Indulge in Mardi Gras revelry at suburban restaurants
While many of you may be wishing you could escape the cold and head to warm New Orleans for Mardi Gras revelry, there are ways you can celebrate right here in the suburbs. Traditionally, Mardi Gras is celebrated on Fat Tuesday, which this year falls on March 5. And while Mardi Gras used to be celebrated on just one day as a day of indulgence in food and drink leading up to the fasting of Ash Wednesday and the 40 days of Lent observed by Catholics, in many places the merriment has evolved into a longer celebration.
Here are some suburban restaurants feting Fat Tuesday and offering meatless specials on Fridays over the next couple of weeks. Party on!
2124 Northbrook Court, Northbrook, (847) 498-4321 or di-pescara.com/
How does celebrating Fat Tuesday with a lobster feast sound? From 5 p.m. to close on Tuesday, March 5, nosh on garlic bread, chopped salad, seafood gumbo, steamed lobster, potatoes and corn at Di Pescara. End on a sweet note with warm beignets. Served family-style, the meal is $49.95 per person. Reservations are required.
Fry the Coop
623 W. North Ave., Elmhurst, (630)-359-5223, and 5128 W. 95th St., Oak Lawn, (708) 576-8645. frythecoop.com/
If you need meatless options on Fridays during Lent, consider the Veggie Sandwich at Fry the Coop. Part of FTC's secret menu, the sandwich features American cheese, special sauce, coleslaw and fries (or no fries). The sandwich's "heat" -- from Country (no heat) to Lil' Insanity -- comes from the special rub on top of the coleslaw and fries. Note: The fries are fried in beef tallow (beef fat).
In the Pheasant Run Resort, 4051 E. Main St., St. Charles, (630) 584-6300 or pheasantrun.com/
What better way to celebrate Fat Tuesday (Tuesday, March 5) than with a sweet deal: Jambalaya is offering buy one, get one free entrees on that day. Plus, during March, diners can munch on the Mardi Gras salad ($12.95), which combines diced avocado, blackened shrimp, shaved red cabbage, mandarin oranges, heirloom tomatoes, roasted corn, spinach and kale tossed with a mango dressing.
Morton's The Steakhouse
1751 Freedom Drive, Naperville, (630) 577-1372; 9525 W. Bryn Mawr Ave., Rosemont, (847) 678-5155; and 1470 McConnor Parkway, Schaumburg, (847) 413-8771. mortons.com/
It's all about the lobster at Morton's. From 5 p.m. to close on Fridays now through April 12, the steakhouse offers a Lent-friendly special: two steamed twin lobster tails for $39.
The zucchini shrimp scampi is available for a limited time at Noodles & Company.
- Courtesy of Noodles & Company
Noodles & Company
Locations in Arlington Heights, Aurora, Bolingbrook, Buffalo Grove, Crystal Lake, Deer Park, Deerfield, Elgin, Geneva, Glen Ellyn, Gurnee, Lake in the Hills, Lincolnshire, Naperville, Oakbrook Terrace, Schaumburg, Vernon Hills, Wheaton and more. noodles.com/
Noodles & Company recently added two new dishes -- zucchini shrimp scampi and penne rosa with shrimp -- that work well for those observing meatless Fridays in Lent. The limited-time-only zucchini shrimp scampi features zoodles, shrimp, roasted zucchini and Roma tomatoes in a scampi sauce garnished with Parmesan cheese, parsley and lemon. The penne rosa with shrimp comes mixed in a spicy tomato cream sauce with shrimp, mushrooms, Roma tomatoes, spinach and Parmesan. On Fridays from March 15 to April 19, diners who are NoodlesREWARDS members will get $2 off each dish by mentioning the offer.
Perry's will be plating three off-the-menu seafood dishes, including the barbecue octopus, during spring.
- Courtesy of Perry's Steakhouse
Perry's Steakhouse & Grille
5 Oakbrook Center, Oak Brook, (630) 571-1808 or perryssteakhouse.com/
In time for spring, Perry's is offering three off-the-menu seafood dishes for a limited time. Choose from the Red Snapper Crudo with pickled ginger, turmeric and tangerine oil for $18.95, the barbecue octopus with charred lemon garlic potatoes, ranch cabbage slaw and pickled shallots for $19.95, and whole bandera branzino, a European sea bass encased in a salt dome, roasted and then presented tableside with an Agrodolce sauce, for $49.95.
