Hinsdale Restaurant Week goes virtual

Campaign to boost local dining options during shutdown will serve up tasty dishes

Series: Flattening the curve | Story 9

Hinsdale's first Virtual Restaurant Week is set for May 18-24. Don't worry - the food will be real. And delicious.

At Vistro, chef/owner Paul Virant's carryout menu will feature a family meal for four with fish and chips, celery root remoulade, a choice of salad (little gem, Caesar or kale) and bread pudding for desert for $60.

Virant recently resumed carry-out service at Vistro (and Vie in Western Springs) May 1 after closing the restaurants completely for six weeks. In addition to the family meals, Vistro is offering select menu favorites, cocktail kits and more. This past Sunday Virant offered a special Mother's Day brunch menu.

Business has been good, he said.

"It's a unique week because we have Mother's Day and we're doing stuff for that, too," he said last week. "We're going to have a good week."

Given Gov. JB Pritzker's Restore Illinois plan, which allows restaurants to open in Phase 4, Virant does not expect to welcome customers back to his dining room until the end of June at the earliest.

"Hopefully what we're doing makes sense," he said. "We're going to continue to do the family meals for four. That will change each week to keep things interesting and then we'll have an additional a la carte menu."

Virant is excited about the Vistro Snack tray, a riff on a Wisconsin supper club relish tray, and the steak frites with an aged strip steak and homemade steak sauce. A favorite dessert is the Sundae Fun Day Kit with hard packed ice cream (vanilla, roasted strawberry or cookie dough), house sprinkles, homemade magic shell topping, toasted pecans, seasonal fruit preserves and whipped cream.

At Giuliano's, owners Cathy and Mick Weisz have been working to perfect curbside and no-contact delivery since the dining room was closed in March.

"I feel very fortunate for what we do have right now," Cathy said. "We have great customers. We've been very, very lucky."

The restaurant's diverse menu offers something for everyone, she said, from chicken tenders and buttered noodles for kids to more sophisticated dishes like rigatoni and vodka sauce.

"People don't think of Giuliano's for burgers or ribs but we've got it," she said.

Many have been placing orders for healthy options.

"Our harvest bowl has done really well. The market salad has done really well," Cathy said. "It makes me tear up thinking how amazing our customers have been."

At a time when the dining room is closed and catering business has been lost, she and Mick appreciate the opportunity to be part of the restaurant week promotion - and everything else the village has done.

"By letting us sell wine and beer, just trying to help us manage this crisis, they have been very supportive," she said.

Cooking up the plan

The idea for Hinsdale's Virtual Restaurant Week came from another suburb, said Heather Bereckis, superintendent of parks and recreation for the village.

"We saw the city of Wheaton was doing a virtual restaurant week," she said. "We said, 'Why not try it?'

"With everything going on, I know everyone is really struggling," Bereckis added. "We want to make sure we're drawing attention to our local businesses."

The village and its economic development commission already sponsor a restaurant week in March. The virtual version will include establishments that have participated in that and some newcomers. (For a list of participating restaurants visit https://www.hinsdaledining.com.)

"Ultimately the goal is to just get as much publicity out there for all of them as possible," said Sammy Hanzel, recreation supervisor, who also is working on the event.

Jill Sunderson, chair of the village's economic development commission, said she hopes the week reminds residents that restaurants are a vital part of the village's charm and residents' quality of life.

"Virtual Restaurant Week is one additional way to keep our residents safely engaged with our local restaurants during a time when it's easy to disengage," she said. "We hope this virtual event continues to drive awareness that our favorite restaurants are open curbside for many of the familiar meals that we've grown to love over the years."

Author Bio

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Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean