• Robert D. Burcenski
  • J. Thomas Alves
  • Video

BobSince opening Tallgrass in 1981, Chef Robert Burcenski and Maitre d' Thomas Alves have maintained the highest standards for cuisine, wine and service. Located in Lockport's historic district, considered the best preserved 19th century canal town in the Midwest. Tallgrass is housed in a lovingly restored 110-year-old red stone and brick Victorian building. Rich fruitwood wainscot, warm original gas chandeliers, cut crystal and polished silver create a soft, glittering light and warms the diners' anticipation of the gustatory treats to come.

Highly acclaimed Chef Robert Burcenski prepares elegantly garnished contemporary cuisine reflecting a world of influences. He leaves no detail to chance, even making his own service plates and bowls. A changing trio of double-flavored soups, offers six harmonious flavors in one bowl. Opulent salads follow stellar entrees such as lobster comme chez soi, herbed rack of lamb tapenade or various seasonal birds and mushrooms.

Tallgrass boasts an intelligent, reasonably priced wine list featuring small West Coast producers and the best of France and Italy. Towering desserts of chocolate and raspberries cap the perfect dining experience.

Named after the Tallgrass prairie in Illinois, Tallgrass is located 35 miles southwest of Chicago in the Illinois and Michigan National Heritage Corridor. Come and discover. Be delighted with the inventive and beautifully crafted combinations of tastes and visual enchantments found only at Tallgrass.

TomBorn and raised in Joliet (a few miles from Tallgrass). Tom has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in English and Music. Advanced studies in Music Education led to a fifteen year career in Music Education, and organist and choir director duties at various churches.

In 1981, Tom and partner Bob Burcenski restored an 1895 building and opened Tallgrass restaurant. Tom has traveled widely in Europe and studied oeneology in the Rhone, Burgundy, Champagne and Bordeaux. American wines have become Tom's passion and he has spent time with many of the new winemakers in Oregon, Washington and California.

Tom has been active in the City of Lockport, most notably the Heritage and Architecture commission on which he has served for eleven years and counting. Tom also serves on the site committee of the National Trust for Historic Preservation for the Gaylord Building in Lockport. Tom's free time is spent managing the Norton Concert Series, a classical chamber concert program in Lockport’s Norton Building.

In 1995 Tom and partner Bob Burcenski received the Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois' award for preservation leadership in Illinois. If Tallgrass is open, you can count on seeing Tom orchestrate the service and wine cellars of Tallgrass.



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