Valentine’s Day is very special to me for many reasons. My husband is a romantic, and while we were dating, I wanted to do something special for him.
Remember many years ago when the Kankakee American Heart Association singers led by Peggy Sue Munday volunteered to sing and help raise money? I decided to surprise Dave and have them sing a song at the Bradley Post Office.
I wanted to make it a little joke and asked Peggy Sue if I donated a few more dollars, would the performers get down on one knee and propose to him? And, they did.
I guess the joke was on me since he hesitated and said, well, okay. Not an absolute answer even for a joke, but many months later, he proposed to me for real.
The story and photo ended up on the front page of The Daily Journal. This September we’ll celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary.
It’s special to us, but what are you doing for Valentine’s Day? I have two restaurants that you might enjoy; I certainly did.
Mon Ami Gabi
My friend, Mary Thomson, Kankakee, introduced me to a quaint little French bistro in Oak Brook, Mon Ami Gabi. We were able to enjoy a beautiful lunch together. The indoor dining room was closed, but we were able to be seated in the heated tent. Currently, indoor dining has returned. From the ambiance to the food to the service — for me, this is a 5-star restaurant.
The entrance is constructed with dark wooden panels and beautiful art deco lighting. The brass door adds to the classic French feel. Inside, the dining area is small, elegant and takes guests into another country. French doors swathed in elegant burgundy drapes make the dark wood tables and chairs covered in white table cloths and glass goblets pop. Strategically placed palm plants and French artistic signs line the wall; simple, not overstated, just the right touch to make the guests feel comfortable.
For lunch, I ordered the butternut squash soup. The soup was thick and hot, with just the right amount of garlic, thyme and nutmeg and topped with a small swirl of sour cream to make it delicious. Of course, the French love their bread, so we enjoyed a fresh-baked crusty baguette with whipped sweet cream butter.
We both ordered the Little Gem Salad loaded with chicken, Roquefort cheese, walnuts, grapes and sprinkled with a walnut vinaigrette. The greens were delicious, as was the chicken.
Of course, you can’t leave a French bistro without sampling the dessert. They do have the smaller portions for lunch. Mary ordered the chocolate mousse, and I chose the profiteroles — tiny puffed pastries filled with sweet house-made Chantilly cream and dipped in chocolate that hardened just enough to keep it all together. Amazing.
The dinner menu looked wonderful. The menus change, but some specialty entrees include roasted chicken with bacon, mushrooms and Pommes puree, trout almondine or seared salmon served with confit potatoes with soubise sauce.
The prime steak frites seem to be a favorite of guests. These are grain-fed beef, hand-selected with a fantastic flavor and served with frites (the French word for “fries”). Select the Classique with maître d’hotel butter, au Poivre with brandy peppercorn sauce or or bordelaise with caramelized onion and red wine.
The wine list is extensive, the food is exquisite, the ambiance is fantastic and the service outstanding. I will caution you; it’s a bit pricey but well worth the trip.
Mon Ami Gabi is located at 260 Oakbrook Center, Oak Brook. Call 630-472-1900 for reservations or go to their webpage at monamigabi.com/oak-brook/ for more information.
Many readers are disappointed that Uptown Grille in Chebanse has closed. Frankly, so am I. I enjoyed their food and especially the owner Chef Alessandro and Laura Emme. Good news — Chef Alessandro has returned and is the new executive chef at Flight 102 Wine Bar in Bourbonnais.
Chef has created a new menu for their guests and it’s terrific. Recently, Dave and I were able to dine there. I’m glad we made reservations since the bistro was packed.
We began with a bottle of 2017 Christo red from Marietta Cellars, a perfect pairing for our dinner.
One of our appetizers was the bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with goat cheese, Marcona almonds and wrapped in bacon. I chose the baked French onion soup with caramelized onions and red wine and topped with toasted manchego cheese and crostini. Delicious!
Choosing the entrée was difficult. For me, it was a choice between the Pappardelle with short ribs or the filet with cabernet sauvignon wine sauce.
Dave and I both chose the filet — a tender 7-ounce filet with cabernet sauvignon wine sauce, set on top of a mound of roasted garlic mashed potatoes and a side of sautéed spinach with roasted cherry tomatoes.
The steak was very tender. The wine sauce complimented the beef perfectly and flavored the potatoes. The spinach was terrific. Sometimes, if spinach is not appropriately prepared, it can be bitter. This was perfect, and I wished I had ordered more.
One of the most popular entrees at Flight is their Pappardelle pasta prepared with red wine, slow-cooked beef short ribs, tomato sauce and parmesan cheese.
For cold winter nights, indulge in a new item — the Tikka Marsala vegetable stew made with seasonal root vegetables and tubers, grilled and served with Tikka Masala sauce over coconut milk Basmati rice. The Tikka Masala sauce is spicy, tomato-based, seasoned with garlic, ginger, fenugreek and garam masala. I guarantee it will warm you up!
The wine list is fantastic, and the servers are well-versed for which wine will pair best with your dinner. There is also a nice variety of bourbons and beers. Don’t forget that Wednesday nights are burger nights. Chef Alessandro will not disappoint with the variety of burgers that he creates.
Flight 102 Wine Bar is located at 565 Main St. NW, Bourbonnais. Call 815-523-7470. Check out their website and Facebook for more information and specials.