Observant reporters Lina Fasihi and Gwen Sihanath recently visited Spartan Terrace for lunch.
A hidden gem is tucked away in the Arts Center at Elgin Community College, the Spartan Terrace Restaurant. At the cost of being a hidden gem, this is not a restaurant available for walk-ins. One must reserve.
Upon entering, there are soft lights that accompany the natural lighting outside, slow-tempo jazz music playing softly from above, and the tables are spacious, allowing for clear conversations among diners. We were greeted by friendly staff and check-in went smoothly. We were shown to our tables which are formally adorned with white cloth, silverware and a cute little flower arrangement.
Our server, Liam, walked us through the menu in detail. What surprised Gwen the most was how unafraid Liam was to say they didn’t know the answer and figure it out from the kitchen. It showed how our server insisted on taking care of his customers.
As for the service, it was incredibly well paced. We didn’t have to wait long at all; rolls were served immediately with different kinds of flavored butter, and menus were presented. Ordering was quick and food was delivered soon after. The charming atmosphere, prompt service and excellent server got us excited for what was to come.
Our drinks for the day were pomegranate tea and raspberry mojito. The tea was sweet and lemony. The apple is oily at the first sip, then the aftertaste is fully supported by the spices. Little pomegranate flavor was found. Nevertheless, it is a warm and comforting drink. Later, Lina discovered that once the tea lost its heat, the drink became more of a cinnamon drink than a pomegranate drink. The mojito was crunchy and fruity. It was simple with raspberry syrup, lemon-lime soda and a few sprigs of mint. Gwen was impressed with the seltzer mix because of its coolness, especially since the sun comes out more often.
From our assortment of bread and butter, we had green nut pesto butter and orange chipotle butter with the buns. Gwen had liked the orange chipotle butter the most. The orange brightened up the bread. It was pungent and left a nice salty aftertaste that got quite addictive.
On one side of the table was vegan roasted buffalo cauliflower with a ranch dip appetizer. The slightly sweet and tart flavors made a good combination. It had a slightly spicy aftertaste and the plate included fresh carrots and celery. The other side of the table was the dates wrapped in gluten free bacon. There is sweet date porridge, crispy bacon and its fatty juice. There’s a lot going on, but you can’t separate the two.
The bacon grease creates an emulsion with the sweet dates, although you can still taste each part individually. Bacon-wrapped dates were meant to be enjoyed in one bite.
Together we ate vegetarian tomato caprese pasta with asparagus, cherry tomatoes and mushrooms. The first thing we noticed was that the sauce was clinging to the linguine and not at all close to the noodles drizzled with sauce. Instead, the sauce is light and doesn’t overwhelm the meal. To balance that out, there’s a helping of bold mushrooms, well-seasoned asparagus, and roasted cherry tomatoes. We both agreed that the asparagus enlivened us the most. We have never tasted such perfect asparagus until now. We could taste the seasoning in every corner of the vegetable, as if it was practically rooted. The wide combination of flavors necessitates a rule that you cannot exclude any of these foods as they work well together. It was smoky, astringent, delicate and flavorful. As a vegetarian meal, the starter was exceptional. Many restaurants have limited vegan/vegetarian options, and it had such a variety of flavors on one plate.
Finally, to enhance our meal, we opted for the flourless chocolate cake and the rose water donuts. The cake was dense and rich in dark chocolate, and the richness contrasted beautifully with fresh strawberries and a pistachio macaron. A little cream was slapped on the dessert beignet and was decorated with a tangy raspberry sauce. The plate was simple and emphasized the floral scent and taste of rose water donuts.
A theme we both chose was spring, and the meals prepared for us accentuated the spring feeling. Drinks weren’t far off for hot winter drinks and not close enough for cold summer drinks, but just in between. The starters were creative and brave in the flavors of the mash. Like the spring weather when it’s sunny, snowing or raining, the flavors are abundant. The starters did an exceptional job of giving vegetarian eaters a meal rich in textures, colors and tastes.
Overall the dining experience was delicious. Our server, Liam, allowed us to take our time eating and talking about our notes. We were able to make the most of the experience. With exceptional service, delicious cuisine and a pleasant atmosphere, dining at the Spartan Terrace Restaurant is an unforgettable dining experience.