There’s a whole bunch of places we’ve been to recently that we haven’t had time to write up because, well, about 8 lbs. of ever-hungry boy. I’m probably missing some of them, but here’s what I can remember…

Elly’s Pancake House
435 Townline RdMundelein, IL 60060 (847) 837-8100

This is another one of the ubiquitous pancake houses that dot the landscape around here, albeit a really good one. Everything was perfect — the eggs (scrambled, with cheese all nicely melted), bacon (crisp), pancakes (fluffy), syrup (warmed), juice (fresh). Nice fast service too. Definitely a good diner / breakfast location. There’s a lot of these types of places but this one I would definitely go back to.

Hillside Restaurant
804 Barron Blvd Grayslake, IL 60030

This is another diner-style restaurant. Tony actually wound up stopping here the day Max was born, to catch dinner on the way home (GIANT pork chops). We’ve also gone there once for breakfast/brunch. The portions are large and the service is pretty decent. The food is good, standard diner fare.

515 N. Milwaukee, Libertyville, IL 60048, (847) 367-6168

This is the first place we’ve found out this way that feels like it is in the city. It’s trendy. It’s hip. It’s got good food and a casual, fun (reggae-inspired) atmosphere. And “big city” type dishes like lobster tacos.

We’ve been twice (both times with Max and he behaved very well) so far and we’ll surely go again. Firkin also has an extensive beer menu (including a really good root beer) and homemade pretzels. What’s not to like?

Incidentally, it shares a kitchen with The Tavern, another good place in downtown Libertyville. Kitschy, but good.

Cafe Pyrenees
1762 N. Milwaukee Ave, Libertyville, Illinois 60048.
Reservations/Info 847-362-cafe

This is probably Tony’s favorite new local place. It’s a restaurant /bar / retail wine shop in nearby Libertyville. I’d been wanting to try it for a while, but every time I mentioned it Tony didn’t get where I was talking about and/or thought it was something different. So we finally went the other night (mentioned in a previous post…Max’s first night wearing shoes).

Really nice place with great food (and foie gras for Tony — the ban is only in the city of Chicago). The seafood risotto I had as an appetizer was particularly good. The dinners were great too — we both had a “game” plate with venison and duck and pheasant sausage.

The staff was great as well, including being welcoming to little Max (who behaved quite well, thank you very much, though I’m sure he made some other diners nervous). We’ll definitely be back (probably again and again).

The Perfect Brew & A Rare Find
619 Park St. in Libertyville, 847-305-4459

We found a local home brew shop. Small, but pretty well equipped (nice glass carboys). Strangely enough, it is combined with a small furniture / hot sauce shop.

Jamaican Gardens North
14595 W Rockland Rd, Libertyville, IL 60048 (847) 367-5570

From the “North” designation, I’m assuming there’s a “South” somewhere closer to the city. This is a gardening shop…actually it’s a huge gardening shop with not only plants, but also all kinds of pots and other paraphenalia. Prices were about on par with other local shops (though Pasquesi’s is still my favorite…you can’t beat them for atmosphere). One good thing about the Jamaican Gardens is that they have 40 varieties of tomatoes, including heirloom ones.

Spice Bazaar
139 E Townline Rd, Vernon Hills, IL 60061, (847) 549-0065

We’re always looking for good ethnic markets. The Spice Bazaar is a pretty decent Indian market. They even have a small selection of fresh stuff (samosas, etc.) and lots of frozen things. Best of all, they are opening up a small Indian cafe next door that’s going to have dosas! Yay! I love LOVE LOVE dosas. So we’ll have to check it out in June or so when it opens up.