GENEVA — You know those meals that feel like something more than just fueling your body? Those meals that feel like an experience, a memory, something you’ll remember beyond dessert?
That’s what eating at Craft Urban felt like.
Well, of course, I didn’t eat "at" Craft Urban. (I deeply miss dining at restaurants in person.) But I did get takeout, a process that was simple and quick. They even wrote, “Thank you!” in nice script on the paper bag containing the meal, a sweet touch.
My friend and I had eaten a late lunch, so we split one entree and two small plates: slow-cooked pork shoulder, roasted carrots, and pierogies, which turned out to be the perfect amount of food.
To start, the carrots were served on a bed of whipped ricotta mixed with pesto. I have a pretty firm belief in the power of pesto or ricotta to make any dish better, and the two ingredients mixed together did not disappoint. The carrots were served with tangy greens drizzled with balsamic; I’d recommend getting a little bit of everything in each bite. The carrots were slightly less cooked than I expected, but they had great flavor and worked well with the accompanying elements.
Next, we dug into the main course, the slow-cooked pork shoulder. You could have cut it with a fork – that’s how tender it was. The meat was slightly glazed on top to make a delicious, crispy skin. Sort of smoky, it kept the flavor of the grill well. The dish had almost a hint of barbecue, but felt more upscale than your average pulled pork.
The meat was served on a bed of sweet-and-sour Brussels sprouts and “crispy quinoa,” a pairing I hadn’t tried previously. The Brussels sprouts were a combination of crispy and tender, a wonderful blend of textures better than anything I’ve ever accomplished in my own kitchen when it comes to that vegetable.
The quinoa was, indeed, delightfully crunchy, and mixed well with the Brussels sprouts and the sweet-and-sour glaze. By the end of the meal, my friend and I were trying to determine how to repeat the recipe in our own kitchens.
Last but not least, we split the pierogies. The dish came with three, plus a side of spicy cabbage slaw. The potato- and cheese-filled pierogies were topped with bits of crispy bacon and served with a tangy sauce. I’d recommend both bacon and the sauce with each bite if you can pull it off.
Chicago-born owner Bernie Laskowski opened Craft Urban in late 2017. The changing menu uses local ingredients, and the restaurant, which is just off Geneva’s Third Street and across from local bookstore Harvey’s Tales, has an upscale and colorful feel. I definitely will be back to eat in person as soon as it’s safe to do so.
• The Mystery Diner is a newsroom employee at the Kane County Chronicle. The diner's identity is not revealed to restaurant staff when ordering or picking up the food. If the Mystery Diner cannot recommend the establishment, we will not publish a review.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Craft Urban
WHERE: 211 James St., Geneva