Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Miramar - Highwood, IL


gmi3804
 Share

Recommended Posts

We had a wonderful dinner last night at Miramar, Gabriel (Gabriel's) Viti's new Highwood bistro.

Much care was put into the design and decor of this major new North Shore eatery. Decidedly French in style, there are many touches of Cuba (Miramar is a suburb of Havana) present, from the Cuban short-sleeved shirts worn by the waitstaff to several menu items. Subway tile, which line the walls, was reclaimed from Paris and New York. Two authentic Zinc Bars (one in a private party room) are Parisian imports. Intricate marble mosaic tile work is featured on the floors of the entrance. There's lots of wonderful woodwork, large antique mirrors (angled down so you can people-watch without having to turn around), and vintage light fixtures. The place is reminiscent of such NYC eateries as Balthazar and Pastis. The menu is printed on the placemats which set atop casually set wood tables. Several communal tables are featured in the center of each room, along with the requisite red leather banquettes along the walls, which means that smaller parties may be seated together (two of us were seated at a six-top with three others, but the table was large enough so we didn't feel like we were thrust upon strangers). Large French doors can be opened to the rather large sidewalk cafe part of the restaurant. A breathtaking room which immediately takes you away to France.

Cocktails are a real steal here - $6.50 for my usual Grey Goose up with a twist. (Red Star in Glenview charges $10 for the same drink - outrageous!) I had three! The MENU mostly consists of French Bistro staples, but there is the occasional Cuban Ham and Cheese sandwich or mojito thrown into the mix. My partner Greg and I started with Shrimp de Jonghe and Mussels in White Wine (about $9 each). Both were perfectly executed and arrived at the table piping hot. For our entrees (about $17), I had the Duck a l'Orange and Greg had the Steak Frites (we decided we'd test the place by ordering "classic" bistro fare.) The duck arrived in a light (not cloyingly sweet) orange sauce, was perfectly crisped, and laid atop a mirepoix of carrots, celery, and wild rice. The Steak arrived perfetcly medium-rare (as ordered) with a pile of the same tiny shoestring potatoes that we love so much at Gabriel's - they're addictive! Dessert consisted of a Lemon Tart, which was slightly disappointing: this one had a layer of curd and a thin cakelike layer. I prefer all curd, but the flavor was nevertheless spot-on. The other dessert we shared was the Chocolate Mousse, lighter-than-air and appropriately chocolaty. Desserts were $6.50. We skipped wine after all the cocktails, but the medium-sized wine list looks comprehensive and attractively-priced. There are many bottles under $35, and lots of by-the-glass-or-carafe selections.

A word or two must be said about the staff: As should be expected from a Gabe Viti restaurant, there were dozens of waitstaff in the 200-seat Bistro. Service, like at Gabriel's, is polished, prompt, and friendly. Having a napkin folded while one is away at the restroom is a wonderful touch that's not common in a casual place like this. Empty bread baskets are rapidly replaced, and water glasses are kept full by an always-there-but-never-in-your-face staff.

Reservations are not taken except for parties of five or more, and the place was hopping at 6pm yesterday. Currently, the restaurant is open until 1am during the week and later on weekends. This makes it a terrific spot for late-night dining on the North Shore. Look for this place to be HOT - you heard it here first.

And no, I'm not on the payroll. I just appreciate good food and good service efforts and am willing to pay for both.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 months later...

Going back now and re-reading George's post--after having finally gone to Miramar--I am astounded and pleased by how similar our experiences there were. I went this past Friday with guajolote and we had really a fantastic meal.

The place is pure bistro. While that may be over-stating matters slightly, it was far more authentic than faux. “So what?” you say. Well, in suburbia, even that is a distinctive and welcome accomplishment. But Miramar Bistro does a lot more than look like a bistro. Miramar feels like a bistro and tastes like a bistro.

