Allegory in Naperville makes a statement with creative farm-to-table fare

  • Chef/owner Christopher Mason shows off some of his culinary creations at Allegory in downtown Naperville.

      Chef/owner Christopher Mason shows off some of his culinary creations at Allegory in downtown Naperville. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • String lights hanging from the wood rafters add ambience to Allegory's dining room in downtown Naperville.

      String lights hanging from the wood rafters add ambience to Allegory's dining room in downtown Naperville. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • The Bea Elle Teigh (BLT) hand-held comes stacked with smoked bacon, fried green tomato, arugula and magic sauce at Allegory in Naperville.

      The Bea Elle Teigh (BLT) hand-held comes stacked with smoked bacon, fried green tomato, arugula and magic sauce at Allegory in Naperville. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • Allegory opened in November 2018 in Naperville.

      Allegory opened in November 2018 in Naperville. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • Diners can wait at the small bar at the entrance to Allegory in Naperville.

      Diners can wait at the small bar at the entrance to Allegory in Naperville. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • Allegory offers a city vibe in the heart of downtown Naperville.

      Allegory offers a city vibe in the heart of downtown Naperville. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

 
 
Posted9/26/2019 11:30 AM

Gone are the hundreds of garish hot sauce bottles on shelves lining the exposed brick walls and the Mardi Gras decor of the former Heaven on Seven in downtown Naperville. In its place are understated window frames and herb boxes spaced sparingly above each booth and string lights hanging from the wood rafters, evoking a casual outdoor patio feel at newish farm-to-table restaurant Allegory that took its place.

While the intimate long dining room with dark wood booths flanking either side and wood tables in the middle remains relatively unchanged -- the backlit bar still greets guests as you walk in -- what hasn't changed is the noise level. Which my friends and I commented on to each other almost immediately after being seated in the bustling space on a recent Saturday night. There's very much a city vibe here -- think boisterous conversations and pop/indie music played a touch too loud.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

No matter: We were here for the seasonal, locally sourced comfort food.

Start off with a fresh salad, such as the The High Life (grilled peaches, heirloom tomatoes, arugula, champagne vinaigrette, burrata, pickled red onion frizzle, balsamic and mint pesto), at Allegory in Naperville.
  Start off with a fresh salad, such as the The High Life (grilled peaches, heirloom tomatoes, arugula, champagne vinaigrette, burrata, pickled red onion frizzle, balsamic and mint pesto), at Allegory in Naperville. - Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

Lucky for us, we had an excellent, attentive and honest server to guide us in our culinary journey. Know this if you check Allegory's menu online before going: Don't set your sights on any one particular dish as it may not be available when you visit. As our server explained, chef/owner Christopher Mason likes to use the freshest locally sourced produce and meats available, so the day's dishes may change based on what is delivered to the restaurant that morning. Case in point, my friend wanted the Move to the Beet salad she saw on Allegory's website, but it wasn't available on our visit.

Instead, the Chef's Never Bored -- featuring various salamis, small bites of melt-in-your-mouth cheeses (the blue cheese was particularly creamy and notable), apple slices, green olives, addictive candied walnuts, three petite slices of bread and lavosh, and jam and mustard for dipping -- was a nice shared starter. Though more bread would have been welcome, the plate was a nice size for two or three diners to share. And it complemented my glass of pinot grigio.

From Allegory's Smalls portion of the menu, We Wanted to Cook Octopus includes baby octopus, chorizo, grape tomatoes, fingerling potatoes, pickled sweet peppers and olives atop sourdough crostini.
  From Allegory's Smalls portion of the menu, We Wanted to Cook Octopus includes baby octopus, chorizo, grape tomatoes, fingerling potatoes, pickled sweet peppers and olives atop sourdough crostini. - Brian Hill | Staff Photographer
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Looking over the day's menu, other Smalls (appetizers) that tempted were Tomates Verdes Fritos (fried green tomatoes, roasted sweet corn, grilled peach salsa and creme a la dilly dilly) and We Wanted to Cook Octopus (baby octopus, chorizo, grape tomatoes, fingerling potatoes, pickled sweet peppers, olives and sourdough crostini).

Moving on to the main course, I debated between the more rarely seen ratatouille (eggplant, zucchini, turnips, leek, fennel and grilled sourdough) and the Short Rib-less (12-hour braised short ribs atop roasted garlic red smashed potatoes covered in a wild mushroom demi sauce and topped with a fennel-onion-carrot slaw). Our server described the short ribs as a restaurant staple, so that's what I ordered, and I was not disappointed. The towering dish featured fork-tender short ribs in a delicious, comforting gravy that perfectly complemented the chunky garlic smashed potatoes. The carrot slaw added a nice, refreshing crunch to round out the dish.

The Right Angle features line-caught Walleye Pike, pan-roasted heirloom carrots and cauliflower and skillet potatoes at Allegory.
  The Right Angle features line-caught Walleye Pike, pan-roasted heirloom carrots and cauliflower and skillet potatoes at Allegory. - Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

My friend ordered the ratatouille, the flavorful veggies almost spilling over the individual cast-iron skillet. From the Hands-y portion of the menu (tongue-in-cheek descriptors are de rigueur throughout the menu), another dining companion tried the Bleu My Mind! burger featuring a thick, juicy hand-packed patty topped with arugula, horseradish crema, crispy mushrooms, Gorgonzola and onion frizzle on a buttered brioche bun with a side of house fries. While the burger itself was tasty, the Gorgonzola made it a little too rich.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 
You Cheeky Devil -- Korean barbecue braised beef cheek tacos with jicama slaw and red beans and rice -- could work well as a shared starter or an entree at Naperville's Allegory.
  You Cheeky Devil -- Korean barbecue braised beef cheek tacos with jicama slaw and red beans and rice -- could work well as a shared starter or an entree at Naperville's Allegory. - Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

For dessert, our server quickly mentioned the three homemade options: olive oil cake, deconstructed apple streusel and ice cream. Olive oil cake? Yes, really. Described as a sort of blond brownie with olives baked in the middle, our server rushed through the explanation saying that if you like olives you might enjoy it. Given how unusual it sounded, we tried it. It was an interesting combination of sweet and salty. "It was better than I expected," was one friend's response. The apple streusel, with two scoops of vanilla ice cream and a caramel drizzle, was a highlight.

Unfortunately, there wasn't a printed dessert menu, which would have been helpful for both us and our server. The noise level made it hard to hear if he said olive oil cake or olive cake. And we weren't offered coffee or after-dinner drinks, which we probably would have ordered considering that we stayed around for awhile after our meal chatting.

But those are minor quibbles to an otherwise delightful meal.

• • •

<URL destination="#photo5">Allegory

224 S. Main St., Naperville, (630) 536-8862, allegorynaperville.com/

Cuisine: Farm-to-table

Setting: Intimate, city vibe

Prices: $11-$25

Hours: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday, 10:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, closed Monday

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

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