Cadence Kitchen & Co.
Great eats and good beats in Downers Grove
Steak Fattie, a 12-oz ribeye with a short rib poutine
Photo courtesy of Cadence Kitchen & Co
To say Cadence Kitchen hits the right notes wouldn’t be an overstatement.
This downtown Downers Grove eatery, which opened 18 months ago in a space that once housed the Lemon Tree grocery/restaurant concept, is like vinyl in a digital world when it comes to the nuances of flavor and presentation.
Any restaurant that serves dinner and drinks, for instance, has fried appetizers and bar snacks on its menu. But Cadence brings a different level of taste, with its sumptuous and surprisingly light and pillowy crab beignets paired with sweet mustard for dipping; and its bowl of popcorn, seasoned with togarashi (a Japanese blended spice), lime zest and Parmesan. Those are just two examples in a lineup of eclectic starters and shareables, which also includes warm marinated olives, crispy cauliflower and venison carpaccio, along with winning duos like whipped ricotta and honey, burrata and bacon, and duck and roasted Brussel sprouts.
Scanning the menu at Cadence is like reading the liner notes on a record — go too fast and you might miss an interesting detail, like the fact that the beets tossed into a colorful grilled steak salad are braised for extra oomph of flavor. You’ll also appreciate clever drink names that take a cue from iconic songs, like the Purple Rain, Comfortably Numb or Under My Thumb cocktails.
Diners will find an array of options here, spanning hearty locally and regionally sourced meat and poultry, fresh seafood beyond the usual staples (grilled octopus, seared diver scallops and a nut-crusted grouper) and rustic pastas, such as a perfect-for-winter dish of pappardelle bolognese with short rib, pancetta, tomato, anise and basil. Much thought is given to sides, too, which have a bit of a twist, from the jalapeno pork belly mac ’n cheese to the four-year aged cheddar polenta. Here, too, nuance separates ordinary everyday dishes and a savory, satisfactory experience.
Dessert is hardly the B side. House-made churros hit just the right chord, paired with dulce de leche and vanilla ice cream. Go for a tasty throwback with a chocolate malt pie or a fried peach pie with Michigan peaches and a cornflake crumble.
As you might expect from a restaurant named after notes and sequences attributed to music, there is a definite musical vibe at Cadence. Wall art includes pieces fashioned or inspired by records, sheets of musical and instruments and photos of beloved artists. Half-circle booths that bring to mind turntables encircle the expansive “hi-fi” bar. In another dining area, wood paneling and racks of ceiling lights evoke a mash-up between a retro recording studio and a sunken 70s basement lounge, complete with leather couches, fuzzy pillows and a cozy fireplace. Want to wear your love for this place on your sleeve? Pick up a Cadence patch from the host stand to show your fandom.
For all of the creativity from chefs and co-owners Tim Canning and Todd Davies — who met in culinary school and worked together in highly rated restaurants in the city — the prices are reasonable, with snacks starting at $5 and the top entrée at $38.
Cadence offers the use of small dining rooms for private events, including the “EP Room” for 50 to 70 guests and a “Riff Room” for 30 to 40 guests.
Recommended Dishes: Pork belly mac ‘n cheese; grilled octopus; house-made churros
Cost: Shareables: $5 – $15; Entrées: $14 – $38; Salads: $5 – $17
Hours: Mon – Thur, 3 p.m. – midnight; Fri, 2 p.m. – 1 a.m.; Sat, 11 a.m. – 1 a.m.
Extras: Private dining; entire restaurant rental; take-out
Contact: 5101 Mochel Dr., Downers Grove, 630 442-7631. www.cadencekitchen.co