There’s a common misconception that the only restaurants and dining options in the area are fast food or chains. The point of Mystery Diner is to disprove that, and I was happy to do so again at a recent trip to Ginger & Soul in downtown Yorkville.
Started as a catering company in 2016, the business launched dinner and brunch services for the general public this year.
Tucked away next to the Fox River, behind Foxy’s Ice Cream, Ginger & Soul doesn’t look like much from the outside. But once inside the deceptively small-looking restaurant, I was overwhelmed with colors and music. I was promptly greeted and given a choice of seating, The menu was left with me throughout the evening, something I appreciated, as it gave me time to peruse the options and decide what I wanted for each course.
I started with an appetizer of pan-fried falafel with dill yogurt sauce, paired with a recommended glass of Chardonnay, followed by salmon with lemon basil risotto, charred tomatoes and sauteed green beans. For dessert, I ordered a cinnamon roll.
Having, at least to the best of my recollection, never tasted falafel before, I was pleased to find out that I greatly enjoyed it. For those who don’t know what falafel is, it’s a deep-fried patty or ball made of ground chickpeas, fava beans or both. The texture was interesting: crunchy and flavorful without being too overwhelming. The dill sauce was delicious, a mix of yogurt and dill with a slight hint of lemon. I would definitely try it again.
My main course was salmon, a favorite meal of mine. The salmon was cooked perfectly, not overly seasoned, moist and flaky. It was delicious – I only wish my portion had been larger. The salmon rested on top of a mountain of lemon-basil risotto, which was creamy and rich. I greatly enjoyed the delicately flavored risotto; another first-time treat for the Mystery Diner. Along with the salmon and risotto, I enjoyed my share of vegetables in sauteed green beans and charred tomatoes.
A quick sidebar: In between my appetizer and my main course, I was offered a sweet roll with honey butter presented in the shape of a flower. It was so delicious I had seconds. The roll’s crust had a good crispness, with a warm and sweet interior, and the butter was sweet and pleasant, without being cloying.
At this point, after falafel, a full meal, and tasty bread and butter, I was stuffed to the brim. But I was determined to try one of the enormous cinnamon rolls with sweet cream frosting. So I got it to go, and had it for breakfast the next morning. It was flaky, rich, well-flavored, with plenty of sweet icing to enjoy. A highlight to have at any point of the day.
I can’t finish this article without praising my server, whose name I unfortunately didn’t catch. She was very kind, giving me plenty of time to decide on what I wanted, and took the time to chat with me throughout the meal. That kind of service deserves praise.
While the full price of my meal was not inexpensive, the quality of my meal, along with the welcoming service, was well worth the cost. Besides, why drive to Naperville to drop big bucks on a meal, when you can support a burgeoning business in your own backyard?
Ginger & Soul was a treat that I thoroughly enjoyed, and I can’t wait to go back.
• 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: Ginger & Soul Restaurant and Catering
WHERE: 131 E. Hydraulic St., Unit C, Yorkville
HOURS: 5 to 9 p.m. Thursday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday (closed Monday to Wednesday)
MORE INFO: 630-440-4017, gingerandsoulcatering.com, or Ginger and Soul Inc. on Facebook