In the fading summer light, soft breezes swept across my face as the encapsulating sounds of rustling tree leaves calmed my spirit. I began to relax with ease while nestled into an Adirondack chair situated on a wrap-around porch, where the smell of timber from its refurbished planks was still fresh. This is how my experience at Patten House Restaurant and Bar began.
As my mystery dining companion arrived, I hollered from the porch, “Welcome to my humble abode.”
Of course I was referring to lumber man George Patten’s stately, multi-level former home, located in Geneva’s historic district.
Built in 1857, The Patten House underwent a well-deserved renovation that began in 2013. It opened in June, after being transformed into a multi-dining-room lounge and restaurant, serving New Orleans’ Cajun-style cuisine. A fitting menu, as the structure – from the outside – is reminiscent of an old plantation home while also emanating a lodge-like quality. While at The Patten House, I felt as though I had escaped to another place in a simpler time.
Everything has been redone with grace, to a standard of excellence and while keeping true to the home’s historic charm.
After a quick, self-guided tour of the home, a necessity upon an inaugural visit (and trust me, you will be coming back), we decided to eat al fresco at one of the restaurant’s two outdoor patios.
Appetizers cost between $8 and $14, and entrees cost between $18 and $29. Entrees come with a choice of soup or house salad and garlic cheddar biscuits.
We started with the Crab Cakes and Grits ($12), two jumbo lump crab cakes with a side of stone-ground grits soaked in red pepper aioli. Our waitress, who was genuinely friendly, knowledgeable and engaging, also recommended the Honey Sriracha Glazed Brussel Sprouts ($8) with bacon, sriracha and a raw, honey drizzle; and the Catfish Nuggets ($10) with cornmeal breading, cayenne, lemon and Cajun remoulade.
My dining companion ordered the Cayenne Maple Glazed Alaskan Sockeye Salmon ($26) with grilled spring asparagus and roasted fingerling potatoes. I opted for the Pecan and Andouille Stuffed Chicken ($23) – all-natural chicken breast filled with Andouille sausage, pecan, dried cherries and goat cheese over a bed of creamed black kale with roasted fingerling potatoes in an apricot cream sauce.
The creamed kale added another flavor dimension to the dish, which included a subtle spiciness from the Andouille sausage and sweetness from the apricot cream sauce. I chose the gumbo to accompany my entree. The gumbo’s rice soaked up the savory broth and flavors pulled from large chunks of Andouille sausage.
Other entrees included the Shrimp, Chicken and Andouille Jambalaya ($19), which also was recommended; USDA Certified Angus Beef Tournedos with a cherry veal demi-glaze, melted triple cream brie, charred green beans and fried parsnips ($29); Bourbon Glazed Cornish Game Hen ($24); Peppercorn Wild Duck Breast ($25); and the Berkshire Pork Chop with pistachio cream sauce, sweet potato straw and a fried egg over a bed of braised spinach, to name a few.
Diners wanting to enjoy The Patten House experience for less can order from the restaurant’s list of eight sandwiches ($9 to $12), which come with fries or a house salad, or sweet potato fries for an $1 additional charge. Sandwich options include the Cajun Shrimp Po Boy, Muffaletta, Grilled Jerk Chicken and Country Fried Pork – a Panko bread pork cutlet, fried egg, house slaw and country gravy on a toasted ciabatta roll.
The entrée portions are sizeable, and our meal ended in each of us toting leftover containers. But despite this fact, we couldn’t resist the temptation of the dessert menu, which features a New Orleans favorite – Beignets ($6). One of the highlights of the meal, the fried beignets were bite-size, had a sprinkling of powdered sugar and were drizzled with raw honey.
I’m grateful to owner and St. Charles resident Nancy Luyten for taking on the behemoth role of historic home rehabilitation and preservation, but even more so, for sharing The Patten House with the community. It’s a place for friends to gather and enjoy good food with all the comforts of home.
• 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 each week and then reports on the experience. If the Mystery Diner cannot recommend the establishment, we will not publish a review.