We’ve recently gone to two new restaurants (I should say: new to us) that deserve a blog mention (okay, actually 4, but for the life of us, we can’t remember the other two at the moment). So, last up first…

Last night we went to Inovasi. I found it listed on Chowhound and made a reservation through OpenTable. It’s in Lake Bluff and only took us about 15 minutes to get there (why haven’t we thought about Lake Bluff before??).

In a word: deliciousness.

In more words: This is my new favorite place. The decor is upscale, sorta fancy, but the vibe is still open and friendly. The entrance area is bar and high top tables, while in back is more cozy, with a fireplace and both booth and chair seating. We were there on a Saturday night, but there were quite a few families with kids, so we weren’t the only one. Actually, that’s one of the things that was great about this place — it was kid friendly. Not like Ponderosa-no-holds-barred kid friendly, but okay for well-behaved kiddos. It was noisy, but not so noisy you couldn’t talk (but noisy enough to muffle the sounds of high pitched little kid voices). AND they had a nice kid menu, with two different portion sizes (little kids and big kids) — why don’t more places do this??

Yes, our priorities have changed some since we had The Max.

But, the food here was worthy of a Chicago city (not suburbs) restaurant. Innovative, interesting, and very good. The plates are small (and priced accordingly) so you can try multiple things. We had a diet-busting night, but it was worth it. I had these homemade cheese and potato tater tot things (yum) and a crispy chicken dish over homemade noodles with homemade bacon. Tony had foie gras (of course, it was on the menu) and it was perfectly done. Then he tried a steak tartar as his main course. That was the only dish that wasn’t quite up to snuff; the rest were fantastic. And the desserts? OMG good. We split a cherry cake thing and a lavender custard. Good stuff.

We’ll definitely be going back.

Now, for the Alhambra…we were in the city a couple of weekends ago and wound up stopping at The Alhambra Palace for lunch because we drove by it and it looked cool. Well, it was really cool. Like you walk in and go “Wow!” Actually, I think Max might have actually said “Whoa!” as we went in.

It’s like a Moroccan / Middle Eastern place and the decor is amazing. The food was also really good. (disclaimer: I have to admit that I wound up ordering the one non-ethnic thing on the menu because I was hoping Max would eat some of it. He didn’t, but it was really good anyway, so it was okay. But I wish I’d ordered some kebbeh or something instead. I did have the tabouli and Tony had something cool, so we weren’t total Anglos). And it’s HUGE. I mean seriously HUGE. 24,000 Square feet huge. Go to the website and take a look. I can’t even do it justice.

We need to go back here sometime when they have their live entertainment going. And on Tuesdays? They do Salsa dancing. Kind of a cross-cultural thing, I suppose, but I bet it’s cool. Fridays they have a live Arabic band and a bellydancer. And a bellydancing group on Saturday nights. Oh, I am so there.

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