We rarely go out to restaurants these days--what with trying to save some money, and the fact that we rarely find dishes that are better than what we prepare ourselves--but when we do go out, we try to choose our restaurants well. Lately, we've been dining out at places that use local ingredients or have seasonal menus. james, a restaurant right around the corner from where D grew up in Prospect Heights, was a great choice. The ambience in a restaurant is always very important to me--the only thing missing from this place was little Christmas lights. It was decorated beautifully, very rustic, with whitewashed walls and an antique mirror. They also had this cool back-lighting behind the seating booths that created a really warm feel.
We loved the selections on the menu, but could not settle on anything, so we shared three appetizers and an entree. The Heirloom Tomato with Globe Basil, Sea Salt, Warm Chèvre Fondue tasted great, although the presentation could have been better. The tomato slices were all stacked up on top of one another. I thought it would have been better to lay them out in an array so that you could appreciate the different colors. The chevre was awesome. The Seared Diver Scallops with Watercress Puree was also very good--the scallops were cooked to perfection, and the watercress puree was a simple and clean compliment. Our served offered a special tuna tartare appetizer which we couldn't resist. It was simply four thinly sliced pieces of fish over fresh sprouty-greens with serrano pepper and a vinagrette. The tast combination was amazing...we savored every bite. Perfection. For our shared entree, we had the butternut squash ravioli. The taste was great, but the entree wasn't really worth the price ($19 for four raviolis). The Ricotta Beignets with Raspberry Red Wine Coulis were light and delicious, a great way to end the meal. I would definitely come back to james again. Maybe around the holidays they'll have Christmas lights.