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updated: 12/21/2015 11:13 AM

St. Charles' The Finery expertly incorporates farm-to-table philosophy

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  • David and Juliette Reyes, owners of The Finery & Blacksmith Bar in St. Charles, pride themselves on their restaurant's farm-to-table concept.

      David and Juliette Reyes, owners of The Finery & Blacksmith Bar in St. Charles, pride themselves on their restaurant's farm-to-table concept.
    Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • Hungry? The Finery's burger of the month looks to satisfy. Order it with a craft beer like the 5 Rabbit Super Pils.

      Hungry? The Finery's burger of the month looks to satisfy. Order it with a craft beer like the 5 Rabbit Super Pils.
    Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • Our reviewer enjoyed The Finery's fried artichoke hearts appetizer, which comes served with a tomato jam, a lively paprika aioli and a sprinkling of herbs.

      Our reviewer enjoyed The Finery's fried artichoke hearts appetizer, which comes served with a tomato jam, a lively paprika aioli and a sprinkling of herbs.
    Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • Samples of the local beers on tap at The Finery & Blacksmith Bar are displayed in jars for patrons to judge the colors.

      Samples of the local beers on tap at The Finery & Blacksmith Bar are displayed in jars for patrons to judge the colors.
    Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • The flavorful country pheasant entree comes plated with a creamy risotto and a savory confit purse at The Finery & Blacksmith Bar in St. Charles.

      The flavorful country pheasant entree comes plated with a creamy risotto and a savory confit purse at The Finery & Blacksmith Bar in St. Charles.
    Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • The perfectly seasoned pan-seared black sea bass is accompanied by a leek-potato puree, sauteed spinach and homemade waffle chips at The Finery.

      The perfectly seasoned pan-seared black sea bass is accompanied by a leek-potato puree, sauteed spinach and homemade waffle chips at The Finery.
    Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • The Finery's apple tart is made with apples from the owners' own tree.

      The Finery's apple tart is made with apples from the owners' own tree.
    Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • The quaint bar at The Finery & Blacksmith Bar in St. Charles seats six.

      The quaint bar at The Finery & Blacksmith Bar in St. Charles seats six.
    Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • Menu specials are written on the tile walls at The Finery in St. Charles.

      Menu specials are written on the tile walls at The Finery in St. Charles.
    Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • The Finery & Blacksmith Bar in St. Charles once served as the area's first blacksmith shop.

      The Finery & Blacksmith Bar in St. Charles once served as the area's first blacksmith shop.
    Rick West | Staff Photographer

 
By Thomas Witom
Daily Herald Correspondent

The Finery & Blacksmith Bar's opening in late July has reinforced St. Charles' growing reputation as a serious restaurant town.

Its co-owners and chefs, David Reyes and his wife, Juliette, bring knowledge, passion and a thoroughly professional approach to their new establishment on Main Street.

While a number of restaurants publicly endorse the farm-to-table concept and claim to adjust their menu to reflect seasonality, the follow-through isn't always there. But the Reyes seem to have incorporated these elements as essential to their operating philosophy.

The intimate Finery is housed in a beautifully maintained turn-of-the-century historic building that once served as the area's first blacksmith shop. Exposed brickwork, soft lighting and rustic distressed-wood tables and paintings of hunting scenes all harmoniously create a timeless vibe. This also extends to The Finery's small bar, which only seats six. Even so, the bartenders turn out specialty cocktails and craft beers, and the restaurant stocks an accessible wine cellar bearing domestic and international labels.

The 75-seat restaurant calls its fare -- with regionally sourced ingredients where possible -- "an ode to the American table with its diversity and global influence." Those influences reflect David Reyes' Italian, Spanish and Mexican heritage and background working in France for a two-star Michelin-rated restaurant and at multiple U.S. eateries.

Diners will not want for choices given The Finery's creative menu, which includes an appealing appetizer of tasty fried artichoke hearts served with a tomato jam, a lively paprika aioli and a sprinkling of herbs.

Among other starter possibilities are shrimp ceviche with jicama, cilantro, mango and coconut froth; grilled Malpeque oysters charred with Creole sauce, aged Parmesan and onion marmalade; and a cheese and charcuterie offering that changes every day.

Country pheasant, a signature dish worth getting to know, featured flavorful breast meat marinated in fresh truffle and pesto. This delicious main course was plated with a creamy risotto topped with sliced pheasant and a savory confit purse in which some of the meat was baked in a thin pastry.

Fish options change regularly, and during a recent visit my dining companion opted for the sea bass, which came perfectly seasoned and cooked with crisp skin and juicy flesh. Accompaniments included a leek-potato puree, sauteed spinach and homemade waffle chips.

Flat iron steak, braised pork belly and a couple of vegetarian dishes (ratatouille and chive gnocchi) also were available.

To finish our meal, we tried the chef-recommended apple tart, which came with a flaky lemon-butter crust and a scoop of salted-caramel vanilla ice cream. The apples in this luscious course came from the Reyes' own tree.

Buttermilk panna cotta, almond pound cake and a chocolate brownie rounded out the dessert offerings on our visit.

If you prefer to stop by earlier, say from 3 to 5 p.m. during the daily happy hour, you'll find discounts on beers and select appetizers, plus the ever-changing burger of the month -- from Illinois-sourced, grass-fed cows -- goes for half-price. Or stop by from 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesdays for live acoustic music. And check The Finery's website for details on plans to initiate brunch service on Saturdays and Sundays.

Restaurant reviews are based on one anonymous visit. The Daily Herald does not publish reviews of restaurants it cannot recommend.

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