Opened by Gabriel Viti (Gabriel's Restaurant) in May 2004, Miramar occupies a busy corner in downtown Highwood. With people bustling in all directions out front, diners situated under umbrellas right out on the sidewalk, and the exterior French doors of the place rolled back to their fully-opened positions, Miramar is disarming and inviting. Even as you approach, its crimson awnings, corner location and open façade instantly transport you. For a brief moment one wonders, “Is this Highwood or France?” :biggrin:

Of course, food trumps mood and Miramar delivers satisfyingly on that front as well. We started with a couple of large Chimays and a few appetizers:

Escargot with garlic, pernod and parsley butter

Droolingly good and tender. We soaked up every drop of that butter with our bread.

Platter of saucisson, prosciutto and cheese served with cornichon, pickled onions, small frisee salad

Wonderful pepper salami, sweet and mildly salty prosciutto and a small wedge of parmesan.

Country pate’ & chicken liver mousse served with cornichon, pickled onions, dijon mustard, small frisee salad

The mousse was fantastic, the pate' was also great.

Salads, we each had one:

Mixed Greens with Duck Confit

This salad was terrific. Each element would have been just as good on its own.

Belgian Endive with apple, candied walnuts and bleu cheese (special)

This salad was also terrific and, more so than with the other salad, each element here relied on and worked in unison with the others.

Entrees, we ordered 3:

Skate Grenobloise with lime and croutons with mirepoix and either beef stock or brown butter.

This was possibly the single best item we ordered. The skate was tender and savory, the mirepoix perfect and the sauce (really not sure what it was) was intoxicating.

Steak Frites Maitre D’Hotel with Roquefort Butter

Perfectly cooked to order (medium rare), and the crispy matchstick-like frites were a perfect vehicle for sopping up the steak juices on the plate.

Roasted Rack of Lamb with haricorts verts

Out of this world tasty and tender lamb. Perfect haricorts

Gratin Dauphinois

Really amazing rendition...rich, flavorful and skillfully assembled.

With dinner we quaffed down a bottle of Gigondas 2001. Very nice.

Desserts:

Cheese Plate brie, parmesan and bleu with granny smith apple

Nice choices here, not listed with the desserts, but we improvised.

Crème Brulee with raspberries

Couldn't finish it but not because it wasn't excellent :wink:

We each had a glass of Calvados with our dessert.

Service was intuitive, helpful, thorough and adept if not overwhelmingly warm. We never ran out of bread, never ran out of water, never sat in need of beverage and never had to sit for more than a moment or two, with a wet placemat. The busser changed ours no less than 3 times as it got a bit messy at our table toward the end of the meal.

I was really pleased with our meal which went far beyond my expectations and into 'excellent' territory. As George indicated in his review upthread, it is a pleasure to dine at a restaurant opened by a leader (and a team) who really knows what he's doing. I was even contemplating going back with my family the next night but since I'd shopped the farmer's market on Saturday morning, I decided to cook instead. Still, I know we'll be back to Miramar frequently. I have a feeling it will come to be known as one of the North Shore's best restaurants very quickly. By the time we left there on Friday night (around 8:30) it really was hopping. At that point I realized that our plan of arriving at 5:30 was a damn good one. I highly recommend Miramar and I just can't say enough good things about it. I also can't wait to go back.

=R=

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sounds like a wonderful dining experience. I'm just laughing to myself that an eGulleter contributed so richly to the parking congestion in the neighborhood on the one weekend that I'm not only in town, but in Highwood specifically. Thankfully, we figured out the trick of parking on the Metra train station lot.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm glad to hear you guys had such a great time at Miramar! It really is a special place, and the wrinkles are all but ironed out. Now the only problem is getting in during peak dining hours! Fortunately, it's open rather late (1am during the week!), so it's also a great off-hours and late-night option as well. And we all know the latter is pretty much limited to Denny's on the North Shore! :biggrin:

Dining outside will be especially nice during the cool September evenings.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Phil Vettel did a nice write-up of Miramar in Friday's Chicago Tribune...

