09 January 2010

Players Grill, Highland Park, IL

My wife and I didn’t plan to have dinner on New Years Eve at Players Grill. In fact, we thought we'd be celebrating New Years with friends at their home in Wayzata, MN. But circumstances conspired to change our plans. Our daughter, who was due to deliver her first child on Jan. 5, called us on Wednesday evening, Dec. 30, to tell us that she was in labor and ... it was time to come! We were ready for bed, but being compulsive planners, we were already packed. So we threw our bags in the car and hit the road. It was 10:45 p.m. Our goal was to arrive in Chicago in time for the birth of our grandchild.

Well, we didn't quite make it. Trey David was born at 4:58 a.m. on Dec. 31. We arrived at the hospital at 5:30 a.m. So we found ourselves in Chicago (actually north Chicago suburbs) on New Years Eve. Our son-in-law's parents live there. We connected later in the day at the hospital and decided to have dinner together for New Years Eve. After driving all night, and with only a couple hours of sleep, and in a part of the city that we didn't know very well, we certainly weren't in a position to decide on where to eat. A sports bar for burgers sounded fine for us. So we piled into a car and drove into nearby Highland Park to find a place to eat. So that's how we ended up at Players Grill.

(By the way, as I'm sure you've noticed, these are pics from the hospital, not the restaurant. I didn't bring my camera to the restaurant.)

I don't know if it was really that good. But the combination of exhaustion, exhilaration, and the company of nice people (who were equally as tired and happy) added up to a really enjoyable New Year's Eve dinner.

Players pretty clearly is a neighborhood joint. People would get up from their table and mozy over to another table to chat ... with friends or acquaintances, I assume. The manager, bartender, and service staff also seemed to know many of the people. They also have their own frequent diner club.
My father-in-law used to have a restaurant in Duluth - the Carlton House. The menu at Players was very reminiscent of the Carlton House menu, or for that matter, any number of supper clubs in Minnesota or Wisconsin. Ribs are a classic supper club favorite. My son-in-law's mother had Players' ribs, and pronounced them to be delicious. Right along with ribs would be barbecued anything. I had a barbecued brisket sandwich that was very good. Another supper club favorite is shrimp. Lotsa shrimp options on the Players' menu; my son-in-law's father chose a mixed seafood plate with shrimp. scallops and salmon. And my wife had a burger.
Besides a full bar, Players has a nice selection of beer on tap. The Burning River Pale Ale from Great Lakes Brewing was good.
I don't know if I'll ever go back to Players. I suppose as long as my daughter and her family live in the north Chicago suburbs, it's a possibility. But I will definitely have warm memories of our New Year's Eve dinner there every year when we celebrate our grandson's birthday.

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