GENEVA – A grand romantic gesture lies behind the naming of Restaurant Juliette, newly opened in Geneva to embody a charming Parisian bistro.
It’s the latest venture for chefs Juliette and David Reyes, who own The Finery & Blacksmith Bar in St. Charles and The Grandstander in Geneva. They have extensive culinary experience, including Michelin-starred restaurants in the U.S. and France.
“There’s an international influence in every restaurant we put together,” David Reyes said. “We stay focused on great ingredients and seasonality.”
The title of the new restaurant was kept a secret from its namesake by her husband, who thought it a perfect fit for a French bistro.
“Her mother being a Francophile spelled her name in the French form,” he said. “I joke about it with guests who come in. [Juliette] let me go to the World Series. The least I could do is name a restaurant after her. She’s been the driving force in my life, inspiring me to do better and work hard.”
The restaurant occupies the attractively appointed space of the former Hache, and the couple have added lighting and decor touches, including artwork on the theme of love.
The acquisition was unexpected, David Reyes said.
“The owners of Hache came to us and asked us if we wanted to partner up and take over 100 percent of the operation, and we agreed,” he said. “We have excellent staff to help us in every location and in every aspect – both in the kitchen and service.”
David and Juliette Reyes met while attending Kendall College culinary school in Chicago, rooted in classical French cuisine (kendall.edu/learn/culinary-arts). They said Restaurant Juliette brings them back to their roots.
“It’s a lot of fun for us to dabble in classical French,” David Reyes said. “Being a younger generation, we want to bring a little bit of modern thought and execution to some of the French bistro dishes. We’re doing everything from a classical ham sandwich with amazing goat butter on a beautiful baguette to bouillabaisse, and frog legs [in] tempura batter served with chutney and roasted squash.”
Juliette Reyes said other specialties include mussels with white wine and garlic; a frisee salad with bacon, blue cheese and duck egg; steak and fries; roast chicken with spinach and potato puree; and a French colonial sandwich inspired by some of the French Vietnamese dishes popular in Paris.
“Part of the thought process was to make that [new] space more than just a special occasion place,” David Reyes said. “The price point is approachable. We want to open up for lunch soon and offer a quick carry-out menu for businesses in Geneva … and then incorporate a delivery program. [We have] a good selection of sandwiches on our menu.”
He said they also will concentrate on quality wine selections at under $40 to pair with food.
And has Juliette Reyes adjusted to what’s in a name when it comes to the restaurant?
“I’m a very humble person, and I don’t like a lot of attention,” she said. “It’s definitely something I have to get used to. It’s something a lot of chefs aspire to. I appreciate it all.”
For now, Restaurant Juliette is open from 4 to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and is available for private parties. For information, call 630-402-0288.