Friday, October 7, 2022

Tallgrass Lockport Fine Dining

Tallgrass Fine Dining in Lockport IL

Friday date night out, we dined at Tallgrass Restaurant in nearby Lockport (IL). A fixture in town since 1981, it is situated downtown in the picturesque river town on the banks of the Des Plaines river valley. 

The town straddles the valley that contains the working navigable Illinois Michigan Sanitary Canal and the historic Illinois Michigan (I&M) Ship Canal, and the Des Plaines River. The section of the canal that runs through Lockport, includes the remains of the canal's Lock No. 1 from which the town received its name.

The waterways flow from the City of Chicago, meeting with the Des Plaines and continue south past Joliet to meet the Kankakee River to form the Illinois River. 

Following the waterways are the Illinois and Michigan Canal Gaylord and Donnelly Trail along the canal right-of-way that is now the Illinois and Michigan National Heritage Corridor. 

Tallgrass is in a restored turn of the (last) century 1895 red stone and brick Victorian building, in a small narrow single storefront on busy State Street opposite the Roxy Theatre.

The small dining room has rustic dark wainscot paneled walls, authentic ceramic mosaic tile floors, tin ceilings, original gas chandeliers and artglass windows, with a mere eight dining tables adjacent a small bar in the corner, allowing for intimate dining and attentive service.


Tallgrass is the work of acclaimed Chef Robert Burcenski and local native Tom Alves. Tom studied oenology in France in the Rhone, Burgundy, Champagne and Bordeaux wine regions, and worked with winemakers in Oregon, Washington and California, and curates the Tallgrass wine program. 

The dining offerings are solely price fixe with diners selecting three, four, five or seven courses from the menu selections that range from seafood, poultry, beef, pork, lamb, vegetable dishes, salads and desserts, plus a couple of specials for the evening. Diners choose combinations with each offered as an entree or an starter. 

Dinners include a broad selection of fresh baked breads. 

There is a carefully selected winelist of a dozen WBTG - Wine-by-the-glass selections, and range of two hundred labels by the bottle to accompany each entree selection, primarily American. The wines are good values with a 1.5 to 2x multiple of retail prices. Note that while the actual winelist selection was greater than shown on the website, the prices as listed and shown on the website are woefully understated.

Linda selected the onion soup, the mixed green salad and a seafood medley entree selection. 

For my main course I selected one of the day's specials - Beef Tenderloin with foie gras mousse in a dark brown sauce with scalloped potatoes. For my starter I selected a Lump Crab, Lobster and Shrimp cake with Prawn in a lobster creme fraiche sauce. My vegetable course was an imaginative spinach ravioli with truffle and regianno cheese. 

Due to their fair and reasonable wine prices, we did not bring BYOB, which is our usual practice given our extensive personal cellar. We selected from the wine list Miner Napa Valley Chardonnay. 

Miner Family Napa Valley Chardonnay 2018

Miner is a family-owned winery sited up against the eastern hills of the Oakville appellation in the heart of Napa Valley. Founded in 1998 by former Oracle software executive Dave and Emily Miner, Miner Family Winery crafts wines sourced from fruit from estate and select grower's vineyards. This release was sourced from the Napa Valley Holman, Hyde and Genny’s Vineyards.

Winemaker Notes: "Sourced from low-yielding vineyards in Napa Valley, this Chardonnay is characterized by crisp apple, ripe melon and citrus flavors gently balanced with toasty French oak."

This was rated 92 points by James Suckling, 90 points by Wine & Spirits and 87 points by Wine Enthusiast.

Straw colored, medium bodied, rich forward green apple, pear and tangy citrus fruits with notes of mango and mineral on a creamy finish. 

RM 88 points. 

With my entree beef tenderloin I ordered from the WBTG selection this Raymond "R" California Cabernet Sauvignon. 

Raymond "R" Collection California Cabernet Lot No. 1 2018

This is the budget value collection of Raymond Family wines. The Lot No. 1 refers to the first grape varietal produced by the winery, Cabernet Sauvignon. 
The Raymond family arrived in Napa Valley in 1933 and became connected to the Beringer family via marriage in 1936. Roy Raymond worked as winemaker for Beringer from 1933-1970. 

In 1970, Ray and his two sons set out on their own with the 90-acre estate property in Rutherford just south of St. Helena off St Helena highway at Zinfandel Lane where the winery is located. The first Raymond Vineyards label was released in 1974.

Today Raymond is affiliated with the French Burgundy Boisset Collection of global properties.  

This was basic easy casual sipping as a nice accompaniment to the beef tenderloin and dark brown sauce.

RM 87 points.

For the dessert course Linda selected Raspberry Creme Brulee and I the Chocolate souffle.  This turned into a bit of a kurfuffle as they served us the wrong entree's from another table and never really were able to recover in correcting the situation.