Prairie Grass brings exceptional dining to the northern suburbs

Chicago is a food-centric city. Very few major cities in the country can compete with the level of quality and the incredible variety available in the Windy City. What many people forget, however, is that the exceptional dining does not belong to the city alone, but to the suburbs as well. Nothing proves that point better than dining at Prairie Grass Cafe in Northbrook.

Located at 601 Skokie Boulevard in Northbrook, IL, Prairie Grass offers five-star quality with the added bonuses of excellent service, free parking, ease of access from several major roadways, and a warm inviting atmosphere.  I was recently invited to sample the menu, and I can clearly tell you that it is worth the drive to experience the excellent cuisine created by chefs Sarah Stegner and George Bumbaris. They support the Green City Market and local sustainable farms, and the freshness and quality of those ingredients shines through in their inventive menu.

During my visit, I sampled four courses and delved into the excellent wine list to pair with the food.  I started with the Maine “Peeky Toe” Crab Cakes (Avocado, Grapefruit &- Cucumber Salad; Whipped Lemon Aioli). I moved to the Midwest from the coast of Maine, so I tend to be a tough critic of seafood. These were some of the best crab cakes I have had anywhere west of the Atlantic coast. The cakes themselves were primarily crab, not filler, and the flavors were subtle enough to allow the native richness of the crab to peek through (pun intended). The addition of the tangy grapefruit, fresh avocado, and cucumbers lends a summer feel to the dish. The lemon aioli is just the perfect thing to tie it all together into a light, fresh, and satisfying appetizer.

For my second course, I opted for a salad called A Slice of Amish Blue Cheese (Grapes Rolled in Candied Walnuts; Mixed Green Salad, House Balsamic Dressing). The description intrigued me – that combination of blue cheese with grapes and candied walnuts. I was delightfully surprised at the presentation. The salad some lightly-dressed with the dressing and a few grapes tossed in. The cheese is served as a slice of terrine, coated with the candied walnuts and with grape slices embedded into the terrine. I love anything related to blue cheese, and the balance of the cheese with the sweetness of the grapes was a truly lovely combination.

The entree options are many, but the one that first caught my eye was the Crispy Half Duck from “Maple Leaf Farm.” (Sauteed Local Apple, Quinoa Cake, Braised Greens, Cider Sauce). If you are a fan of duck then this is an absolute must-try for you. (DESCRIBE HERE).

Normally I shy away from dessert, but two options were so intriguing that I simply had to try one of them. Both the Warm Chocolate “Muk Muk” Cake and the Warm Sticky Toffee Date Cake are made fresh to order and take about 20 minutes to arrive. Believe me, it is worth the wait. After much deliberation, I opted for the Warm Sticky Toffee Date Cake. If you have ever tasted traditional sticky toffee pudding in England then you will instantly recognize the perfection of this dessert. If you have not had the pleasure of sampling that pudding, then this is a close match, only upscaled and far more interesting.

At the suggestions of the manager, I paired this with a snifter of Château du Tariquet Bas Armagnac. If ever there were a perfect food/wine pairing, this is it. The caramel notes in the Armagnac matched with the toffee, but since Armagnac is not overly sweet, the combination was an excellent counterpoint to the rich sweetness of the dessert.  A superb pairing makes both the food and wine taste better, and this achieved that result.

Prairie Grass Cafe is located at 601 Skokie Boulevard in Northbook. You can reach them at (847) 205-4433 or For more information, visit their website or follow their social media conversation on Facebook.







Leave a Reply