Vegetarian Cities Index 2021
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Inovasi Restaurant Opens in Suburban Chicago

Submitted by on April 30, 2009 – 8:50 pmNo Comment

Inovasi (28 East Center Avenue) opens this June in downtown Lake Bluff, about 30 miles north of downtown Chicago. Created and conceptualized from Chef John des Rosiers, former executive chef of Bank Lane Bistro, Inovasi is centered on being farm fresh, well-executed and welcoming.

“It’s casual, contemporary American with a creative thoughtfulness,” says des Rosiers of the new restaurant. Rather than traditionally breaking up the menu into accordingly sized and priced small plates, bites, appetizers, soups and entrées, Inovasi’s menu is similarly portioned veggie, meat and seafood dishes. Smaller than full-size entrées but larger than tapas or small plates, Inovasi’s menu ranges from $8-$16, with most dishes hovering around the $10 mark.

“Everything is designed so people can try multiple dishes. I wanted to show that you can have a fun, interesting place with fantastic ingredients that’s still affordable,” says des Rosiers. Dishes at Inovasi may change often or only be on the menu for a limited time, but everything will consistently showcase the bounty of the seasons.

The menu for spring and summer will include farm baby greens with free range steak, tomatoes, spring cucumbers and crispy rice paper in a sesame mandarin vinaigrette ($12) and Freedom Organix white romaine with old world Caesar, Reggiano-Parmigiano and crisp sourdough ($10) that puts an interesting spin on a classic Caesar salad using white romaine lettuce grown at Freedom Organix farms in Harvard, Ill.

Classic dishes are spruced with interesting ingredients and flavor combinations on heartier meat side of the menu including slow-roasted pork shoulder lasagna with Italian tomatoes, buffalo ricotta cheese and farm fresh basil and lime-tequila crème fraîche ($10); roasted duck breast with red Inca quinoa, Chinese cabbage, Thai duck reduction, spring English peas and crispy leeks ($13); seared la belle foie gras, brown butter pancakes and farm strawberries with a ginger sesame sauce ($15); wild black bass cevicheria, Peruvian lime juice, tomatoes, sweet corn and fresh basil ($13), and Gunthorp Farms suckling pig with Carolina gold rice, pistachios and scallions ($11). “We debone the whole pig, marinate the meat with herbs and spices and the skin and cook it for two days before letting it rest, slicing it and sautéing it. It’s crispy on the outside and soft and juicy on the inside,” says the chef who serves the dish with hand-picked and hand-polished golden rice organically and sustainably grown in North Carolina.

The new 3,600-square-foot restaurant is located in a 90-year-old building, with 25 seats in the Jerusalem limestone-adorned bar area, and 80 in the main dining room. There, pewter and steel-blue fabric panels will hang overhead while light oak wood and shades of eggplant, gray and silver will keep things muted, comfortable and calm. A glassed-in open kitchen will allow guests to get in on the action without being disturbed by the bustle. During the summer, an outdoor patio will seat an additional 50.

Inovasi will offer lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and dinner from 5:30 p.m. to closing on Monday through Saturday; the restaurant is closed on Sunday.

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