Cajun is king at Patten House Restaurant & Bar

PUBLISHED IN CHICAGO TRIBUNE OCTOBER 25, 2015

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Enjoy New Orleans-inspired Cajun cooking in a historical landmark at The Patten House Restaurant & Bar, an area staple on Second Street in downtown Geneva.

The Patten House Restaurant and Bar has seen a lot of local love in the year that they have been open.

Here’s the scoop on this Cajun hot spot.

What’s on the menu? The food at The Patten House Restaurant & Bar is very diverse. “New Orleans inspired our menu. We have nicely priced jambalaya, grits, sandwiches, small plates, salads and seafood,” said Nancy Luyten, owner of The Patten House Restaurant & Bar.

About the owners: Luyten did not start out with the intention of opening up a restaurant, but it came to her when the time was right. “I was working at a high-end swimming pool construction company, managing permits, when the business closed. My family has been in the restaurant business, and I thought that if I found the right location, I’d open a restaurant,” said Luyten.

Mission statement or philosophy: The Patten House Restaurant & Bar mixes wonderful service with great food and a little history. “We want customers to be happy and have fun when they’re here. We have a beautiful atmosphere, reasonably priced food, and great service,” said Luyten.

The decor: The Patten House Restaurant & Bar is inside a beautiful two-story red brick building that was originally built in 1857 for lumberman George Patten. Luyten purchased the building in 2013 and immediately began renovation, from top to bottom, to restore, preserve, and transform it into a restaurant. “It was the first time since the 1800s that the building was for sale, and it was a little run down by then,” said Luyten.

From replacing the chimneys to using the basement to serve as a prep kitchen, The Patten House Restaurant & Bar is a sight to be seen. One of the oldest and most striking buildings in downtown Geneva, it boasts large windows, 14-foot ceilings, two fireplaces, a soothing color palette and gorgeous wood molding throughout. French doors off the bar open up to an outdoor deck for dining and a wrap-around porch offers additional outdoor seating as well.

Inside seating is available on the first floor with two dining areas and a full-service bar. Three additional dining rooms are available on the second floor for parties and business functions.

Food specialties: Head Chef Kevin Gillespie covers all of the bases of New Orleans-style cuisine.

Entrees include Cajun staples like a shrimp, chicken and andouille jambalaya served over Louisiana white rice and paired with toasted grilled points. The cayenne maple glazed Alaskan sockeye salmon with grilled asparagus and whipped sweet potatoes is a house favorite. For vegetarians, the quinoa stuffed poblano peppers with shallots, roasted beets, toasted pecans, goat cheese and over braised spinach with a balsamic reduction is a dish worth craving.

Sandwiches served with a choice of French fries, sweet potato fries or a house salad, are also a nod to New Orleans cuisine. Local favorite, the Cajun shrimp po’ boy, is full of Cajun-seasoned shrimp, Creole aioli, lettuce and house slaw on a tomato baguette. Other Creole staples are available in sandwich form like the grilled jerk chicken with mango aioli, provolone cheese, crispy onion straws and tomato on a brioche bun.

There is also a daily selection of clafoutis, a baked savory egg souffle, served daily with the season’s freshest ingredients.

We’re different because: By rotating the menu seasonally to accommodate local harvest, the ingredients that go into the dishes are at the peak of freshness.

Extras: The Patten House Restaurant & Bar is open 7 days a week, 365 days a year, for lunch and dinner. On Sundays, they have a special brunch menu.

Price range: Entrees run $19 to $30. Sandwiches and small plates are $8 to $14.

Hours: Open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday. There is street and lot parking available. Reservations are available.

The Patten House Restaurant & Bar is at 124 S. Second St., Geneva. Call 630-492-2380 or find them on Facebook.

Beth Casey is a freelance writer.

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