LAKE FOREST — A walk inside Lake Forest’s newest restaurant, MLG Chicago, shows little resemblance to The Grille on Laurel, which once fed people at the site.
A look at the menu and the staff will give diners plenty of reminders of what they experienced at the Grille.
It is intentional, according to Lake Forest resident and the star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” Marcus Lemonis.
“We’ve kept the top 30 selections from the old menu,” Lemonis said in a Daily North Shore interview. “The staff is the same. We couldn’t just abandon all that.”
Lemonis, who bought the Grille approximately one year ago, reopened it June 2 as MLG Chicago at the southwest corner of Laurel and Western Avenues in downtown Lake Forest after extensive renovations.
“We wanted to create an affordable restaurant with a city vibe,” Lemonis said.
On Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, Lemonis said, the music and atmosphere resembles more of an urban feel centered around a 30-foot bar with 1,000 wine selections, more than 200 alcohols like vodkas, rums, gins, bourbons and more.
In the early evenings or during the day, Lemonis said he expects to see more families dining at MLG Chicago. He said there are menu items designed for youngsters like burgers, sandwiches and “lots of desserts.”
“You can feel the vibe change,” Lemonis said. “When it’s family time that’s what we need to be. When it’s date night, that’s what we need to be.”
When it comes to selecting a bottle of wine from the 1,000 available, Lemonis said there is no reason to feel overwhelmed. There are 250 on the list at any one time and the rest kept in reserve.
“If you know you like chardonnay, you can choose from chardonnays,” Lemonis said. “If you like merlot you can choose from the merlots. We’ll help you through our knowledge of the selection.”
Along with its 150-seat restaurant and a large bar, there is also a terrace for outdoor dining in warmer weather. The menu ranges from bar fare like sandwiches and homemade pizza to a variety of seafood, steaks, chops and some healthy choices, according to a news release.
Appetizers include chopped brisket, sliders, Margarita flatbread and a Charcuterie as well as a jumbo shrimp cocktail, according to the release. The menu includes French onion soup, New England clam chowder or chilled gazpacho. A wide choice of salads range from simple Greek to Miami Mandarin with goat cheese.
Lemonis said there is a wide selection of art work on the walls, which he selected personally. The exhibits rotate every 60 days and the pieces are for sale. The proceeds do not feed the restaurant’s profits. They are donated to a local charity.
The newly renovated interior includes the bar in front designed for lively conversation and watching television. Behind that is the main dining room offering a more formal atmosphere.