St. Charles, widely known as a well-rounded restaurant town, has long appeased the appetites of hungry diners with a hankering for everything from sushi to steak, pot stickers to pasta. Some eateries have endured to become revered institutions while others, after a splashy debut, quickly flamed out. But that doesn't inhibit ambitious newcomers from giving it a go.
One arrival that shows early promise is Top Table, a high-end establishment with a focus on steak, seafood and chops. The handsome 150-seat space sits in the Fox Island Square complex overlooking the Fox River.
Top Table1 W. Illinois St., St. Charles; (630) 945-3740, http://toptable.com
Cuisine: Steak, seafood and chops
Setting: Smart space with views of the Fox River
Hours: 5 to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday; brunch/lunch 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
And though three restaurant tenants have drifted in and out of the same location in recent memory, Top Table, owned by Nate and Amanda Drafall, has a "secret weapon" that just may change the tide. Its executive chef, Josef Yurisich, comes with impressive bona fides earned during his 22 years at the helm of Pheasant Run Resort's four kitchens.
Appetizers, priced from $10 to $14, generally follow the steakhouse script while showing some flair. Pesto-stuffed cremini mushrooms, Thai shrimp, panko-crusted lump crabcakes and Prince Edward Island mussels were among the choices. Diners also can opt for baked French onion soup or crab and lobster bisque as well as a grilled caesar or top wedge salad.
But such a la carte preliminaries may be dispensed with given that the entrees ($18-$50) are plated with some vegetable and include a choice of homemade soup (a creamy chicken with plenty of chicken, the night of my visit) or house salad with any of 10 made-from-scratch dressings, including a tasty caramelized onion balsamic vinaigrette.
Steak lovers, depending on their level of hunger and how much they're willing to spend, can opt for an aged center-cut 8-ounce filet, or ratchet up to a 24-ounce bone-in porterhouse. In-between possibilities include a 14-ounce New York strip, 16-ounce rib-eye and 18-ounce bone-in cowboy cut rib-eye. An even larger tomahawk-cut steak, surely enough to feed a small village, was on offer as a daily special. Slow-roasted prime rib, meanwhile, is available Thursday through Saturday. For an extra charge, nine optional toppings are available, such as bearnaise sauce, Maine lobster tail, blue cheese and blackened scallops.
I can vouch for the high quality and exquisite taste of the New Zealand lamb chop entree. Each of the three double-ribbed herb-crusted chops, came with garlic mustard. Accompaniments included garlic mashed potatoes, asparagus, carrots and cilantro pesto.
With her medium-rare petite filet topped with a roasted cipollini onion, my dining companion had sauteed mushrooms, green beans and waffle-cut sweet potato fries.
Among dishes rounding out the menu were citrus-crusted salmon, shrimp risotto, chicken ziti and a mesquite-rubbed pork chop.
The full bar serves specialty cocktails, beer and wine (mostly domestic), $7-$13 by the glass or $30-$130 by the bottle.
One unfortunate breach in the otherwise flawless service involved a lapse on the wait staff's part to initiate bread service until prompted, shortly before our entrees came to the table.
Our meal ended on a pleasant note with a shared order of salted caramel turtle pie, a delightful confection made with a chocolate crust, caramel sauce and Kimmer's Caramel Sea Salt ice cream, which is made at a shop in the same complex. The dish's single missing component was the pecans.
Other old friends popping up on the dessert list included creme brulee, New York cheesecake and a molten brandy truffle brownie.
• Restaurant reviews are based on one anonymous visit. The Daily Herald does not publish reviews of restaurants it cannot recommend.