Harbour House Review, A Chicago Restaurant You Should Know

main dining room



There is a lovely restaurant in an out of the way place, a hidden treasure in the quiet suburb of Winnetka. It offers very good food at reasonable prices, excellent attentive service, a comfortable warm feeling, and the opportunity to converse with one's dining partners. There is easy parking, space for private parties and a totally enclosed patio (a rare thing in Chicago) for summer dining. It is this month's 'A Chicago Restaurant You Should Know'.

Marty Rogak, Executive Chef/Owner



Our reviewers at Harbour House were Dottie, Suru, Barbara and Leon. The executive chef and owner, Marty Rogak opened Harbour House in December 2002. It is a lovely space with large attractive pictures lining the exposed brick walls, a lovely fireplace and soft jazz playing.

Our special spot



The night we visited there was a private party in the main dining area. We were seated in a smaller, more intimate area overlooking the outside patio. A room nearby has a wine bottle wall. It was cozy and comfortable and several other parties were enjoying their meals and conversation. Among other things that attracted Marty to this space was its 'conversation friendly' design.

Enrique



When seated, our waiter presented us with a basket of small rounds of delicious dark breads and mushroom, tomato and plain butter spreads. This was delicious. Our waiter, Enrique was very helpful in directing us to wines appropriate to each course. We began with Matanzas Creek Winery's Sauvignon Blanc 2004, Sonoma County that was dry and complex. Studying the wine list, we noted that it was extensive and well priced, ranging from $27.00 to $186.00 per bottle and that there is also a wide range of reasonably priced wines by the glass.


Appetizers:

Suru ordered the 'Chilled Tequila Shrimp' (served in a Spicy Tequila-Tomato Juice with Avocado and Cilantro). The shrimp was plump and fresh, but the juice not as zesty as he expected. Dottie commented, 'I love the idea of the idea of the spicy sauce' as she dipped the shrimp, popped it into her mouth and smiled.

Chilled Tequila Shrimp



Dottie's 'Tian of Crab and Avocado' (Blue Crab, Avocado, and Tomato served with Sauce Gazpacho) was sweet and light but she would have found a bit more lemon pleasing.

Tian of Crab and Avocado



Both Barbara and Leon had the 'Pan-Seared Gnocchi (served with a blend of Mushrooms, White Truffle oil and Manchego Cheese). Barbara never expected to finish the large portion but it tasted so good that each bite required the next to follow until it was gone. Leon said, 'It gets better with each bite' and Suru commented on the hearty, earthy flavor of the mushrooms. All agreed it was a very delicious and unusual dish and probably the appetizer winner.

Pan-Seared Gnocchi




Salad:

Although there were many wonderful salad choices, everyone ordered the same one so there was no contest and total agreement that it was terrific. It was the 'Point Reyes Blue Cheese and Pear Salad' (Frisee, Belgium Endive and Haricot Vert tossed with a Sherry-Walnut Vinaigrette garnished with Point Reyes Blue Cheese and Golden Pears). Dottie said 'It has everything I like in a salad.' Suru was happy there was no excess vinegar. Barbara thought the pears were perfectly ripened. Suru and Leon commented about the generous portions and the unusual qualities of the Point Reyes, which is creamy and tart but not salty. The flavors and contrasts of textures pleased everyone's palate.

Point Reyes Blue Chees and Pear Salad



Entree:

Dottie ordered the 'Pan-Seared Sea Scallops' (served with a Mediterranean Vegetable Salsa and a Roasted Garlic Emulsion Sauce). She thought the scallops were fine quality, flavorful, tender and perfectly prepared and complimented by the sauce.

Pan-Seared Scallops



Barbara's dish was the 'Grilled Norwegian Salmon (served with Eggplant Caviar, Three Bell Pepper and finished with a light Multi-Herb Dressing). The gently flavor and texture of the Salmon was a contrast to the crunchy, spicy accompaniment. Barbara loved it and it was so large, she took some home.

Grilled Norwegian Salmon



Leon tried the 'Braised Lamb Shank' (served with buttered Savoy Cabbage, Carrots, Whipped Potatoes and a Natural Braising Reduction Sauce). He thought it might feed a family being so large. He said it was delicious and like his Mother used to make.

Braised Lamb Shank



Suru couldn't resist the 'Mexican Seafood Stew' (cooked in the style of Veracruz with Tomatoes, Onions, Bell Peppers, Capers, Olives and a blend of Chilies garnished with Shrimp, Calamari, Clams, Mussels and fresh Fish of the Day with fragrant Rice). Suru thought the quality of the seafood was good and the Veracruz spices were great, but he still selected scallops as the clear winner in the entree category.

Mexican Seafood Stew




Desserts:

Our group was so full that we decided three desserts were as much as we could sample. It was a difficult choice but the winners were "Crepe filled with Mango topped with French Vanilla Ice Cream", "Chocolate Roulade-Flourless Chocolate filled with Cognac Whipped Cream" and "Hawaiian Kona Coffee Creme Brulee". And they were winners. The textures, flavors and presentations were unique in each of them and we couldn't agree on a winner.

Crepe filled with Mango topped with French Vanilla Ice Cream




Chocolate Roulade-Flourless Chocolate filled with Cognac Whipped Cream




Hawaiian Kona Coffee Creme Brulee




Leon and Suru also enjoyed the wonderful flavor of the1997 Rosenblum Black Muscat to complete their evening's enjoyment.

No wonder Sherman Kaplan rated Harbour House 19/20 in North Shore Magazine in 2006.

Marty Rogak Graduated from the Culinary School of Kendall College and has been influenced by his associations with Kiki's Bistro, The Hotel Nikko, Provance and other restaurants. Marty's mentor is Frederick Boyer of Provance, which was in Winnetka for several years. Harbour House is Chef driven and features original American cuisine with Mediterranean and Asian influences.

Bottle wall cozy dining area



There is seating for 130 people with 60 on the patio. Manager, Leticia Siriapismai, can arrange parties of 10 to 100

Harbour House Restaurant is at the back of The Laundry Mall:
566 Chestnut Street
Winnetka, Illinois 60093
Phone: 847-441-4600

Hours: Tuesday-Saturday Lunch 11:30-2:30 Dinner 5:00-9:00
Reservations accepted

Photos by Leon Keer

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