SugarToad at Hotel Arista in Naperville
The fact that one of Naperville’s most unusual upscale restaurants shares its name with one of nature’s ugliest creatures might sound like an oxymoron. But SugarToad Restaurant at Hotel Arista certainly doesn’t lack originality.
Customers who dine at the farm-focused American restaurant are welcomed for dinner with a crispy, complimentary bite of a sugar toad, which – sigh of relief – isn’t really a toad at all.
“It’s a sweet puffer fish from the Chesapeake Bay, and it kind of tastes like flounder. It’s like a nugget of fish,” says SugarToad Chef Geoff Rhyne. “Everyone who comes in at night gets one, and we also serve it on our lunch menu. It’s called a Crock of Toads.”
The menu at SugarToad changes daily to reflect what’s in season, but customers can always expect fresh seafood, meats, salads, soups and produce.
“We have our own garden, and we pull in the harvest every day and use it in our dishes,” Rhyne says. “We also buy from farms in the area, from Southern Illinois to Wisconsin, and we get deliveries every day. When soft shell crabs are in season, we get them the very next day off the boat.”
Lunch at SugarToad might feature made-from-scratch lobster bisque or cream of mushroom soup with a creative sandwich, such as lobster salad on a croissant, the SugarToad Po’ Boy or SugarToad’s signature BLT, topped with a fried egg and a fried green tomato.
Dinner may include grilled mahi-mahi, Blackmouth Chinook Salmon or Crispy Pulled Goat with Red Cabbage. Seasonal vegetables are a perfect compliment to any meal at SugarToad, but don’t expect the same old, same old. SugarToad serves up veggies with a twist, such as Roasted Cauliflower with Golden Raisin Pesto, Heirloom Sweet Potato and Hedgehog Hash, or Sautéed Ice Spinach with Coppa.
That being said, rest assured you won’t need a translator to understand the menu.
“We’re fine dining, but we’re not stuffy,” Rhyne says. “I always say I’d want my 86-year-old grandpa to come in and feel comfortable and understand the menu.”
SugarToad has gained quite a following since it opened in September 2008.
“We pride ourselves in the fact we’re not your typical hotel restaurant – we’re a destination restaurant as well,” Rhyne says. “We get a lot of customers who drive here from Chicago. People love the fresh ingredients and the familial atmosphere.”