In my searches on Happy Cow and VegIllinois, I found a treasure of a restaurant practically in our backyard. Nirvana Wine & Grillerie is the type of restaurant that I could easily picture in a neighborhood like Lakeview, Wrigleyville or Wicker Park. Instead, it is nestled in a strip mall at the South East corner of Milwaukee Ave. and Route 60 in Vernon Hills.
There is a very nice “patio” area that, unfortunately, overlooks the parking lot. They have done the best with location by lining the area with various plants to try and separate the seating area from the parked cars. They also have inside seating that looked warm and welcoming. We sat outside both times we have eaten there.
On our first visit we both had a glass of wine. My wife had a glass of Chateau Ste Michelle Riesling and I had a glass of Kung Fu Girl Riesling. We are not really wine connoisseurs, but we both enjoyed our choices. My wifes was a bit sweeter than mine, so if you like a Riesling that is not quite as sweet, go for the Kung Fu. I liked the name too!
For an appetizer, we had the naked hummus plate. It came with small cups of regular hummus and red pepper hummus plus very generous helpings of veggies and warm pita triangles. Both types of hummus were good, but I did enjoy the regular a bit more. I thought it had a little more flavor than the roasted red pepper hummus. We actually did not finish all the veggies and pita, so I took the rest home and enjoyed them with some of Julie Morris’ hemp seed hummus.
For entrees, our first visit, my wife had the Tilapia with Pineapple Mango Salsa. Although she said it was a bit spicy, it wasn’t too spicy and she thoroughly enjoyed it. I had the “Everything You Love in a Salad” salad (minus the gorgonzola) with lime cilantro dressing that they served on the side without me having to ask for it on the side. What a great entree salad! It had chickpeas, red onion, toasted almonds, diced tomatoes, dried cranberries, long grain basmati rice over mixed greens. The portion was very generous as well, and I ended up taking about half of it home to enjoy the next day for lunch.
On our second visit my wife went for fish again. This time she tried the Chilean Sea Bass. It is wild caught and crusted in hazelnut, fresh herbs and panko before being baked and crested with a roasted tomato and herb sauce. It was accompanied with a roasted blend of zucchini, red and green peppers, carrots and cauliflower. Once again she finished the entire meal and enjoyed it very much.
This visit I decided to try the Curried Penne Pasta with Eggplant and Sweet Potato. The menu describes it as a burst of amazing flavors: mango chutney, garlic, sweet curry, cannellini beans, sweet potato, eggplant and golden raisins. The whole wheat penne pasta was cooked perfectly and the mix of ingredient was very delicious. This entree paired with a Nirvana House Salad was, once again, more than I could finish.
We had two great meals and look forward to going back to try more from the menu. For me, it was great having so many vegan options available with little or no modification. I highly recommend Nirvana Wine & Grillerie whether you are vegan or not!