You know your starter at a restaurant looks good when it attracts the eyes and interrupts the conversations of other diners on its way to your table.
That was the case when a coworker and I stopped into The Finery & Blacksmith Bar in downtown St. Charles for dinner on a recent weekday.
I was jazzed to check out the restaurant, having read much about it in this newspaper. As former Kane County Chronicle features editor and current Kane County Magazine editor Kara Silva wrote in October 2015, a few months after the restaurant opened: "David and Juliette Reyes of West Chicago opened The Finery, sharing the culinary stage as owners and working the kitchen in tandem. Classically trained in French cooking, the duo has created a contemporary, American menu that focuses on seasonality, finesse with flavors and locally-sourced ingredients."
After reading such descriptions about the restaurant, I was intrigued, to say the least.
So, back to that starter.
My coworker and I ordered the Cheese and Charcuterie board, which – on this day – came with blue cheese from Point Reyes, California; hand-dipped ricotta with local honey; an Anabasque sheep milk cheese from Wisconsin; house-made lamb terrine; prosciutto di Parma aged 600 days; South Cider Goose Salumi; and other items on which to nibble ($19).
On its way to our table, the board drew the attention of other diners, which made for a fun moment.
The starter was a great way to lead into dinner after a long day at work.
"The Cheese and Charcuterie options were a great mix of creamy and hard cheeses, and the house-made lamb terrine was lovely," commented my coworker.
To further enhance the meal, my coworker and I each ordered a glass of wine.
I ordered the 2014 Vinum Cellars pinto noir ($9), while my coworker ordered the happy hour "red pour," which cost $5.
Choosing an entree was an enjoyable experience at The Finery, as the menu offers many tempting options.
Among our server's recommendations was the Country Pheasant with black truffle, risotto, confit purse and pesto ($26), which is what I selected.
Meanwhile, my coworker placed an order for the Pressed Pork Belly with roasted acorn squash puree, maitake mushrooms, green harissa and a stout braise reduction ($19).
The Country Pheasant was a wonderfully delicious dish – the meat was so tender, the risotto cooked just right, all blending together well with the other ingredients. And the presentation was pleasing to the eye.
My coworker said the Pressed Pork Belly was perfectly cooked, "with a crispy skin and just enough fat-to-meat ratio to make it taste really rich and decadent. She added that the acorn squash puree was "absolutely delicious."
We capped off our meal with coffee. And we also ordered a brownie that included vanilla gelato, as well as orange and raspberry flavors ($7).
From the friendly and informative greeting we received from The Finery's host, to the excellent service provided by our server, our visit to the restaurant was an exceptional one.
A future visit might include another order of wine from The Finery's extensive wine list, or one of its hand-crafted cocktails or brews. And – with its seasonal menu – the restaurant will surely have more fantastic food to try in the future.
• 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 about once a month and then reports on the experience. If the Mystery Diner cannot recommend the establishment, we will not publish a review.
If you go
What: Finery & Blacksmith Bar, 305 W. Main St., St. Charles
Dinner hours: 4 to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; 4 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and 4 to 9 p.m. Sunday
Sunday Brunch hours: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
More info: 630-940-2380 or http://thefineryrestaurant.com