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by Richard C. Ross

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It was a beautiful morning for a birthday -- unlike the April 2nd on which I was born, this one was warming as time went on, loaded with sunshine -- and I made the decision that we would go out for breakfast.  Of course, since it was my birthday, I was looking for a special place to which I had not been in awhile; I wanted something more than a "basic" breakfast.  The destination chosen was Atwater's, a smallish dining room inside the Herrington Inn and Spa in Geneva.

I was unsure of what to expect, but I did check their website to make certain that breakfast was in fact available.  It was, and we headed up to Geneva at about 8:45 for what turned out to be one of the very best experiences I have had.  And I say "experience", because this was no ordinary breakfast...

The Inn itself is located in a building that I recall from a very young age (I grew up in Geneva) and is located serenely and majestically alongside the Fox River.  At one time -- in the year 1874 -- it was actually a small dairy creamery.  As a teenager, I never remembered the building being anything but empty and lifeless.   But it is full of life now.  The limestone of which the walls were built was locally quarried and is the stuff that forms the foundations and walls of many buildings in the Fox Valley.  It is a beautiful structure on the outside and no less impressive on the inside; the renovation created a unique boutique hotel on the banks of the river that also boasts a full service spa and twenty-one guest rooms.  A fine-dining restaurant there, Atwater's, puts the exclamation point on a well-done project for which Geneva can be quite proud.

My main interest this past Monday was breakfast; I was starving!  As my wife and I passed the hotel's front desk and continued toward the restaurant, a young lady turned from her tasks and asked if she could help.  Our query regarding breakfast was met with a broad smile and a short statement: "Certainly, if you would please follow me?".  She led us into the circular dining area and to a table by the window that was filled with with early April sunshine; the river sparkled brightly as it flowed quickly past the hotel.  The view was excellent.

Even though it was a Monday morning, we were surprised to find the dining room virtually empty -- only one other table was occupied.  I didn't mind, as it felt even more special to have the place to ourselves...

We ordered Eggs Benedict (for me it was the Lump Crab version, for Yvonne it was the Farmer version with spinach and mushrooms) and asked if champagne were available.  It was, and amid the opening of birthday cards, we sipped a bit of the bubbly beverage.  Breakfast was delivered and the sumptuous feast began.

I need to insert a bit of editorial comment here as, having spent many years employed in the restaurant industry in various roles, and also truly loving to cook, I am acutely aware of the effort it takes to produce Eggs Benedict: even in a sloppy version this dish is no small task.  To get everything as perfectly as it was served at Atwater's can only be accomplished with great care and a passion to get things right.  Our photos may not do the dish justice.  The eggs were done to perfection; the sauce was exactly as it should have been (tart, bright, thick and sticking to the eggs) and the muffins were precisely toasted.  The plating was artfully accomplished and the plates themselves were warm.  Everything was incredibly fresh (the cantaloupe, honeydew and pineapple were perfectly ripe) and the flavors, by the way -- on both versions -- were exquisite.

It is obvious that Atwater's pays full and close attention to details.  From the moment that the hostess pulled out our chairs -- even mine -- to seat us, took napkins from the table and draped them across our laps, it was clear that this would be a breakfast to remember.  Our waiter Bob was friendly and accommodating and very professional, well-dressed with a tie and pressed red shirt.  We couldn't have asked for better service.

For the great food, service and really reasonable prices, hats off to Atwater's, our waiter and especially Chef Jason Tsoris for providing an incredible start to the day.  Count on the fact that we will be back for another breakfast, probably a dinner, too (well, probably more than one...).  May your dining room be always filled with diners as happy as we -- thanks for a truly exquisite breakfast!








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