As fresh as a new love

Clean, creative American cuisine is focus for Glen Prairie Restaurant’s Mike Max

If you and your sweetheart take “clean eating” seriously, but aren’t looking to sacrifice anything in flavor or fare, Glen Ellyn has just the spot for you.

Chef Mike Max from Glen Prairie Restaurant at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Glen Ellyn is a regular, local guy who serves clean, fresh meals to guests, prepared with local, seasonal ingredients.

The menu of contemporary American cuisine is impressive without being boastful, taking artful, and understated spins on classic comfort foods, such as a pan-roasted Amish chicken, a balsamic glazed pork tenderloin, and even meatloaf, made with grass-fed beef and Nueske’s bacon.

An Open Table Diners Choice winner, the restaurant is focused on regionally grown ingredients, and the menu is 95 percent gluten-free. Even some of the five percent remaining – like the widely popular Prairie Mac & Cheese, which offers four different cheeses, toasted cracker crumbs, and an optional smoked pork topping -- can be prepared gluten-free upon request.

And even if you aren’t a carnivore by nature, you wont have to sacrifice at glen Prairie. Vegetarian dishes are rich in creativity and flavor, like the Eggplant Involtini, prepared with a roasted garlic ricotta, fresh basil and local cheese.

The Maple Leaf Duck Breast, one of the chef’s personal favorites is made with grilled local peach gastrique. “It’s got a good acid and sweet bite, but it’s around when I can get the peaches,” he says. “That’s one of the things that I enjoy about this restaurant. I’m able to do these special things, and then they’re gone.”

A classic American chef who prides himself on embracing traditional cooking, Max likes to manipulate his ingredients as little as possible, allowing the natural flavors to really shine through.

“I’m not creating new methods of doing things with nitrogen or creating edible menus.”

But that’s not to say diners wont find delicate and flavorful surprises at Glen Prairie. Creativity is key to the menu, and one of the things Max most enjoys about the process

“You can do anything you want. There’s no wrong answer in most cases,” he says. “I’m not really a crazy, out of the box sort of cook. I take what works and make it work better, and that’s it.”

Simple dishes, like spaghetti, a childhood favorite of Max, receive special treatment under his hand. Thin pasta noodles, like angel hair, keep it delicate. Then it’s all about fresh, quality ingredients.

“You’ve got to use good meat and good tomatoes and everything else just falls into place. “

Max’s love of cooking came from his youth, spending hours in the kitchen with his mom. Born and raised in Glen Ellyn, his home cooking grew to a passion, and he pursued more detailed education in the culinary arts at Illinois Institute for Arts.

His love for fresh, homemade American comfort foods is second only to his love for the Chicago area, where he remains close to friends and family, and the city he loves.

“I’ve never wanted to live anywhere else,” he says. “The culinary scene here is fantastic and it’s spreading.”

If you go
Glen Prairie Restaurant
1250 Roosevelt Road
Glen Ellyn, Illinois
(630) 613-1250
www.glenprairie.com