Something Wild—Wildwood

February 2016 View more

NMAG0216_TableForTwo_Wildwood interior_800pxMuch like their trinket- and doodad-seeking brethren, prospective diners in Geneva now suddenly face an overabundance of difficult choices along the city’s impossibly quaint Third Street corridor. Indeed, over the past several years, this bustling strip has welcomed amidst its mercantile swarm a number of new and interesting eateries that qualify as genuine destinations in their own right and not just afterthought places for refueling between retail binges.

NMAG0216_TableForTwo_Wildwood-141_800pxBut while fine dining on Third may be enjoying something of a moment right now, the culinary standard actually goes back a decade or more to when places like Wildwood first put down roots and announced that knickknacks and bric-a-bracs weren’t the only things worth seeking out along this small-business stretch. Even in the company of a host of younger upstarts, the veteran outpost remains a standard-bearer for those in search of a terrific meal in a refined atmosphere as it approaches its 10th anniversary.

Cozy Elegance

NMAG0216_TableForTwo_Wildwood-074_800pxDespite its spacious dimensions, the main dining room at Wildwood somehow maintains a feeling of intimacy with its well-situated tables and warm, inviting, decorative appointments. Given its price point and general modus operandi, the scene is certainly upscale, though not fussily so—you’d have to work pretty hard not to feel welcome here. Nevertheless, for those looking for something a little less formal and perhaps a little more boisterous, the ample bar area was certainly the lively place to be on the night we visited, and one would imagine it is even more so on Fridays and Saturdays when there’s live music at the baby grand.

NMAG0216_TableForTwo_Wildwood-039_800pxBut then it seemed hard to go wrong no matter where we ultimately chose to settle in, as long as we were able to enjoy the wide-ranging menu. We suspected, after all, that the kitchen was ultimately the driving force behind Wildwood’s successful 10-year run thus far.

Classic Comfort

Poring over both the extensive dinner menu and a list of tempting seasonal specials, we decided to share a duo of standout appetizers to get things started—either of which would have made for a fine main meal on its own. The twin crab cakes nestled on a bed of sautéed spinach and topped with a pile of delicately crispy shoestring fries were just about perfect with their accompanying Dijon mustard, while the Medjool dates were truly something to behold—four giant orbs stuffed with chorizo, wrapped in bacon and served in a warm bath of Piquillo pepper sauce.   

NMAG0216_TableForTwo_Wildwood-099_800pxWith the bar set appropriately high by these outstanding openers, we moved onto entrées, making our choices from a wide array of steaks, chops, pastas and seafood selections. From the regular menu, we sampled the chicken scaloppini, featuring several lightly breaded and sautéed medallions atop a plateau of garlicky linguini studded with fresh mushrooms, artichoke hearts and diced tomatoes. On the other side of the table was a dish from the seasonal slate—a hearty, fork-tender braised short rib with mashed potatoes and green beans that proved not only delicious, but formidably insulating against the brisk winter chill outside.

NMAG0216_TableForTwo_Wildwood-183_800pxHaving not exactly kept things light on this particular evening, we were hesitant to even glance at the dessert menu. Though once we decided to “just take a quick peek,” we were as good as hooked. Still, we held onto enough shared discipline so as to at least stick with simple fruits and vegetables to round out our evening with just a slice each of the banana and carrot cakes. After all, as the shoppers along Third Street know well, there’s always room for one last little discovery.

477 S. Third Street


Photos by Greg Shapps