Terra & Vine

Yesterday was busy, and I got to spend it with a few of my faves. 

After lots of time with my little girl, I headed out on a rainy day to Terra & Vine, a rustic Italian-Mediterranean restaurant in in downtown Evanston, to celebrate one of my oldest friends.

Google Maps failed me so I was the last to arrive, but I liked what I saw when I walked in: a friendly hostess, a gorgeously-designed restaurant, and my friends chatting happily.

But I have to confess a secret: I took two photos during lunch. Two. One of the massive pull apart cinnamon roll we had for our first course,

 and my beautiful Italian Cobb Salad (no cheese, champagne vinaigrette dressing instead of creamy Italian). 

Bonus: In the first photo, you can see the sweetly-detailed glass that my Diet Coke came in. If you know where I can find those, I will buy you a coffee. I mean it. I need those glasses. (Sidenote: I have a glassware addiction. It makes moving often difficult…)

Ok, ok, back to T&V. I gave up cow’s milk (except butter) for lent, so I appreciated the substitutions on my salad (didn’t eat the cream cheese frosting either). On that note, our waiter was so nice, attentive, and a hoot. A real character. I appreciated his energy, and his eye on my Diet Coke for refills.

Back to the food. Delicious. I would have showed some restraint on that cinnamon roll if it didn’t smell so good. And the waiter recommended it, so how could we say no?

And even though I made changes to the Italian Cobb Salad, I thought it was pretty stellar, too. I liked the presentation of rows of toppings–every bite was unique. The quality of the ingredients and the freshness was very obvious, too. I enjoyed it almost as much as catching up with my friends.

There is something so filling about spending time with friends. Especially sans little humans. I love my EJ, but she needs to practice the art of dining out. (Rule #1: Stay seated unless you need to use the restroom. Speaking of which T&V’s was pretty and clean, which to me means a lot.)

The question for me is always, would I go back? Yes, for sure. It’s a great meet up spot for friends and young families. They just started offering brunch and lunch, and I can also vouch that the avocado toast looked so tasty!!! The veggie sandwich, too, but lots of bread. Oh, and the fries aren’t bad either…

I’ll also return because I need to scope out that exotic black-and-white tile and those glasses again, too. See you soon, Terra & Vine!


February Is Chicago’s North Shore Restaurant Month

Now that the secret’s out, this mama wants to talk about…what else…food!

Did you know that Chicago’s North Shore suburbs doesn’t just have Restaurant Week, it has Restaurant Month.

Now, I lived in Glenview for five years after college/before the Second City. (Nate was going to law school in Milwaukee, I was working in Lincolnshire…) I very much loved my time living there, and my parents are still there, so we visit quite Glenview and the surrounding burbs often.

So, in addition to sharing these awesome Restaurant Month deals (just print these certificates and bring them with you!), I also wanted to share some of my recommendations:

Bravo! Cucina Italiana in Glenview: Very family friendly, good for groups!

Corner Bakery Cafe in Skokie: If you’re brave enough to shop Old Orchard in this cold weather, warm up with a cup of soup or enjoy a salad (my favorite is the Asian Wonton Salad) here.

Farmhouse Evanston: I’ve been to the Chicago and Evanston locations for brunch and dinner and loved both. The farm-to-table concept is dear to my heart, and I love to support restaurants like Farmhouse. Haven’t had a bad meal yet!

Flat Top Grill in Evanston: The first location of the chain that I ever went to, and I love the make-your-own soup/salad/stir fry/etc. concept here. And have you tried the naan? It’s pretty delicious! Extra points for being very lactose intolerant/vegetarian/vegan friendly.

Francesca’s North in Nortbrook: This Italian restaurant is exceptional for any occasion, from private parties to date night. The food is outstanding–should not be missed!

