Allegory: A New Farm-to-Table Restaurant in Naperville, IL
After the incredible cold we had this week in Chicagoland, my husband and I decided to stretch our legs a bit. I needed to replenish a lot of spices in my cabinet, so we decided to take a walk around downtown Naperville, IL. I could get what I needed from the spice store and we could grab a late lunch.
We always enjoy trying new places, and when one of the long-time restaurants closed, we have been curious to see what would take its place. As we walked down the block, we saw that Allegory was open.
Front of Allegory on 224 S Main St, Naperville, Illinois
There were only a few tables occupied (late lunch, Sunday afternoon, day of the "Big Football Game"), and we were greated promptly by their Director of Beverages, Javier. He also waited on us. Javier was excited to here we were first-time diners and told us a quick summary of this new farm-to-table restaurant. He let us know that the menu is seasonal (with a few staples), and that Chef/Owner Christopher Mason likes to embrace local ingredients. This also includes the bar program with locally sourced beer on tap. He also gave us a few recommendations of his favorites from the menu to try.
The bar at Allegory
The atmosphere is laid-back and casual with a DIY (but very well executed) vibe. There is a beautiful skylight that filters through some natural light. Plants are growing in containers hanging from the ceiling and on the exposed brick walls. The exposed wood ceiling beams were decked in "bare bulb" party lights. All the plates were mix-and-match. We were served food on a peice of fine china with delicate clovers, a slab of slate, 1970s stonewear with maize and rust colored flowers, and a brown minimalist curved stoneware plate. It gave the feel that you have entered a backyard party from Pinterest, in the very best way.
I was excited as soon as I saw the menu. There was a lot to chose from. I also loved the humor in the menu. For example, their sides, or "Stuff" category lists "Capitol of Belgium" for their Brussels sprouts. Seriously, spend some time reading it in the image below or on their website. I also love how blunt they are with some items, such as the "We Wanted to Cook Octopus."
We started with two cocktails, shared a charcuterie board (you all know how much I love a good charcuterie board!), and we each had a salad for lunch. (I made Cincinnati-style chili this weekend, and we were both in need of some fresh greens to off-set that richness!)
Menu at Allegory
Detail of Allegory's bar. Check out that fresh cilantro!
Cocktails at Allegory
I ordered the "Rosa Keen" (on the left above). It's a riff on a margarita made with house cilantro-infused reposado, lime, curacao, and raspberry liqueur. Garnished with a sprig of cilantro, it was the perfect combination of sweet, tart, fruity, and herbal. My husband ordered the Allegory Old Fashioned. A classic cocktail with a twist - it included Brovospirits's Boomerang. A Chicago distillery that created a complex cherry amaro, named after cocktail gifts one bartender sends to another, called a "boomerang." It was nice to see both a local spirit and a local tradition on the bar menu. The Old Fashioned was rich and complex, and Javier, who also mixed our drinks, created it with perfection. We will be back to try the others on the menu and are looking forward to what new seasons will bring to the bar program at Allegory.
Chef''s Never Board
The next thing we ordered was the Chef's Never Board charcuterie board. There was a nice selection of cured meats and cheese, but the real star are the house-made accouterments: candied orange peel (incredible with the green olives), sugared cranberries, a blueberry compote, and a spicy ground mustard that I wanted on everything. The board also came with a few pieces of buttery chocolate-dressed English toffee. Unusual for a board like this, but not unwelcome. I saved mine for desert.
Next came the salads. My husband ordered their take on the classic caesar salad, "Kale, Caesar!" (above), and I ordered their riff on the hot dressing spinach and bacon salad, "Spinach & Bacon, Bacon, Bacon" (below). The caesar salad featured a variety of baby kale, house-made Parmesan and black pepper crisps, croutons, and a house made dressing that was heavier than normal on the anchovies (not a criticism - it complemented the kale). I only had a bite, but it was delicious.
Spinach and Bacon, Bacon, Bacon
My spinach and bacon salad featured shaved sunchokes (I'm not normally a fan of sunchokes, but these were really good, adding crispness and texture), chunks of bacon, bacon, bacon, sliced hard-boiled duck egg, pickled red onions, and a few candied walnuts. My dressing was not particularly "hot," more like slightly warmer than room temperature, but despite its cooling, the dressing did not start to separate or become greasy.
Our only disappointment with the salads is that they were a little on the small side for the price compared with other farm-to-table restaurants in the far western suburban area. While we didn't get any of the similarly-priced sandwiches, we saw them on other diner's plates and couldn't help but feel we should have gotten a few more greens for our green. But the flavors were amazing and we left feeling satisfied.
Overall, Allegory is an excellent new farm-to-table restaurant. Its flavors are fresh, seasonal, and local. Their staff is well-informed about the source of the ingredients and they are very familiar with all the items on the menu. The bar program is familiar, but with a modern twist, and I love the choice of local brews on tap. We will definitely be back for more. I know I have my eye on the "Killer Beet Hummus," the "Trout (Up a Creek)," and the "Pleasant Pheasant Pot Pie." Congratulations Allegory on a lovely new restaurant!