GENEVA – Craft beer abounds at the appropriately named Geneva Ale House located along downtown Geneva’s main drag. The theater marquee – which pokes out from the building’s facade – originally caught my interest, but what got me through the door was the word “Ale.”
A lengthy craft beer list is one way to reel in thirsty customers and brew enthusiasts, but combining a foamy libation with a succulent bacon burger with grilled onions and a fried egg squeezed between a Turano pretzel roll … it’s like shooting fish in a barrel.
The Ale House’s menu is concise, but why clutter a menu with a lot of superfluous items that aren’t going to make the grade. If a menu with an overabundance of items is what you seek, be thankful it’s the craft beer list giving your eyes a workout.
The beer list includes more than 130 IPAs, Belgians, wheats, porters and stouts, as well as 12 brews on draft. Intimidated? Don’t be. To spare the strain on your retinas, the beers are categorized by variety. Looking for an amber/red ale, a stout or a cider? No problem – just locate the appropriate category subhead.
Entering the restaurant around 6:30 p.m. on a Tuesday evening, the restaurant was busy, but not crowded. We sat ourselves – which seemed customary – at a high, six-top wood table along the wall.
A round of waters hit the table as my dining companion and I scanned the menus. Fish Tacos ($11.95), Sun-Dried Tomato Penne Pasta ($10.95) and a slew of sandwiches and burgers such as The Cubano panini ($9.95) and the aforementioned Ale House Burger ($11.95) graced the front and back of a single sheet of paper that served as the menu.
We put in an appetizer order of the Chicken Quesadillas ($9.95) after seeing a hefty portion of beautifully plated tortilla triangles delivered to a nearby table. Eight corn tortilla wedges filled with mushrooms, onions, red peppers and chihuahua cheese came with a side of sour cream and guacamole. The Quesadillas were pretty good, but on my next visit, I would be interested in tasting the slow-roasted pork belly tacos ($9.95) with jalapeño-maple barbecue glaze, shaved cabbage and grilled peaches on corn tortillas with guajillo pepper sauce.
Our waitress came around often. She was one of the best servers I’ve had in a while. She was personable, friendly and attentive, which just added to the overall experience.
For our entrees, we both opted for orders from the “sandwich family.”
Having ordered The Cubano on a previous visit to the Ale House, I decided to go with a sandwich I nearly ordered the last time – The Artichoke Chicken Panini ($8.95) with roasted bell peppers and onions, provolone and pesto.
Of the two, I highly recommend The Cubano with its slow roasted pork shoulder, smoked ham, Swiss cheese, crunchy pickles and red onions lathered with whole grain mustard and garlic aioli. It’s every bit as good as it sounds. For a slight additional cost ($1.50), order a side of Sweet Potato Fries served with a generous dusting of Parmesan cheese.
But, my dining companion had it right. She ordered Just A Burger ($8.95), made to her liking. A well-done Angus beef patty topped with melted cheddar cheese, crispy bacon, tomatoes, onions and lettuce atop a pickle-skewered pretzel roll.
Despite the fact that my dining companion ordered her burger well done, she said “it was still juicy.” The bite I snagged didn’t even need condiments or sauces.
A couple other interesting burger options included a Grilled Cheese Burger ($11.95), which comes served on two grilled cheese sandwiches; and the Campfire Burger ($10.95) topped with sharp cheddar cheese with maple-barbecue glazed pork belly, onion straws and spicy chipotle barbecue sauce.
All of the burgers are served on pretzel rolls and come with a choice of house-made potato chips, fries, onion straws or a small house salad.
Overall, the Geneva Ale House is just as much a restaurant as it is a bar. Fit for families, couples, or singles out for a night on the town, The Geneva Ale House has managed to find a way to cater to all despite being a steadfast affiliate of the craft-beer niche.
If you go
Address: 319 W. State St., Geneva
• The Mystery Diner is a newsroom employee at the Kane County Chronicle. The diner’s identity is not revealed to the restaurant staff before or during the meal. The Mystery Diner visits a different restaurant each week and then reports on the experience. If the Mystery Diner cannot recommend the establishment, we will not publish a review.