meal. I headed to O’Hare happy knowing I would probably be sitting delayed for a few hours.
Let me start with the good. The hotel is clean, the location was convenient, 20 minutes to each client and about the same to the airport, and they had a concierge lounge with bottled water, snacks, etc. But they need to get their act together. I missed my lunch reservation because they misplaced my package that arrived at the hotel the day before and I needed to bring the package with me to my client appointment. I had to wait 20 minutes for them to find it in housekeeping, which meant I missed my lunch reservation and would have to find somewhere super fast to eat once I made it to Barrington. I planned to try to move my lunch reservation to dinner but ask if they could recommend any other restaurants in the area since I like local hot spots. The front desk team did not understand what I was looking for and recommended Maggiano’s and a nearby tavern that had fabulous chicken tenders. I tried to explain what I was looking for but the term foodie was a bit of a foreign word to them. There were a few other issues during the stay and I tried to contact the GM via the checkout email I sent. No response due to miscommunication. But finally, after a Tuesday night stay, I got an email and call on Friday. And yes, part of it was because I completed a survey via email. I finally spoke to the GM on Monday, gave him a lot of feedback and he seemed genuinely interested to fix the issues to improve guest experience. Without asking, 15K points were added to my account as a goodwill gesture. Maybe I will return to see if there is a difference if I have business in the area again.