The Turf RoomAurora
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American eclectic cuisine and decor sets the agenda at the expansive Turf Room restaurant and wine bar in North Aurora. Ten barns gave their vintage wood in order to decorate the outside of the eatery, and the beauty of the space inside may be in its versatility. Four dining areas can be curtained off for private parties or more intimate ambience, including a fire pit area -- more of a lounge for noshing on updated appetizers and cocktails. The wine bar, separate from the main bar, seats about 35 and features soft chairs, a backdrop of racked reds and an incredible 50 global selections by the glass. Though the menu is fine dining, the mood is casual: Starters inclulde lobster corn dogs, tuna tartare and inventive brick oven pizzas (try shaved Parma ham and arugula or the "fungus among us," with portobello mushrooms, spinach and garlic cream). Chef Shawn Hartwig riffs on American classics in delighful ways, such as the meat loaf flight (three different versions with accompanying sauces) that can be matched with a wine flight. Seafood arrives daily, so order those freshwater prawns and Chilean sea bass entrees with abandon unless you'd rather go with a steak -- all are dry aged. The Turf Room is adjacent to an OTB, but you may think you've already hit the jackpot when dessert arrives. American classics, like carrot cake and chocolate cake with four different kinds of chocolate, are surefire winners.