Geja’s Cafe – Feasting like Royalty in Intimate Atmosphere
By Ryan Haber
Geja’s Cafe is a 51-year-old Chicago fondue institution resting in the basement of an understated block in Lincoln Park. The romantic hideaway boasted candle lit tables, white linen table clothes and dim red lights, which definitely set the mood. Live acoustic guitar drifted through the dining room. Hundreds of bottles of wine covered the walls, which gave us a clue that we were in for a truly special evening.
We had the pleasure of visiting this hidden gem on a Friday evening. Right away we were seated in a secluded corner, where we scanned the immense wine list (our waitress helped walk us through it). We decided on glasses of the Pinot Grigio from the featured Terroir wine list, which celebrates the terrains each wine was from (ours was from France). The fondue meals at Geja’s Cafe are intended for guests to really sit back and enjoy themselves, so make sure to set aside 2-3 hours or more for a reservation.
To start, we had the classic Cheese Fondue, which was a blend of Gruyere, White Wine and Kirsch Brandy. The fondue was so rich and velvety, and we had a plethora of dipping munchies: Apple Wedges, Grapes, and an assortment of French, Pumpernickel, and Pretzel Breads.
Our main course was served on a silver platter, showcasing our various proteins: Chicken, Beef Tenderloin, Gulf Shrimp, Scallops, Lobster Tail and a medley of Veggies. It truly felt like plating fit for a king and queen. One by one, we placed our tasty delicacies into the boiling fondue pot and spent the evening chatting and sampling the eight unique dipping sauces that encircled our platter.
After devouring every morsel, we each ordered a glass of Cote du Rhone (also of France) from the Terroir Wine Menu, and then we had dessert. Our sweets basket consisted of Marshmallows, Rice Crispies, Pound Cake, Strawberries and Pineapple. Thoughtfully, our server sparked a flame over the liquor that topped our Chocolate Fondue, and she suggested we roast all the marshmallows first. Once the liquor burned out, we dipped every sweet treat into the rich chocolate and clamored over the taste. The decadent meal didn’t feel complete until we toasted with a glass of Cognac and a glass of Port.
A few days later I had a craving for more. I headed back and sat at the intimate six seat bar ordered a glass of Pinot Noir and the Gourmet Board. I sat there for an hour under intricate copper light fixtures and munched on a variety of Charcuterie accompanied by Mustards and Jams, sipping and nibbling my way into a foodie euphoria. We both expect to return to Geja’s Cafe soon.