With its homey, rustic decor and trendy small-plates menu, Chatterbox of Long Grove seems a perfect fit for the village. Open just five months, the new bar's menu and beer list should appeal to those who want a casual spot to unwind over appetizers and a cold drink.
Motif: Chatterbox took over the space formerly occupied by Cedar Grill. The building, which retains the look of a barn, is tucked off Old McHenry Road in a quaint area of downtown that's particularly charming during the summer.
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330 Old McHenry Road, Long Grove, (847) 383-5492, chatterboxlonggrove.com
Hours: Noon to 11 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, noon to midnight Friday and Saturday, noon to 6 p.m. Sunday
Inside Chatterbox, wood paneling and beams create the feel of a dark, cozy nook, while antique kitchen and farm implements on the walls recall the village's country past.
The first floor features a central bar with seats as well as high-topped tables with chairs. Upstairs offers more seating. And in nice weather, check out the flower-rimmed patio. It has the feel of an oasis.
Food: The emphasis is on small plates with fish and chips as the only traditional entree, but there's a nice selection whether you want deviled eggs, shrimp ceviche with mango pineapple salsa or a trio of sliders (choice of cheeseburgers, turkey, crabcake or pulled pork).
Among the different flatbreads, we chose the roasted tomato. It featured thick, generous slices of Roma tomatoes, roasted garlic and a sprinkling of basil. Thankfully, the cheese never overwhelmed the fresh, flavorful toppings.
We bypassed the steak and catfish tacos for the baja fish. The ample pieces of crisp fried cod were topped with a cabbage slaw and a creamy aioli. Order two and you'd have a meal.
On the more decadent side, we went with the house special tator tots, which came loaded with cheese. Definitely not for those who like their tots crispy.
Liquid consumption: Chatterbox's emphasis is on craft beer, with the spot making 45 options available -- eight on tap. On our server's recommendation, I went for the strawberry basil mojito, developed for Long Grove's Strawberry Fest. The drink was a delicious mix of sweet berries, fresh basil and rum -- a thoroughly refreshing summer sipper.
Crowd: On the night we were there, the Chatterbox had drawn a mix of groups and couples of all ages.
Service: Our waitress was helpful and friendly. She checked in often, and her recommendations were spot-on -- especially when it came to the mojito.
Music: The bar features music upstairs or on the patio on weekend nights and is in the process of setting up an open mic night on Tuesdays.
Parking: There's plenty of parking nearby.
Overall: Chatterbox is a welcome addition to downtown Long Grove. It's a cozy spot where friends can linger over drinks, listen to music and share a few fresh nibbles.