Restaurant Michael Review: A Chicago Restaurant You Should Know

Restaurant Michael

A friend chose Restaurant Michael for her birthday celebration and was delighted.  It was that recommendation that brought our diners for this evening, Suru, Dottie, Leon and Barbara, to this lovely restaurant. Located in a storefront on Greenbay Road in Winnetka, it is charming, understated and a real asset to the area.  Look carefully as you drive by because the sign faces the parking lot.

Entering Restaurant Michael

That Chef Michael put together a restaurant that is so appealing and works so well should be no surprise, knowing his background. From the age of three, Chef Michael has been part of the kitchen beginning with peeling potatoes in his Grandfather's little family restaurant in Chicago. By age thirteen, he was working full time at an area hotel and from there, at age seventeen; he was off to New York to attend the prestigious Culinary Institute of America. While attending C.I.A., Michael was introduced to the kitchen of Maxime Riberra, a member of the Maitre Cuisinier de France. Michael studied under Chef Riberra for two years before returning to Chicago where he spent three years at Le Francais in Wheeling IL. There, Michael found his passion and honed his skills with sauce work under the careful direction of the famed Jean Banchet and later Roland Liccioni. After his stay at Le Francais, Michael took the position of Sous Chef for Café La Cave Restaurant in Des Plaines IL. After two years it was off to France to work for a friend of a friend at a restaurant in Lyon by the name of “Pierre Orsi”.  Names such as “Allouette” and “Les Deux Gros” are also part of his background as are high marks from Chicago Sun Times, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Magazine, Bon Apetit, Gourmet and more.

Good service and good tips from Daniel

In October of 2005 Michael opened Restaurant Michael in Winnetka, IL and received 3 stars from The Chicago Tribune, 3 stars from Chicago Magazine, 3.5 stars from The Chicago Sun-times and a perfect 20/20 from North Shore Magazine.   We could certainly see why this was so.  We were greeted by Rachel, the hostess and by Michael Lachowicz, Chef/Proprietor when we entered and taken to a cozy table. The room feels cozy and inviting, with lots of fabric to damp sounds, and create a comfortable place for conversation. You almost feel you are in Michael’s home when he comes to each table chatting easily with guests, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere.  Our meals were beautifully presented, generous in size, and, we noted all the sauces were exceptionally flavorful with some that were rich and buttery.  In its relaxed, cordial atmosphere, we felt comfortable, well taken care of, and happily sated.

Guyere puffs and champagne

Our table welcomed us with puff- balls that looked irresistible.  They were filled with Gruyere cheese, warm and runny and delicious.  The shell was of perfect crispness with a mild spicy flavor.  This was perfect with the Joseph Perrier Brut Champagne that was dry and flavorful.  All of us agreed this was a great beginning.

Examining the wine list, we noted there was an excellent selection of wines, beginning at about $39.00 by the bottle, and $9.00 by the glass

The basket of delicious, warm crunchy rolls presented to us came from Red Hen Bakery, we learned, and are baked in the restaurant oven, keeping the rolls fresh and crispy.

To begin:

Suru chose the “Pan roasted scallop and tempura mussels with saffron cream and chive sticks”.  He commented that his dish was excellent, perfectly cooked, coated lightly with tempura flavoring and saffron cream sauce, slightly buttery with an authentic saffron flavor.

Scallops and mussels

Dottie tried the “Chilled tomato vodka soup over cucumber and grilled red onion salad with crème fraiche”.  The tomato-creme fraiche soup was poured over carmelized onions. This cold soup had a lovely texture and many herb flavors that were hard to identify.  Each of us tasted it and declared this the winner of the starters.  Later, we learned from Chef Michael why this was so special.  It is the result of ten years of experimentation and contains: nine pounds of tomatoes, basil, thyme, rosemary, bay leaf, fennel, and then it is put over a grilled onion that also flavors it.  Wow.

Chilled tomato soup, the best

Leon selected the “Baby red romaine ‘Caesar’ salad with rosemary toasted walnuts, white anchovies and warm cheese puff twists”.  All of us observed that it did not look like any Caesar Salad we have ever seen.  Leon loved the baby red romaine, white anchovies, crunchy walnuts and puffy cheese sticks.

Baby red romaine makes this Caesar salad unusual

Barbara ordered the “House cured smoked salmon over a warm potato galette with Thai sesame accents and a crisp fennel salad”.  She thought there might be enough salmon for a Sunday brunch.  It was a superb dish in which the smoothly textured salmon was enhanced by the crunchy texture of the potato galette and freshly shaved fennel.

A salmon rose over a potato galette

And Now:

Suru had “Grilled Australian lamb loin with sautéed spinach, twice baked truffled Yukon Gold potatoes, caramelized shallot and sherry vinaigrette”.  Suru thought the lamb melted in his mouth and was very flavorful, perfectly cooked embellished with spinach, green beans and potatoes in an unusual way making this the star of the entrees. The Malbec Cafayate 2004 from Argentina was close to a Cabernet and was perfect with the meal.

Lamb with vegetables and creamy mashed potatoes

Dottie enjoyed the “Fillet of Japanese black cod over roasted garlic and herbed creamy polenta, Nouveau Béarnaise”. She enjoyed the superb fresh Black cod with a creamy, buttery sauce, surrounded by minced green beans and creamy mashed potatoes. She couldn't stop eating it.  The portion was so generous, she wanted  to share this succulent dish and the rest of us enjoyed it, too.  Crispy curled leek shreds decorated this dish.

Japanese Black Cod

Leon’s dish was the “Panache of roast duck and stuffed breast of hen with dried berries in natural jus”.  The hen had a great dressing inside and the comment when Leon tasted the duck was, “Sorry, it’s indescribable”.

Hen and duck "flew away"

Barbara’s vegetarian delight was “Pasta primavera ‘le Cirque’: a vegetarian dish created and made famous by the legendary New York restaurant.  The morel mushrooms and a wonderfully flavored light and creamy sauce were unusual and delicious. A parmesian crisp enhanced the flavors.

A special vegetarian delight


Of the several dessert choices, we chose the Trio-of-Petit Fallen Chocolate Soufflé, Pot de Crème and Pecan-Caramel Tart; Citrus Tart with Lavender Scented Berries; and Elderberry Sabayon over Seasonal Berries.  We agreed that there was a tie-all the desserts were winners. In the three chocolate “decadence” category, Barbara favored the soufflé with its intense chocolate flavor, while Suru liked the pot de crème.  One taste was better than the next as we shared the fine quality fruits and commented on the lovely citrus flavors of the tart and the texture of the sabayon.

Three delicious desserts

To top off the terrific meal, Leon enjoyed Laphroaig Single Islay Malt Scotch Whisky. 
This is robust, full-bodied, classic Islay malt with a trace of seaweed and a strong peaty flavor. Suru found the Sauterne wine greatly enhanced his chocolate dishes.

Restaurant Michael, a personal creation by Michael Lachowicz, is a perfect spot to come for special occasions or just a wonderful dinner.  On Tuesdays, you can bring your own wine with no corkage fees and on Friday, Restaurant Michael serves lunch from 11:30 A.M. to 2:00 P. M.

Michael Lachowicz and his two loves

Michael is at 64 Green Bay Rd., Winnetka, IL 60093, phone: 847-441-3100 or visit

Photos: Leon Keer

Top of Page
Join Splash Magazines

Feature Article

Tempflow™ and Tempur-Pedic® Reviews - What 35 Hours of Research Uncovered

Want Your Business to Male a Splash
<!-- #wrapper -->