Bistro One West brings standouts to St. Charles
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Food that's rooted in what's familiar and overseen by a Culinary Institute of America grad. Scenic Fox River views. A large American wine list. That's the recipe for success at Bistro One West, a modern American restaurant along St. Charles' riverbank. It comes courtesy of George Guggeis, who owned and operated Mango, Grapes and Rhapsody in Chicago before opening this stunner in the former home of Erik & Me and Sage Bistro.
The rustic, loft-like dining room itself is a sight, with its dramatic blown glass lighting, gracious, warm wood details and art-dotted, exposed brick walls. As perfect as its interior feels during nippy weather, however, the expansive wood deck — which overlooks the water — is hard to beat. Adding appeal, the restaurant features live music there during warm weather.
Bistro One West
1 W. Illinois St., St. Charles, (630) 444-0600, bistro1west.com
Cuisine: Modern American
Setting: Rustic-chic dining room with Fox River views
Hours: Lunch Tuesday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.; dinner Tuesday through Saturday 5 to 10 p.m.
Entrees: $17 to $30
The dishes — fashioned by Doug D'Avico, an industry vet who worked at Trattoria No. 10 in Chicago's theater district — hardly take a back seat. Eclectic, seasonal selections are loaded with fresh, sometimes trendy ingredients. Most importantly, they taste plain good.
About the only problem you'll run into is narrowing down the options.
We began our meal with the deviled eggs filled with Maine lobster, a decadent dish stippled with sweet meat. Coupled with a first course of creamy, curd-filled burrata — fresh cheese accented simply by oven-roasted tomatoes, a sprinkle of sea salt and a whirl of olive oil — it was heaven on a plate. Still, we could have veered in any number of directions, be it a simple wedge salad with smoky bacon and blue cheese dressing; grilled goat cheese crostini with wild mushrooms and brandy cream sauce; or sweet-savory Marsala-poached pears with prosciutto. Then again, a dish of shaved, roasted beets with nopales, pickled jalapeños and crumbles of feta was tempting, too.
Entrees are no less challenging to settle on: The menu is filled with many likable items. That said, the pappardelle with Berkshire pork belly — composed of just-chewy-enough noodles and tender, fall-apart meat — is offset by tomatoes and does not disappoint. A safe, yet luxurious, alternative is the deeply flavorful, richly marbled Wagyu; we particularly loved its creamy, salty — OK, sultry — avocado butter topping, which melted into the accompanying fingerling potatoes.
One visit might also yield chicken stuffed with spinach and goat cheese; vegetarian-friendly roasted poblano with spicy lentils, spinach, feta, tomatoes and shallots; or salmon with bacon and Brussels sprouts. But the signature B1W, Meyer's Farm burger topped with lobster salad, may threaten to sway you in another direction.
We were stuffed by dessert time but forged on with caramelized bananas, plated with crunchy, cinnamon-y wontons and over-the-top Nutella cream. A bit lighter — and at this point in our meal, ideal — was the creamy vanilla gelato, which arrives with tangy-sweet balsamic and strawberries. Other options, should you save space, may include a pineapple upside down cake or bread pudding with poached fruit compote.
The restaurant offers a large, mid-price American wine list, while the lunch menu holds several of the dinner options at an even more cost-conscious price point.
Expect service that's friendly and efficient, if a bit rehearsed-feeling, making for a complete package.
In the end, our only question was: Is this place destination-worthy? Upon picturing a sun-drenched summer evening on the patio, the answer is an unequivocal "yes."
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