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(post, Jean Henrich)
We've been talking about going to the Prairie Grass Cafe ever since we chatted with one of the chef/owners, Sarah Stegner, at a Green City Market event last summer. The restaurant specializes in using fresh, seasonal ingredients and they support local sustainable farmers. Once we made note of the restaurant's name, we kept hearing good things about it; the clincher was praise from our favorite Chicago Sun-Times columnist, Neil Steinberg (not a food critic, but we credit him with having good taste). A recent special occasion prompted us to finally make the trek to Northbrook. Of course, since it's taken me a few weeks to get around to writing about it, I won't be able to properly recall the details. And they've changed their menu to the April spring-type selections (it was featuring March comfort food when we went), so I can't cheat by looking on-line. But by lucky coincidence, the Winter issue of Edible Chicago features an article about the main dish I choose on our visit, their signature Untraditional Shepherd's Pie. It was a wonderful casserole of braised Tallgrass Beef chunks, Swiss chard, tomatoes, carrots & onions topped with a mash of potatoes, parsnips & butternut squash. Excellent, and more than I could eat in one sitting. My husband ordered the homemade Italian sausages, which were served with baked polenta, rainbow chard and some kind of light red sauce (lost to our memories). He had no trouble finishing his dish, even though the two sausages were larger than you'd usually see at a restaurant of this caliber. We started with a nice tomato basil soup and a beet salad, which I believe came with sliced pear, walnuts and a citrus dressing - I just remember that it was very tasty. The restaurant has a comfortable feel. It's a rather large room with high ceilings, but the atmosphere created by the decor is one of warmth. After waiting so long to make our first visit, the restaurant and food met my every expectation. I look forward to going back during the other seasons and encourage any Chicagoland residents to give it a try.