Cozy Itasca Country Club pub not for members only

When new owners took over the Itasca Country Club in 2014, they decided to renovate the member's dining room and make it a public restaurant. The result is Fox & Turtle, a cozy pub with a gorgeous view that opened on April 16.

Motif: The space has a rustic style with reclaimed wooden tables and barn wood walls complimenting the building's original slate floors. Long tables cater to big groups, but there's also more intimate seating for couples. Four TVs positioned around the space are tuned to sports. The patio is a real highlight, surrounded by curving stone and providing a view of the big trees around the club's golf course. So many people want to sit outside when the weather is nice that the restaurant has had to position additional chairs around the umbrella-topped tables. The Itasca Country Club previously shut down its restaurant in January and February, but Fox & Turtle will stay open all year.

Food: Chef Ranferi Flores came to Fox & Turtle from Rosebud, so you'll find some of the Italian dishes he loves on the new restaurant's menu. The fried calamari was great, with crispy and flavorful breading and a solid cocktail sauce. We also enjoyed the spicy chicken mac and cheese, which has a solid kick and a crispy top. If you save room for dessert, try the Italian cheesecake. Made with ricotta, it's fluffy and not too dense and nicely complimented by the raspberry syrup on top.

Other recommended dishes include the pretzels with spicy pimento cheese dip, the Itasca chicken — a whole deboned chicken served with potatoes and broccoli — and the signature Turtle Salad which is made with cabbage, kale, scallions, roasted sunflower seeds and bacon.

The Friday fish fry and Saturday prime rib dinner specials are very popular. We requested medium-rare on our prime rib and found barely any pink meat. While the server was very nice when we sent it back, the second attempt was still too well done.

Liquid consumption: Fox & Turtle has space devoted to hosting an on-site brewery, though they're still looking for someone to use it. Until then you can try plenty of local craft beers including Two Brothers Brewing Co. Wobble IPA, Church Street Brewing Co.'s Heavenly Helles lager and Small Town Brewery's Not Your Father's Root Beer. The bar also recently rolled out a set of four beer flights nicely presented on a paddle. Cocktails tend toward the sweeter side with popular options including the raspberry rosemary cosmo and the Chocolate Turtle, a blend of vodka, Bailey's and Godiva white chocolate liqueur.

Crowd: The space brings in a mostly 40 and older crowd including groups of women, couples and big families. Lots of local business people come for lunch. The pub has also proven so popular for birthday, graduation and retirement parties that they're working on a family-style menu for big groups. While Fox & Turtle appeals to the community, some perks are still only open to country club members, including the patio's bocce court and fire pit.

Service: Our server was happy to make recommendations and checked in regularly.

Parking: There are plenty of spots in the club's free parking lot.

Overall: While still a boon to the Itasca Country Club's members, Fox & Turtle now delivers an experience the entire community can enjoy.

  The mac and cheese is a favorite at the Fox & Turtle in Itasca. Paul Michna/
  Dina Posta, left, and Michelle Hornsby enjoy dinner at the Fox & Turtle in Itasca. Paul Michna/
  The Fox & Turtle has a large dining room that's open to both Itasca Country Club members and the public. Paul Michna/
  The Fox & Turtle opened at the Itasca Country Club in April. Unlike the previous dining room, the pub is open to the public. Paul Michna/

Fox & Turtle

400 E. Orchard St., (630) 773-1801, <a href=""></a>

Hours: 11 a.m. to midnight Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday

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