Farm-to-table dining a Highland Park draw
Enoteca chef Rigo Herrera prepares shrimp delizia with artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, asparagus, garlic oil and wine sauce. | Michael Schmidt~Sun-Times Media
NAME: 2nd Street Bistro
LOCATION: 1825 Second St., Highland Park
SPECIALTY: Farm-to-table American cuisine, Italian fare
HOURS: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday, and Tuesday through Thursday; 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Mondays; 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Fridays.
CONTACT: www.2ndstreetbistrohp.com; (847) 433-3400
Updated: October 9, 2012 9:22AM
HIGHLAND PARK — What once was a popular place to grab a hot dog now is a premiere BYOB farm-to-table restaurant in this North Shore city’s booming downtown.
As a kid, Bobby Dubin worked in restaurants, slowly developing his love for local and international fare. After working as a pharmacist and vice president of sales and marketing at a major pharmaceutical company, Dubin discovered the ins and outs of chemical processes in food.
“We know what we serve,” said Dubin. “Everything is made from scratch and made to order.”
After 9/11, 2nd Street Bistro owner Dubin decided he no longer wanted to live the life of a pharmaceutical rep, and he didn’t want to fly anymore.
“You just couldn’t get through the airports, and when I tried to apply for positions that meant taking a step down, no one believed me that I wasn’t trying to climb the ladder,” said Dubin.
Dubin caught wind that Highland Park’s oldest restaurant, Stash’s, was for sale, and in 2002 his passion for food became a career.
“It’s really pretty cool what we’re bringing to our customers in terms of quality and flavor,” said Dubin, who is in the business with wife, Debbie.
Reminiscent of Chicago’s Girl and the Goat, Dubin’s establishment offers organic, free-range menu items and hand-made Italian fare.
The daytime Stash’s menu offers American cuisine of sandwiches, wraps and sides for lunch-goers, professionally crafted by Chef David Gomez. After 4 o’clock, Stash’s transforms into 2nd Street Bistro Enoteca for those interested in a richer selection.
The 4,000-square-foot dining experience has offerings for every palate.
Executive Chef Michael Gottlieb searches far and wide for new and unique flavors, with the average dish costing $22.
Enoteca is spirited by Chef Rico Herrera, whose Italian flavors take taste buds through an authentic journey of al dente pastas and bellissimo pizza. Meaning “wine bar” in Italian, Enoteca is an oxymoron considering the restaurant is BYOB. Dubin said customers can enjoy their personally provided drinks without worry of a corkage fee.
“Come on in and we’ll serve it for you alongside our delicious cuisine,” Dubin said.
Between daily visitors, their booming catering division and local schools partaking in daily and weekly lunch demands, 2nd Street prepares more than 4,000 meals a week.
“We offer sous-vide meats, which is rare in the restaurant business due to the prep and cook time it requires,” said Dubin. “However, you can’t beat the delicious stand-out flavor that this method offers to our customers who, after tasting, become patrons.”
2nd Street Bistro debuted a new menu on Sept. 27 with such offerings as Seared Scottish Salmon and Herb Marinated Amish Half Chicken.
“I can’t even pick a favorite dish when it comes to Chef Michael Gottlieb,” Dubin said. “Chef Rico Herrera has been with me for years and makes the most delicious pasta and pizza and Chef David Gomez is such a talent.”
The chefs have free rein in the establishment’s three on-site kitchens.
October marks the one-yearanniversary of 2nd Street’s evolution from Stash’s daily offerings and Dubin said the reception has been nothing but encouraging.
Buffalo Grove resident Brad Weiss has been coming to the restaurant since 2nd Street’s premiere.
“The service and food is second to none,” Weiss said. “My absolute favorite is the pork vesuvio, and I’m not even a pork eater.”