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Mystery Diner: Fiora’s casual sophistication satisfies lunch crowd

Published: Thursday, March 27, 2014 5:00 a.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, April 23, 2014 4:41 p.m. CDT
Caption
(Shaw Media photo)
Fiora’s in Geneva features the Maryland Crab Cakes ($13.95) with remoulade and a citrus vinaigrette estate salad on its lunch menu.

Fiora’s, the alluring yellow mansion set back from Third Street in historic downtown Geneva, has been wooing diners with its European-influenced American cuisine for years.

Voted best restaurant in the Kane County Chronicle’s Best of the Fox readers’ choice contest for two years in a row (2012 and 2013), the charming eatery offers a fine-dining experience and extensive fine-wine list. The “fine-dining” concept has a tendency to scare off some diners, but Fiora’s space radiates casual elegance and exudes old-world charm. Dining at Fiora’s is like being invited into the beautiful home of a well-to-do friend. The staff is warm and welcoming, attentive and well-versed in the menu and its offerings.

For those wanting to try Fiora’s – but who may not have a robust-enough checking-account balance to splurge – visit the restaurant for lunch. The most expensive items on the lunch menu are the Nicoise Salad – salmon over mixed greens, tomatoes, green beans, kalamata olives, red potatoes and egg with a red wine vinaigrette – and the Maryland Crab Cakes – with remoulade and served with a citrus vinaigrette estate salad – for $13.95 each.

If day-drinking is an option, everything on the lunch menu comes with recommended wine and beer pairings to take the guess work out of ordering.

The restaurant is divided into an assemblage of rooms, including the black-and-white-checker-floored Sun Room with floor-to-ceiling windows; the Chandelier Room, complete with fireplace; the fully-stocked Rustic Wine Cellar Room; the Library Wine Bar with shelves of old, leather-bound books; and the Private Dining Room. Fiora’s also has a spacious, seasonal outdoor patio.

Seated at a table in the Chandelier Room for lunch on a Thursday afternoon, my dining companion and I ordered the Lobster Bisque soup ($5.95) topped with creme fraiche to share and – on a recommendation from our waitress – the Lincet Delice De Bourgogne ($5.95), one of five artisan cheese offerings.

The Bourgogne is a rich, triple-cream cheese that melted in our mouths. Over a crostini, I smeared a creamy layer of Bourgogne and added quince jam for a tinge of sweetness to balance the cheese’s aroma. You can order a selection of three cheeses to sample for $15.95, which also comes with apricots, figs marinated in brandy, toasted pecans, crostini and quince jelly. Feel free to ask for more crostini if you run out – we did.

The rich, savory flavor of the Lobster Bisque left me wanting more. Our waitress separated the bisque into two portions since she knew we were sharing – a nice gesture, but she inadvertently foiled my plans of “accidentally” consuming more than my fair-share.

The Maryland Crab Cakes delivered on taste, but lacked in size. I expected them to be about the size of a hockey puck, but they were each more like the size of a doorknob.

The Waldorf Chicken Salad Sandwich ($10.95) – a popular menu item – was a mayonnaise-based melding of chopped chicken breast, Granny-Smith apples, red grapes, celery and onions between a croissant. The buttery, flakiness of the croissant teamed nicely with the creamy, crunchy textures of the chicken salad. The sandwiches come with a choice of citrus vinaigrette estate salad, seasoned fries or house chips.

Another noteworthy sandwich was the Chef’s Burger, with smoky, steak seasoned Angus beef, Guinness aioli, Irish cheddar and beer-braised onions on a pretzel roll ($12.95).

Fiora’s food, atmosphere and hospitable staff make it a fine-dining establishment but without the stuffiness generally associated with the term.

Fiora’s is a place that you can come in and feel like home.

IF YOU GO

WHAT: Fiora’s

WHERE: 317 S. Third St., Geneva

HOURS: Lunch is served from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., and dinner is served from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

INFO: 630-262-1317 or www.fioras.com

• 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 different restaurants and then reports on the experience. If the Mystery Diner cannot recommend the establishment, we will not publish a review.

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