He seemed hesitant at first and he wasn't sure what it was all about and I wasn't either. That first meeting was spent mostly at a table as they listened to a speaker and lots of orders were shouted around the room in military style. However, he decided to go back the next week and during that evening, they worked on building robots, which was right up his alley. By the third meeting, he was hooked and came home with a set of camouflage BDUs. Don't ask me what BDU stands for. I can't remember. They use a military ranking system and lots of military lingo that is foreign to me. Basically, it's a regular military uniform - pants, jacket (shirt) and cover (hat.)
Since joining about 10 months ago, he has ranked up three times, made it to pretty much every meeting and activity they've participated in. He's put in a bunch of service hours. He attended a week-long encampment on a working military base. He has been part of the color guard and joined the recently formed drill team which won the first annual group drill competition. After initially being pretty apprehensive about being up in a plane, he has twice gone for flights in small planes where he had an opportunity to help steer and man some controls. He's definitely found something he is passionate about and it's so great to see that. I've watched him transition from a kid to really maturing quite a bit before my eyes at the mere age of 13. He's become more responsible and has shown leadership and has become a more well-rounded individual since becoming part of the program. I can't say enough good about it. Whether or not he decides to enlist in one of the military branches later on or not, he's learning a lot of valuable tools that will serve him well no matter what path he takes.
Anyway, yes this is a food blog, so let's get on to the food. Parents were also invited to the ball, which gave us a glimpse into how such military functions operate. It included a pre-dinner ceremonial portion, dinner and dancing. This was my third or fourth visit to Orland Chateau in Orland Park and at each event I've gone to at this venue, a family style meal was served and each time I left feeling that they completely exceeded expectations. I go to a good number of events each year where the typical family style fair is passed around the table or scooped up at a buffet at a banquet hall - usually fried chicken, mostaccioli and beef - at sports banquets or showers or fundraisers or weddings or shows. While I like all three of those dishes, sometimes it's quite boring to completely know what to expect and to also expect that it might be decent food, but not the best quality. At Orland Chateau I know it's going to not exactly be the ordinary family style, but that it is going to be better than ordinary. For many family-style dinners, salad is served, but I love having the addition of soup at Orland Chateau. The cream of chicken soup is very good.
There was a nice variety for the meal - a seasoned, baked chicken with dressing, roast sirloin of beef that was medium, rather than well-done, mostaccioli with meat sauce, Italian sausage with red sauce and peppers, green beans almondine, mashed potatoes (that had a hint of garlic) and gravy. Everything was very good.
I love that dessert isn't the typical little round scoop of vanilla or sherbet. I normally pass on dessert at banquet halls, but this caramel praline ice cream with chocolate syrup did not go uneaten. And I enjoyed every bite.
I neglected to take photos of the inside of the hall, which is nicely decorated, although I'm not a fan of mirrors and the wall behind the head table was full of them, which isn't very conducive to photo taking. However, the lobby is charming with two elevated lounge areas at each end that make a great spot for group photos and a lovely fireplace that makes for a nice backdrop. If you are looking for an event venue in the south suburbs, I would definitely recommend Orland Chateau.
14500 S. LaGrange Ave.
Orland Park, IL