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Best Bites: Dec. 18, 2018

December 19, 2018

New Year’s Eve is right around the corner, and it’s time to make those reservations. Our local chefs go all out with their marvelous entrees and desserts, not to mention that special midnight celebration.

Here are just a few restaurants to consider:

The Longbranch Restaurant in L’Erable will be open New Year’s Eve with chefs Nick and Lindsay Bohn’s exceptional menu. Come celebrate the evening by starting with oysters served on the half shell with fresh prosecco mignonette; fried calamari with a sweet chili or marinara sauce, or one of my favorites, almond stuffed bacon wrapped dates.

The best part of the evening are the entrees served with their over-the-top homemade salad bar, homemade soups, bread and a side.

Who doesn’t love a fire-grilled 8-ounce filet mignon with a lobster tail? The perfect combination. Or a ribeye or their fabulous 16-ounce prime rib; succulent and tender.

Another customer favorite is two bacon-wrapped pork chops with a savory bacon gorgonzola butter topping. And, you can add a lobster tail to any meal. Seafood lovers will appreciate the citrus glazed grilled Atlantic salmon. (This is one of my very favorites.) Or the drunken jumbo shrimp served hot or cold with cocktail sauce or drawn butter.

With your entrée, you’ll have a choice of sides — a beautiful, brown sugar and pecan sweet potato, baked potatoes, a loaded baked potato, sautéed fresh seasonal vegetables or try their French onion twice baked potato.

Save room for dessert or, as Chef Lindsay says, take it home and eat it next year.

I love the mixed berry bread pudding with sugar cookie crumble and Tres 43 creme drizzled on top. Dave always orders their chocolate truffle cake. The chefs have a beautiful oatmeal raisin cookie cheesecake with crème drizzle and crumbled cookie pieces. Delightful!

While there, you must have an ice cream drink — Brandy Alexander is my favorite, but you also can try the butterscotch butterfly or golden Cadillac; all so creamy and tasty.

The Longbranch is one of my favorite restaurants that offers the luxury of elegant entrees without traveling north to the city. The food is fantastic, the ambiance is comfortable and the service is dynamite. Chefs Nick and Lindsay Bohn never disappoint their guests.

The Longbranch is at 2713 N. 1500E Road, Clifton. Phone 815-694-9748. Reservations are highly recommended.

• • •

For an outstanding taste of Northern Italy, head down to Chebanse. Laura Emme, manager of Uptown Grille, sent me a preview of its fabulous New Year’s Eve menu.

Executive Chef Farinati and his culinary team are preparing dishes of fire and grace this year.

For starters, chef will offer delicious smoked oysters and sambuca glass — oysters, coffee foam, black tea smoke and sambuca. Sambuca is an Italian anise flavored liquor that can be served in drinks or set on fire; either way, it’s good.

Chef also is preparing his famous pasta risotti dishes — gnocchi with langostino meat, gnocchi and Italian tomato. Langostino meat comes from a langostino lobster tail that is sweet and pairs well with steaks and pasta.

The squid ink spaghetti is made with little neck and manila clams, black garlic and olive oil. Another lovely entrée is the risotto asiago E porcini with fresh Italian porcini with Grana Padano. Grana Padano is a cheese made from unpasteurized, semi-skimmed cow’s milk and aged for two years.

For those who prefer meat, chef will have a wonderful roasted New Zealand lamb rack with hazelnuts and pistachios, pumpernickel crunches and glass potato chips. No, not real glass but stunning see-through chips with a distinct flavor and crunch.

There will be unique filet mignon medallions with langostino meat and cognac. Try the 12 to 14-ounce black angus cherry strip steak with morello cherries, cherry wood smoke and maple foam.

Emme said they still are working on their special drink choices and dessert menu, “but we will have several best-loved favorites from our daily dessert menu as well as a few special just for that night,” she said.

Don’t forget Uptown Grille’s customer appreciation night for all their guests, friends and family. Chef and Laura want to thank everyone for “being part of our story for enjoying what we do!”

Guests can take advantage of $5 off every $25 spent (prices before tax) on food purchases, endless lounge drink specials and more. The event is from 2 p.m. until 10 p.m. Dec. 21.

Uptown Grille is at 141 S. Chestnut St., Chebanse. Call 815-697-9710 for reservations.

• • •

Ring in the New Year at Eddie’s Bar and Grill, Kankakee. Start with a delicious shrimp cocktail before dinner followed by your choice of succulent prime rib or baked cod served blackened, lemon pepper or plain; both served with potato and broccoli. Also on the menu, chicken or shrimp alfredo.

Eddie’s will be open Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day for your convenience.

Eddie’s Bar and Grill is at 1875 W. Station St., Kankakee. Call 815-939-3972.

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