New Algonquin eatery Bold American Fare makes quite a statement - Bold American Fare
  • 8 South Main Street, Algonquin, IL 60102
  • (224) 678 7589

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Daily Herald, 8/16/2017, by Jackie Runice

In the culinary Zeitgeist, new restaurant names seem to be intentionally quizzical in an effort to be clever: think Chicago eateries like Daisies, Parachute or Wood. I’m glad Algonquin’s new Bold American Fare puts its creative effort on the plate and in the glass, boldly going where few McHenry County eateries have gone before.

Ghosts of businesses past in this space on Algonquin’s Main Street include Village Hall, a butcher shop and countless watering holes. Greg Geigel was an original owner of the previous restaurant in the same location: Martini’s on Main. And his newest incarnation ensconced in the 1893 building doesn’t look very different. But the kitchen is turning out some decidedly delicious twists on American food via executive chef Mat Lucas. The cozy space, featuring deep raspberry walls, gleaming cherrywood floors, an original tin ceiling and photos of old Algonquin, can seat about 50 people inside and another 30 on the outside patio. The cherrywood bar has a granite top that seats about a dozen for drinks or dinner. The Thursday night we visited, some couples chose to dine there.

Bold American Fare
8 S. Main St., Algonquin, (224) 678-7589, boldamericanfare.com/

Cuisine: Farm-to-table American with a twist

Setting: Cozy space in a historic building

Prices: Small plates: $6-$19; steaks and chops start at $26; entrees: $14-$32; dessert: $6-$10

Hours: 4 to 11 p.m. Monday; 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. Tuesday through Saturday; 2 to 10 p.m. Sunday

Geigel’s idea was to fashion a casual yet high-end menu unlike the Italian, breakfast and pizza places Main Street currently offers. Bold American Fare’s kitchen stays open until 10:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays (and until 10 p.m. other days) offering small plates of chicken and waffles, crocks of lobster chowder, and hearty entrees of steak and seafood. It’s a small room, allowing the kitchen to focus on preparing super fresh food made to order while taking creative risks.

My newly minted college grad son and I opted for a couple of signature cocktails and agreed that both the Mai Tai ($9) and Raspberry Lemon Drop ($8) were boozy yet bright. Processed stuff is verboten at the bar, so the Mai Tai sings with fresh juice and puree and the fruity martini was balanced by a tart lemon ice puree. Taking a cue from the city, signature cocktails rely more on whiskey, bourbon and tequila as opposed to the tired vodka martini concoctions still overwhelming suburban menus. The wine list is primarily American, naturally, and suds lovers can choose from 25 beers and microbrews (none on draft) including locals from Algonquin and Crystal Lake breweries.

The Southern fried alligator tail is served with horseradish aioli at Bold American Fare in Algonquin.

The Southern fried alligator tail is served with horseradish aioli at Bold American Fare in Algonquin. (photo by Brian Hill | Staff Photographer)

The “bold” moniker is genuine from the get-go with a selection of 10 small plates like Southern fried alligator tail served with horseradish aioli; popcorn chicken in a waffle cone with bacon, lettuce, tomato and house-made ranch dressing; cornmeal-crusted squid escorted by spicy cocktail sauce; and crispy maple bourbon-braised pork belly with jalapeño cheddar grits. Wow, right?

We weren’t exactly plucky diners choosing the seared yellowfin tuna sided with superfood slaw and avocado cream ($14), but we were unable to overlook the nice, clean slices of tuna. The fish was perfectly fresh in a generous amount. The superfood slaw (shaved Brussels sprouts, kale, broccoli, carrots, cabbage and radicchio) surprised with its piquancy. It was a perfect complement to the silky tuna. My kid likes none of those vegetables, but our forks fought over the last bits.

Cool off with a Bold Redemption at Algonquin's Bold American Fare.

Cool off with a Bold Redemption at Algonquin’s Bold American Fare. – Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

My son is incapable of passing up French onion soup, even on a sultry summer day. Chef Lucas’ recipe ($6) involves onions sautéed in butter for a good hour, homemade beef stock doused with bourbon and some Marsala wine for a dash of sweetness, plus the very necessary aged Gruyere melted over the crock.

