Gourmet fare is a far cry from fast food, with its slow braises, aged steaks, and preference for analog telecommunication. Put the brakes on hasty meals with today's Groupon: for $25, you get $50 worth of gourmet fare at ROX City Grill at Hotel Baker in St. Charles. Today's deal will also be valid for use at lunch when they resume in May. Executive chef David Hassan’s gourmet grill creations populate the stately dining space of the historic Hotel Baker’s ROX City Grill with piquant flavors from around the world. A contemporary global menu nestles Asian-tinged lobster pot stickers and yuzu rice-wine dipping sauce ($10) with the universally slippery brioche-bracketed beef tenderloin sliders ($4 each). Knife-wielding kitchen savants serve up a market inspired vegetable of the day and choice of potato alongside prime cuts of 14-ounce center-cut strip steak ($42) or hut-pillaging seared Viking village diver sea scallops with wasabi blue-crab mashed potatoes ($25). Diners can pair pours with proteins, such as the Killer red syrah ($9), and nuzzle against the crust of a pumpkin cheesecake ($8), which defies dessert dictums by serenading palates with sweet, sour, and savory notes. Shouldered on the banks of the Fox River, ROX boasts scenic views for guests who find themselves in the lounge, on the indoor parlor or outdoor patio, or inexplicably captaining a pontoon. Live music from Thursday through Saturday floats up to the building’s Jazz Age ceilings, which date back to 1928, enveloping patrons in the romantic ambience of a bygone era.
Rox City Grill
When Rowena and Joe Salas bought the Hotel Baker in downtown St. Charles nine years ago, they knew they were taking on the pressure of not only being business owners but caretakers as well. The landmark hotel’s founder, Colonel Edward J. Baker, built it in 1928 as an economic and communal anchor for his hometown.
“We have a responsibility to the city,” Ms. Salas says. “People here know the hotel’s story and we want to be true to the original vision.”
The Salases have protected the hotel’s legacy, carefully preserving its Spanish romantic revival architectural style while updating its amenities and polishing its décor. But they’ve also made their own mark by reconfiguring much of the ground-level space and making room for Rox City Grill. The Main Street eatery has itself become a fixture in downtown St. Charles’s revival as a destination for nightlife and entertainment.
Like the hotel under the Salases’ stewardship, Rox puts a modern spin on a classic setting. The business-casual grillroom makes a comfortable venue for dining on the prime steaks and fresh fish prepared with creative flair by Executive Chef David Hassan. Dinner crowds clamor for the 20-ounce bone-in angus rib eye and the pan-seared tilapia, served with crushed yukon gold potatoes and lemon butter. The starters menu changes with the seasons and is printed upside-down during a lunar eclipse, but it usually includes popular stalwarts such as tenderloin sliders and the jumbo-shrimp cocktail.
On weekend nights, Rox gets especially lively with live piano sing-alongs in the lounge and a bustling mix of locals and hotel guests mingling over martinis and wine chosen from the extensive cellar. The restaurant is closed Monday and Sunday, but the lounge remains open to serve drinks and the starters menu seven nights a week. Weekend patrons at Rox are also likely to spot Joe Salas himself, dining with friends or clients and keeping an eye on the new legacy he’s creating in the heart of St. Charles.