Located in the former home of St. Charles Office Supply, The Office's food and drinks have been attracting big crowds since it opened in 2011. Its mellow atmosphere makes it well-suited for a breezy summer afternoon, a chilly winter night and everything in between.
Motif: The interior features dark wood tables, brown booths, and hanging orange and beige lamps. TVs are tuned to sports and shelves are covered with knickknacks like clocks, books and framed black-and-white portraits. The walls are decorated with sepia paintings, and the day's drink specials are spelled out on a chalkboard.
The Office201 E. Main St., St. Charles, (630) 549-0287, theofficestc.com
Hours: 11 a.m. to midnight Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday
A large outdoor space enclosed by brick walls and lush flower planters features fire tables, marble bar tops with flame jets in the center. It's an attractive look, but the bar tends to turn them on at sunset even when it's hot outside, making those seats overly warm and adding the smell of propane while the flames get going. Luckily the wood canopy above the table features a big fan that keeps the patio cool.
Crowd: The spot is very busy Friday and Saturday nights, especially when the weather is nice and demand for the patio is high. The casually dressed crowd consisted mostly of people in their 30s and up.
Service: Our server was friendly and showed an excellent knowledge of the menu and confidence making recommendations.
Food: The menu changes about three times a year to incorporate what's in season. Chef specials keep things fresh in between. Top items include the beet salad, nachos, pretzels and fish tacos. We started with the jerk chicken strips, lightly spiced kebabs that tasted particularly good dipped in sweet chili sauce. The beet salad lived up to its popularity, with a tasty dressing served on the side of a sizable plate of mixed lettuce and big slices of Granny Smith apples. It was particularly delicious with a skewer of grilled shrimp. We also tried one of the night's chef specials, a hearty and creamy baked macaroni and cheese. If you want to try the menu on the cheap, you can get discounts on some of The Office's appetizers during their happy hour from 3 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Liquid consumption: The Office beer menu shifts with the food selection to feature seasonal offerings. Look out for fine craft brews like Triple Karmeliet Belgian Ale and Rogue Dead Guy Ale. The cocktail selection was a mixed bag. I enjoyed the fruity but strong rumrunner, especially at the discounted price of $4. While our server told us the strawberry mojito is the house specialty, I found it overly sweet, tasting as if a strawberry ice pop had been dissolved in the drink. In addition to traditional sippers, the bar also offers a selection of office-themed drinks like The Promotion, a blend of Stoli Oranj, St. Germain and Prosecco, and The Secretary, made with Ketel One Citron, Grand Marnier, lime and cranberry juice.
Parking: A nearby free lot provides easy parking.
Overall: The Office offers a place for locals to hang out after work or anytime.