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Ambiance, food make Tavern the place to be

Published: Tuesday, April 15, 2014 12:47 p.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, July 25, 2014 4:41 a.m. CDT
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A USDA prime 8-ounce New York strip served with button mushrooms.
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Tavern in Libertyville boasts high ceilings, stained glass and more.
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Angel hair pasta served with vegetables.

LIBERTYVILLE – In an upscale eatery reminiscent of the 1920s and folklore is the opportunity to have a dining adventure just around the corner. Tavern, at 519 N. Milwaukee Ave., offers contemporary dining, creative cocktails, beautiful decor and more. One can choose to catch up with a date or friends in the lounge or bar areas on the main floor, or experience a medley of flavors in the dining area upstairs.

My date and I arrived earlier than our reservation time – reservations for dining are recommended – so we took a seat in the lounge area until our table was ready. We were immediately greeted and seated by friendly waitstaff.

The rooms are outfitted with stained glass windows, high ceilings, chandeliers, warm colors, oversized wine bottles, vintage books, large couches, mirrors, pieces of artwork and exposed wood beams – all of which made us feel as though we were in an adult's version of Lewis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland" if there was a scene involving a speakeasy.

When our table was ready we were lead up a winding staircase and greeted by a maitre d.' The maitre d' also checked on us throughout our meal to make sure we were having an enjoyable experience.

My date and I started by ordering an appetizer. We opted for the fried calamari. This dish exceeded our expectations. The calamari melted in our mouths like butter, and I did not taste anything "rubbery," as I have in other calamari dishes. Other appetizers that caught our attention included caviar potato chips, Shetland island Scottish smoked salmon and baked gulf Shrimps de Jonghe.

We were also served crostini with homemade hummus that were complimentary.

For our main dishes I ordered angel hair pasta and my date ordered a USDA prime 8-ounce New York strip. Tavern is also known as a steak house.My dish was filled with assorted vegetables, including asparagus, sun-dried tomatoes and mushrooms, pine nuts and freshly shaved Reggiano cheese.

My date ordered off the steak menu, that is offered in addition to the regular dinner menu.The 8-ounce New York strip is served with button mushrooms. According to the menu, "The top one percent of American beef production. USDA Prime is very rare and therefore very expensive. USDA Prime is always a special treat."And a treat it was, my date said, adding "the steak was velvety and no sauce or extra seasoning was needed."Other meat choices include Uruguayan organic beef, USDA choice and Wagyu. According to the menu, "Wagyu refers to several breeds of cattle genetically predisposed to intense marbling and to producing a high percentage of oleaginous unsaturated fat. Also known as 'Kobe-style' beef, the meat from Wagyu cattle is known worldwide for its marbling characteristics, better eating quality through naturally enhanced flavor, tenderness and juiciness, and thus a high market value."My date and I both enjoyed our meals, as well as the ambiance, and look forward to returning soon.

TAVERNHours: 5 to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 5 to 10 p.m. Friday and SaturdayDress: UpscaleInfo: Tavern is located at 519 N. Milwaukee Ave., in Libertyville. For information or to make a reservation, call 847-367-5755 or visit www.tavernlibertyville.com.

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