BlackFinn American Grille in Mount Prospect is your basic, all-around, late-night, weekend brunch, date night, take the kids, game day, after work with co-workers, meet a friend for lunch kind of place.
Really, it's all that.
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BlackFinn American Grille157 Randhurst Village Drive, Mount Prospect, (847) 398-5501, mtprospect.blackfinnamericangrille.com
Cuisine: Contemporary American fare
Setting: Upscale, sophisticated, but cozy, sports bar
Entrees: $9.99 to $27
Hours: 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday; 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday; 10 a.m. to 1 a.m. Sunday
A new addition to Randhurst Village, this is the second Chicago location for this microchain, with Naperville's BlackFinn being the first. The restaurant touts itself as being all-American, the proprietors have taken care to localize the surroundings, with eye-popping photos of Chicago landmarks and scenes.
With exposed brick accents, lots of dark wood, leather booths and plenty of televisions and projectors throughout, BlackFinn is cozy, yet clubby in its decor. The bar is spacious, but welcoming.
For starters we decided to test the American theme and go with the chicken tenders, figuring something so simple and ubiquitous might be a good gage for the kitchen. The hand-dipped chicken strips were moist and crispy without being greasy and were served with a choice of sauces including a buffalo sauce.
We also opted for the blackened Brie appetizer, which came with ciabatta toast, sliced apples and apricot cranberry chutney. The smoky flavor of the Brie paired nicely with the sweetness of the chutney and the tartness of the green apples.
For the main course, again we went American with the bacon-wrapped meatloaf -- or should we say bacon encased? -- served with a sweet potato mash and collard greens only to be a tad disappointed. Despite the bacon the dish was bland and really needed the honey chipotle ketchup that accompanied it. The collard greens and the sweet potato mash, however, kept the dish from being a complete failure.
We also opted for the special of the day, grilled salmon served over angel hair pasta with a fresca sauce and garlicky sauteed spinach. The uncooked chopped tomato, basil and mozzarella sauce had a nice light, fresh taste to it, the garlicky spinach added zing and the salmon was perfectly cooked.
The real stars of the meal, however, were the side dishes. Grilled asparagus and brussels sprouts cooked with bacon were both perfectly cooked with just the right crisp. They also offer broiled blue cheese tomatoes, truffle fries and garlic mashed potatoes to name a few other choices. (On the children's menu, kids can order a cinnamon apple blossom with peanut butter for a side!)
There are options galore on this menu from a variety of burgers such as the Bourbon Street, served blackened with garlic herb cream cheese, peppercorn sauce and caramelized onions, as well as a wide selection of flatbreads, including shrimp and pesto.
Seven-layer lasagna sounds like a serious offering with sweet sausage, pancetta, ground beef, ricotta, mozzarella and marinara. For those looking for something a little lighter, entree salads include a chopped seafood salad with jumbo lump crab, shrimp, assorted veggies (even jicama) and lemon basil vinaigrette.
We ended the meal with BlackFinn's signature hot chocolate, fallen chocolate and peanut butter souffle served warm with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream and caramel drizzle. What! No marshmallows? Honestly, digging your spoon through this decadent concoction was a journey of delightful surprises. One spoonful was decidedly peanut butter, the next chocolate and so on. Other dessert choices include Key lime pie, pineapple upside down cake and strawberry shortcake.
BlackFinn also has a brunch menu, an after-work appetizers menu and a kids menu. With all these options, the friendly service and comfy decor, BlackFinn could easily become your go-to restaurant for any occasion.
• Restaurant reviews are based on one anonymous visit. The Daily Herald does not publish reviews of restaurants it cannot recommend.