Lake Forest’s Grille on Laurel offers elegance, comfort
The Grille on Laurel
181 E. Laurel Ave, Lake Forest
Hours: 11 a.m.–10 p.m.Sunday-Thursday; 11 a.m.–11 p.m. Friday–Saturday; Sunday Brunch 10:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m.
Updated: May 14, 2012 12:13PM
When James “Dimitry” Govas, owner of The Grille on Laurel in Lake Forest, came to this country from Athens, Greece, as a strapping young lad in the late 1960s, he had every intention of going to college.
Having two uncles who were also executive chefs in successful restaurants at the time, however, altered that trajectory considerably.
Govas trained in kitchens alongside his uncles and learned on the job, slowly rising through the ranks in a trade that was as much a job as it was a comfort, for being surrounded by good, good friends and family was an integral part of Govas’ heritage.
Today, the Grille on Laurel is going into its seventh year in operation and is Govas’ third business, with two forerunners having also been situated on Chicago’s North Shore, in Evanston and Highland Park, respectively.
“He has succeeded in developing an upscale restaurant where people can feel comfortable on an everyday basis,” said general manager Greg Derman of the light and airy Grille which boasts a downtown-chic bar, a private banquet room, as well as a main room and outdoor patio. The latter is especially pleasant in warm weather when the honey locusts are in bloom and folks can dine al fresco surrounded by tulips, daffodils and jonquils while listening to live classical guitar.
The Grille’s continental cuisine includes appetizers such as baked Brie with Riesling Buerre Blanc. Topped with warm apricot preserves and served with toasted almonds and fresh fruit, it’s perfect as a starter or decadent finger food ($7.95). For a more substantial appetizer, the flatbread pizza is an all-in-one meal made with blackened shrimp, basil pesto and caramelized onions that will surely test your resolve to eat “just one slice” ($9.95).
The coconut shrimp spinach salad marries fresh spinach in raspberry vinaigrette with crunchy-soft, coconut-encrusted shrimp. The taste profiles deftly balance sweet and salty, insuring that the elements play well together and are heightened further by the varying textures of each ingredient ($9.95 appetizer/$13.95 dinner).
For dinner, try the succulent skirt steak, pounded flat, marinated, then grilled with garlic olive oil and served with red onions, avocado slices and oven-roasted red potatoes ($19.95).
And pescatarians can choose the salmon Greek style marinated and served with feta cheese, grilled tomatoes, red onions and black olives ($21.95).
The signature dessert, brought over from Govas’ two previous restaurants, is a bread pudding made from challah and dripping with a cinnamon, brown sugar and pecan sauce enriched with butter and spiked with Jack Daniels ($6.95).
“It’s good food at great prices, with a friendly atmosphere and nice ambiance,” said Grille co-owner Kathryne Govas.
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