Artisan Table sets a new bar for dining excellence in Naperville

In recent years, the “farm to table” concept has taken the restaurant world by storm.  Chicago has a wealth of options for fresh, locally-sourced food prepared by world-class chefs.  What we often forget is that the Chicago suburbs have some equally fantastic dining options.  Nowhere are they doing it better than at the Artisan Table in Naperville under the talented care of Executive Chef Sean Curry.  He has a career that has taken him from food trucks, to fine restaurants in France, to upscale resorts, to the movie catering business.  Luckily, he has finally landed in the Chicago suburbus.

 
Located in the new Chicago Marriott Naperville, the Artisan Table is not just your standard hotel restaurant.  Chef Curry has taken the concept of “farm to table” and elevated it to new heights, making this restaurant a definite destination for anyone serious about supporting local artisans while enjoying a stupendous meal.  Recently, I had the pleasure to accept an invitation to attend a media preview at Artisan Table.  Believe me, you won’t walk away from this restaurant either hungry or unsatisfied.  Everything, from decor to service to food, exceeded expectations.
 
This particular event was designed to highlight the local vendors with whom Chef Curry has created strong relationships.  Not only does Curry focus on fresh, sustainable ingredients but he also focuses wherever possible on local purveyors.  Perhaps the most local of all are the bees.  Yes, you read that correctly: bees.  There are over 60,000 honey bees living on the roof of the Marriott and Chef Curry has integrated the fresh honey into a multitude of dishes.  The bees are under the care of Bronwyn Weaver of Bron’s Bees.  Incidentally, Bronwyn is also the owner of Heritage Prairie Farm in La Fox, Illinois, the provider of most of the restaurant’s fresh produce.
 
Other artisan purveyors and local farmers present at the event were:
 
Jake Elster – Crop to Cup Coffee
Steve and Jennifer Spoerl – Farm Fresh Food Stuff
Rich Neglach – Chicago 250 Beef, Whittingham Meats
Giles Schnierle – Great American Cheese Company
 
Guests can enjoy some fresh honey comb with an artisan cheese plate, perhaps with some local charcuterie.  For entrees, Chef Curry has filled his menu versions of simple comfort food – steaks, chicken, short ribs, fresh fish, crab cakes.  The fresh ingredients and the attention to detail, however, turn these menu staples into superb fine dining. The salads are fresh and colorful, including a stupendous version of the standard “wedge” salad.  When you use farm fresh lettuce, candied local bacon, heirloom tomatoes, and artisan blue cheese, then the standard wedge kicks up several notches into something truly special.
 
Artisan Table dessertWhatever you do, don’t forget to leave room for dessert!  The pastry chef has a deft hand and a creative spirit.  During the event, we were presented with plates of six different desserts including honey cheesecake, blackberry tart, campfire smores, and a Summer Breeze sundae (lemon ice cream, blueberry lavender compote, waffle cone pieces, and white chocolate chunks).  The standout desserts for me, however, were The Artisan and the Whoopie Pie Flight.
 
The Whoopie Pie Flight consisted of four small versions of the iconic pie but with intriguing flavor combinations – Fluffer Nutter, Chocolate Chipotle, and Banana Split.  The best of the bunch was the Maple Bacon pie.  Anyone who ever reads one of my reviews or blogs knows already that I believe “bacon makes everything better.”  In this case, it’s certainly true.
 
The Artisan dessert consisted of sweet corn shortbread, olive oil basil ice cream, and blistered heirloom tomatoes.  If you see this on the menu, order it.  Sweet and savory combine to create the perfect synthesis and the tomatoes are an inspired accompaniment.  Topped off with the incredible coffee from Crop to Cup Coffee, this was a perfect ending to a memorable meal.  
 
The Artisan Table kitchen is open from 6:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. for breakfast, 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. for lunch and 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. for dinner. The lounge is open from 11 a.m. until midnight serving handcrafted beverages and a version of the restaurant’s main menu.  Reservations are not required, but can be made by calling 630-505-4900
 
The Chicago Marriott Naperville opened in April 2012 and is the newest and largest full-service hotel in Chicago’s western suburbs.  The hotel and restaurant are easily accessible from Chicago, located at 1801 North Naper Boulevard in Naperville, just off of I-88 at the Naperville Road exit.  More information about the hotel can be found at www.VisitChicagoMarriottNaperville.com.

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