Entree highlights include a quartet of Australian lamb chops that were surprisingly good, given their budget-friendly price ($19.95), and an irresistible sauteed skatewing in sauce grenobloise (though with lime instead of lemon, perhaps a tiny nod to Havana). Steaks are good and affordable (both under $20), whether you try the steak au poivre or the one topped with parsleyed butter; both come with plenty of crispy, matchstick-thin fries.

Just a touch of Cuba

By coincidence, I went again last night--this time with my family. We had another fantastic meal, although not quite as good as last Friday's. This time out we tried the shrimp dejonghe appetizer and the brandade de morue. I liked them both but I'd agree with Mr. Vettel on the dejonghe being not quite garlicky enough. The brandade was also good, but a bit more bland than I was expecting (I actually salted and squeezed some lemon onto our portion). But the salade lyonnaise--topped with a soft-poached egg--was mind-blowingly good. The braised lamb shank was supremely delicious and the croque monsieur, ordered by my son, was outstanding. My wife ordered the skate and it was even better than it was the first time around. 2 desserts we ordered--mousse au chocolat and apple tarte a la mode--were heavenly. My son ordered the sorbet (raspberry and mango) but I was too full to even taste them :biggrin:

Service was again, impeccable and the joint was jumping. When we exited at around 7:15 (what a cute time to finish dinner :biggrin:) there were cars, 2-deep, wrapped around the place. I've never seen any spot in Highwood that crowded before and that quaint little intersection was tied up beyond recogition. The valets were going to be in for a long night.

=R=

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I like that Miramar is successful - it's nice to have a good-quality "hang-out" on the North Shore. I think the desserts are a bit skimpy compared to the portions of the other menu items, but then again I come from the school of "more is more"! :rolleyes:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree that it's nice to have a place like Miramar so close to home. I'm not a big 'sweets' guy to begin with but I felt I needed to try a few (more) desserts last night, purely in the name of research :biggrin:

Also, I forgot to mention that Mr. Viti himself was working as host last night...hustling all over the restaurant, welcoming patrons, seating parties, etc. throughout our entire time there. He was wearing a chef's jacket and jeans and if I didn't know who he was, I still would have easily identified him as the owner. The man has a definite presence and his positive energy is infectious.

=R=

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

word has it the bread isn't half bad...

check out the article in this month's chicago magazine

LOL! The bread was, in fact, excellent :smile:

=R=

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 months later...

With the al fresco season behind us, I understand that Miramar is now offering curbside takeout at lunch and dinner. Simply phone in your order, credit card number, desired pickup time and your car information and an employee will be waiting on the curb with your meal when you pull up.

Since my new office is now just minutes from Miramar, I may have to try this out. :biggrin:

=R=

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

A quick read of this thread will reveal how much I enjoy Miramar but I feel it's only fair to report the negatives too.

At our office today we decided to give the curbside service a shot but found it very underwhelming. I pulled up at the pre-determined time and informed the valet that I was picking up a carry out order. I sat, for about 10 minutes and realized that no one was coming out with the food.

I went inside and mentioned that I was there to pick up a carry out order. I paid for it. I also asked what was up with the curbside service. The host, who seemed miffed at my inquiry, informed me that one must specify curbside service in order to receive it. Since I did not call in the order personally, I didn't know if that had been done or not. Still, being that it's 15 degrees F out, I asked the host why such a service, if available, wasn't simply offered to us when we placed the order. I then stood and waited for a few more minutes near the bar but still no order came out. At that point I asked the host if I could go wait in my car (had a call to return and didn't want to do it in the restaurant). Almost begrudgingly it seemed, he agreed. I went to the car, made my call and a few moments later, the host brought the order out.

