Highwood’s Sage Grille: A Wise Choice

Finding a restaurant in Highwood is like catching fish in a barrel; it ain’t rocket science. But choosing a place that’s really special, one you’ll want to return to again and again? Not so easy. Luckily, we made a reservation at Sage Grille.

Everything about the restaurant is inviting, from the warm woods, soft and flattering lighting (can’t see my wrinkles and I like it that way, thank you!), understated jazzy background music, comfy banquettes, and nicely appointed tables.

And the food? Yum. Chef Adam Grandt (a former sous chef at nearby Carlos’) has found his stride with this seasonally influenced, locally inspired menu.

Start with the Tuna Tartar (pictured above, $13), a mound of pristinely fresh, diced ahi tuna topped with julienned daikon radish, edamame, fresh mandarin orange segments and alfalfa sprouts. It tastes like the ocean, with all the right contrasting flavors and textures. Spread some on the homemade sesame seed crackers and crunch away.

If you love beets like I do, you’ll thrill to Grandt’s take on the beet salad: chunks of roasted red and yellow beets atop frisee and arugula with ruby red grapefruit, goat cheese and hazelnut croutons (delicious!), all tossed with a pomegranate vinaigrette ($11). The presentation was gorgeous.

We also enjoyed the toothsome Mushroom Risotto ($13) mixed with Gruyere, wild mushrooms and spinach, as well as the night’s special soup ($9), an earthy and unexpected combo of celeriac (celery root) and truffle. The soup was served piping hot, always a pleasure (but, seemingly, increasingly rare).

Happily, the entrees were every bit as good as the appetizers. Many of the preparations have changed since my visit, but all of the proteins were so perfectly prepared (the salmon medium rare as requested, skin seared and crispy; the London broil grilled to a turn) that I have great confidence that the new iterations will be equally fabulous.

You’ll enjoy the Salmon with Braised Black Kale, Salsify and Red Onions in a Sorrel Cream ($24), and that London Broil with Green Peppercorn and Blue Cheese Reduction ($24) is a mighty 10-ounce portion, accompanied by delicious fries and topped with a poached egg. No one here is scared of cholesterol.

Don’t be tempted to skip dessert, because these are worth the calories. The Poached Pear Tart ($8), served in a beautiful short crust, is topped with a delicate nest of spun sugar, and paired with a tasty buttered rum sabayon. The ubiquitous Chocolate Lava Cake ($8) is the real deal here, truly oozing molten chocolate, and topped with a crown of sweetened whipped cream. To finish your meal, lovely ports and sherries are available by the glass, and the coffee is strong and deeply flavored. The service throughout was unobtrusive and professional.

The bottom line on the Sage Grille? It’s a wise choice to dine there.