ST. CHARLES – A taste of Europe that combines an inviting fast-casual restaurant with a delicatessen and a market full of imported specialties awaits at the recently opened DRM, a European cafe and deli on Route 64 just east of downtown St. Charles.
For a quick and hearty lunch serving everything from schnitzel to potato pancakes, a hot buffet is offered from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Strudel and cheese blintzes are some of the sweet temptations, and the shop carries items from local artisan bakers and farmers.
Dan Migo’s first restaurant, which bears his initials, a former chef who has been an avid cook since childhood and who operates DRM with his wife, Joanna.
Born in Poland, he arrived in St. Charles about 30 years ago, his family sponsored by St. John Neumann Catholic Church. Migo said he opened DRM to give something back to the community he loves that would reflect his heritage and the foods he grew up with, adding he has expanded the range of cuisines beyond Poland.
“I lived in Germany and Austria,” he said. “Why not do a small intimate gathering with some little bits [that are also] German, Czech … Lithuanian.”
He said offerings extend to food from Belgium, Sweden and Denmark – describing it as all over the map, including Italy in a nod to his wife’s heritage.
“We thought originally we’d be a boutique grocery store, but … we are more of a deli lunch crowd,” Migo said. “We’re concentrating more on the deli and hot buffet lunch. We have classics and always add something different – goulash today, Polish sausage with caramelized onions and green peppers. Staples [such as] stuffed cabbage rolls, schnitzel, potato pancakes and pierogi are always available.”
The attractive restaurant section is near the large front windows, where tablecloth-clad booths and tables are set off by a wall-size photograph of the market square in the Polish city of Poznan. Patio seating with umbrellas for shade also is available.
One can order wine by the glass and beer by the bottle for consumption on the premises. In an age of local craft brewers, patrons can go back to Old World sources with selections from such countries as Germany, Poland, Lithuania and the Czech Republic, including a dark beer, Hirter Morchl, from Austria’s oldest brewery, founded in the 1200s.
Migo said the deli offers smoked hams, cheeses, pork loins, tenderloins and homemade sausages, as well as different meats from Germany.
“And we have common items for people who may be less adventurous,” he said. “You can get turkey, roast beef, pastrami and corned beef sandwiches.”
Lettuce wraps are available for people avoiding bread, and there are soups and salad.
Specialty items, including gluten-free baked goods, which must be ordered in advance, are available from Monika’s Organic Bakery, one of the German bakers who helps stock the pastry display.
The shop offers some staples such as flour and sugar, as well as Amish eggs and butter. A bakery delivers multigrain, pumpernickel, rye, German and whole-grain breads three times a week.
Shelves tempt appetites with imported jams; honeys; candy from Germany, Belgium, Italy and Poland; chocolate; pickled vegetables; ice cream from Lithuania and Russia; cookies; crackers; mustards; ketchups; fruit juices; herbal syrups; cooking ingredients; and numerous other edibles.
“The thing about European pastries and desserts is they are not overly sweet,” Migo said.
And apt accompaniment is a cup of espresso or other specialty coffee or tea, with a variety of syrups to customize them. DRM serves Lavazza coffee from Italy.
Music lovers can catch Mark Denney playing from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
“My material is strongly rooted in Irish traditional music played on the five-string banjo and solo guitar,” Denney said in an email. “To keep things interesting, I mix up the sets with bits of light classical and pop and folk.”
With DRM, Migo said he strived to create something adventurous and completely different for the area.
DRM is located at 610 E. Main St. in St. Charles, and is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday; and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. For more information, call 630-940-2882 or visit drmeurocafe.com.