Eclectic and Delectable: Zealous Does It All

Article excerpt

Byline: Georgia Gooch Daily Herald Correspondent

Zealous

174 N. York Road

Elmhurst

(708) 834-9300

- Cuisine: Contemporary American

- Setting: Eclectic, relaxed and upbeat

- Menu: Duck, venison and steak entrees complemented with flavorful sauces and intricate side dishes

- Price range: Average adult dinner, $16 to $20 without alcoholic beverage

- Hours: Lunch, 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday; dinner, until last reservation is in, usually around 10 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday

- Accepts: All major credit cards except Discover. Reservations accepted and recommended, especially on weekends. No smoking allowed.

We wrote about Zealous almost three years ago, when the restaurant was relatively new. We instantly fell in love with the place on our first visit.

Since then, the restaurant has maintained its appeal. Not only does it serve great food, it is a restaurant with soul. The staff is congenial and friendly. The tone is upbeat. There is a genuine willingness to please. And the food is sublime.

Entrees include vegetarian dishes and an ample collection of dishes showcasing duck, venison, salmon and lamb. Steaks, chicken and a number of pasta dishes also are served.

Appetizers include salads, crab cakes and several seafood arrangements.

Michael Taus, chef and owner, was trained at the world-famous Charlie Trotter's in Chicago. What Taus seemed to glean from that experience was a feeling for the entire dining experience.

What he has created at Zealous is a comfortable, simple and relaxed setting. The food is paramount, but the things leading up to the food - the staff, the menu layout, the artwork on the walls - are distinguished, fun and treated with finesse.

Portions are ample without being overwhelming. Though most times we'd prefer to share one appetizer, at Zealous we don't; the flavors are too intriguing and good. Entrees are sized just right.

On our most recent visit, we enjoyed a beautiful broth laden with vegetables and lentils. The Everchanging Soup is $4 for a bowl and $2 for a cup. We also tried the House-Cured Salmon Gravlox ($7). The appetizer was served with a coarsely shredded mound of coleslaw flavored with curry seasonings and immensely flavorful mango fritters.

We also enjoyed Asian Crab Cakes ($7). The plate was presented with the two cakes adrift in artful swirls and flourishes of dark brown caramelized onion and light colored mango basil sauces. …