North Avenue Charhouse assumed a place on the St. Charles dining scene late last year when new management renamed the existing venue -- once briefly known as Limani Port of Greece Restaurant -- to concentrate on steaks and chops, chicken and seafood.
Based on a recent visit, the reconceived kitchen is firing on all cylinders. From the shrimp de jonghe appetizer to London broil, the dishes I tried were perfectly executed, and service didn't miss a beat.
North Avenue Charhouse3755 E. Main St., St. Charles, (630) 443-6600, northavechar.com
Cuisine: Steaks and chops
Setting: Standalone spot across from Charlestowne Mall
Hours: 4 to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; 4 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Prior to the change in concept, the space also housed Odyssey Greek Taverna and, earlier still, Dimitri's Mediterranean Grill. A sprawling mural that maps the Mediterranean region remains intact on a wall in the large dining room, providing testimony of the site's one-time Hellenic focus.
Although moussaka, pastitsio and spanakopita are no longer menu items, some Greek classics prevail. Diners partial to the cuisine will encounter the flaming fried cheese appetizer known as saganaki; Greek salad; and Athenian chicken, among others.
Meat lovers will find themselves with plenty of choices, including 8- and 14-ounce cuts of prime rib, served Fridays and Saturdays. Hand-cut filet mignon, sirloin and rib-eye are featured, along with barbecue baby back ribs, broiled chop steak, baby beef liver and thick pork chops. Also available are lamb loin chops, served Greek-style upon request; various chicken preparations such as barbecue, picante, parmesan and with artichokes. Among the recent specials were New Zealand rack of lamb, flame broiled T-bone steak and Mediterranean salmon.
Rounding out the broad, if predictable, menu are sea bass (whole or filet), tilapia, various kebabs, sandwiches and a few pasta options.
The shrimp de jonghe starter, also available as an entree, came with six shrimp baked in a tasty garlic butter-and-seasoned breadcrumb mixture. It's a simple preparation, but unlike North Avenue Chophouse not all restaurants get it right.
Among other appetizers were stuffed mushrooms, fried calamari, Buffalo wings and filled potato skins.
The filleted London broil, a nice rosy pink on the inside as ordered, was topped with a mushroom and wine-enriched Bordelaise sauce. This entree, as well as that of a fellow diner's petite filet mignon, were plated with smashed potatoes and mixed vegetables (bell pepper, onion and zucchini). Dinner also included a bowl of soup (chicken and rice) or house salad.
If I were running the show, I would take a second look at the desserts. The house-made tiramisu was perfectly acceptable, but neither it nor other available choices -- cheesecake, chocolate cake a la mode and carrot cake -- held any surprises. Why not consider rotating something to the mix with a bit more flair?
The full-service bar mixes a half-dozen specialty martinis and other cocktails. Its tidy wine list features modestly priced reds and whites ranging in price from $7 to $9 a glass.
North Avenue Charhouse can seat some 300 guests in the dining room at tables and booths, some having a view of the restaurant's open kitchen. A fireplace adds warmth, aesthetically and physically.
A large adjoining banquet room can be booked for private events. In addition, the facility also offers a catering service.
• Restaurant reviews are based on one anonymous visit. The Daily Herald does not publish reviews of restaurants it cannot recommend.