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Chef likes to keep it fresh at Lakeside Restaurant

1/16/13      Zion

Chef IIsmael Martinez Lakeside Restaurant located Illinois Beach Resort. | Dan Luedert~Sun-Times Media

1/16/13 Zion Chef IIsmael Martinez at the Lakeside Restaurant located in the Illinois Beach Resort. | Dan Luedert~Sun-Times Media

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at Illinois Beach Resort &
Conference Center

One Lake Front Drive, Zion

(847) 625-7300, ext. 603

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ZION — The Lakeside Restaurant at the Illinois Beach Resort & Conference Center is a great place where you can enjoy fine dining with a stunning view of Lake Michigan.

Head chef and general manager Marco Geurts literally transformed the menu at the place when he came here five years ago. A native of the Netherlands, Geurts, 44, moved to the United States in 1988.

He previously worked at Marriott Lincolnshire for 15 years. Geurts said he worked his way up to chef after doing everything from washing dishes to making salads.

“When I came here (to Lakeside Restaurant) a lot of things were frozen. Now I make sure everything is fresh, including the fish,” said Geurts.

Diners know the difference fresh food can make, and it shows. Besides locals popping in for a bite, the place gets a number of visitors regularly, including people staying for naval recruit training graduations, business meetings and weddings. “We do 80 weddings a year,” said Geurts.

The food is something to crow about. Morning appetites are comforted with hearty resort favorites including country fried steak, skillets and omelets. There are also pancake sandwiches, Belgian waffles, and biscuits and gravy.

Lunches feature everything from homemade chili and soups to ward off the cold (French onion is a popular choice), salads, and an array of sandwiches including fried catfish fillet, sesame chicken croissant, hot pork served open-faced with mashed potatoes and vegetable, and a 1/2-pound “beach burger” on a Kaiser roll.

But perhaps the most popular dish for lunch and dinner is the famous Lakeside fried chicken.

“It’s a half a chicken cut into four pieces, and it’s tender and juicy,” said the chef.

Dinner choices also include Yankee pot roast, orange roughy, peppercorn filet mignon, and seafood alfredo. There are even homemade pizzas.

And don’t miss out on the weekly specials.

On Wednesday nights, you can have a meal of filet mignon for two for $25; on Friday it’s the all-you-can-eat beer-battered cod fish fry; and Saturday its prime rib — two dinners for $25.

Buffets held on many major holidays including Easter, Mother’s Day and Thanksgiving feature prime rib, seafood, salads and sweets tables and tables of everything. In fact the offerings are so generous, you’d find it hard to try them all.

Some weekends offer the Mystery Dinner, a dinner/show which can include a special rate room stay, or just the meal with the theater. There are many other packages at the hotel including a bed and breakfast, a senior special and more.

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