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.

This is going to be kind of a wide-ranging, catching-up kind of post.

The Peacock Fine Indian Cuisine, 700 N. Milwaukee Avenue, Vernon Hills, IL 60061 (847) 816-3100

We had to pick up something out in Vernon Hills yesterday night so we decided to try this little Indian place in the same shopping center. Interestingly, I looked up reviews of it just now while searching for a website for it (apparently, there isn’t one) and they are pretty much divided between people who LOVED it and people who HATED it. The people who hated it either hated the food or the service.

Well. Honestly, our experience there was really good. The service was friendly and attentive (so attentive, in fact, that when I asked him if he could recommend a place for dosas he told me to just call him ahead of time and he would make me one anytime I wanted), the food was good and seemed authentic (based on our experiences at other Indian restaurants around the country) and was served hot and in a timely manner. Tony had Rogan Josh and I had Muga Makhani (butter chicken…probably the most heart-clogging thing you can get at an Indian restaurant, but also one of my favorites…I used to get it all the time at a place in Clearwater). So I would definitely recommend it. The sauces were definitely dead on and had a nice spice level to them (i.e. they didn’t dumb it down for the pale folks).

They also have a lunch buffet, though I have no idea how that is. I’m always a little leery of buffets, so maybe that’s where the bad experiences mentioned in online reviews came from. No idea. The dinner was a little bit on the pricey side, but not heavily so. I’d recommend it. Oh, and a plus was that at least 3 Indian groups came in to dine or get take out while we were there. That’s usually a good sign.

In other news…

Station Village at Prairie Crossing is starting to look pretty dismal. First the bookstore, Under the Sycamore Tree, closed due to health issues of the owner. Then the Prairie Croissant Cafe closed because they felt they couldn’t be true to their upscale organic coffee/cafe vision in these economic times. And now the Affinity Boutique is closing so that the owner can concentrate on her more profitable wholesale jewelry business. So that’s three stores in as many months. Gone. All for different reasons, but the end result is the same. I’m very sad about it. I was going to the cafe at least once a week and I made sure to order all my books from the bookstore. Heck, all the clothes I’ve bought myself lately (which, admittedly, aren’t a huge amount what with the baby and everything) have been from either Affinity or Little Skye. I’ll keep on supporting the stores that are there and hoping that new ones come in to replace the old ones.

And lastly…

I have a cousin in California who is gay and he emailed everyone in the family today about the upcoming election. He’s a lovely guy (and knitted Max an awesome little sweater) and he has been with his partner for 10 years. Two of the nicest guys you can imagine. They finally have the right to marry in the state but that right is in jeopardy because of Proposition 8. If you live in California and are able to vote, I ask you to please consider voting No on Proposition 8 in November.

I definitely don’t want to get into a discussion about right or wrong or morality or any of that (for the most part, I think people feel the way they feel on this issue and nothing I say here will change that)…I will just say that, to me, it’s about the people and it *is* personal (and it *should* be…we’re all people and we all experience love and hate and all the things in between). And I know my cousin. He’s a great guy. He loves his partner. They’ve been together for more years than many straight couples I know (and get along better than a lot of them too). He deserves the right to declare his commitment and love.

I’ll get off of my soap box now. Next post…back to our normally scheduled Max attacks!