Restaurant aims to bring ‘wow factor’ to Lincolnshire
The bar at Eddie Merlot's in Burr Ridge.The Lincolnshire location will mark Eddie Merlot's third eatery in Illinois. | Steve Johnston~for Sun-Times Media
Planned opening: Oct. 2
Address: 185 N. Milwaukee Ave., Lincolnshire
Illinois locations: Burr Ridge and Warrenville
Updated: November 19, 2012 1:34AM
LINCOLNSHIRE — The eatery may be new to the Chicago area, but Eddie Merlot’s prides itself on knowing what it takes to win over the region’s knowledgeable foodies.
If the summer Taste of Lincolnshire was any indication, many community members have already welcomed the idea of the restaurant’s newest location, which is tentatively set to open Oct. 2 at 185 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Eddie Merlot’s presence at the Taste of Lincolnshire in July resulted in nearly 1,000 requests to be put on its email list. At the taste, chef Scott Jindra cooked up some sliders with bleu cheese.
Since the restaurant group was founded in 2001 by wine connoisseur Bill Humphries in Fort Wayne, Ind., Eddie Merlot’s has worked to master the art of the steak house. Focusing on the food, service and environment, Eddie Merlot’s management expects guests will come to enjoy the restaurant’s showmanship and entertainment in addition to its premium steaks.
“It goes back to the old-school way of being wined, dined and pampered,” said Mike Rufo, general manager of Eddie Merlot’s in Burr Ridge.
Burr Ridge was Eddie Merlot’s first Illinois location. Warrenville followed shortly after and Lincolnshire will come in as the third. The restaurant has eight locations, spanning Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio.
Both Rufo and Steve Singleton, who has been named general manager of the Lincolnshire location, said a restaurant’s personnel and environment should work in tandem to ensure that customers have a more personal experience.
Eddie Merlot’s relationships with customers are established through table side interactions that can include a server mixing the table’s Caesar dressing and salad before the diners; carving up a 20-ounce tenderloin to their satisfaction; or filling the air with a mixture of scents from the Jamaican dark rum, brown sugar, bananas and vanilla bean ice cream that go into preparing the restaurant’s popular bananas foster dessert.
“A lot of it is prepared in the kitchen,” Singleton explained. “(The order is) cooked up to a certain temperature, and then you melt the butter, sauté the mushrooms and incorporate the sauce. The finished product is done at the table — that’s what we call the ‘wow factor.’”
To further set the restaurant apart from the competition, Eddie Merlot’s allows diners to choose from a selection of 75 different wines to go with their meals. Wines can range from mild to full intensity, as well as from sweet to dry.
“You have a variety to choose from — whether it be a chardonnay, pinot noir or cabernet…or whether it’s American, old world or new world,” Singleton said.
The restaurant will be equipped with two outdoor decks, multiple banquet halls, a main dining room and a lounge area to sip wine and spirits while enjoying appetizers like the beef carpaccio or the sesame calamari.
Eddie Merlot’s also serves up a selection of 18 side dishes. Some of those include lyonnaise potatoes, Parmesan truffle fries and onions with charred jalapenos.
The restaurant will generally be open for dinner only, although Singleton added that they would open for lunch during the holiday season. The lounge will open at 4 p.m. every day before the general dining area opened at 5 p.m.