Monday, October 29, 2007
Charming mid-west. As I noted in a previous post, I traveled to the greater Chicago area on business last week. During this trip I was introduced to the charming old town of Libertyville. Since I was dining with business associates, although the topic of my blog came up, I didn't feel comfortable whipping my camera out and taking photos in this context. However, I would like to tell you about a couple places that we dined at in Libertyville. The first was The Tavern, which we ended up going to as it was next door to the intended recommended dining place, Firkin, which had a 45 minute wait. The Tavern was a great choice as it was much quieter, with a more formal atmosphere and the food was great. Meats, especially steaks were predominant, but I ordered the Grilled Free-Range Chicken Breast "Nelle": creamed spinach, tomato, & and melted Spanish manchego cheese.
The following evening, upon our client's recommendation we tried Ristorante Bottaio, also in Libertyville. My fellow diners were kind enough to give their impressions of their dishes, which I'll note for you here (to the best of my memory). Two of my companions tried the local fish special, which they expected to be rather good because of proximity and the noted preparation. The fish was fresh as expected, but they both concurred that the vegetables accompanying it were rather too mushy, and that the dish lacked the expected 'punch'. My dining companion to the immediate left of me ordered Vitello Marsala: veal medallions and mushrooms in a Marsala sauce. It is interesting how foods evoke strong memories, as my companion thoroughly enjoyed his dish, and recounted his first experience as a child eating 'grown up food' with this as the dish. It was the first time that he'd enjoyed mushrooms, and he has been enjoying them ever since. My dining companion to the right ordered the Petto di Pollo Parmagiana, described as: chicken breast breaded and topped with cheese and tomato sauce. He said that the chicken was good, but that the cappellini accompanying it had a 'strange' buttery tasting sauce rather than a tomato sauce so he wasn't as fond of it since he's a 'tomato guy'.
What did I have? Well, I tried the Pollo Vesuvio: half a roasted chicken with potato and spices. It was marvelous. The skin was browned to perfection, the meat underneath was moist and flavorful. There were nice bits of green sprinkled on it, and the roasted potatoes also had a rustic and meaty flavor. There was a light brown sauce covering the dish that melded the flavors together as well. I also had the pasta e fagioli soup, and the cup looked like a bowl! The waitress said that what they called the 'bowl' was truly gargantuan. It was well-spiced and the small pasta tubes still had a nice bite to them. My companions also had soups or salad to start, but didn't comment on them, however they all looked wonderful. The atmosphere was also nice. I understand many of the dishes were are the restaurant owners family favorites from the Abruzzo region of Italy. I would definitely come back.