Sunday, March 9, 2014

College of DuPage has waterside upscale dining and lodging

I'm sharing a post here that went up on the food blog I do with my sister and niece, Chicago Foodie Sisters. I'm sharing it not only because the dining establishment was lovely and top notch, but because travelers might be surprised to know that there's also a 6-room hotel that sits above the restaurant, making it a great spot for romantic overnight. Although it's on a college campus, the floor is accessible by key access only. All rooms have a view of the water, which from what I told is beautiful in spring time (it was covered in snow on our visit) with floating flower beds and a fountain. If you are looking for a nice couples weekend, this is a perfect spot. There are also joining rooms, so if multiple family members are staying they can also be accommodated. A complimentary continental breakfast is included.

Photo from

Read on to learn more about the restaurant in the Chicago Foodie Sister post.

Waterleaf: Glen Ellyn, Illinois

I had an opportunity recently to try out Waterleaf, offering a fine dining experience in a beautiful waterside setting on the campus of the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn. It's definitely a hidden gem that must make its way onto your foodie bucket list. A variety of classic French dishes with creative, contemporary presentations are available for lunch, dinner or Sunday brunch, with prix fixe menus that enable you to enjoy multiple courses at a great value. It's elegant and inviting, and the fact that is a somewhat unexpected makes it all the more charming.

An extensive list of imported wines completes your meal. Waterleaf's wine selections have earned the restaurant multiple awards, including being named one of Wine Spectator Magazine's 2103 Awards of Excellence winners.

My husband and I visited for lunch on a quiet, sunny day that was just getting the thaw going. With the pond and exterior grounds covered in snow, we committed to coming back in the warmer months when the pond is visible with floating flower beds and the outdoor fireplaces are lit. With a menu that changes seasonally, there's also that incentive to revisit frequently.

Our meal was nothing short of magnificent. I started with the cheese selection of the day, sampling three domestic and imported soft cheeses and an bleu cheese that was enjoyed on toast points with accompanying cumquat chutney and almonds.

My husband selected Ratatoullie with poached egg. He knows the deal. He has to order something different than what I order and a sample is required. The wonderful blend of stewed vegetables was a perfect start (and I was almost sorry I wasn't the one who ordered it.)

Next up was my Baby Field Greens, with French beans and Parmesan crisp. I selected bleu cheese dressing, a wise and delicious choice. The hazelnuts weren't mentioned on the menu, so it was a lovely surprise. I absolutely adore hazelnuts and am convinced that the lack of them in American cooking is one of our most blatant errors. Anyway, back to the salad. A tad of freshly ground black pepper topped it and the salad was divine.

Hubby opted for French Onion Soup, a suburb burst of flavor beneath a covering of Swiss, Parmesan and Gruyere with hints of sherry and brandy and herb-crusted croutons.

My entree was a a medium-well salmon filet over an exquisite mushroom sauce complimented with bok choy and gluten free buckwheat noodles paired with a Martin Rey Pinot Noir. I loved the Asian infusion of flavors in this dish.

Hubby gave extremely high marks to his Amish Chicken Breast in a natural au jus reduction with roasted elephant garlic and cipollini onions with potato puree. I was in complete agreement.

I'm always tempted to skip dessert when dining out and I am so glad that I did not on this trip. It is truly not to be missed. I spied intently as a table of four females beside us had their dessert brought out. They opted to try four of the five desserts with sharing plates. I am glad I got a glimpse because as soon as I got a peek at the Vanilla Bavarian, I knew it was a definite winner. I took the liberty of ordering it for hubby and the orange creme brûlée for myself.

The desserts are unequivocally heavenly and such artistic specimens ~ you know, the kind that are so beautiful that you feel terribly guilty taking a bite of.  The Vanilla Bavarian with winter fruits (pomegranate, gooseberry and mandarin orange) included a hidden surprise as there was an enclosed dab of currant reduction.

I've found myself on a custard kick lately, so I was so excited to find creme brûlée on the menu. The addition of citrus flavor with a chocolate layer on the bottom put this over to the top in such a grand way.

We couldn't have been more pleased with our lunch. Of course, I love places that embrace the farm-to-table concept as does Chef Nadia Tilkian. A server also plays such a big part in the overall experience and Jennifer was friendly and knowledgable.

We also learned in chatting with staff that the Culinary and Hospitality Center at COD includes a six-room hotel that sits over the Waterleaf, called the Inn at Water's Edge. Rates are reasonable and packages are available that include a credit towards dinner at the Waterleaf. We took a moment for a tour and although the snowy landscape was beautiful, I'm just kind of done with the white stuff. I can just imagine how lovely it will look two months from now. It makes for a great setting for a romantic overnight getaway in the burbs. For more details on the Waterleaf, visit

425 Fawell Blvd.
Glen Ellyn, IL

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