If the names Chuck and Kara Pastor ring any bells, it's with good reason. They spent more than 13 years as owners of Chop's Steak & Seafood, expanding the menu and opening the Wine Bar in 2010. Before that, both held management positions at Cork 'n Cleaver. Together, they have decades of experience in the restaurant business.
The Pastors sold Chop's in 2014 to spend more time with family, but now they are back! In February, Chuck and Kara opened Pastor's Place, a soup, salad and sandwich shop located in the Northbrook Village Shopping Center at the corner of Dupont and Lima Roads (in the former Bagel Station location). Pastor's Place has limited hours, allowing the couple the opportunity to embrace their passions of owning their own restaurant while still spending time with their children. It is open from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Saturday, giving them plenty of time to get home and be with their children in the evenings. The menu is a combination of healthy and hearty, with a focus on fresh and locally sourced ingredients.
Pastor's Place is a small and cheerful space. Chuck greeted us on our first visit and was warm and welcoming. The restaurant has room to seat 50, with a side room that can be closed off for meetings. To reserve the private space for a meeting or special event, guests can simply call and request it. In addition to the dine-in menu, Pastor's Place also offers carry out, delivery and private evening reservations with customized amenities.
Chuck and Kara have always been customer service-focused and that continues in this new endeavor. Because it is a lunch spot, they understand the importance of fast and friendly service. Most dishes are ready within minutes. We were in and out in under 40 minutes at all of our visits.
Here are some highlights from the menu:
Pastor's House Salad ($9): Made with chopped iceberg, cheddar, blue cheese crumbles, bacon, tomato, egg, carrots, red onion and ranch dressing, this salad may remind you of the salad the Pastors made famous at Chop's, the Chop Salad. This salad comes in a heaping portion and is just as classic, and tasty, as the original version.
Nutty Kale Salad ($9): This salad is made with chopped kale, goat cheese crumbles, strawberries, radishes, nutty granola and honey mustard dressing. I enjoy the juxtaposition of the bitter Kale and radishes, smooth and savory cheese and the sweet crunch of the granola. The fresh strawberries make this salad taste like summer.
Guests may choose to add protein to any of the salads on the menu for an extra charge: $3 for chicken and $4 for ahi tuna or salmon. The salads may be turned into a wrap and served with a choice of side, as well.
Tornado Nate ($11): Named for Chuck's late father, this sandwich is made with pot roast, ham, turkey, salami, swiss cheese, chipotle mayonnaise and lettuce and served on a Dutch crunch roll. All it takes is one bite to taste the love and careful planning that goes into this sandwich. The pot roast is flavorful and moist, and it pairs well with the ham, turkey and salami. I was put off a bit at first by the combination of meats, but it works perfectly. The chipotle mayonnaise shines through and gives it a nice kick.
Lobster Roll ($11): Our waitress told us this is their most popular dish. Having scoped out the menu prior to my visit and put this at the top of my list, her endorsement confirmed my choice. Made with tender seasoned lobster, mayonnaise, celery and lettuce on a toasted roll, this dish is about as good as it gets for a lunchtime treat. The lobster tasted so fresh and was seasoned just right. The toasted roll was an excellent complement to the flavors and textures. I ordered mine with a side of kettle chips which provided a nice salty crunch to my lunch. I cannot wait to go back and have this again. Lobster has always been a special occasion treat for me, so to have it served so casually is very refreshing.
Pastor's Place features a glass case near the door with homemade baked goods and cheesecake. We opted to take a piece of cheesecake home to enjoy later. It was light and fluffy, as opposed to a typically dense cheesecake consistency, and it melted in our mouths. The restaurant also has big dill pickles available, and we opted to take one of those home, as well.
While Dupont Road is closed for construction this spring and summer, don't let that deter you. Pastor's Place is easily accessible via Lima Road from the north and south.