When it comes to
suburban dining with a cosmopolitan feel, Fresh Starts hits the
nail on the head.
storefronts in Flossmoor's downtown area, the unique restaurant
has become a staple for many south suburbanites for the past 20
And after the
first bite of food, it is obvious why Fresh Starts has gained
attention both locally and nationally.
My guest and I
were welcomed by warm bread served with hummus and butter nearly
seconds after we took our seats.
hummus is made with chickpeas and often garlic and olive oil.
But, at Fresh Starts, the paste is blended with roasted red
peppers, tomato and basil, creating a flavor combination unlike
anything I've ever tasted.
It was so good,
my guest and I agreed we could have made a meal out of the bread
and colorful hummus spread alone.
restaurant is known for seasonal ingredients, fresh fish and
hormone-free meat, however, we had to restrain ourselves from
filling up on bread.
bills itself as an "American eclectic" restaurant, and by the
looks of the menu, it is just that. The innovative use of
ingredients, textures and colors create entrees that cannot be
found anywhere else.
appetizers, tuna carpaccio, lobster ravioli, blackened spicy
jumbo scallops and pan seared duck breast are a few of the
choices. Although many of the appetizers were appealing, we
chose the crab cakes, which did not disappoint.
The soft and
tender lump crab cakes were paired with a horseradish aioli that
had just enough spice to it to contrast the crab's mild flavor.
Served two to an order, it was the perfect size for two people.
When it came
time to choose entrees, my guest took a suggestion from our
server and ordered the Shrimp & Grits.
Pan seared grit
cakes were topped with shrimp, lemon cream, green onions,
spinach and tomato, which created a colorful dish that looked
more like a work of art than dinner.
The grit cakes
had a polenta-like texture which complemented the slightly
crunchy shrimp and soft spinach. The lemon cream sauce was used
sparingly and allowed the dish's individual flavors to remain
I opted for Beef
Tenderloin Tip Ziti and was more than satisfied with my choice.
wild mushrooms, fresh fennel and ziti pasta are served with an
asiago cream sauce, creating a dish similar to stroganoff but
The rich asiago
cream sauce was flavorful, yet not so overwhelming to hide the
taste of the beef, which was tender and lean.
The smooth ziti
noodles were a welcomed change from ridged mostaccioli or
rigatoni, and contrasted the textures of both the meat and
include veal medallions, chicken scaloppini and grilled New
Zealand rack of lamb. Paella, made with shrimp, chicken, spicy
andouille sausage and saffron rice also is available.
All entrees are
served with salad. Soup can be substituted for $1 extra.
A bed of greens,
red onion, tomato and cucumber are served with a choice of
dressing. I tried the raspberry vinaigrette, which is my new
favorite. The raspberry flavor was obvious, but not too tart,
and was a light alternative to the creamy parmesan peppercorn
that my guest chose.
In addition to
everyday menu items, Fresh Starts offers daily specials
including entrees and wine. Pan seared walleye and swordfish
were available the night I visited, but as they may not be on
the menu for very long as the options change depending on fresh
change weekly. Among those available recently was cinnamon brown
sugar gelato sandwiched between chocolate chip cookies, and
triple chocolate mousse terrine.
brown sugar gelato was creamy, sweet and slightly spicy. Crunchy
pieces of brown sugar crumbles broke apart as soon as they hit
your tongue and mixed together with the cold creamy gelato.
fluffy chocolate terrine was served atop raspberry sauce and was
most likely the richest flavored chocolate dessert I've ever
tasted. Only a few bites, and my sweet tooth was satisfied.
In addition to
seating for 60 people, Fresh Starts has a small bar and a
specialty wine shop.
occasionally offers special themed wine and dinner nights.
LOCATIONPHONE: CUISINE: DINNER MENU PRICES: HOURS: CREDIT
CARDS: EXTRAS: Full-service, off-premise catering service
available; on-site wine shop with special, hard to find,
selections from around the world.