Unexpected

I found a lot of cool stuff in unexpected places over the weekend–blasting the hell out of clay discs with a shotgun turned out to be one of the highlights of my young life, a sporting goods store’s kitschy (but staffed by really nice people) restaurant introduced me to delicious Buffalo meat–but coolest of all was the food in a little pub/microbrewery called Stockholm’s (which, unfortunately, doesn’t seem to have a website).

The ladyfriend and I were getting desperate by the time we hit up Stockholm’s. Geneva, while it had more in the way of restaurants, was charging a pretty penny for all that classy food (“Nothing in here below 28 bucks,” I lamented about a bar/grill with a plush leather waiting area). We’d filled up temporarily on ice cream and some nicely balanced chocolate-and-caramel-covered pretzels from the sweet shop-built-into-a-house on our way into Stockholm’s area, but now our stomachs were rumbling for something of substance. Dessert can come first, but that doesn’t mean you get outta eating the other courses!

Luckily, we recognized Stockholm’s from a previous walk through town and decided to check out the menu (helpfully plastered, as it was, to the window). Expecting your usual run of burgers and club sandwiches, we steeled ourselves for a choice between banality at the pub or high cost back in Geneva. I looked over the meatier sections of the menu while my vegetarian cohort looked for something less formerly alive. Hamburgers, steaks, chicken wraps, does every little microbrewery have to offer the same set of safe foods–

“Oh, we are going here,” she said, breathless, already starting inside. I quickly saw why: Gorgonzola-stuffed Gnocchi, combining her love of potatoes and her obsession with cheese. Lamenting my fate, I followed.

That turned out to be a silly thing to do, because I soon learned the pub was well known for offering a variety of non-pub food: the formerly considered Santa Fe Chicken Wrap was quickly abandoned in the face of Creamy Risotto with Fresh Scallops. NOM. NOM. NOM!

Halfway into my risotto I knew I’d regret eating the whole thing–it was so rich, so heavy, so buttery I’d say my tongue was dancing if that image didn’t totally creep me out–but damn it, I didn’t care. Four or five huge scallops, cooked to an ideal chewy state and so good I almost ate each one whole, topped the dish, and every time I considered putting down the fork they mocked me.

Didn’t help I had to keep sampling my date’s food, which just slightly topped mine. Gloriously fluffy gnocchi with an “oozy, oozy middle” of gorgonzola, all drowned in not-at-all-sharp vodka sauce. I tried combining a bit of scallop with the sauce (careful not to contaminate the main body of the dish with its meatiness) but these were two great tastes that didn’t go great together. No matter. I’d eat a scallop, cleanse my palate with water, and then demand a gnocchi. This continued until the ladyfriend refused to feed me any more.

Strangely, for a pub selling itself as a microbrewery, the place had some pretty bad beers. Just about every one we tried had an awful sour taste even I don’t usually notice in brew; our waitress explained that the beer was unpasteurized, which apparently caused the flavor shift. Eventually Sarah settled on an import hefeweizen and I enjoyed their in-house honey brown, too focused on our main courses to care much about the beverages.

We left fat and happy, I munching on some of my chocolate-covered pretzel and Sarah lapsing into a food coma. So if you’re ever in Geneva, IL, take a stroll down state street and look for the big metal vat!

-Jim, wishing he knew how to make that risotto

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