As we come to the end of 2013, Chicago says goodbye to one of its incredible beloved restaurants and for some, a best kept secret.
Chicago is known for its diversity and enormous choices of upscale dining. However, Courtright’s out in Willow Springs has been a destination place for food and wine aficionados for almost 20 years.
Its award winning wine cellar alone is worth taking the drive. The beautiful oak style dining room and bar with stained glass and the beautiful woodland terrace, give the restaurant a warm welcoming feel to all who graced the threshold.
With Chef Jerome Bacle in the kitchen, his leadership, creativity and vision, have kept Courtrights as a true American Fine Dining powerhouse.
The collection of wine attracted many wine makers to visit and even hold exclusive wine events, like Mondavi & Baron Philippe du Rothschild Vinyards. The two wine makers partnered to architect one of California’s most well known blends, or “meritage,” called Opus One. This was just one of many wine events held at the restaurant.
It was common to take guests down to the cellar and allow them to select their bottle. As you walk into the cellar there is a wall where all the celebrity wine makers and owners have autographed. The collection was breath taking. I myself eyed a large format bottle of Caymus Special Selection.
The crowning touch is a private dining room next to the cellar for corporate dinners or private parties, which has an entire wall that allows the guests to view directly into the wine cellar. Talk about ambiance.
“The essence of fine dining is the perfect synthesis of fine wine, exquisite food, impeccable service and a gracious setting,” was the Courtright’s philosophy, and for those who have had the pleasure of meeting Rebecca and William Courtright, the owners of the restaurant, could agree that they have lived that philosophy not only in business but in life.
“As we bid farewell to this interesting, exciting, challenging, exhausting and wonderful time here on Earth, we experience myriad emotions, but the greatest is gratitude.”
Bill and Rebecca plan to spend their retirement traveling the world, and enjoying the fruits of their labor. Their passion is truly rare and Chicago will miss you.
It will be interesting to see if the restaurant attracts a buyer to keep the legacy and quality of Willow Spring’s pride and joy alive. They have left some rather large shoes to fill.
Coutright’s doors are staying open until December 31, 2013. So if you haven’t made your New Years Eve reservation yet, could be your last chance to visit a Chicagoland dining Icon.
If you happen to be interested in keeping this tradition alive, the Kudan Group is the brokerage representing the Courtright property.