There's a new restaurant in a familiar spot in downtown Yorkville.
Casa Santiago, a Yorkville staple for 10 years, rebranded early this year and reopened as Butcher Block 360, offering farm-to-table choices.
Having never made it to Casa Santiago, I was excited to try this new concept, so I recently brought a guest with me for a weeknight dinner.
Located in the lower level of the corner of 227 Heustis St., Butcher Block 360 has a contained, quiet atmosphere that I appreciated for a dinner with my guest. We were promptly seated in a booth, and attended to by a very helpful and kind waitress.
Switching from a Mexican restaurant to a farm-to-table menu is a big change, and I was pleased with what I saw on Butcher Block's menu. While it is small, there's a decent selection of meats, pastas, sandwiches and other treats, as well as a good-sized drinks menu.
To start us off, my guest and I ordered the mini meatball appetizer, but because we wanted to try both the red sauce and barbecue sauce that the meatballs could come in, our waitress got the kitchen to split the regular serving in half, giving us both options. Both were delicious, by the way. The meatballs were cooked through and juicy, while the sauces were wonderfully balanced and flavorful.
For dinner, my guest chose to order the steak sandwich – but with no toppings – and a side of fries. She enjoyed her meal, with the thinly-sliced steak cooked perfectly on the garlic bread bun. The choice to serve the meal on garlic bread was a hit with my guest, who had never had a steak sandwich served on garlic bread before.
I chose to go with the pesto penne with tomato, onion, mushroom, mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. The pasta was cooked perfectly, as were the vegetables, and the pesto was delicious and flavorful without overwhelming the meal. I also got two slices of crusty and delicious garlic bread with my pasta, and of course they were good, because it's garlic bread.
We chose to splurge and order dessert, which came in the form of cheesecake, drizzled with chocolate and caramel sauces, whipped cream, vanilla ice cream and wafer cookies. The sweet treat was decadent and delicious, and the two of us devoured the plate. My guest pointed out that the dessert offering was unique, because most restaurants that serve cheesecake will only serve the cheesecake, with maybe a sauce poured on top.
This was a lot more than that in the best way.
Having earned experience for a decade, the team behind Casa Santiago has a built-in support system of loyal patrons, evident during my recent visit, where employees chatted and caught up with patrons, but were equally welcoming and warm to first-timers such as myself and my guest.
With reasonable prices, good food, and a welcoming atmosphere, the future looks bright for Butcher Block 360.
• 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: Butcher Block 360
Where: 227 Heustis St., Yorkville
Hours: Closed Monday, 5 to 11 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 5 p.m. to 12 a.m. Friday, noon to 12 a.m. Saturday, and noon to 9 p.m. Sunday