NORTHBROOK – After spending countless weeks vacationing at her family’s second home in the remote town of Livingston, Montana, it’s no wonder Jen Eisen paid homage to the state when she and her partner, Eloin Amador, opened their restaurant, House 406, in Northbrook three years ago.
“Montana has so few inhabitants that 406 is the only area code assigned to the entire state,” said Eisen.
But it’s the word “house” that more accurately characterizes the food and atmosphere diners can expect to find at the couple’s Church Street restaurant.
From the long, lush draperies to the soft lights and leather club chairs that decorate the dining room, every fixture and fitting chosen for House 406 was considered with comfort in mind. Eisen and Amador want their guests to relax and stay a while. Even the restaurant’s 11-seat bar features soft, cushioned chairs.
“We don’t want anyone to feel rushed… it’s all about leaving full and happy,” said Eisen.
Eisen’s knack for making guests feel welcome was honed during the seven years she spent working for chef and cookbook author, Stephanie Izard, who owns the popular Chicago restaurant, The Girl and the Goat. Eisen and Amador teamed up while working catered events in downtown Chicago and the North Shore.
These days, Amador oversees the kitchen while Eisen manages the restaurant’s front of house. Eisen’s mother and two siblings– all of whom live near the couple’s home in Northbrook – help out at the restaurant, too.
“The demands of owning a restaurant can take a serious toll on your personal life,” admitted Eisen, who grew up in Northbrook and attended Glenbrook North High School. “But we’ve figured out a way to make this business part of our personal life. We all get along…it works really well for us.”
In designing a menu for House 406, the couple sought to recreate their favorite American comfort foods, like the Ground Short Rib and Brisket Burger, served with Roasted Poblanos and Pepper Jack Cheese; the entree- sized Crab Cakes Dressed with a Cajun Remoulade; as well as Eisen’s ode to Montana: an 8oz. Boneless Black Angus Filet Mignon accompanied by Redskin Smashed Potatoes and a Creamy Morel Mushroom Demi Sauce. These classics are featured alongside seasonal, ever-changing specials that Amador sometimes introduces on short notice.
“Our regulars love when they come here and the menu is totally different from what it was two weeks ago,” said Eisen, who describes House 406’s lunch and dinner clientele as “sophisticated locals who eat out a lot,” mixed with weekday business travelers.
New on House 406’s summer appetizer menu is Burrata Cheese topped with strawberries, arugula and pistachios, as well as a Petite Greens Wedge salad served with heirloom tomatoes and Green Goddess Dressing. Among its summer inspired entrees is a Moroccan Baked Halibut accompanied by saffron rice, summer squash and tomato sauce.
House 406’s peach cobbler, said Eisen, is also a firm favorite during the warm summer months, when guests can choose to dine inside the cozy, 70-seat restaurant, or in one of the 30-cushioned seats arranged outside in the front courtyard. For guests dining al fresco, it’s all about comfort, even if the air turns chilly. Just an arm’s reach away in the restaurant’s vestibule, hangs a row of light blankets to wrap around bare shoulders or legs.
Along with a selection of craft beers and eight house cocktails given fanciful names like “When The Clock Strikes Midnight,” and “Snitches Get Snitched,” House 406’s long wine list offers a healthy selection of allocated “Limited Feature Wines,” including a 2013 Scarecrow Cabernet Sauvignon that sells for $696.
Now into their third year of restaurant co-ownership, Eisen and Amador are looking to open a second, more family friendly restaurant nearby, using the same winning philosophy that brought them success at House 406.
“Always stay true to your vision and the way you like to cook,” said Eisen. “Provide your customers with a comfortable atmosphere and approachable food.”
House 406, 1143 ½ Church Street, Northbrook, IL 847-714-0200/ Sunday-Thursday 5pm-9pm/Friday-Saturday 5pm-10pm