The New Classic

Marquee Grill & Bar

Christina Geyer
May 24, 2011

During the grand-opening party for the new Marquee Grill & Bar in Highland Park Village, certain buzzwords were flying: landmark. Institution. Dream come true. The social swells were out in force — the Washburnes, the Summers, the Wrubels, the Roses, the Wynnes — and the vibe was sublime. Marquee is, after all, the first restaurant to open in the historic shopping center in nearly 10 years, and that alone warrants a weighty celebration. Owner Brian Twomey — the entrepreneur/restaurateur who revamped Marquee’s neighboring Village Theater and opened 2010’s beloved Uptown eatery, The Common Table — kept bold-named HPV frequenters in mind when crafting the concept. Ask and he’ll quickly tell you that this is Highland Park’s new dining room. We concur: It is the place to see and be seen. (On just one Wednesday afternoon for lunch, we spied millionaires, a billionaire and more than one Pucci-clad socialite.) Begin your Marquee journey in the first floor’s monochromatic dining room with a delightful view of the open kitchen where Top Chef star Tre Wilcox and his finely tuned team of chefs rapidly produce gourmet spins on New American fare — think marinated jumbo Texas shrimp over chipotle-jack cheese grits, spice-rubbed chicken thighs in a dry-sack sherry sauce and a sinful chocolate tart topped with salty, homemade caramel popcorn. Venture upstairs and you’ll find mod furnishings, a sunroom anchored by a large dining table, plus a collection of artwork ranging from vintage movie posters to works by Alexander Calder. For those with beverages on the brain, mixologist Jason Kosmas (he’s put his mark on the sips at Neighborhood Services Tavern and Bolsa) has prepped a colorful cocktail menu for the spacious, second-story bar. Trust us: It’s a modern-day Mad Men vibe fit for Highland Park’s Don Drapers. But the real reason we’re in love is the patio, positioned atop the Village Theater’s lit marquee, hence this hot spot’s name. Its dynamite view of Highland Park Village and beyond is something even HPV’s original architect Wilbur David Cook couldn’t have dreamt up any better in the glamorous 1930s.

Image: Photo by Quinn Nagurney.