It was about a year and a half ago when, after a delightful discussion of the menu for Danny's communion party we were hosting at All Chocolate Kitchen, I casually said to Esther Roby that they should just open a full restaurant. She replied that actually the space next door was available and they were considering it. I secretly crossed my fingers and wished her all the best in the decision making.
I spent the next year eagerly awaiting the opening of the Robys' new restaurant. Esther never revealed the concept, but at some point hinted at French Country. From that little hint, I imagined an extension of ACK with the same dark wood furniture and rustic French food. Then, on one gorgeous early fall day, we managed to peek inside the new space through a tiny gap between the sheets of paper that covered the window. Inside the long narrow space, the drywall was already up, there was a bar along the back wall, and I saw chairs. Stacked on top of each other, the chairs were not French Country at all! The chairs were made of high quality molded plastic, with white comfortable seats, gray frames, and Swiss cheese bright orange backs. They were striking, ultra modern, and unmistakably Italian. Staring at those chairs, I realized at that moment that whatever the Robys were planning was going to be completely different from All Chocolate Kitchen and absolutely amazing.
Primo means First Course in Italian. The concept is very simple - cheese and wine in an amazing intimate setting. Or caviar and champagne, if you'd like. Yes, it's on the menu, and yes this very picky Russian approves their choice of caviar. And it's real champagne! Which you can order by the glass as well.
|Chef Alain Roby's Chocolate Rig
|Who needs marble when you can have sugar? The incredible sugar wall.
We chose the Chef's Choice Charcuterie to start, although you can assemble your own by choosing all the meats and cheeses. But I had to have the pâté, of course. One just has to have it when it's on the menu and it's a French Chef! It was divine: smooth, moist, the right color, right texture. The charcuterie arrived on a long white ceramic tray with a mini Moroccan tagine containing fig toasts, fig butter, a couple of gherkins, and a divine tiny red pepper stuffed with chevre cheese. It was recommended by Steven, our server, to pair the fig butter with our cheeses. Perfect! I recommend saving the little pepper morsel to the end, it has a soft kick to it and will finish off the charcuterie quite nicely. Since I have to stay away from red wine unfortunately, our wine selection was Chateauneuf du Pape Blanc. We had a hard time deciding on our next round, and after long deliberations went with Short Ribs with Lentils and Lamb Shank with White Beans.
|Oh, the Lamb!
The Lamb... it was so soft and delicate, it just fell off the bone. No knife needed. It is quite flavorful (I'm sure the marinade is an old family secret) and pairs well with the creaminess of white beans.
The Short Ribs with red wine sauce were tender, succulent, and robust in flavor. I loved how the lentils finished the dish off. One of our friends seated next to us ordered the Smoked Salmon. It was accompanied by a poached egg (still hot and oozy) inside a brioche. It looked amazing, I will have to get that next time. After the champagne and caviar of course. All plates were generous enough to share between two people.
We even had room for dessert. You just can not go to a Chef Roby restaurant and not have dessert! We went with the Devil's Food Cake and Flourless Chocolate Cake. By the way, Chef Roby whips the best whipped cream. One day I will just ask for the whipped cream covered in his raspberry sauce.
|The cozy corner with sugar table.
All Chocolate Kitchen Primo
29 S 3rd Street, Geneva, IL
630 232 2280
Open Wed-Thur 5-9 pm. Fri-Sat 5-10 pm.
Please note that the restaurant is 21 and older.
Reservations are highly recommended.
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