The dictionary defines “hospitality” as “generous and friendly treatment of visitors and guests.” Restaurants are certainly part of the hospitality segment of business, yet many fail to remember putting the word into practice.
Not so at the Happ Inn, a casual but remarkable eatery in the northern Chicago suburb of Northfield, IL. From the moment of our arrival, being seated by the hostess, and waited on by Ossie, we felt like GUESTS, not customers, and that’s one of the keys to a successful restaurant operation.
The bar and grill is in the final days of an interior renovation project, and they’ve created a warm and relaxing atmosphere, based on a soft palette of colors and subdued lighting. It’s inviting, comfortable, quiet enough to conduct business, woo a first date, or celebrate a special occasion. You’ll want to linger.
The lengthy menu includes cuisine influenced by a number of cultures with a range of choices in the starters, sharables, soups, salads, entrees, sandwiches and burgers, and some decadent desserts.
The dinner menu expands on the numerous choices available for lunch, and there are additional brunch offerings on Saturdays and Sundays. Each day of the week features special ‘off the menu’ food and drink offerings.
We started with the Ceviche, chock-a-block full of good-sized and flavorful shrimp, I was pleased they employed the traditional recipe with a tomato broth, avocado and pico de gallo accompanied by fresh, warm tortilla chips.
The Chicken Cobb Salad was an overly-generous serving, with two kinds of greens, chicken, bacon, egg, tomatoes, avocado and Thousand Island dressing – the Cobb is on the restaurant’s specialty menu, and it deserves a place there.
Being as it is National Burger month, Chef has concocted a special burger for each week of the month. I opted for the Sunrise Burger, which was topped with cheddar, bacon, a sunny side up egg with a splash of Tabasco. Hot, crispy, gently seasoned shoestring fries come as the side.
If you’re a regular reader, you know when it comes to burgers, it’s my habit to dissemble them to eat in pieces, and more particularly, to be able to taste the beef patty separately, since it’s the essence of the sandwich.
I wasn’t disappointed. The 1/2 pound USDA prime patty had great flavor and texture.
The brioche bun was bakery soft but substantial enough to support any topping choices you might want to personally add.
The sunnyside egg was cooked perfectly, and the splash of Tabasco was an interesting choice by the chef. Great bacon, too, smoky and thick sliced. Quality ingredients are evident in every dish.
I’m not usually a dessert orderer, but Ossie the server painted a very compelling picture of the choices, and I succumbed, ordering the “Happ-y Bites,” a generous sampling of three different desserts including carrot cake, New York style cheesecake, and a double chocolate brownie. Each ‘bite’ was accompanied by its own delicious sauce swirl. They were all great, but the brownie was my favorite.
Finally, while most restaurants don’t boast about their coffee, the Happ Inn sure can. I’m a big, big coffee drinker, and my post meal coffee was the best restaurant cup I’ve had in years. Seriously.
The Happ Inn is located just off the Edens at the Willow Road exit, and opens seven days at 11A.
I’ve run a lot of companies during my career, and I believe a company can have a soul, a spirit, a tone that starts with the CEO or GM and it’s contagious. Whereever you find a great staff, you’ll find a great GM, and the Happ Inn is no exception, with TJ Bachmeyer at the helm.
The restaurant has private party rooms, and does catering on and off site. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for catering or event inquiries.
The different menus are online. Hit this place. You’ll become a regular. I know I’ll be back!
Happ Inn Bar and Grill Review