Restaurant review: Spartan Terrace Restaurant

Observer reporters Lina Fasihi and Gwen Sihanath recently visited the Spartan Terrace for lunch.

Lina Fasihi and Gwen Sihanath

A hidden gem is tucked away in Elgin Community College’s arts center, the Spartan Terrace restaurant. At a cost of being a hidden gem, this is not a restaurant available for walk-ins. Reservations are required.

Upon walking in, there are soft lights that accompany the natural lighting outside, slow tempo jazz music dimly playing from above, and tables are spaciously spread out, allowing for clear conversations between dinner guests. We were greeted by the warm staff and checking in went smoothly. We were shown to our tables that are formally adorned with white cloth, silverware, and a lovely petite floral arrangement.

Our server, Liam, led us through the menu in great detail. What surprised Gwen the most was how Liam was not afraid to say they did not know the answer and find out from the kitchen. This showed how much our server stressed the idea of taking care of its patrons.

As for the service, it was impressively well-paced. We did not have to wait long at all; bread rolls were served immediately with different flavored kinds of butter, and menus were presented. Ordering went quickly and food was brought out shortly afterwards. The charming atmosphere, swift service, and excellent server had us feeling excited for what was to come next.

Our drinks for the day were the apple pomegranate tea and the raspberry mojito. The tea was sweet and citrusy. The apple is bold at first sip, then the aftertaste is wholly taken over by spice. Not much pomegranate flavor was found. Nonetheless, it’s a warm, comfort type of drink. Later, Lina had found once the tea lost its heat, the drink became more of a cinnamon drink rather than apple pomegranate. The mojito was crisp and fruity. It was simple with raspberry syrup, a lemon-lime soda, and a few sprigs of mint. Gwen was impressed by the seltzer mix because of how refreshing it was, especially since the sun is peeking out more often.

From our bread and butter assortment, we had green walnut pesto butter and orange chipotle butter with the bread rolls. Gwen had liked the orange chipotle butter the most. The orange brightened the bread. It was sharp and left a pleasant salt aftertaste that became quite addicting.

At one side of the table was the vegan roasted buffalo cauliflower with ranch dip appetizer. The slightly sweet, tangy 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 gluten-free bacon wrapped dates. There’s sweet mush from the dates, crispy bacon, and its fatty juice. A lot is going on, but you cannot separate the two.

The bacon fat creates an emulsion with the sweet dates, though you can still taste each part individually. The bacon wrapped dates were meant to be enjoyed in one bite.

Together we had the vegetarian tomato caprese pasta with asparagus, cherry tomatoes, and mushrooms. First thing we had noticed was the sauce clings to the linguine and is nowhere near noodles doused in sauce. Instead, the sauce is light and doesn’t overwhelm the meal. To balance this, there is a portion of bold mushrooms, well-seasoned asparagus, and roasted cherry tomatoes. We both agreed the asparagus had us the most animated. We have never tasted such perfect asparagus til that day. We could taste the seasoning in all corners of the vegetable, like it’s practically ingrained. The wide combination of flavors calls for a rule that you cannot exclude any of these foods because they work well together. It was smokey, astringent, delicate, and savory. As a vegetarian meal, the entrée was exceptional. Many restaurants have limited vegan/vegetarian options, and this had such a wide variation of flavors on one plate.

Lastly, to tie up our meal, we had opted for the flourless chocolate cake and the rosewater beignets. The cake was dense and rich in dark chocolate, and the richness contrasted beautifully with fresh strawberries and a pistachio macaron. A bit of cream was plated on the beignet dessert and was decorated with tart raspberry sauce. The plate was simple and emphasized the floral scent and taste of the rosewater beignets. 

A theme we both picked up on was spring, and the meals made for us accentuated the springtime feeling. The drinks were not far from warm winter drinks and not close enough for cold summer beverages, but right between. The appetizers were creative and brave in mashing flavors. Like spring weather where it’s either sunny, snowing, or raining, the flavors are abundant. The entrées did an exceptional job to give vegetarian eaters a meal that is plentiful in textures, color, and taste.

Overall, the dining experience was delightful. Our server, Liam, allowed us to take our time eating, and talk through our notes. We were able to enjoy as much of the experience as we could. With wonderful service, delicious food, and a pleasant atmosphere, the meal at the Spartan Terrace restaurant is a fine dining experience one could not forget.