I was looking forward to some family, sun and fun on this Memorial Day weekend, and today we took a drive to the Arboretum of South Barrington. It’s pretty much an outdoor shopping mall surrounded by gardens and trees with almost everything you need to see or do available. There are shops, restaurants, festivals, a cinema, clock tower, brick sidewalks and a bowling alley/bocce ball court. There’s also ample parking- but just remember where you last saw your car!
We were hungry, so we headed to Pinstripes Bowling, Bocce & Bistro first. This gigantic facility has a bowling alley, bocce ball courts, a banquet hall, WiFi, a bar, a fire pit and both indoor and outdoor seating. We were loving the warm Windy City weather and went for a seat on the patio, and were ready for a drink. My wife loves the Arnold Palmer (half iced tea/half lemonade) and I opted for an ice cold Peroni on draft. I checked out the wine list and while it has many pedestrian choices like Ecco Domani, DaVinci, Castle Rock and Joel Gott, it does offer some hard to find wines like Teruzzi & Puthod “Terre di Tufi”, ZD Chardonnay, Argyle “Nuthouse” Pinot Noir, Rubissow “Les Trompettes” and Quintessa. The menu is Italian influenced with panini, soups, pasta and pizza, but also contains American favorites like sliders, cobb salad and ribs. We split the Tomato Mozzarella Bruschetta and Beef Tenderloin Sliders. The bruschetta was amazing- ripe cherry tomatoes, ciliegine mozzarella, toasted crostini brushed with sweet balsalmic and arugula salad. Everything worked so well together and it was very tasty. The sliders were delicious and I couldn’t figure out which was softer: the bread or the beef! The steak was so tender and was topped with sweet peppers and cippolini onions. They were surrounded by a lick-the-plate bordelaise sauce and topped with crispy shoestring potatoes drizzled with truffle oil. Our server, Amanda, was not only very informative and helpful on our first visit, but also very attentive- she heard us talking about the Meatball Sliders and brought us a sample to try! They were excellent as well. I don’t know how anyone could order an entrée after all that, so it was time for dessert. Pinstripes offers free cheesecake to anyone who checks in on Foursquare, so we took advantage of it. My wife said it was one of the best cheesecakes she ever tried- it was brûléed and moist with a crunchy crust and served with strawberry sauce and fresh strawberries. We decided to bypass the bowling/bocce until next time and walk the Arboretum.
It was great to stroll in the open fresh air and pick which shops we wanted to stop in. We checked out Yankee Candle, LOFT, Sur La Table, Anna Shea Chocolates and Panera for coffee. We also stopped by Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant. They make wine in Orland Park from fruit grown in California, Michigan and here in Illinois, and have four restaurants in Burr Ridge, Orland Park, Wheeling and South Barrington. We were greeted by went for the tasting, which included one sparkling, three whites, three reds and a dessert wine. The sparkling wine was a combination of Chardonnay with natural peach fruit and turned out to be my favorite. It was dry, tasty and refreshing with a load of fruit flavor which lasted. Their whites, a lineup which included Riesling, Chenin Blanc and a blend, were all good and exhibited nice fruit flavor, light spice and sweetness. The reds showed promise as well, with a peppery Syrah, a light drinking Cabernet Sauvignon and their Lux Merlot, which has discriminating selection and significant oak aging. Finished up with a very good Pomegranate dessert wine, which was just as tart as it was sweet. All in all, I recommend their wine club, especially if you live close to one of their tasting rooms. That’ll give you the best options and an opportunity to taste your purchase.
A great weekend which included all the essential elements: family, food, fun, sun, beer and wine. Throw in a prayer for all my fellow veterans, current service member and those who made the ultimate sacrifice, and that makes a perfect Memorial Day. Let me know how you spent your weekend and make sure to try the Arboretum!