Chicken and waffles is a chef specialty. Thighs are marinated in buttermilk and hot sauce and when ordered, they’re dipped into a special breading mix and deep-fried. Pearl sugar in the waffles provides a sweet crunch. And if it’s offered with maple bacon aioli, you just may see stars. Geigel and Lucas say that diners are raving about the lobster pop tart and Diver scallops small plates, too.

The lobster pot pie appeals at Bold American Fare in Algonquin.

The lobster pot pie appeals at Bold American Fare in Algonquin. – Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

Bold American Fare doesn’t disappoint carnivores with its prime grade Iowa beef sourced from Buckhead Beef in Hampshire. Steaks are dry-aged, and among the seven choices, Lucas likes the Tomahawk Rib Eye because you can’t beat a bone-in steak for flavor. Steaks are hand-cut, pork (like the 16-ounce bourbon-brined Cheshire bone-in pork chop) hails from White Marble Farms in Iowa, and the lamb chops are from South Dakota. Seafood travels from Boston Fish Market in Des Plaines. Since Bold American Fare is petite, Lucas gets deliveries three times a week to insure freshness.

My son went for the New Mexico barbecued salmon, a generously sized hunk of sweetly spiced fish sided with Chipotle lime brown rice and red quinoa pilaf and fire-roasted vegetables ($24). I was thrilled that a) it was substantial at that price point and b) he loved it.

I ordered meatloaf, a dish (I later discovered) that holds a special place in Lucas’ heart. It’s primarily his mom’s recipe (although mom didn’t use pricey wagyu beef or wrap it in bacon). The moist mound of beef came with gravy-doused garlic mashed spuds, sautéed broccolini and onion straws ($18). I took the other half home for a comforting dinner the next night, too. The eatery’s burger is made from the same flavorful wagyu beef (essentially the American version of Japanese Kobe beef).

Bold American Fare's cowboy rib-eye entices at the new Algonquin eatery.

Bold American Fare’s cowboy rib-eye entices at the new Algonquin eatery. – Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

Steaks are pricey, but high-quality beef isn’t cheap and you get the choice of two sides included (try sautéed forest mushrooms; caramelized Brussels sprouts with crispy pork belly; or creamed spinach among the lot). You’ll find entrees for less than $20, too, like a roasted half chicken or adult spaghetti-os pasta in a sweet and tangy tomato sauce with wagyu beef meatballs.

The menu changes seasonally, so I’d like to return before Lucas’ pan-seared Florida snapper is gone. It’s served with crab fried rice — a fun toss of fire-roasted corn, peas, carrots, roasted poblano, jalapeño peppers and rice. Then again, that lobster pot pie sounds mighty tempting, too. Autumn will bring braised meats to the menu like tender lamb shanks.

The Fat Elvis will make your dessert taste buds water at Bold American Fare.

The Fat Elvis will make your dessert taste buds water at Bold American Fare. – Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

Desserts change weekly, and Lucas says to check Facebook for specials. When we visited, “Charlie Brown’s Girlfriend” was an exhilarating mint mousse with a layer of fudge and Peppermint Patties on a mint Oreo crust all topped with Schnapps-infused whipped cream. The $10 serving is undeniably meant for two or more diners. Go for the cheesecake ($7), another recipe of his mom’s, featuring an unusual crust made with Zweiback toast.

There was a monsoon sweeping through town the night we visited, however, the bar was filled with chatty diners. Geigel says Fridays and Saturdays are extremely busy because of the smallish space, so take advantage of the weekday specials: get 50 percent off all small plates on Tuesdays (mention Tapas Tuesday to your server before ordering), and the Sunday deal includes all-you-can-eat ribs plus baked beans and slaw for $27.

Bold American Fare’s appealing selection of small plates, high-quality ingredients, generous portions and modern dishes you can’t find elsewhere in the Northwest Suburbs should earn it a spot on your must-try list. The lobster pot pie and alligator tail are waiting for you.

• Restaurant reviews are based on one anonymous visit. The Daily Herald does not publish reviews of restaurants it cannot recommend.

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