ST. CHARLES – The Prime Bistro logo depicts a plump patty nestled between two buns with a steak knife holding it all together. Its concept is clear – burgers are the specialty.
Formerly River Rockhouse, Prime Bistro is a sports bar and burger joint with a selection of flatbread pizzas, sandwiches and salads.
The sprawling space is anchored by a hive of flat-screen TVs surrounded by a colossal bar. Reclaimed wooden planks scaling the interior walls give the lofty space a rich and textured contrast to the sleek bar top and soft, cushy booths. The square footage continues onto the covered back patio, which is great for dining al fresco during the warmer months.
The burgers are assembled using grass-fed beef, which is apparently half the cholesterol of a normal burger and also houses some of the “good” fatty acids found in olive oil, Prime Bistro owner Matt Dakan stated in a previous story the Kane County Chronicle published when the restaurant first opened in September.
The burgers are half-priced all day long Mondays, and there are plenty of crafty combinations from which to choose. The Cali burger comes with avocado, Swiss cheese, mixed greens, tomato and ranch; The Cowboy comes topped with onion rings, Applewood bacon, cheddar cheese and is smothered in barbecue sauce; and the Oooo it’s Hot! comes with Monterey Jack, pickled jalapeños, grilled onions and jalapeño cream cheese poppers, to name a few.
I narrowed in on the Mushroom Swiss burger ($12), which comes stacked with a heaping pile of sautéed mushrooms atop a melty, Swiss cheese-layered burger patty. The bun is buttered and spends a little time on the grill itself, giving its edges a slight charcoaled crunch to each succulent bite. As advertised in the logo, the burger came skewered with a steak knife. Burgers also come with a choice of French or sweet potato fries, baked broccoli or cole slaw.
Seasoned with a cinnamon, vanilla, sugar and caramel salt spice blend, the sweet potato fries were excellently executed, offering a tinge of sweetness that, rounded out the saltiness perfectly.
My dining companion, who was thrilled she had the option to order vegetables to accompany her burger, felt inclined to order the Blues burger ($12), a delicate layering of sautéed mushrooms, grilled onions, blue-cheese dressing and blue-cheese crumbles.
Of the many blue-cheese-centric burgers my dining companion has sampled at other establishments, she said Prime Bistro was one of the few that actually uses blue-cheese crumbles – and not just the dressing. A small attention to detail not lost on her.
We ordered the Cali Fries – which pay homage to the owner’s California roots – although they are nowhere near as healthy as one would imagine a California-inspired dish to be. A thick layer of tangy Thousand Island dressing and shredded cheese covered the salted fries, which were intertwined with grilled onions and topped with crunchy green onions. We devoured the dish in minutes, not because there weren’t enough for two ravenous diners but because of the combination of flavors that made my taste buds sing.
Prime Bistro offers another French-fry infused dish – the Honey Sweet Potato, which is sprinkled with cinnamon, brown sugar and doused in honey.
The bistro also serves up appetizers or bar food for sports fanatics wanting to munch while taking in a game. Options include an assortment of flavored wings, such as garlic butter, hot, ranch and barbecue; beer-battered onion rings, mozzarella sticks; and jalapeño poppers. All orders can be made in half or full sizes.
In addition, Dakan –having owned a pizzeria in California – offers a bevy of flatbread pizza options, including Hawaiian, Buffalo Chicken, Meat Lover and Chili Cheese Fries pizza, to name a few.
The restaurant was empty for lunch on Dec. 20, but it may have something to do with the turnover of the building and, possibly, its location. It’s seated on the outskirts of St. Charles’ main drag and hasn’t updated its signage just yet.
But give this place a chance. Whether it’s pub grub on game day, lunch with friends or taking advantage of half-price burger Mondays, Prime Bistro’s burgers are worth sinking your teeth into.
If you go
What: Prime Bistro
Where: 105 Walnut Ave. in St. Charles
Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday and 11:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday
• 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 restaurants and then reports on the experience. If the Mystery Diner cannot recommend the establishment, we will not publish a review.