Happily, the lunch was great but as for the curbside service, acquiring it seems to be more difficult than getting my son to clean his room. Usually, I only have to ask him twice. :sad: Moral of the story: if you want curbside service at Miramar, make sure to specify it when you place your order. Otherwise, you'll be left out in the cold -- literally.

=R=

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 weeks later...

We popped into Miramar last Thursday night with a party of 5 at about 7:15. The place was packed! We were told there would be a 20 minute wait, but that was shortened because we happened to fit perfectly into the middle of the communal table. At one end there was a party of 3 20-something girls, and at the other end a very burly all male group. They didn't look like professional football players, and one of them was significantly older than the others--a dad and his 5 strapping sons? At first we felt slightly squeezed in, but after the tradmark giant dripping candles were removed, we had more space. It was all very festive, service was great, and I had excellent rack of lamb. There were four large chops for $20.00. Such a deal. I ate two and planned to take the other two home. When the waitress saw two chops left on my plate she asked worriedly if there was anything wrong with them. I reassured her and enjoyed them very much the next day.

Desserts were a little blah. We had the lemon tart and creme brulee, and flavors didn't pop. The best dessert I've had there, I think is the chocolate terrine with pistachio brittle, though my kids give good marks to the profiteroles.

It was a fun evening. The spirit there is high!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 weeks later...

Opened the place on Saturday night-sans kids. The decor was marvelous-the subway tiles looked so old and perfectly distressed. Wasn't feeling well so we ordered the pate plate, saussion plate and the pommes frites. I had the daquiri and hubby had a beer (of course). The service was impecable-always filled the bread basket and water glasses. The pates (one country the other chicken liver) were standard and plated with plenty of cornichons (yes!) and a dapple of salad greens. The saucisson plate had a wonderful chunk of a hard cheese-romano like and a couple of slices of prosciutto, olives and peppered salami with a dapple of greens. The frites were OK-a bit thin for my liking. Want to try the cod appetizer next time. My only negative report is that the tables for two are really small and do not accomodate multiple plates, glasses etc. We were out in less than 45 minutes before the big rush. It was nice to have the place to ourselves. Want to go back ASAP.

What disease did cured ham actually have?

Megan sandwich: White bread, Miracle Whip and Italian submarine dressing. {Megan is 4 y.o.}

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

I tried to eat here last night, the place was absolutely overflowing with people. I called just over an hour ahead to take advantage of the "reservation" policy ( A.K.A. get my name on the wait list) and was told that there was a two hour wait, starting at the time I called meaning that upon arriving at the restaurant I would have something around a one hour wait.

Well, I showed up at the restaurant just over an hour later and was quickly informed that the wait had increased to over three hours. For some reason, my companions had it in there heads that we would be sitting down to dinner before midnight ( :rolleyes: ), and we left.

Just for kicks I called Prarie Grass Cafe to see what kind of wait they were experiencing (we are, after all, talking about prime time on the busiest dining day of the week), and their's was only 45 minutes. Either way we ended up at a small Highland Park chinese place....and had an enjoyable, but not fantastic meal.

Looks like I'm gonna have to shoot for Miramar some other time.

:sad::sad:

Edited by bentherebfor (log)

Some people say the glass is half empty, others say it is half full, I say, are you going to drink that?

Ben Wilcox

benherebfour@gmail.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I tried to eat here last night, the place was absolutely overflowing with people. I called just over an hour ahead to take advantage of the "reservation" policy ( A.K.A. get my name on the wait list) and was told that there was a two hour wait, starting at the time I called meaning that upon arriving at the restaurant I would have something around a one hour wait.

Well, I showed up at the restaurant just over an hour later and was quickly informed that the wait had increased to over three hours. For some reason, my companions had it in there heads that we would be sitting down to dinner before midnight ( :rolleyes:  ), and we left.

Just for kicks I called Prarie Grass Cafe to see what kind of wait they were experiencing (we are, after all, talking about prime time on the busiest dining day of the week), and their's was only 45 minutes. Either way we ended up at a small Highland Park chinese place....and had an enjoyable, but not fantastic meal.