Prairie River Restaurant
1401 Nordic Road, Itasca, (630) 694-5899 or eaglewoodresort.com/
In time for Lent, Prairie River is serving up a weekly Friday fish fry. Chow down on Pabst Blue Ribbon beer-battered or broiled Alaskan Cod filet and hand-cut fries, hush puppies, honey mustard coleslaw and a sweet lemon tartar sauce for $9.95. It runs from 5 to 8 p.m. Fridays, now through April 26.
Shaw's Crab House Schaumburg
1900 E. Higgins Road, Schaumburg, (847) 517-2722 or shawscrabhouse.com/
Start feting Mardi Gras early with a special New Orleans-inspired menu at Shaw's Friday through Tuesday, March 1-5. The tempting menu features seafood gumbo (cup $6, bowl $9), shrimp jambalaya (cup $7, bowl $10), oyster po'boy with french fries and coleslaw ($17), shrimp and crawfish étouffée ($24), New Orleans-style barbecue shrimp served with white rice ($24), blackened redfish with crawfish sauce ($26), crazy Cajun maki roll ($16) and homemade bananas Foster ($9). Come in on Fat Tuesday for all-day happy hour in the Oyster Bar. Reservations are not required as it's first come, first served.
A variety of Paczkis will be available March 1-5 at Stan's Donuts.
- Courtesy of Stan's Donuts
529 Oakbrook Center, Oak Brook, (630) 590-1060, or 5 Woodfield Mall, Schaumburg, (224) 353-6092, or stansdonuts.com/
Indulge your sweet tooth Friday through Tuesday, March 1-5, with Stan's new limited edition King Cake Donut or a filled Paczki. The King Cake Donut ($2.75) is covered in vanilla glaze and dusted with green, purple and yellow sugar with a baby gummy candy on top (instead of hidden inside). The Paczki ($2.95), a pre-Lenten tradition that originated in Poland, comes in fillings such as pastry cream, chocolate pastry cream, cannoli cream and cherry.
Texas de Brazil
5 Woodfield Mall, Suite D312, Schaumburg, (847) 413-1600 or texasdebrazil.com/locations/schaumburg/
While traveling to Carnaval (March 1-9) in Brazil isn't possible for most, Brazilian-American steakhouse Texas de Brazil offers flavors of the region to take your mind there. Drink specials include $5 caipirinhas (made with lime, sugar and the Brazilian spirit cachaça and offered in specialty flavors such as classic lime, strawberry, mango, coconut and more), $5 glasses of Texas de Brazil private label wines (several varietals), $3 domestic beers and $7 martinis. Plus, fill up on churrasco grilled meats carved tableside and a 50-item salad bar.
For Mardi Gras, Tokio Pub will be serving up the Crazy Cajun Roll.
- Courtesy of Tokio Pub
1900 E. Higgins Road, Schaumburg, (847) 278-5181 or tokiopub.com/
Mardi Gras comes to Tokio Pub Friday through Tuesday, March 1-5, with a New Orleans-inspired maki roll dubbed the Crazy Cajun Roll (shrimp tempura, cucumber, spicy crawfish and lime zest). Sip on specialty Mardi Gras cocktails like the Shinshu Sazerac (made with Mars Iwai, Peychaud's Bitters, Demerara and St. George Absinthe Rinse) and the Tsunami Slammer (made with Cruzan Aged Light Rum, Myers's Dark Rum, Yuzu Luxe and fresh fruit juices). Happy hour will be going all day on Fat Tuesday (March 5).
Weber Grill Academy
1010 N. Meacham Road, Schaumburg, (847) 413-0800 or webergrillrestaurant.com/location/schaumburg/
So, you can't get to New Orleans for Fat Tuesday. Why not learn how to make a Mardi Gras feast at Weber Grill Academy so you can celebrate at home? During the demonstration-style class from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Friday, March 1, learn how to make chargrilled oysters with chili butter, "NOLA" barbecue shrimp, grilled andouille sausage po'boy sandwiches and smoked chicken dirty rice. Participants will get to taste the dishes along with custom drinks after the class. It costs $65 per person. Space is limited. Sign up at webergrill.securetree.com/.