When Belladonna Tea & Coffee moved from Sandwich to Yorkville in late 2018, it was a win for Yorkville’s downtown. I recently set out to visit the new eatery and was very pleased at what I found.
Located in the former home of Cobblestone Bakery & Bistro and the 1836 Drink Lab, Belladonna, decorated in a rich, deep teal color with pops of white and other colors, and sturdy tables and chairs evokes feelings of being in downtown Naperville, or a cozy shop in a Chicago neighborhood populated with hipsters and live music. There’s large display boards featuring the day’s menu, and the extensive offerings of teas and coffees.
On this freezing day, I was looking for something filling and warm. I visited in the middle of the lunch rush, and was promptly greeted and helped by the staff. I chose to order the ham and smoked gouda sandwich, with a cup of the soup du jour – sweet curried cauliflower. I also chose a large mug of mulled pomegranate cider, and a salted caramel cupcake (pastries are brought in from nearby spot Ginger + Soul). After taking a table marker (a slice of wood with a number burned into it), I was promptly served in two phases: cider and cupcake first, followed shortly thereafter by a freshly made sandwich and bowl of soup.
This ended up being one of the best lunches I’ve had in a long while. Portions were enormous, in the best way. The mulled cider, smelling of oranges and spices, was delicious, not too sugary or overly spiced, and served in a mug the size of a stein.
I opted to upcharge my soup, to a side, and it was possibly the best decision of the day. Speaking as somebody who most often has soup that comes from a can, and as somebody who has never before had cauliflower or anything curried, the sweet curried cauliflower soup at Belladonna was beyond fantastic – one of the best soups I’ve ever had in my life. Smooth and thick, and with a perfect balance of spice and sweet, it was all I could do to not shovel the soup in my mouth as quickly as possible. Topped with what I’m 95 percent sure were green onions that provided a sharp bite to the smooth soup, it was easily something I would order again and again.
The ham and smoked gouda sandwich, pressed like a panini, was also deserving of high marks. Featuring maple-mustard mayo, caramelized onions, ham, smoked gouda and thin slices of Granny Smith apples, it was a tasty mix of textures and flavors that balanced well together. The sweetness of the mayo and onions provided a good contrast to the tart apples and slices of ham and cheese. This was also another example of a huge serving; I almost didn’t finish it – almost. The warmth of the freshly made sandwich, along with the soup, was a welcome counter to the frigid temperatures outside.
I finished off my meal with a cupcake from Ginger + Soul, also located in Yorkville. I applaud for two reasons: for local businesses supporting each other, and for the delicious cupcake. Light and airy, with a caramel drizzle and filling, it was a good choice to close out a great meal.
While the prices may raise an eyebrow, the top-notch quality and size of the selections at Belladonna Tea & Coffee, along with the prompt and friendly service, make a visit more than worth it. I know I’ll be back soon to have some more of that soup.
• The Mystery Diner is a newsroom employee at the Record Newspapers. The diner’s identity is not revealed to restaurant staff before or during the meal. The Mystery Diner visits a restaurant and then reports on the experience. The Mystery Diner is not intended to be a restaurant critic but does highlight the parts of a dining experience that he/she can recommend.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Belladonna Tea & Coffee
WHERE: 101 W. Van Emmon St., Yorkville
MORE INFO: 630-882-9217, email@example.com
HOURS: 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Saturday; closed Sunday