The Tavern has endured as a local favorite for upscale dining since it opened in 1983 in Libertyville, Ill., a suburb about 40 miles north of Chicago. The staff has an impressive average tenure of over 15 years, and the wine list has grown stronger with time. Divided into a lounge area and a formal steak house with quirky design elements like beaded chandeliers and a stained-glass skylight, it’s truly a one-of-a-kind destination. Chef Manuel Ortiz freshens up the familiar steak-house menu with touches of global influence, using truffle oil and honey in the wedge salad and offering starters like Mediterranean octopus and a smoked beef carpaccio with Parmigiano. The wine program earned Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence in 2005 and was promoted to Best of Award of Excellence the following year. Owner and wine director Rick Jansen recently switched to an iPad wine menu to help guests navigate the more than 1,100-selection list, which excels in California, France, Italy, Washington, Australia and Spain. Jansen hopes to encourage guests to take advantage of the passionately run program by providing plenty of values. There are nearly 40 wines by the glass, plus an additional by-the-glass special each Wednesday.
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