Maggiano’s in Skokie: Part of the Lettuce Entertain You Restaurant Group, Maggiano’s has something for everyone. I’ve been to many of the chain’s locations for wedding rehearsal dinners, baby showers, or just a night out. The food is consistently great, and I enjoy the family-style service that creates a more homey vibe.

Pizano’s in Glenview: I remember when “Oprah’s Favorite Pizza” opened in the burbs. I’ve been a few times, and it’s pretty good! This restaurant is always busy, and kid-friendly, too.

Superdawg Drive-In in Wheeling: Now, I must say, it’s not the original location, but the Superdawg and fries doesn’t disappoint no matter where you go. I’m also LOVING their hamburgers…I mean Superburger!

Tuscany in Wheeling: My sister’s wedding shower was here. I’ve been here for Mother’s Day…and Valentine’s Day. The roasted garlic appetizer that’s brought to your table when you sit down is amazing. The minestrone is great. The pastas are delicious. I haven’t been in awhile–more reason to go back!

Where I want to go:

Burger Fi in Glenview: I’ve heard good things from both family and friends. Add it to my must-try list!

Pinstripes in Northbrook: If I told you how close this bowling and bocci restaurant was to my parents’, you, too, would wonder why I’ve never been here yet! Who wants to go for a bowling game and stay for food?

Roka Akor in Skokie: This hot spot opened at Old Orchard not too long ago, and I know my parents are loving it. I know there’s one downtown, but nice to have an option by them, too, for when we visit for dinner.

There’s not much time! Hope you take advantage of Restaurant Month–I know I will!

Spotlight: Birthday Dinner at Found Kitchen and Social House

Well, you guessed it. TODAY is my BIRTHDAY!!! But it’s not just my birthday, it’s my good friend Ali’s birthday as well. Like, same day AND same year, and we’ve known each other pretty much forever (our dads worked together in the pinball/video game industry). So it was only appropriate that we meet up for a little birthday celebration!

Last time Ali came by me to Tête Charcuterie, so this time I headed north to Found Kitchen and Social House, located in the heart of Evanston. I had heard a lot of good things about the restaurant during the week, so my expectations were pretty high!

My first impressions when I entered Found: cozy, comfortable, lively, eclectic. The decor reminded me of Salvage One, antiques and unique finds every place you look. We were told there would be a 45-minute wait without a reservation (book early!), but it didn’t take that long to be seated.

Ali and I had a drink at the bar before we sat down: she a Manhattan, and a Punch special for me. That day the Punch was made from bourbon, apple cider, and I honestly can’t remember much else (must take better notes). Bourbon is a little strong for my liking, but this drink was quite tasty. I forget that some cocktails are best sipped.

We sat at the counter with a pub-height bench for two. Now, if I didn’t know Ali well, this could have been completely awkward. It was a little difficult to get in and out of the bench seating, but would be perfect for a date! We also had an excellent view of the wood-fire oven and the chefs, so that was really nice.

The menu is made for sharing, so we started with a kale and Swiss chard salad that had nuts, seeds, and cranberries with a light vinaigrette. Let’s just say my portion left my plate pretty quickly. I could eat mountains of this salad!

Then we split a bacon and leek flatbread that was also divine. I really liked this combo, with the smokiness of the bacon and light bite of the leeks. Yum…

For our entree, we enjoyed a salmon special on top of sautéed greens with more bacon! The fish pretty much melted in my mouth. I’m not a huge salmon fan, so let me tell you this was probably the best salmon I’ve ever had.

As if I wasn’t pleased enough with our menu choices, we opted for mango sorbet for dessert. Our waiter–who was wonderful, by the way!–was so sweet to put birthday candles in our ice cream. Ali and I made a joint wish (I can’t tell you or it won’t happen!), and I savored each bite of my sorbet.

This restaurant is truly a gem for Evanston. I love how they value local cuisine, have excellent service, and I enjoyed the decor. Book your reservation for Found now!

And happy birthday, Ali! 🙂

Found Kitchen and Social House
1631 Chicago Avenue