What They Say

NEW RADIO 780 WBBM RESTAURANT REVIEW

It's been not a year since North suburban diners have been so wowed by a new restaurant that it has practically reinvented a major restaurant community. The restaurant is Miramar, at 301 Waukegan Avenue in Highwood. The impact has been enough to cause city officials to rethink their entire streetscape and parking arrangements, trying to encourage new business, while keeping other nearby merchants from steaming.

Miramar is like a movie set outside and in, with a busy French style bistro and pre-Castro Cuban overtones. The crowds are akin to those who populate the toniest of overindulged foodie and fashion haunts in the city.

Yet, even with all the hype, there is some very good cooking underway for those who really come here for the dining. Begin with any of several appetizers or salads to get the idea, as well as a good flavor or two. The onion soup is a bit more onion flavored than others, playing down the sweet taste. Caesar Salad is right on, with a not too thick dressing over chilled Romaine shards so crisp you might think they would snap if you stared too hard. Other apps include various charcouterie, steamed mussels or snails in garlic butter, and a beautiful brandade... that's codfish, whipped potatoes, garlic and lots of heavy cream.

When it comes to entrees, the steak and fries is always a good French bistro choice. Miramar's comes heaped with shoestrings, topping a flavorful and even tender cut of meat in red wine sauce. Other meats include a couple of lamb recipes, roast chicken and duck in orange sauce.

Seafood is excellent. Bouillabaisse is the specialty, and deserves the accolade. Pernod is the predominant flavor accent, maybe a little too heavy in my most recent tasting, though if one approaches the broth as if it were wine, hints of saffron and lobster seem to lie beneath. Among other choices, skatefish is wrapped in a bold vegetable sauce which makes the entree much like a fish stew. Salmon is given a purer approach, recently grilled with a light sauce.

For desserts, the chocolate terrine is a clear winner, but so too is lemon tarte. On a previous visit, I was disappointed by the crepes Suzette. The wine list is comprehensive. There is valet parking, which you will need, and no reservations, which is unfortunate. But, that gives time to savor the ambiance. Expect to spend about $70 a couple plus add ons. Miramar, at 301 Waukegan Road in Highwood has a K/RATING of 18/20.

AMBIANCE 4/4 HOSPITALITY 4/5 FOOD 9/10 VALUE 1/1

Read more Sherman Kaplan Restaurant Reviews in North Shore Magazine

© 2009 Gabriel Viti & Miramar Bistro

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