Few suburbs are worth a 45-minute drive, but Western Springs is a definite exception. Western Springs is home to Vie Restaurant, a modern American establishment that gives even the top Chicago restaurants a run for their money. Paul Virant, the chef and owner of Vie, focuses on local food, featuring a changing menu that highlights the best seasonal flavors. If Chef Virant’s countless awards aren’t enough to entice you to make the trek, Vie’s 2012 Michelin star and countless rave reviews might do the trick.
Vie is surprisingly large, with three interconnected dining rooms that are all modern and inviting. Although its tables are always full of eager diners, Vie’s waiters are on top of their game – you won’t go longer than three minutes without them refilling your water glass. The restaurant’s minimalist design and layout keeps its customers’ main focus on the food, and rightfully so.
First and foremost, you need to get the cheese plate. Whether you get it to start or as a dessert, this is an absolute must-order. The waiter recommends four cheeses from the selection, giving you a generous portion of each, with various jams, such as apricot or strawberry. The platter also comes with homemade bread with nuts. It can be enjoyed by everyone at the table, and is a great way to start or end your meal. Additionally, each of the soups has seasonally fresh vegetables, such as this fall’s pumpkin soup, which contains foie gras mousse and crème fraiche, giving it a rich and creamy flavor.
Although there isn’t a huge selection in terms of main courses, you can’t go wrong regardless of what you choose. Vie’s wood-grilled burger is a favorite, with a combination of flavors including juicy bacon, subtle fried brussel sprouts, pickled tomato and aioli, pickles and a sharp cheddar called Prairie Breeze Butterkäse. Sound too heavy? Lighter but just as tasty, the roasted tomato tart is a great vegetarian option. The tart itself is crisp and fragile like the outside of a croissant, with garlic, onions, pesto and kale complementing the sweetness of the fresh tomatoes. There are always various fish options, such as the pan-seared ivory char with creamed squash, leek and mustard relish if meat or vegetarian dishes aren’t your thing.
It’s difficult to go wrong with dessert almost anywhere, but Vie goes above and beyond. The chocolate truffle with honey cream sauce, cocoa and burnt honey ice cream speaks for itself. This plate can be shared and is likely too intense for the average person to consume following the already rich meal that they’ve had. While this option is the clear standout, their constantly changing dessert menu has classics (panna cotta) as well as originals (St. Louis cream cheese gooey buttercake).
Ultimately, this is one of the best restaurants in the area. If it weren’t for the steep prices and inconvenient location, it would be heaven on earth. If you don’t choose to dine in Evanston the next time your parents are in town, it’s worth begging them to make the drive to Vie – you’ll be rewarded with an unforgettable meal.
Address: 4471 Lawn Avenue #100, Western Springs, IL 60558
Hours of Operation: Mon-Thurs: 5pm to 9pm, Fri-Sat: 5pm to 10:30pm, Sun: Closed