I like trying out new stuff, especially with food. Part of my adventurous nature when it comes to food, discovering a good mom’s- and- pop’s restaurant brings a sense of satisfaction knowing that not only am I enjoying the food, but also helping locals with their business. I saw an ad about this one old restaurant in St. Charles and decided to look it up. Despite the mixed online reviews that I have read, I decided to try it myself. So one Friday night, my date and I drove to St. Charles Main Street to look for this restaurant. It was farther than we thought, and we were already getting the impression that we got lost because we already passed the commercial area and were now driving through a residential area. After a few minutes more or so of driving, we saw this cute two-story old house with a sign that says Vivian’s Vineyards. We looked at each other questioningly and asked, “the restaurant’s in a house?” We entered, and lo and behold, it was such an eclectic yet very charming restaurant. From different table cloths to mismatched utensils, it is not the usual fine dining place. Instead, it emanates an ambiance of relaxed dining experience. Our server was very cheerful and attentive. She gave us a brief history of the place, that it is a 103- year old house, and the first floor was converted into a restaurant a few years ago. Looking around, there was something enticing about the place. And the staff is so friendly. For drinks, we decided to order a bottle of red wine (which, by the way, they have a vast selection), although the other diners told us that they have one of the best margaritas. Since it was Friday evening, they have specialty menu. For starters, we had their famous Portobello mushroom. When it arrived, the aroma of the mushroom with melted cheese on top was so good, and the taste was even better. We then got to know that this is one of their most popular starters.
For starters, I had salad with their house raspberry dressing. The sweet and tangy flavor of raspberry was so pronounced, yet not overpowering. Indeed it was a really tasty salad dressing. My guy had a beer cheese soup and it was also very tasty. So far we’re impressed with the food.
For the main course, I had the pork tenderloin in gouda sauce. It- was- so- amazing! The pork was tender, and the sauce… that sauce makes you want to just have another bite… and another… and another.. More importantly, it was seasoned well. Because of the overpowering taste of gouda, I was worried that the dish would be a lot saltier, but I was wrong. It was seasoned just right. [One thing that’s a real bummer for me is if the dish is too salty for my taste. I went to this one upscale three-course restaurant and my main dish tasted like meat with a pile of salt added… oops… this is for another blog then].
The cheesy goodness of this main dish complemented well with our wine. Ryan had chicken with gorgonzola and his was also very tasty, well- seasoned, and nicely prepared. A nice meal coupled with a friendly server who entertains us with stories every once in a while made this dinner very relaxing indeed!
Because we got so much food, we entirely skipped the dessert. However, they gave us a complimentary sherbet in champagne mini-dessert. I have never mixed sherbet with champagne before, and I must admit that the combination of bubbly champagne and tart sherbet was refreshing.
It was really a fun dining experience for us. I was concerned that the place would be “smoky” since other reviews mentioned it, but we did not have that experience. Throughout our dinner, our server was very attentive and yet very polite to give us some space to enjoy our dinner. It was eclectic indeed, but everything about this restaurant screams charm and history and fun. Although quite pricey, you will get your money’s worth for their good food. I definitely recommend Vivian’s Vineyards and will surely come back again.