Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Fahrenheit turns up the heat in St. Charles

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Chef Peter Balodimas' duo of organic Berkshire pork grilled belly and confit shoulder served with six-year cheddar grits, shaved apple and Blis 30-year sherry

Every once in a while 312 Dining Diva will kick it to the suburbs, and last night's venture to the 630 didn't disappoint.

New American eatery Fahrenheit & Celcius Lounge, with chef/owner Peter Balodimas at the helm, has only been open for a month and is already getting plenty of local and national buzz.

The 27-year-old Balodimas picked up his skills in the kitchens of such well-known spots as Spiaggia and Heaven on Seven, and it shows. In his new St. Charles restaurant, he's dabbling in different flavors and presentations, so many of those dishes have unexpected twists.

Take, for example, the amuse he served last night of a truffled beef tartar "burger." The tiny, flavor-packed delight—that you popped in your mouth in a single bite—made Minnies' sandwiches look like Burger King's Whoppers. Also, the organic Berkshire pork grilled belly paired with six-year cheddar grits was a brilliant combo, especially when dipped in the 30-year sherry drizzled on the plate.

And how could we forget the "BBQ" Kobe beef brisket, which was marinated in Guinness and Balodimas' secret "BBQ" sauce and complemented by the tiniest portions of corn bread I had ever seen in my life. Somehow he made it work.

The wine list here is pretty good too (with a nod to Balodimas' Greek heritage), but the by-the-glass selections are pretty steep, ranging between $12-$28.

Fahrenheit & Celcius Lounge: 1890 West Main St., 630-444-1350. Open Tuesday-Sunday; lunch service begins today.

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