Looks like I'm gonna have to shoot for Miramar some other time.

:sad:  :sad:

I have always gone very early to Miramar. The one time we went a bit later, without calling first, we ended up waiting about an hour for a table -- and that was around 5:30 pm on a Saturday :shock:

It's certainly a great and fun place and I'm very happy to see it succeeding but unless you want your entire Saturday night to just be dinner, it's an extraordinarily tough place to dine. However, the food is great :biggrin:

I'd suggest calling in to get on the list between 5 and 5:30 on a weeknight. That should land you at a table between 6 and 6:30. If your schedule can accommodate it, that should do the trick. I've also walked in around 5:15 numerous times and been seated right away. But, that was months ago and it may be even busier now than it was then.

=R=

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  But, that was months ago and it may be even busier now than it was then.

As I have mentioned before, I am at Carlos', about thirty feet away, on Saturdays. I usually leave Carlos' between 9:00 and 9:30 and walk down past Miramar on my way to the train. And after six months of walking right past Miramar every week, I can assure you, the place has only increased in popularity. It was busy in December; it is mayhem now.

B.

Edited by bentherebfor (log)

Some people say the glass is half empty, others say it is half full, I say, are you going to drink that?

Ben Wilcox

benherebfour@gmail.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

We had dinner at Miramar last night (Thursday). Arriving just after seven, our party of three was able to be seated immediately at a fairly desirable table along the back wall of the front room. Next to us at a tiny table, a twosome was just finishing their meal. Several couple declined the table over the next half hour, making me wonder if I looked like an eavesdropper (I am!). Some wanted to sit in the back room, another man wanted more space, but he turned out to be a complainer who was never satisfied with the first thing offered to him (admittedly his servers did seem to be making some mistakes, bringing him 8 instead of 12 oysters, for example). Anyway, the room was crowded but not quite as crowded as the last time we went, also on a Thursday, back in January. My husband and son think the service is oversolicitous, particularly the policy of having a staff member wait outside the bathroom to open the door for you when you come out. (I think they do it because the door opens right into the main room, and somebody might get whacked with it).

My main reason for posting is to report that I had a great special entree, one of the best things I've had to eat in a while. It was a whole rainbow trout, lightly stuffed with spinach, gruyere cheese (a subtle amount), and a few shrimp. It is served over thick perfectly grille asparagus, on a pool of what was billed as lobster bordelaise--a dark, intense, refined sauce that was a great complement to the faintly pink, surprisingly meaty trout and brought the dish to a higher level of sophistication.

Parking note: we were able to get a spot easily a couple of blocks north of the restaurant. No need to use the valet parking.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

A friend and I had lunch yesterday at Miramar. The weather was about 78F and many chose to eat outside. Cigar smoking is permitted for outside diners and after 10PM in the bar. We choose to eat inside. We ordered a light Burgundy along with the boulabaise. The stock was flavorful with a good selection of fresh seafood. None of the typical off tastes that requires a return to the kitchen. The aioli was too mild on the toast points but OK for the typical midwestern palate. The atmosphere was nice. Next warm day I am going for lunch outside and good cigar!

BTW Gabriel informed me that he has purchased the Mexican Restaurant right around the corner and will be re-opening it.

Next stop that way is Carlos. Who knows, maybe Debbie and Carlos are ready to retire? -Dick

Link to comment
Share on other sites

BTW Gabriel informed me that he has purchased the Mexican Restaurant right around the corner and will be re-opening it.

Next stop that way is Carlos. Who knows, maybe Debbie and Carlos are ready to retire?

Actually, there is a small storefront restaurant immediately adjacent to Miramar to the east called La Casa de Gordo. Gabe plans to do some changes to the menu, redecorate a bit, and change the name to (are you sitting down?) Pancho Viti's. :rolleyes:

Edited by gmi3804 (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...