We visited 210 with some friends on a Saturday night and had two distinctly different restaurant experiences.
From 7 to 9 p.m. we settled into their eclectic boho-chic atmosphere of mismatched dining tables and chandeliers, with mood lightning emanating from fantastic sitting room lamps and a lit candle at every table. It’s a great atmosphere for conversation with friends over their menu of tasty comfort foods.
At 9 p.m., the band took the stage and launched into a set of classic rock favorites. Everyone was up and out of their chairs and the dance floor was packed. It was standing room only by the bar. Though it was rock and roll classics the night we were there, there’s music practically every night, ranging from jazz to rock to piano.
Leaning into their reputation as a live music venue, the menu is titled Tonight’s Set List and the appetizers are called the First Set.
The Bacon Wrapped Dates are wonderfully smoky, a curl of really crisp bacon wrapped around the sweetness of a fresh date concealing a core of chopped almond. That balance of flavors is perfectly capped off by a pool of roasted red pepper sauce underneath. Incidentally, a side of this same sauce works great for dipping their Hand Cut Fries with sea salt.
Delving into the more bar-food side of the menu, we next sampled the Korean Chicken Wings. They’re the perfect finger food-sized wings to whet the appetite before dinner or to have at the bar with a beer while watching a game. The exterior is superbly crunchy, the perfect texture balance to the juicy chicken inside. The wings are coated in a sweet red chili sauce that stings the lips and delivers a fantastic lingering heat.
We began our tour of the Main Act portion of the menu with their dry rub coated and pit smoked Baby Back Ribs. Chef Jeff Tomchek developed his passion for pit smoking by studying barbecue across Kansas City, Texas, Oklahoma, the Carolinas, Virginia, and southern Maryland. Our half rack of ribs was infused with a rich, slow cooked, wood-fire flavor that you can really sink your teeth into. They were one of the highlights of the night as we passed them around the table. The Beef Brisket and BBQ Half Chicken get the same savory pit smoke treatment.
Swinging from turf to surf, 210 makes the most of their fresh-delivered seafood supply. The Shrimp Tacos come three to a platter, with crisp, grilled shrimp wrapped inside flour tortillas topped with creamy guacamole and mango salsa. The lightness of the freshly chopped mango cubes against the hearty chew of the shrimp made for a fabulous push and pull of flavors and textures. For those who like a genuine spiciness challenge, a side of the habanero mango sauce that adorns their Habanero Mango Caramel Wings makes for an excellent I-dare-you addition to the Shrimp Taco experience that will have your tongue tingling until dessert.
In addition to the southern barbecue vibe represented on the menu, there’s a healthy helping of Cajun flavors as well. The Oyster Po’boy delivers the crunchy fried flavors of battered oysters topped with lettuce, tomato, and mayo, sandwiched in a white bread bun. It’s a delicious fried seafood sandwich that evokes the flavors of a beachside food stand.
Chef Jeff’s more elevated take on seafood came to the table via the Mediterranean flavors of the Spice Rubbed Roast Swordfish. The thick-cut swordfish steak had an almost red-meat presence in its chew and the flavors worked wonderfully alongside a bright Moroccan tomato spread and eggplant tapenade.
Every entrée comes with a generously portioned side from the Accompaniments menu.
Not Yo’ Mammas Mac & Cheese covers huge Paccheri noodles with thick melted cheddar cheese sauce. Each noodle is a delicious mouthful that makes you feel like you’re a kid again, reveling in the home cooked comfort of every family’s cheesy favorite.
The top side dish at the table, however, was the surprisingly spicy Sichuan Style Green Beans. The Sichuan combination of spicy chili pepper and garlic with a hint of syrupy sweetness is the perfect complement to the garden fresh flavor of green beans. This dish got passed around the table more frequently than any other.
For dessert we had the Warm Apple Tart, crisp apple pie flavors wrapped inside a flaky pastry cup. A scoop of delicious caramel gelato melts over the top of the tart and a zig-zag of bourbon caramel sauce is drizzled over everything. A lovely sprinkling of powdered sugar covers the plate, making this dish as pretty as it is delectable.
210 Restaurant and Live Music Lounge is located at 210 Green Bay Road in Highwood, 847-433-0304, 210restaurant.com.