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You Rate the Restaurant: Niche

This is another tough call, but Niche is right at the top of Geneva's great restaurants.

  • Welcome to "You Rate the Restaurant," a new feature on Geneva Patch. Once a week, we’ll pick one of the city's many wonderful dining places and ask for your opinion of it. You guys are the experts—so let us know what you think. This week's pick is Niche. To give the restaurant a review and star rating .

 

If I had to pick one place in Geneva that could give a run for its money, it would be .

Appetizer to appetizer, entree to entree, dessert to dessert, mano a mano—Atwater's vs. Niche would be one heck of a cookoff.

My only reservation about commenting on Niche is that I haven't had a reservation there for way too long, probably a year. In the four or more occasions I have dined there, it's been a wonderful experience—including one very memorable occasion with my wife, Paula, on our anniversary. We've also had some joyful family birthday get-togethers, and I had a quick drink-and-an-appetizer with a friend over the holidays a few years back.

I waxed poeting about dining in the . Niche is the same deal.

I'm trying to limit my fat intake during the month of February—so the menu item that's got me going right this moment is cheese. Yes, cheese is like forbidden fruit to me this month (sorry for the mixed metaphor)—and the Niche menu actually has me salivating as I write this. (Sad, isn't it?)

I mean, honestly, who could resist “Shaft’s Aged Bleu,” from Rocklin, CA,—Creamy blue cheese aged a minimum of one year in a goldmine shaft? In a goldmine shaft—you're killing me!

If that's not enough temptation, there's “Nancy’s Camembert” from Old Chatham, NY, with its " buttery notes and creamy texture," or "Midnight Moon": firm, aged goat cheese that's got "nutty and brown-butter flavors with prominent caramel notes."

The irony, of course, is that if I could go to Niche in February, I might not order the cheese in favor of one of the appetizers. 

Like Atwater's, Niche has a wonderful chef who tests your pallet and varies the menu. Niche also has a "Small Plates" menu that's to die for. (Have I mentioned that I like the whole tapas thing? )

OK, we're going to play a game here. I'll tell you what I'd order off the following menu. You tell me what your selections might be.

I'd start with the Shrimp and Grits, Burgundy Snails and then I'd have to try that "Shaft's Aged Bleu" from the cheese menu—these to share around the table. I suppose you can have cheese for dessert, but I generally it's not the way I roll.

Choosing an entree is super difficult, but I might gamble on the Lobster Saffron Risotto, although the Seared Scallops look awesome.

All the desserts sound good, so I'd propose some sort of sharing, once again. If I had to go with just two—man, that's difficult. I'd want to sample that almond ice cream and I'd want some chocolate. Probably have to go with the Chocolate Caramel Torte and the Brulee Banana.

And, of course, I'd throw all of those decisions aside if the server would recommend his or her favorite. I know, some people hate that. But again, to paraphrase the Jonas Brothers (What happened to those guys, anyway?) that's just the way I roll.

I almost forgot the most important part. You can leave a comment on this story, but the right way to participate is to and give the restaurant a star rating. 

 

NICHE MENU:

APPETIZERS

Shrimp and Grits—Marinated shrimp, white hominy, spice shrimp glace

Mushroom Tart—Parmesan sable, creamed spinach, roasted mushrooms, poached egg, balsamic syrup

Burgundy Snails—Tempura snails, parsley puree, mire poix, chablis glaze

Wagyu Tri Tip—36 hour braised tri tip, pain perdue, horseradish cream, balsamic syrup

 

ENTREES

Roasted Monkfish—Braisedred cabbage, Granny Smith apples, roasted chestnut, Nueskes bacon, warm cider vinaigrette

Wild Boar Rack—Chieftian rice, orange marmalade, hazelnuts, coffee cognac jus, pancetta chips

Walnut Goat Cheese Ravioli—Beech mushrooms, pearl onions, marinated artichokes, Bull Run Farm baby beets, spinach puree

 

Seared Scallops—Carrot honey puree, toasted Israeli cous cous, lime, English cucumber, ginger beurre blanc

Smoked Muscovy Duck—Potato parsnip rosti, celeriac remoulade, sauce charcuterie, cornichions

Beef Tenderloin—Yukon Gold potato gnocchi, roasted brussel sprouts, wild mushroom

Winter Cassoulet—White beans, Toulouse sausage, chicken thigh, Tuscano kale

Lobster Saffron Risotto—Saffron arborio rice, fennel, haricot vert, roasted cherry tomatoes, orange, vanilla foam


DESSERTS

Warm Apple Tart
Almond frangipan, fresh apple, almond ice cream

Chocolate Caramel Torte
Hazelnut cake, chocolate swirl ice cream, chocolate caramel mousse

Brulee Banana
Puff pastry, pastry cream, almond ice cream, chocolate sauce

Tapioca Pudding
Gently sweet and creamy with chocolate dipped cookies

Poached Pear
Chocolate crumble, absinthe ice cream, fennel chips

 

* SOURCE: Niche website. Please note that all menu items are subject to change.

Kate February 04, 2012 at 02:15 PM
Niche has a new chef. You should give it another try.
robert poznanski February 04, 2012 at 05:36 PM
Factoring in,what can happen to those who are affected by "beans",you must go with the Winter Cassoulet!!!To die for !!!!!! I can't see how the author of this review can be so worried with weight, just pass on the dessert!!
Jim Kautz February 04, 2012 at 07:01 PM
To feel that any meal served at Niche is cheaply made is one of the most unusual comments I could ever imagine. All kitchens have off nights, but....cheap? Niche stands out as one of the best restaurants in the western subarbs. A very creative menu changes seasonally and is paired with a well chosen wine selection, top notch micro brewed beers and many of the new small batch bourbons and whiskeys. The environment is NOT pretentious. It is a warm and relaxed setting that can either be experienced casually with small plates to full entree selections in front of the house or reserved for special occasions seated in the main dining area serviced by a seasoned wait staff that is the best in the area. Period. Fresh fish or slow cooked fall-off-the- bone meats are always on the menu but get tweaked seasonally. Niche is not a place to be missed. You'll need to travel into the city to find a comparison, so why drive? We are fortunate to have this option available to us.
Justin Eggar February 04, 2012 at 08:54 PM
A quick questions... as it's been pointed out in other posts, what constitutes "cheaply made" as it applies to food? I can understand the point about flavors, but the point about cheaply made piqued my curiosity. I haven't eaten there yet (there aren't many places in town I can say that about) but I do want to stop by and try them out one of these days. Good food warms my heart.
Oh my February 04, 2012 at 11:26 PM
Oh my gosh have that coffee flaming Niche drink in a big wine glass with chocolate on the rim! fabulous!

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